Where are you originally from? How did you end up in New Orleans?
I was born in Metairie and lived in various cities across Louisiana until 1988 at the age of 13. I then moved to Texas, and lived there from 1988 until 2008. In 2008 Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area where I was living and I ended up displaced as a result. I eventually moved back to Louisiana at the end of 2008.
How long have you been doing drag?
I started doing drag in 1994 for Halloween when I was talked into competing in a Drag Contest at The Copa Night Club in Beaumont, Texas. I won the contest and started doing shows regularly at The Copa and The Sundowner Bar in Beaumont. Eventually, I moved to Houston in 1998 and started doing shows across the city and in Galveston. This is also when I began doing pageantry.
How did you select your drag name?
This name is actually the third drag name I have had in my career. My first name was Cora Devereaux given to me by a friend using her grandmother’s name and Blanche from The Golden Girls. Eventually, I went through a metamorphosis and changed up my drag persona and changed my name to Chelsea Foxx.
When I moved to Houston, I changed it to Gia. I wanted just a single name like Madonna or Cher. Every time I went on stage they would announce me as Miss Gia, so that ended up being the name soon after. Once I moved back to Louisiana in 2008 I started performing here and doing the Miss Gay Louisiana America Pageant. I added a last name to Gia when Tiffany Alexander pulled me aside one day and talked to me about adding a last name and we came up with GiaVanni. I have been Gia GiaVanni ever since.
Did you have a drag mother?
I never had a drag mother. I always took inspiration from the queens that were the experienced entertainers around me. I also took a lot of advice from various people and used what I thought would best benefit me in my drag career. We can never learn enough in our craft and should always be growing.
Do you hold any titles? If so, which ones?
If so, which ones? Yes, I have many titles in my 28 years of performing and pageantry experience. I started doing pageants in 1998 when I moved to Houston. There I became Ms. Houston Gay Pride, Miss Tony’s Corner Pocket, Miss Gay Islander to name a few.
My pageantry experience increased and grew once I moved back to Louisiana. I have held the following titles: Miss Diva, Miss Gay Baton Rouge America, Miss Gay Central State America, Miss Gay Olympus America, Miss New Orleans Pride, Miss AIDS Awareness, Miss Louisiana Leatherette, Miss Swamp Pussy, Miss Gay Mississippi America, Miss Apollo Baton Rouge, Miss Apollo de New Orleans and, currently, Miss National Apollo just to name a few. Also, I have won such awards as Most Creative Drag Queen for the Southern Drag Network, GAA Cheridon Comedy Award, three times GAA Entertainer of the Year, plus GAA Drag Show of the Year for my Show The PlayGirlz Show at the Golden Lantern.
What is your most embarrassing moment performing? Proudest moment performing?
My most embarrassing moment would have to be when I fell on stage during a performance, which I have done several times in my career. It happens but, we just have to get right back up and continue through. My proudest moment would be winning Miss National Apollo this past year. I had competed several times and wanted to capture the honor for so long. It took me since 2011 to gain the prestigious title with very few opportunities to do so. I represented Baton Rouge twice and New Orleans once. The second would be winning Miss Gay Mississippi America and finally getting to compete at Miss Gay America. I had competed in Miss Gay Louisiana previously for six years and was not able to secure that title in my home state.
What is your favorite venue at which to perform?
My absolute favorite place to perform would be The Country Club New Orleans for the Drag Brunch. We won the GAA Best Drag Brunch of the Year and have been doing the Brunch for eleven years now. The audience absolutely loves our show so much that we are usually booked up with reservations six months or longer in advance.
How does your drag persona differ from your non-drag persona?
I am pretty much the same in or out of drag personality-wise. People who get the opportunity to know me and know my personality will probably agree. I do know that I can have more courage as Gia than I do as Wayne. Gia is an entertainer and loves the stage, whereas Wayne is more laid back.
If you could change one thing about the drag scene in New Orleans, what would it be?
One thing I would want to see change is the support of each other in the drag community. Drag performers need to support one another and not tear each other down. We are all unique and bring something different to the many stages we all have the opportunity to perform on. With the many types of performers out there, there is a place for everyone, and we all have an opportunity to showcase our specific art form. For example, I don’t get booked at every show in New Orleans and I am ok with that. I am not going to be mad because a certain bar or show director doesn’t book me. I support everyone and all venues regardless.
I have performed with many types of entertainers in many different shows. Everyone has a place in the drag scene and there is always an opportunity for everyone. Some entertainers want to put down pageant queens but they are just as worthy of being an entertainer as any. Pageant queens are polished and structured in their art form. I myself use pageants as a test of my skill and profession. You get put in a different light and open yourself up to critique from your peers.
Pageant Queens take Drag to the extreme heights and invest in everything they can to land on top of the competitive scene. We may not always agree with the critiques given, but they help us to grow and do better in our stage presence and performance value in or out of pageants. Whether you are a Pageant Queen, Comedy Queen, do Goth Drag, Transgendered, Bio Queen, Club Queen etc., all Drag is valid and has a place in the Drag Scene somewhere. We have to find our place and when we do, we will be supported and loved. Let’s not get bitter, let’s get better so we can be a stronger community.
Your zodiac sign?
Gemini is my zodiac sign and actually fits me really well. Geminis are smart, outgoing, friendly, adaptable, enthusiastic, intelligent, curious, creative, and have a good sense of humor. The dual sign is perfect for me since I balance two characters in my daily life.