Cheyenne Desoto 在懷俄明州的 Cheyenne 長大（她的名字由此而來）。 她在一個自由與保守的混合觀念家庭中長大，這是愛情和“不同”時代背景的有趣結合。Cheyenne的艷麗、藝術性，被稱為“地球上最幸福的哥德人”(形容活在哥德次文化中的人，個人主義至上、強調做自己，衣著和妝容都以黑色為主，喜歡聽龐克或重金屬音樂)，雖然在同齡人中像彩虹拇指一樣的突出，但最終她在年輕時與所有女孩一起找到了相互依賴、友情和安全感。
因為成長環境的差異性，讓她在畢業後的人生道路上引領到獨特的方向。當我們談論她與變裝有關的地方時， Cheyenne說“起初我一直認為變裝是一種……嗯……我真的不喜歡它，因為在懷俄明州長大，並沒有真正有同性戀。周圍的場景，我只知道 MASC 4 MASC 和 NO FEMS。我想要的只是出色、華麗。而我就是在這種身份中長大，其他是不合適我的。”
當她（通過她的搭檔）在科羅拉多目睹變裝表演時，她的情況發生了變化，並被搭檔的表演所震撼。“當我第一次見到變裝皇后時，我被它們迷住了。我心想‘噢，天哪，他們是如此美麗！ 我想成為他們！ 我想做那個！”
在這裡，她意識到變裝是她的呼喚。“我第一次參加比賽是在一個名為“ Next Drag Superstar”的比賽之夜。 我正在表演艾薇兒·拉維尼 (Avril Lavigne) 的“What the Hell”，我幾乎不能穿高跟鞋走路，但是我一上台就.....一切都開竅了，感覺很自然。 我非常喜歡它，而我每次都努力做得更好。
從這裡開始，她開始在科羅拉多州四處漂泊，然後最終到達了拉斯維加斯。“我和我的男朋友在度假時來到拉斯維加斯，並意識到生活成本比丹佛便宜得多，” Cheyenne說，“但除此之外，變裝也是一件事情，它在這條街內外都在發生。 我們最終在這裡待的時間比我們預期的還要長，並意識到這就是我們想要的地方”。
在廣泛的比較中，可以說人們看待變裝皇后就像遊客看待拉斯維加斯一樣。 這條地帶充滿了浮華和魅力……雖然該地區為我們提供娛樂，但在拉斯維加斯大道之外還有十幾個地區值得一看。透過各個面向/美麗/深度……才能造就了今日。 就像舞台及螢幕上的藝人（變裝或不變裝）一樣，雖然他們展示了自己的才華、美麗和創造力……但他們遠不止於此。他們的角度、美感和深度也遠遠超過舞台所能提供的。 他們不僅僅是藝人或真人秀節目的素材。
I moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas at the tail end of 2012. I ended up partnering up with a Disney Gallery and their ventures in the progressive rebuilding of downtown Las Vegas. My gallery, “Loveless Collective” (AKA: Loveless in Las Vegas), was in a metal shipping unit out in the Container Park off of Fremont Street. I worked 7 days a week, and at the end of each day I’d drive back to my lonely little apartment out in Henderson only to repeat the cycle over and over again.
I didn’t have many friends,,… actually.. I only really hung out with one person when I lived there. I worked so much that I never got to really go out and meet people. I mean… it wasn’t Las Vegas’s fault… it was mine. In order to REALLY understand this city, you have to make the effort… and well.. I wasn’t used to that.
I ended up moving to Chicago around the end of 2013. I remember my last day there, which was around 4 in the morning. I drove through the neon strip one last time to say my goodbye. My memory faded of Las Vegas much like it did in my rear view mirror as I drove in the soft darkness of the desert and out towards the sunrise in the mountains.
Now in the beginning of living in Chicago, I gave Las Vegas a bad rep, and I think thats because I was bitter about how it all ended. Slowly, but surely I came back to do Disney guest spots at the various new locations that “Magical Memories Gallery” would in inhabit, and EACH time I went, much like the darkest sparkle to the biggest light… my love for the city grew and grew.
I fell in love with a city post breakup which is such a strange way to love something.
Three years later at the end of 2016 I ended up on my 10th trip back out there.. to which I was JUST starting the Drag Landscapes series. Initially just focusing on Athens, GA and Chicago, IL… I decided to expand the project across the globe.. and used whatever time I had traveling to locate queens and interview them. While out there I networked via friends online and was suggested that I talk to a queen named “Cheyenne”. I ended up watching her perform later on in the week and was completely enamored. We scheduled an interview and the next day she showed up to talk with me out in my room at the Cosmopolitan.
This is her story:
Cheyenne Desoto grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming (which is how she acquired her first name). She was raised in a mixed liberal/conservative family, which was an interesting concoction of both love and ‘different’ times. Flamboyant, artistic, and known as ‘the happiest goth on earth’, Cheyenne stuck out like a rainbow thumb amongst her peers, but ultimately she found solace, camaraderie, and safety with all the girls in her youth.
