Drag queen from Minas Gerais conquers the world making artistic wigs

Marcia Maria Cruz – State of Minas

posted on 08/30/2022 12:29


(Credit: Lucas Moura/Disclosure)

The Vogue cover with Gloria Groove impacted the fashion world. The drag appears with a pink wig, à la Marie Antoinette, adorned with gemstone accessories from Gucci, the luxury Italian fashion house.

The October 2020 cover – which also featured other drag queens – was a milestone in the rise of drag culture in Brazil. What few people know, however, that it was also a high point in the career of the boy André, born in “a disapplauded city in the interior of the state”. At the invitation of makeup artist Henrique Martins, he made Gloria Groove’s powerful wig.

Her way of being, a reason for bullying in childhood, became the basis of drag queen Malonna’s artistic creation. When giving the interview to DiversEM, Malonna was in Bogotá, Colombia. She was invited to sign the characterization (makeup and wig) of the opera “As bodas de Fígaro”, in the production made at Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo. The premiere will be this Wednesday (31/08).



The passion for the art of making wigs came as a consequence of working as a costume designer for shows. Already working in the field of arts, she decided to research a new technique, and the wig was the chosen art. “I bought every book on wigmaking techniques I could find. Mostly American, British, some Italian and French. I studied these books for years.”

Malonna even attended remote classes with tutors abroad. After a lot of practice, she became one of the main names in artistic wigs in Brazil – and one could say worldwide, as Brazilian drag queens have achieved international visibility as the most followed on social networks in the world. The focus is the use of wig techniques for the entertainment industry, artistic use.

the wigs


  • One of the wigs made by Malonna

    Instagram/Play

The wigs made by Malonna are quite different from the pre-made wigs with the hair sewn into dens. She points out that prefabricated wigs are very good for people who have lost their hair and need to wear wigs that have a resistance in everyday life. However, for the field of arts, she bets on wigs made in an artisanal and made-to-measure way.

Malonna rescues the wig making techniques, developed since the 18th century, which were gradually being forgotten in Brazil. She regrets that many professionals stopped working and did not teach the craft to anyone. At the same time, hair extensions and hair extensions gained space in the market. So that this art does not die, in 2016, she set up classes introducing the techniques of wig making in São Paulo.

Malonna makes wigs for movies and series – many of them box office successes. Sure, you’ve seen her work, but as the wigs are made to perfection, it’s quite possible that you didn’t identify that the actor or actress wore them. “I make wigs to measure so they are not perceived as wigs at all.” Malonna made 25 wigs for the set of Selena Gomez’s video recorded in Brazil.

A completely handmade work that she performs in the studio in São Paulo, which includes a detailed step-by-step from measuring the actor’s head, making a mannequin with exact shape, using specific tulles (materials that are not found in Brazil). After that, a base is constructed with the size of the actor’s head and placement of hair, taking into account the forms of growth of the natural hair.

Malonna rescues the wig making techniques, developed since the 18th century, which were gradually being forgotten in Brazil. She regrets that many professionals stopped working and did not teach the craft to anyone. At the same time, hair extensions and hair extensions gained space in the market. So that this art does not die, in 2016, she set up classes introducing the techniques of wig making in São Paulo.

Malonna makes wigs for movies and series – many of them box office successes. Sure, you’ve seen her work, but as the wigs are made to perfection, it’s quite possible that you didn’t identify that the actor or actress wore them. “I make wigs to measure so they are not perceived as wigs at all.” Malonna made 25 wigs for the set of Selena Gomez’s video recorded in Brazil.

A completely handmade work that she performs in her studio in São Paulo, which includes a detailed step-by-step from measuring the actor’s head, making a mannequin with exact shape, using specific tulles (materials that are not found in Brazil). After that, a base is constructed with the size of the actor’s head and placement of hair, taking into account the forms of natural hair growth.

“Hair doesn’t grow on people’s heads anyway, there is a growth pattern. In regions of the head it grows more turned to the left; others grow more turned to the right, we have swirls. No two hair growth patterns are the same, It’s almost a fingerprint.”

malonna

In 2004, Malonna came to Belo Horizonte to study visual arts and fashion design at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). She lived in the mining capital until 2013. She chose Madonna as a reference. The stage name Malonna was created in a pun on the pop diva she admired.

“When I started performing, in 2006, doing drag, I performed doing shows at the time when Madonna was doing shows wearing a bathing suit and I didn’t hide the ‘suitcase’, to wear the costume. The public created it as a pejorative thing, I added. it’s less about that, I’m not at that stage of the look”, he says.

Malonna, which was used in a pejorative tone, was re-signified and started to have a political use of reaffirmation. “People ask me ‘why is Malonna?’ I joke that Madonna is the mother of the Gods and Malonna the mother of evils”.

Malonna doesn’t reveal her age, says she stopped counting at 21.”It’s an ethical issue. It’ll be great when no one else believes me and I say I’m 21. It’s well known that it’s just a joke, a charminho. A woman who counts age itself is capable of anything’, he jokes.

A drag look at the world

Drag queens are known for their performances, often portrayed as a man in the role of a woman. However, the art of drag goes much further. It became a thought about the possibility of transcending gender. This thought underpins Malonna’s work.

“I develop my characterization projects, invited as a creator, from a drag point of view. From an understanding of the human body as something to be explored from a performative and artistic point of view”.

Drag art subverts the body’s codes. “Drag does piracy all the time. Not just stealing music and the pop diva look to put on a show. Piracy in the sense of hacking”.

Malonna explains that the art of drag hacks both gender codes and the codes of the human body. “We have drag queens that deal with the idea of ​​being human, post-human drag. We have drag that is an animal, drag that is a robot. The art of drag subverts bodies”, he concludes.


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