Meet The Local Queens: Aldrin Cañals


 Photo taken by Ricardo Lara

Drag has always been an integral part of the queer community. Drag performers, notably, alongside transgender individuals, lead liberation movements and their efforts have paved the way for the LGBT community as it is today. As we continue to progress, drag continues to offer queer people a platform to express themselves and their individual visions of what it means to be part of such a resilient community . With the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race, it seems that drag is at a new cultural peak; nonetheless, every drag performer—old or new—always brings something unique to the table along with them.

For some, drag goes beyond just a performance. It directly relates to their identity. In the case of Aldrin Cañals, drag is the medium through which they can express their ideal gender expression. “To me, it’s a lot more serious because of its purpose and what it stands for in my life,” Cañals states. “I keep using my name because my drag is not a character that I create. I keep being myself.”

Photo taken by Carmencita Carmona

They go further and state that, although performing in drag is empowering, they don’t think they change the way they behave or act when they’re on stage. Cañals reflects and says that, while their initial vision is still unachievable due to lack of technological advances, they inch a bit closer to it each time they incorporate a new discipline into their artform.

When asked about a particular performance that they’ve enjoyed, they quickly thought about a performance at La Respuesta, a nightclub in Santurce that regularly hosts art performances, with a mix produced by friend Roberto Blanco, better known as Anoma Lia. “It was Gaga themed, so I was really feeling it,” they state. “It had two of my favorite songs: Alejandro and Dance In The Dark.” Although Cañals considers that to be their favorite performance, they also mention some other notable performances: A Guy That Takes His Time by Christina Aguilera, Piel by Arca, and WTP by Teyana Taylor.

Photo taken by Jo Cosme (pictured with Anoma Lia)

“The current drag scene in Puerto Rico is growing,” Cañals comments when asked about the current scene on the island. “I love how it’s developing, but at the same time, fear sometimes takes over because as it grows, everything grows too: the negative things and the positive things.” Nonetheless, Cañals remains hopeful that the community can continue working together and triumph over every challenge ahead.

For a drag performer whose art is not completely separated from their actual identity, Cañals often find themselves asking when it’s correct to actually perform. “The reason I ask myself that is because, since my work is related to my gender expression, people might perceive it as merely a character and something less serious.” Sometimes, they later add, that aspect of their work is difficult to control because each member of the audience could interpret it in a different way.

Photo taken by Anthony Velazquez

However, Cañals doesn’t see this as an obstacle for their artform. “I see myself performing art installations in different spaces other than [but not excluding] bars, clubs, pubs and places alike, so my work can be enriched by all those experiences as well.” Additionally, in that same vision towards the future of their art, Cañals thinks of their friends. “I would love to see myself with my friends too. I will never stop dreaming, so I will keep working towards my future.”

If you’re interested in contacting Aldrin Cañals, you can find them on: Instagram, Facebook, or at their email, [email protected].