Paolo Ballesteros harnesses the power of resistance in everyday life.
Related:It's not just wigs, heels and glitter: Here's how Drag revealed who I can really be
Drag comes in many forms. From conceptual performances to stunning makeup transformations, this beautiful form of expression has evolved from a theatrical necessity in the 16th century and underground LGBTQ+ subculture to the global phenomenon it is today.
For Paolo Ballesteros, who has achieved global virality for his stunning makeup transformations on local and international celebrities, drag paved the way for him to show more of his skills and talents.
“I still have a lot to give, I still have a lot to show, I still have a lot of talent to show.creativityI don't stop here"is said.
For the host actor, drag gives him the power to do whatever he wants, as the art form drives him to portray a character he describes as larger than life.
"You have the power to do anything when you're in drag, like on a normal day, you can do a lot."Paul explains.“I learned that and it was given to mepullFor me."
Although for Paolo the power of drag goes beyond wigs, clothes, stage performances and anything else that catches the eye.
A NATO ARTIST
The youngest of three children, Paolo had a tendency to play with his sister's dolls and dress up in girls' clothes from an early age. He recalled that he would burst into tears if he weren't allowed to wear his sister's dress.
"Crescendo,I saw my brother with meBarbie dolls,” she says.“Of course I play it, but secretly. It evolved for thempaper dolls.There arepaper dollsmy brother, but you are prettierpaper dollsme you are prettierClothingvondollsIt is."
It was around this time that he began dressing up as part of his future goals and aspirations. However, he had to suppress it for fear of being mocked by those around him.
"I used to hide it more because you'd be tempted to be 'beki' and eat it.As typically Filipino as possiblethat you hide from the family because they prefer men",is said.
But over time, Paolo was able to express himself more freely, all the more so as he was a descendant of artists such as his great-grandfather, the painter Fernando Amorsolo, his two grandmothers, talented tailors, and his father. who was a painter from New York.
"Your Art Is Here"he remembers.“When I was young, I joined thatPoster Design Contests.You are thereCreativity".
YOUR FACE LIKE A SCREEN
Paolo admits that, unlike his relatives of the time, he did not have the patience and space to paint. This led him to another form of art, very similar to drawing and painting, but with a person's face as the canvas.
Once, during a social evening, Paolo recalls that he and his friends came up with the idea of painting each other's faces and wearing dresses to stage their own fashion show at home.
"That's when I realizedLoveI make up"is said.
That night, he searched online for makeup transformations inspired by an Asian makeup vlogger who transformed into Angelina Jolie.
"I was in awe of him. Charmed.So I tried. ANDMy Triny, come out, fallEula Valdez,” I joke."ButClose enough, 'To the right? They look alike. That's where it started."
When Paolo realized he could transform his face into the faces of well-known stars through makeup, he aspired to do more.
FOR INTERNATIONAL ACCLAMATION
He started posting his stunning transformations on Instagram and over time people began to appreciate his immense talent in transforming his face into international celebrities like Julia Roberts, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Megan Fox, Katy Perry and Beyonce.
Her posts soon went viral, not just in the Philippines but around the world. International news sites began listening and reporting on his incredible transformations, giving Paolo an unexpected sense of euphoria.
"I never expected this to go viral," he says."I'm amazed at myself that people I never thought would look like me because of makeup look like me.I was very gladthat you are recognized in different countries, differentlyarticles, magazines,oneNews,oneTV.I was surprised."
Becoming a viral sensation came as a surprise to Paolo as other people were also doing makeup transformations at the time. For him, however, it felt like he was doing something else.
"I never expected it to be like thisbecause there were also a lot of people doing makeup transformations back then,Butfor me becauseI try to do makeup transformationthat no one has done before."is said. "Generally,When someone sees him, others imitate him. I'm doing what no one has done before."
AN INSPIRATION FOR THE FAMILY
Big fans of Paolo's makeup transformations have alluded his art form to the art of drag, especially as he transforms into the opposite sex, which is one of drag's many facets.
For theComing BulagaStar, he agrees that drag played a role in his makeup creativity, saying that he not only tries to copy celebrities' facial features, but also imitates their expressions.
