Editor’s note: For privacy, the Divas’ stage names will be used throughout this piece.
The Roaring Divas, a drag performance troupe in the Valley, has been making waves since its inception in February 2022. The group, created by the talented Ramona Chingona and Zen Fatale, the queens’ stage names, has performed many times up and down the Valley and shows no signs of slowing down.
Other performers in the troupe include Thelma Thunder Thighs, Zaddy Addams, Zamora and Sapphire Gem. Each Diva has a niche style. For example, Zamora is a character that disregards the gender binary and has adopted a more androgynous look for their performances.
“My look is more like a non-gender alien,” Zamora explained. “I’m not necessarily a queen or a king. I do more creature-ish looks. The music I lip-sync and dance to is from lesser-known artists that have spoken to me in the past.”
Chingona, who identifies with she/they pronouns, started the Roaring Divas due to noticing a lack of intersectional LGBTQ+ spaces in the Valley. They grew up in an immigrant household in the Valley and shared that, in tandem with being in the closet until their later teen years, they didn’t feel supported in their sexual orientation or identity.
“I went through a time here in the community in the closet, not feeling supported or encouraged to be my authentic self, to embrace who I am,” Chingona told The Sopris Sun.
After graduating college and moving back in with their family for some time, Chingona felt they had moved back into the closet — which took its toll for three years. During that time, they began to feel inspired to create something to support queer adults and youth in embracing themselves.
“I hit a breaking point while I was watching all of these different drag shows that inspired me. I saw how fearless and confident the performers were in who they are and what they are doing. That was what motivated me to try to do the same,” they stated. “To say, ‘I owe it to myself to allow myself to be who I am.’”
Things picked up quickly for the Divas. They have partnered with Gay for Good Rocky Mountains and PFLAG as event collaborators, performed at the Glenwood Springs Pride Celebration two years in a row and Aspen’s inaugural Pride festival this year, plus they host drag story hours and more.
“We’re starting to see more spaces for our community. For me, it’s been important to both embrace my queer identity and also my Mexican-Latino identity, all while trying to create a space for both to come together and coexist,” Chingona said.
Zen Fatale, who identifies as non-binary, is the troupe’s drag mother. They say that the group has provided not just the Divas, but the local queer community as a whole, a space to be themselves without the fear of judgment. Fatale says the audience’s energy is one of their favorite aspects.
“The energy from the audience is one of my favorite things, because drag is not easy on the body. We are cinched, corseted, hot all the time and very uncomfortable. But when you’re on the stage and the audience is receiving you, that all goes away,” Fatale explained.
When asked how performers handle backlash from being a drag queen, Fatale said, “We try not to focus on that, and turn that focus toward the love and warmth we get from our audiences. Because, for every person that spews hate at us, there will be three people in our corner.”
With laws in the country targeting queer communities, and specifically drag story hours and drag performances in general, Fatale is dedicated to breaking down some misconceptions.
“When you take who I am and make it a political issue, I have no option but to become political myself. We want to perform, bring joy, be funny and wear outrageous outfits heavier than our souls,” they said. “We deserve to be exactly who we are.”
Zamora piggybacked on that sentiment, saying, “Drag is for everybody regardless of age, regardless of socio-economic status or anything. Drag is an art form that anybody can do.”
The Roaring Divas are proving to be a major staple in queer spaces within the Roaring Fork Valley and are open to bringing in anyone interested in pursuing drag. To any aspiring performers looking to get involved or to get updates for upcoming performances, check out The Roaring Divas on their Facebook page or follow their Instagram @theroaringdivasco