Cristian Peralta Transformista has solidified his name and career through over 15 years of experience. With an impeccable career in the reality show world, she was crowned the first Mexican drag star of the Drag Race franchise. In this interview, she talks to us about representation, life after winning Drag Race Mexico, erasure, and redefining what it means to be a parent.
I’m very excited to have you here Cristian. I understand that you’re very busy these days. Tell me, how are you? How do you feel after the live coronation?
Cristian Peralta: Yes, we lived it live. Didn’t we? My dear Luis. Well look, the truth is that I’m very content. A new chapter for Cristian Peralta begins. I mean, now that the coronation hype has passed a little bit, I’m assimilating into this new reality a bit more and eager to continue creating.
Speaking of Drag Race Mexico, your personal story outside of all the glamor and shade of drag is very inspiring. How did you come to define yourself as a queer person?
You know, I’ve always been in that search in every sense, not only in terms of my sexuality, but also on the artistic side, and on the human side. I believe we are energy and, at the end of the day, you can never stay stuck in one space.
I’ve always gone against the current of society. And not to be contrary, but because being comfortable with yourself, being happy with yourself; sometimes it means going outside of those social, cultural, and religious mainstream.
I went through several stages of my life. I can tell you that I was in the process of transitioning as a trans woman, but I felt that it was not my essence and I continued discovering myself until I met my current partner. We’ve been together for ten years, and as you can imagine, we continue to love each other and discover who we are. That’s what led me to ask myself, “Which label do I identify with the most?” And the one that best suited me was pansexuality.
How did you come to meet your wife? I read somewhere that she met you while you were doing a show.
Yes. I was in that transition as a trans woman but something inside said that it wasn’t for me. I like to play with gender, not as a sign of disrespect, but I realized that I really am a man who can come to be seen as very feminine, rather than a woman.
I had a partner, a heterosexual man at the time, when I met my wife at a bar. We made such an impact on each other that we haven't parted ways to this day.
With all that you’ve gone through and now with a daughter, I’d like to know, what have you discovered about love?
To reach peace and harmony with yourself and heal the scars from childhood and adolescence is your responsibility as an adult. Otherwise, you’ll become bitter and go around the world spewing hate.
For example, in Drag Race I discovered that many people in the community would tell me: “You aren’t part of the group.” And I thought: “How am I not?” I always joke in my shows, “I've already gone through all the LGBT letters to discover who I am and feel comfortable.”
Do you experience invisibility? The fact that bi people have their existence erased is very common. The representation you offer is praised by some and criticized by others.
Look, I’ve come to find that when I stopped identifying with the letter G within LGBT, many people didn’t understand. For me it’s about that search for balance.
Maybe I'll tell you tomorrow that I only like women, let's say, just because you can't understand that decision doesn’t mean you should disapprove of me or think it's bad. At the end of the day, the one who can live my life is me. We all need to continue learning and cultivating ourselves. That is the basis of everything. It doesn't matter that you don't understand people, respect and values are universal.
In that regard, how do you handle your relationship with your daughter? Is she experiencing all this with Cristian Peralta Transformista, or Cristian Peralta the dad?
There are many people, especially young people, who think that to have a family is to live in a heteronormative way, but I’ve also had to set my boundaries so that heteronormative people can also respect me for being a feminine man.
When I got onto the reality show, I was worried about the effect it would have because my daughter was already in school and would be around her classmates and their parents, who may have watched the show. You know, sometimes the fear that comes with ignorance makes us say things like, “No, don't hang out with that person.” People spread rumors about things that they don't understand. People aren't interested in educating themselves or knowing the context, but they do like to stick their nose into someone else's life and judge. We always carry ourselves with self-respect, and I think that’s what has helped us educate our daughter.
Regarding your exposure on the program, did you have the idea going in to show a more personal side? Was it your decision?
On a TV program there is very little time to show our stories and the public only gets to see a small part of it. Outside of that I can do tons of interviews, of course, and there is much to tell. Even though I’ll be 37 soon, Iit seems like I’ve already lived many lives.