Emerging from school, navigating through life was a different road for her because of where she lived. When we were talking about where she was in relation to drag, Cheyenne said, “At first I always thought of drag as kind of…well… I really didn’t like it, because growing up in Wyoming and not really having a gay scene to be around, all I knew was MASC 4 MASC and NO FEMS. All I wanted was to be fabulous, flamboyant.. and I just kind of grew up with this identity that it wasn’t ok to be me”.
Things for her changed when she witnessed drag in Colorado (via her partner), and was blown away from the performances that she witnessed there. “I was enamored with drag queens when I first saw them.. I thought to myself ‘Oh my God they are so BEAUTIFUL! I want to be them! I want to do that!”
It was here that she realized that drag was her calling. “My first time I was in drag was for a contest night called ’Next Drag Superstar’. I was performing Avril Lavigne’s ‘What the Hell’.. and I could barely walk in heels…. but as soon as I hit the stage…. everything clicked and felt natural. I absolutely loved it, and I strived to do better each time.”
From here she moved around through Colorado and then eventually to Las Vegas. “My boyfriend and I came to Las Vegas on vacation and realized that the cost of living was much cheaper than Denver” Cheyenne says, “but beyond that, drag was kind of a thing, it was happening here in and off of the strip. We ended up staying here longer than we anticipated and realized this is where we wanted to be”
It was here where Cheyenne really found her voice, and Las Vegas became her home. The drag culture however, came with a lot of new elements that she had to navigate through. Especially when it came to ‘family culture’. Out in Vegas, the system of drag mothers, daughters, and sisters is a massively prevalent thing. While there are great elements of support and teamwork involved with this culture, it also breeds a cliquish side to the community that can further separate gay/drag people from each other when the families are at odds. Despite some of the heartache and yet great support from these social structures, Cheyenne managed to persevere through the muddy waters of family politics. Much like “Sia”, her idol and middle name, she’s become a symbol of strength.. She’s become titanium. She’s bulletproof and has nothing to lose.
“Make up has power”, Cheyenne says, “ I see this progression of myself that I’ve never known, and the power of drag is that force. I see myself progressing as a human and also in my drag… but really being Cheyenne is what helps me become who I’ve always wanted to be”.
Cheyenne is a jack of all trades. She’s an entertainer, but thats just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her talent in costume design and make up. Her performances, while she self labels herself as “rhythmless nation”, are nothing short of being brilliantly beautiful. In all her performances and ‘celebrity impersonations’ (which are a staple of Las Vegas), she exudes the perfect amount of exactness, charisma, soul, and professionalism.
At the end of the interview I felt both heartache and happiness about Cheyenne. I was heartbroken about her struggles, as I too knew what it was like to grow up as a flamboyant firecracker in the deep darkness of a heteronormative small town. On the flip side I was happy to see her persevere through it all to where she is now.
While I was looking out of my hotel window at the strip and thinking about her story I kind of had this evident and yet VERY cliche parallel about Las Vegas and drag queens.
Hear me out.
In a broad spectrum of comparison, it could be said that people view drag queens much like tourists view Las Vegas. The strip is filled to brim with glitz and glamour… and while that district serves to entertain us, beyond Las Vegas Blvd lies a dozen more districts to be seen. There is far more dimension, beauty, and depth beyond the strip… as well as a history that makes it what it is today. Much like entertainers of the stage and screen (drag or not), while they showcase their talent, beauty, and creativity… they are so much more than that. They too are made up of far more dimension, beauty, and depth than the stage provides. They are more than entertainers or fodder for reality television.
They are people..
They are people that have a history.
And I hope that my interviews and paintings of them showcase that.
幻影米拉桔：巴黎變裝皇后系列 MIRAGE: Drag Landscapes - Paris，2017
瓦倫汀‧亞當絲：芝加哥變裝皇后系列 VALENTINE ADDAMS: Drag Landscapes - Chicago，2017
夏安·希亞·迪索托：賭城變裝皇后系列 CHEYENNE SIA DeSOTO: Drag Landscapes - Las Vegas，2017
娣-蕾絲：芝加哥變裝皇后系列 T-REX: Drag Landscapes - Chicago，2017
莎拉‧安德魯絲：芝加哥變裝皇后系列 SARA ANDREWS: Drag Landscapes - Chicago，2017
酷豹‧莫里森：澳洲變裝皇后系列 COUGAR MORRISON: Drag Landscapes - Australia，2017
甜餅肯妮：巴黎變裝皇后系列 COOKIE K*NTY: Drag Landscapes - Paris，2017
凱特‧騷絲：芝加哥變裝皇后系列 KAT SASS: Drag Landscapes - Chicago，2017
(含框) 向經典致敬系列-搖滾變色龍 (版畫 2: 版數預購中) 預購中) Human Clockwork - “Stardust Chameleom”，2021
汪妲‧螺絲：芝加哥變裝皇后系列 WANDA SCREW: Drag Landscapes - Chicago，2017
瑪西絲卡‧星塵：巴黎變裝皇后系列 MARISKA STARDUST: Drag Landscapes - Paris，2017
(含框) 向經典致敬系列-瘋狂藝術大師 (版畫 1: 31~50版預購中) Human Clockwork - “Genius of Wonder and Heartache”，2021