It’s crucial to understand that Vinsantos DeFonte is a far superior Myrtle Snow than I could ever hope to be. I’ve come to accept it.
Behold, I dare you, and compare…
The detail! The élan! The dark whimsy! Flawless.
Of course, my Myrtle was just a freaky little ginger guy in a Halloween costume, while Vinsantos’ Myrtle… well. The Vinsantos Myrtle was like everything Vinsantos creates: brilliant, surprising, and meticulously wrought from the big brain of a deeply gifted drag artiste—who at the time just happened to be playing Myrtle in a live rendition of Hocus Pocus at the Castro Street Theater with a bunch of drag queens ain’t nobody ever heard of (Peaches Christ, BenDeLaCreme, and some obscure queen called, Jinkx Monsoon or something….) So she was really, as the kids say, “bringing it”. Naturally.
But Vinsantos is fascinating far beyond her spot-on rendering of Myrtle Snow. She is a decadent devil’s circus, a dark carnival of delights.
I had the pleasure of first meeting Vinsantos at her art studio on Rampart St. in New Orleans a few Halloweens ago at a private screening of her black and hilarious short film called, “33”. Fun fact: Vinsantos’ studio is located at an infamous address where a disturbed veteran riddled with PTSD chopped up and cooked his live-in girlfriend in a fit of pique. That’s just how she rolls.
Vinsantos was born on the Barbary Coast, but currently stalks the dusky shadows of New Orleans. In that mysterious city she is renowned as a visual artist, a musician, and a draggy nightlife nonpareil. She is a founder of the New Orleans Drag Workshop, turning out transgressive queens by the bucketful. But she is also well known outside of The Big Easy’s dark embrace: San Francisco and Seattle (among others) are lucky enough to be occasionally blessed with her singular artistic largesse.
Vinsantos’ career in glamorous, gender-bending insanity began, of course, at Christian Elementary School (as it does). She was cast in the role of the mighty, luscious-locked champion in a school production of Samson and Delilah. (Yes, she wore a wig.) Once she’d had a taste of the stage (and wigs—they are incredibly addictive, you know) little Vinsantos was forever hooked: her youth was from then peppered with creative endeavors in myriad artistic disciplines—including more than a few bands (“none of them successful”, she laments, hilariously).
By the late 90’s, Vinsantos was dabbling in the weird and wondrous world of the San Francisco Underground Drag Performance Art circuit. She explains that there she, “cut her nails working with the children of Trannyshack and Midnight Mass fame”. She earned the coveted title of Miss Trannyshack in 2000 (quite an accomplishment indeed—dragsters from far and wide competed to be crowned queen of Hecklina’s famous signature event). Eventually all of these factors conspired to alchemize Vinsantos into the multi-disciplinary artist she is today, bring bursts of spontaneity and surprise to her performances.
“Playing with live music, via piano and vocals, the art of Drag, film, the spoken word and visual arts, it’s hard to know what to expect,” she explains. “I rarely know myself what I have planned next.”
Vinsantos has worked across the country with artists like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the above mentioned Peaches Christ, David J of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, Jackie Beat, and, as she so delicately sums it up, “practically every Drag Race and Burlesque star that’s not a total CUNT!”
Vinsantos will be gracing our salty salmon shores after the holidays: firstly as a performer, headlining “The Children of Fatima” at the Columbia City theater on January 13th, and also to give a guerilla drag workshop to Seattle’s (and possibly the WORLD’S) youngest drag queen, RainbowGore Cake before RainbowGore goes off to Austin to headline the International Drag Festival in April.
“Love me or hate me,” Vinsantos assure us, “you won’t soon forget this Harlequeen, so it’s best just to get with the program.”