I entered Drag Race with the intention of taking my profession to another level, because if I didn't, I was going to continue in the same bars in downtown Guadalajara. There’s nothing wrong with that, but with a minimum salary and low recognition I’d be missing out on great opportunities.
Something that could not be seen in the show was my weight loss — 72 pounds. I was showing off a new body and face. My life story had been very private before it aired. Not even my neighbors knew what I did! They sensed it because sometimes they saw me with wigs in hand going out. Like, very closeted, you know? It made me feel imprisoned. I sometimes get so emotional when asked about it, but for me, telling my story was a very intense catharsis. To feel complete, at ease, and at peace after 15 years.
What other talents do you have that were not shown in the program?
[Sips coffee] Drinking coffee. Ay! I’m kidding.
I think one of my greatest talents is being a salesman. I can sell you anything because I've learned from my wife — she's great at sales. During the pandemic we sold all types of things.
I'm also good at comedy even though it looked a bit clunky in the editing of episode nine. We are living in a very different era from when I learned comedy, though. I learned old-school comedy where you could openly talk about anything and everything was allowed. In the current culture, that seems to have fallen out of favor. Adapting to these new rules has been difficult for me, which is why I faltered in that episode. It’s been a learning experience for me trying to reach a new generation. I also think people are forgetting to look at the intentions of the words that people say instead of the words themselves.
I’m also interested in dancing and everything that has to do with the arts. I’ve acted in TV as well. Doing drag doesn't limit you to just being in a club, or doing events at night.
Your career trajectory is very interesting. You started doing imitations, and Mexico is the cradle of doing imitations; Drag came through the mainstream, with RuPaul’s Drag Race. But your school of drag is a little different. What do you like the most? Imitations? Drag? Have you mixed them?
You know, doing imitations is pretty straightforward. Either you do a great imitation or you don’t. And it involves everything: the gestures, the movements, the outfits. But doing drag has more to do with your personality, what you want to convey to the public. So being a more liberated Cristian Peralta who’s more relaxed and at peace with himself, I love to do drag. One day I want to look pretty and the next day I want to look monstrous, another day I want to look very reptilian, or very ethereal — I love it.
Do you think that to do drag I’m going to create a label? I mean, if one day I tell you I want chilaquiles, after a while I’ll want a taco, then later I’ll crave a hot dog. If you know what I mean. But why limit myself?
I like doing imitations, I love drag, I love Cristian with makeup, I love Cristian without makeup. At the end of the day it’s learning to accept yourself, which is a great metaphor: sometimes drag helps us a lot to mutate our fears, our insecurities. Drag allows us to live and heal all that we keep to ourselves.
Do you have any advice you have for people interested in performing drag?
Drag is liberating. If you want to give a political message: drag. If you want to give a message of pain: drag. If you want to give joy: drag.
You have to prepare and cultivate yourself. You have to study. Don't think that you can reach the big leagues just because you look pretty — it takes many years of work. But if it really is something you want to do, take the plunge. Like that song: "Atrévete, te, te, te. Salte del clóset." If you don’t take risks, you can’t win. Be yourself, but also respect the craft. Think about the message you want people to get from you. Take the risk and be happy, that’s the only thing we’re here for.
How did the public react to the representation of your bisexuality on Drag Race Mexico? I imagine you have received tons of feedback about this.
There are many people who do not believe that it is possible to fall in love with the essence of a human being. My gay friends would say: “What do you mean you’re in love with a woman?” That's why I sometimes felt invalidated. And why can’t I fall in love with a woman? Who says I can’t? Where’s the manual? We forget the meaning of “love is love”.
When I joined the show, many people enjoyed my story but also told me: “Heterosexual people understand you more because you live as a heterosexual.” And I thought: “Wait, who told you that I live that way? From the moment my daughter sees her father putting on makeup and wigs and going out in drag; She’s living another reality.”
That’s why I always emphasized my family, it connects with people on a human level. If you show a child pain, what do you think they’ll see? They’ll see pain. If you show them drama, they’ll see drama. If you teach a child to love himself, what do you think they’ll do?
