Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing you to some of our favorite local drag queens. While there are plenty of queens in Houston, it takes a Texas-size dose of talent for a queen to truly establish herself. The six drag queens we’ll profile have all done just that in their own unique style. While some of them are still in the early stages of their careers and others have been at it long enough to have wigs that are teenagers, all of the queens we’ve assembled have something special—no tea, no shade—that makes them stand out from the rest.
Houston’s self-professed “Heavyweight Champ” has ascended to the pinnacle of drag competitions and is ready to represent H-Town. Hometown hero Mistress Isabelle Brooks brings her fabulosity to the 15th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race as the first Houston queen to compete on the show.
Having started drag at the ripe age of 16, Brooks has made a name for herself in the Bayou City. “I was one of the original cast members at Hamburger Mary’s, and I’m also at JR’s and South Beach on Mondays and Wednesdays,” she said. “I also host a Drag Race viewing party on Fridays at JR’s.”
The bold Latina self-identifies as a “plus-size dancing diva,” a moniker she adopted from her drag mother. Being larger than life is the name of the game for Brooks, and it fits her aesthetic to a tee. “The best way to describe my drag is big, bold, and beautiful,” she said. “I’m gonna have all the feathers, beads, and rhinestones. I’m gonna look glamorous, I’m always gonna look good, and I’m always gonna entertain.”
As the first Houston queen to be featured on Drag Race, Brooks has her eye on the prize and came to slay the competition on drag’s fiercest stage. “Houston drag is so rich and traditional. Up until recently, it has been run by the legends. So for me, the biggest part of my drag is carrying on the legacy,” Brooks said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about carrying the prestige and sharing what inspired me and hopefully I’ll inspire someone else to carry on the legacy. It means the world to me to represent Houston.”
While drag has at times been villainized in the mainstream media, particularly in Texas—and Brooks admits she has experienced some of the repercussions of this narrative at her shows—she soldiers on. “In Houston, drag is what brings our community together,” she said. “We cannot live in fear. If we stay home, that’s when we lose our community, and people don’t realize how much we need this. We need to continue to support drag, keep drag alive and well, and be that light that shines in the community.”
As for the next class of queens, Brooks offers sound advice from someone whose opinions carry particular weight today. “If you truly love drag, there’s no correct way to do it. You just have to jump into it,” she said. “You just have to experiment, and soon you’ll meet the right people. Drag can take you so many places. Before Drag Race, while drag brought me financial security, it also brought me friends that I consider family. You never know where it will take you. You do it because you love it.”