(SPOT.ph) The word "Manila" is taking on a whole new meaning and it involves sky-high heels, pounds of makeup, over-the-top costumes made of just about anything from ramen noodle wrappers to Big Bird feathers and whimsical wigs, spot-on lip synching, campy creativity, and one really fierce attitude.
Meet Manila Luzon, also known as Karl Westerberg, the Filipino-German-Swedish favorite in the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race where 13 drag queens sashayed in their runway best and battled it out to become "America's Next Drag Superstar." Crafting a couture paper money dress and giving a straight jock a successful drag makeover were just a couple of her winning moments on the show. The "Asian Glamasaurus" went as far as landing the first runner-up spot and scored herself appearances in RuPaul's Drag U where she helped transform ordinary women to drag divas. To top it all off, she's out with a dance-y club tune titled "Hot Couture," too.
Born and raised in Minnesota by a Filipina mother and German-Swedish father, Manila currently resides in New York. Before her schedule got so clogged with drag duties, she worked as a graphic designer by day and partied in drag at NY clubs by night. In her audition video for RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3, Manila recalled taking the subway by herself in full drag to get to her parties. She doubles the glam with her long-time boyfriend/girlfriend Sahara Davenport, a contestant in RuPaul's Drag Race Season 2.
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SPOT.ph fills you in on all things Manila—from her Filipino roots and her drag diva style to getting so close to winning RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3. Plus, watch see her video message to her Filipino "fanilas."
Tell us more about your Filipino background and what it was like growing up.
My mother was born and raised in Manila, then [she] moved to the U.S. to study chemistry. She met my father, a German-Swede, while working together at 3M. They had me and my sister and raised us in Minnesota. We had a regular childhood; we just looked a lot different from our mostly white friends.
Have you ever been to Manila? If you have, could you tell us about your visit?
I did once. My parents took me and my sister there when I was 13 years old. We, of course, went to Manila! It was a long time ago but I do remember a lot of traffic; even cars driving on the sidewalks! We saw the house my mother grew up in, and I remember it being a lot smaller than the house we were staying at in a gated community, with a pool and a team of maids. It was nice to see my mother's humble beginnings! Oh and I remember SM!
What do you think is your most Filipino trait, if any?
My most Filipino trait is that I love to eat! Put food in front of me and I will eat it all!
Do you have a favorite Pinoy dish?
My favorite is my mother's chicken adobo followed in a close second by my tita's pancit! But only theirs, no one else's adobo or pancit comes close.
We read that Manila Luzon is your way of celebrating your Filipino background. Tell us more about the time when you conceptualized that name.
What else is there to know? I named myself Manila after my mother's birthplace and partially because it started with "Man" and because it had the same number of syllables as "Madonna!"
Manila Luzon has a message for you.