"I findbecome like thisEffectivehe really is 'Cause I'm not just copying your faceCelebrity; I also try to mimic their nuances, how they smile, how they use their facial muscles," he explains.
Paolo believes that what he does is the same as drag as it transforms a person into a different and over-the-top character.
“The same goes for dragWhyyou become a different person, a different character,” he explains. "That's what I do To the bone, I do—the character. I think that's why'junges Make-upTransformation ko becomes very effective.”
A long-time drag fan, Paolo recalls the first time he was inspired to dress up: As a child, he would watch his grandmother sew different types of dresses to wear to Sunday services. When he saw his grandmother in different dresses and heels, he thought of doing the same.
"I'm still young, I'm already wearing my grandma's shoes",is said"Because you are my grandmother,ModefanvonEvery Sunday,She sews different clothesfor church, suitablemore shoes I was just a kid, I was secretly doing drag.”
EXCELLENT ART FORM
Eventually, Paolo's makeovers would become more than just a hobby. Many years later he starred in his first major film.die nice, where her makeup transformations and dragging played a key role.
“Another success story because I do makeup and drag transformation isI had onefirst movieIt's meStar. after 15 yearsAs an artist, I had oneFilmthat I'm the hero"Paolo says happy.
Paolo's performance in the 2016 film received wide acclaim and was well received by local and international awards shows such as the 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival and the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival Awards, which earned him the Best Actor award.
"And to add the icing on the cake, I've become an internationally awarded actor," he says."I never expected to beat other great playersinternational artists.That's one of the things I'll never forget, along with the fatigue and difficulty of doing a show shoot with a makeup transformation. That's one of the things I'll never forget.”
YOUR OWN SUPERPOWER
In the midst of successes come challenges. Paolo believes that "cancel culture" has hindered his art. But he keeps getting his makeup transformations done and says he doesn't do it for other people, he does it for himself.
"You know,in our present timewith social mediaThat is muchcancel culture,You get scolded because you don't look like the person you're impersonating."is said."That's rightStreit,especially at the beginning.
"First of all, I don't do itfor her.I don't do makeup transformations like they want; I'm the one who followsbecause I do it for myself"(Video) Paolo Ballesteros as Drag Queen (9)
"But we know people, your fingers are a bit slippery. It's rude to comment like you're being paid to wear makeup, like you have to crack your skull in order to look like the person you're impersonating."
Through these challenges, Paolo realized that the only person is better off pleasing themselves: “You can't really please everyone.So if they doFanthem, they will be discouraged.Because it's for meIt's not right what you're telling me."
All harsh comments aside, Paolo totally sucks when it comes to making his art form:"'When you're in drag,You enter this characteralreadylarger than life."
For Paolo, however, he feels drag shouldn't just end with wigs, dresses, heels, and makeup transformations. When asked what advice he would give to aspiring makeup artists and drag performers, he believes the power that drag gives them should be applied in their daily lives.
"They will captivate youmaythat you can do anything when you're in the air"is said."It doesn't end there.pull,like himpower suit,that you havesuperhuman strengthwhat willcreativeYou are suddenly beautiful. Let's enjoy what is brought to uspullbut let's bring that into our real life too"
"Accesorieslong ' youngthen pulllet's enjoy youmaywhere we arriveddrag andlet's bring it into our real lives because we don't need makeup or pretty clothes to show who we are and what we can dobecause we can do so much.”
Photography by DOOKIE DUCAY
Creative direction by BRIE VENTURA and JANN PASCUA
Cover manipulation by JANN PASCUA
Photo manipulation and post-processing by BRIE VENTURA
Fashion direction by RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Styling by PAUL SESE assisted by MIGUEL QUILANG
Make-up von GUILLY VILLANUEVA
Hair by IAN GARCIA assisted by ALDRIN VIVO
MERMAID MANILA HAIR and WIGALOO PH wigs
Unhas NAIL BADDIE
Production design by CLAU VERZOSA and JAY
Filming coordination of KZ FRANCISCO and MJ ALMERO
Fashion film and videography VINCENT SY
BTS Videografia EXCEL PANLAQUE and JR RAMIREZ
Filmado no local BEYOND CONCEPTS STUDIO
Special thanks to VINCENT SY, MARIA FERNANDEZ and KAT REYES OF MERMAID MANILA HAIR