The first thing you notice is the wig, blond and straight, which falls well below his shoulders.
Next, his fit, 6-foot-4 frame in sparkly heels.
Then the skin-tight faux cheetah outfit he calls “Cheeta-licious,” faux gems over the eyes, carefully applied makeup, white dangly earrings, and glittery acrylic fingernails.
Antonio Lee, 23, of Fairfield, said Thursday it took four hours to emerge as Adrienne LaCielo, his drag queen alter ego, before filming earlier in the day at the Realty 1 real estate agency in Walnut Creek , where he was cousin working as a realtor.
No doubt it will take Lee, a theater actor and dancer, several hours to get ready for Fairfield’s first drag show, Adrienne’s Draguation, Class of 2022, on August 13 at the Downtown Theater. The event, hosted by Amoura Teese, a fundraiser for Missouri Street Youth Theater and American Canyon High School’s theater arts program, will also feature other drag performers at what he described as “a celebration of the arts and education.”
At some point during the interview with The Reporter, the Vallejo native — who grew up in Fairfield and the American Canyon — decided to go to the farmers’ market in downtown Fairfield Thursday night. As he was crossing an intersection, a woman in a car rolled down her window and yelled, “You look great! I love your hair and makeup.”
Such compliments for his drag performance: “Always gives me a nice boost,” Lee said afterwards.
Moments later, while posing for a photo, he added, “Drag is like putting on a superhero costume. Sometimes you don’t always have the power, but it’s nice to have someone who reminds you of that power.”
But it’s a strength cultivated through his training in theater, dance and his exercise routine, which includes running, and helps keep his weight at 175 pounds.
A veteran of youth theater and production at American Canyon High, where he graduated in 2017, Lee moved to Los Angeles at 18 to begin his career, with the support of his mother, who over the years has encouraged him to pursue his to realize dreams.
And those dreams include an appearance in the recent video production, Bottoms Up 2.0, from actress Keke Palmer, who is starring in the summer horror thriller Nope, directed by Jordan Peele; “The UPshaws” on Netflix; and the pilot episode of “All American” on the CW network.
Lee filled his resume with a 3.9 GPA as a music major at Los Angeles Harbor College, graduating in June and earning three associate degrees in music, arts and humanities, and social and behavioral sciences. He is preparing to transfer to the University of California, Irvine.
During a phone interview on Wednesday, Lee, as Adrienne, prepared to visit Slime World, the downtown Fairfield store. He said “Where they make slime” and not just for kids. He called the slime-making process “an oddly satisfying thing.”
He works part-time for DoorDash, but also appears on drag and other projects.
Not transgender, Lee said, “I identify with the LGBTG+ community.”
“Drag, for all of us, is about having fun and expressing yourself,” he shared.
Lee began performing at age 10 and grew up at Missouri Street Youth Theater, Downtown Theater and American Canyon High.
“I also did something creative and sporty,” he said. “It was important to have programs that supported me all the way.”
During his elementary school years, Lee entered the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program on the recommendation of a teacher who encouraged him to take acting classes.
“It started out as an introduction to theater, but we said, ‘No, we want to do a play,'” he recalls. “We were the first drama group in middle school. We practically grew up with the program.”
He deftly answered a series of rapid-fire questions, including:
How long does it take to put on makeup as Adrienne? “Four hours, but I can get ready in a pinch. Eyebrows with glue. Lots of eyeshadow, pigment colors. I use pretty much every makeup product you can think of. I don’t do much makeup—I’m a dancer too, so I sweat.” (As a dancer, Lee said he trained with Richard “Richy” Jackson, a Fairfield-based dancer, creative director, and choreographer known primarily for his work with Lady Gaga is known.)
Number of clothes owned? “Two or three. I have a lot of pants, shorts. You can’t always move in a dress.”
shoe size? “Size 13 (men). As Adrienne, 15 (women).”
Is August 13 Drag Show Really Fairfield’s First? “There have been other performances in Fairfield,” including the drag performances in the musical Rocky Horror Picture Show. “I was one of the dancers who performed ‘The Time Warp’ in drag. But it’s exciting to make history. It’s long overdue.”
There are many performances from Sacramento to San Francisco, Lee continued, adding that it’s time to host a local show.
“The opportunity came and I wanted to give something back,” he said. “If they can have drag shows in Vacaville and Vallejo, we can do it in Fairfield. It’s hard for me to find opportunities to perform and uplift those who uplifted me.”
What can the audience expect at your draguation on August 13th? “You will see amazing beauties and amazing talent, but seriously a great celebration of community coming together and not just LGBTQ+.”
Would conservative-minded people object to your show? “I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I was bullied as a kid. I know what it’s like to be an outsider. What I do is just curate a place that is filled with love – and join us. If you don’t want to join us, that’s fine. We create a safe space for our performers and artists. The LGBTQ+ community, minorities – really all people – regardless of gender or identity, come together and celebrate life.”
What is the history of drag? “I know that theater has always had drag performers. Drag goes far back into theatrical art, into the Middle Ages. In indigenous cultures there have always been individuals expressing their gender identity or (men) presenting themselves as women. There have been transgender people in indigenous cultures in accordance with their femininity and masculinity rather than in comical ways.
“Drag, to my knowledge, has been around as long as there have been men and women. RuPaul said: “We’re all born naked. The rest is drag.’ It is reflected in how we wear the clothes, not how the clothes wear us.”
Lee, who is of Puerto Rican, Black, Chinese and Native American descent, reflected on what he is trying to do on stage.
“When I perform, I dance and sing and give the Beyonce and Lady Gaga experience—the Adrienne LaCielo experience.” (La Cielo is Spanish for “Heaven.”)
He’s cheerful in those moments, he said, adding, “I try to make my inner child happy. I don’t focus on anything else. I’m interested in making my younger self proud.”
WHEN YOU GO
Fairfield’s first drag show
8 p.m. Aug. 13
1035 Texas Street, Fairfield
Tickets: $12 general, $19 VIP