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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 2:03 PM

click to enlarge DINA ISIS
  • Dina Isis

Welcome to I AM YOUR QUEEN, a Pride Month series on the Exhibitionist that bribes the staff in San Francisco's queenly households to gain access to the royal medicine cabinet, the contents of which we then use as blackmail to get these haughty bitches to talk to us.

After the Mother Star Search this year, Dina Isis stayed at her boyfriend’s house.

"I arrived in full drag, wig-less, covered in dried-up fake blood — a common theme for me — and exhausted, and only then did I realize that I had no clothes to wear the next day other than what was on me. When I left in the morning, in a borrowed T-shirt, gym shorts, and my red pumps, I smiled and said to myself, 'I’m so happy this is my life.'"

Indeed! Dina Isis graciously spoke to SF Weekly about the non-importance of following the rules, the travails of men's heels, and how her theater background came about because her parents were too frugal to hire a babysitter.

click to enlarge GARETH GOOCH
  • Gareth Gooch

What name(s) do you perform under?

Dina Isis

Where do you perform?

I perform all over the bay, but I really got my start in San Francisco at the Monster Show thanks to the beloved, late, and great Cookie Dough. I still perform there often, as well as in Heklina’s Mother at Oasis. I tend to perform at a lot of charitable events as well, because the money-raising power of drag is huge, and I like to perform in spaces where it feels like I’m giving back in some way. Most recently, I’ve been doing a lot of work to fundraise for the 2015 AIDS/Lifecycle that we just completed!

How long have you done drag?

In my living room or on stage? I’ve been gender-bending and lip-synching since I was about 5 years old, but I really started performing for audiences about seven years ago. I got my drag legs performing in San Jose with my sister Xenea Malletti, and then grew some character in Portland, Ore. while I was in college, then finally came back to the Bay. Dina fell in love with San Francisco.

Does Dina Isis have a back story?

I’ve always been fascinated with various pantheons and mythologies, particularly the stories of Dionysius and Isis, so the name came about from that. When I’m in character though and people ask about my name, I like to tell them that I was wandering through the desert at Burning Man and a drunken angel came upon me to tell me I was the drag queen reincarnation of Dionysius, or maybe that I was hot, or on fire, I can’t remember. (Maybe I was the drunk one.) Anyway, I took the name and ran with it.

click to enlarge DINA ISIS
  • Dina Isis
Do you have a theater/performance background?

I basically grew up in theater. My mom was a costume designer, and my dad was set designer for a local community theater, and making me be in the shows was cheaper than babysitters. I’ve been in everything from The King and I to Rocky Horror. I actually met my drag mother, U-phoria, in a production of HAIR

Is realness important to you? Genderfuck? Something else?

It’s all important to me! I think that playing with the variety of my gender expressions is a huge part of why I love drag. I can paint my face into a beautiful woman, or into a punk rock star, or androgynous alien creature! The most important thing, though, is the performance. Any look you do can be amazing, but it is the performance that makes the whole experience worth it. It’s not enough to be beautiful with no stage presence.

When you were starting out, what was the biggest hurdle?

Won’t lie on this one, it was the heels. Despite a pretty extensive dancing background, balancing in a pair of heels took some time to figure out. Not to mention finding a pair of reasonably priced pumps that fit a man’s 12 is next-to-impossible.

What do you love most about drag?

The sheer variety of performances that become possible under the umbrella of drag. Some queens will tell you there are a lot of rules to follow, but the truth is the only rules worth obeying are being true to yourself, and making sure you’re proud of what you put on that stage.

Have you had any trouble with Facebook's "real" names policy?

For a few months I had to change my name to something that sounded “real”, and it was something closer to my boy name. Unfortunately, this actually led to a lot of people that I don’t actually know discovering my birth name, and I had to really lock down the security on my personal page. I also found out that many people who were trying to contact me for bookings, or even to just update me on important events in our community weren’t able to get ahold of me. I was able to change it back several months later, but I’m still waiting until I get reported again. It was pretty terrible.

What's your day job?

I work full time as an HIV RN case manager. I oversee the care of just under 300 people living with HIV/AIDS. My job is to make sure that every aspect of their care goes as smoothly as possible. I’m also working on grad school applications right now to start pre-med courses. With any luck, I’ll be Dr. Dina Isis in the next decade!

Does your mother know?

My mother taught me how to do makeup when I was five. That said, my being gay was quite a shock to her, initially. She has definitely come around though over the years, and has even been to a couple of my shows now!

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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