Of course, spread love.
That’s why my message was perhaps very repetitive. “There he goes talking about his family again,” they would say. Yes! And do you know why? I’m going to talk about my family a thousand times because it’s cost me a lot of work and a lot of therapy to be where I am now.
You mentioned that part of the gay community can be disconcerted about bisexuality. So having a show made for the LGBT community to educate its entire audience is very important.
I know that being authentic is like being that little black sheep of the family and separating yourself a little — and it has cost me work. I have nine brothers, and I am beginning to reconnect with them because, in the end, I have empathized with them. I have come to understand them. Maybe a father, a brother, is not prepared to hear “your son is gay” or “your daughter is lesbian” or even talk about bisexuality/pansexuality, because they simply don’t understand it. That’s why it’s important to highlight these communities, to educate people, and to show that we are proud. That's why I spoke on the program every moment I could, because there's no point in minimizing us.
How was coming out to your siblings?
I have always been very clear. I’ve always defined myself as a transparent person with honest feelings. But it was very difficult. My siblings are all older, so of course, everyone has to have an opinion about the youngest. My siblings didn't truly understand who I was, or the self-exploration I had been through. So imagine how confusing it was, especially for my brothers, when I came to reject their notion of masculinity and felt happy with it.
It was difficult for me to educate my family, but they now have a greater understanding, awareness, and respect for the LGBT community.
In the stand-up challenge, you joked that your wife had lent you her shoes. How does doing drag influence your family relationship? Has your daughter asked about your makeup routine?
People sometimes make comments about my wife in a way intended to cause pain. They ask “How do you two do it? Do you both dress the same?” I took those remarks and transformed them into comedy, because if something wants to hurt you, you should laugh at it. There is no greater defense than laughing at a person who wants to attack you.
Thank goodness nobody harassed my daughter about her father wearing makeup. She is very young, but she knows that her father is an actor, that he puts on makeup, that it’s part of his job. But if that were my way of living, she has to respect that — and not just me as her father, but any person.
When you talk about your daughter, your face lights up. Does she know the whole process? Has she seen you transform from start to finish?
Yes, my daughter is very artistic. She’s already going to be four years old, and I sometimes think: “Oh sweetie, why don't you find other interests?” But it's part of respecting her. If she wants to be an artist, then I’ll support her, educate her, and love her, the same if she wants to be a cleaner, a construction worker, or the president of Mexico.
There are people who think that drag is inappropriate for children, and I agree that there are night shows — and for that matter comedy routines, movies, and so forth — that are strictly for adults. But that does not mean that drag cannot also be educational, and cannot exist in other forms beyond a nightclub.
How does your sexual orientation influence your drag, your art, and everything you do?
My name is Cristian Peralta, that's my first name and Transformista is what I added.
Why didn't I ever change it? Many people think that the Transformista is only because I do imitations, but no. I have transformed myself over time. One day I can transform into a man, one day I can transform into a woman, another day I can transform into whatever I want.
That is Cristian's background and I represent it in my drag.
My only message is: Be happy with who you are. Be happy, you don't have anything else to do but show yourself as you are. Some people who are unhappy are always going to be unhappy no matter what you do. But being happy yourself fills you with satisfaction.
Can you tell us about future projects?
I'm preparing my next song. It's going to be a club song, very danceable. I want people who really connect with my work to feel seen while listening to it. We are also continuing with my new show, starting to tour Latin America and some Spanish-speaking countries, and possibly also reaching Brazil. Cristian Peralta will be here for a while. And well, wait for more surprises.
Do you have any advice, anything you would like to say to someone who is about to come out?
For all those people who are in the process of self-discovery as queer people: be brave. No one — absolutely no one — is going to live your life except you. It's all part of you. Every decision you make will have an impact on you. So be brave. Be brave and don't care what others say. At the end of the day, all the people you’re afraid might turn their back on you will, if they truly care for you, try to understand you and love you for who you are.