Brenda Hernández Jaimes
If there’s one thing I love, it’s seeing my Latino community thrive and it’s even more beautiful to see my friends’ career flourish. My high school friend, Julio César Ramírez, found success where many people seldom dare to tread. Not many resign from a full-time job and a steady paycheck to dive into the unknown of opening their own business. He did just that. Alongside his business partner, Luis Eder Bayuelo Gonález, they were able to co-found and grow Rasca Mapas, a map business that ultimately was able to obtain an investment of 1.5 million pesos in Shark Tank México.
This success story didn’t happen overnight and it hadn’t been Julio’s first goal to become an entrepreneur. His dream upon studying Communication at The Acatlán School of Higher Education of The National Autonomous University of Mexico was to be a sports journalist.
“I love football a lot and my team is Cruz Azul. It was always my dream to work in sports media and it’s something that I’ve always loved, but things change. You realize that even though you love something that might not be your path. Then you start to see more for your interests, for what you think and feel that will work. My dream of being a sports journalist went down the drain when I went to university,” Julio laughs. “I no longer liked that the Mexican media paid poorly and being a journalist here is unprofitable. That's why I decided to specialize in digital marketing and focus on organizational communication. You grow as time goes by, you prepare yourself and that’s where Eder and I are taking it for now.”
Julio and Eder met while studying Communication at FES Acatlán UNAM and it was January of 2017 when Eder created his version of scratch-off maps. Even though this product is well known in the American market, Mexico at the time offered very few options and without territorial boundaries. Eder took it upon himself to create scratch-off maps with a division of the 2,558 municipalities that are in the Mexican Republic and with that, the company Rasca Mapas was born.
“Eder suddenly went to Cuba on vacation, without asking permission, and his job fired him,” Julio says. “All the liquidation that he received from his job was used to create the design of the maps and produce prototypes. He called me in December to join him and I said yes. I wasn’t losing anything and I gave my investment. He then called me early in the morning in January and said, ‘I can’t do this alone anymore. Quit your job at the marketing agency and come.’ And so I did, I quit,” he says with a smile.
“The idea exploded! Our idea was that we would only sell 50 maps to recover everything we invested, but we sold 5 thousand just last year. The idea was to only recover our profit and investment and profit, but we saw that it had potential and from there Rasca Mapas was truly born,” he declares.
Rasca Mapas proudly has two goals, promote national tourism and make the learning process of geography more fun for children and young people. Their maps are sold for $500 pesos and they offer maps with Mexican municipalities, countries of the world and they currently have scratched off maps for Mexico’s 121 Pueblos Mágicos. Rasca Mapas wants you to Check-in Real Life and keeps track of all the places you’ve visited during your life.
“We’ve always had the idea of contributing towards something positive to the welfare of Mexico and our product may not have so much a social impact, but it has managed to encourage domestic tourism. Our main motto is to encourage domestic tourism and as a Mexican, you should know your country first before traveling to Europe and not only know the beaches like Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta but also know the Pueblos Mágicos and its incredible gastronomic and cultural experience,” Julio says.
He also shares that the vision for Rasca Mapas is to introduce their product in the American market and a medium-term goal is to transfer their physical maps to digital and create an app. This would also go in a place with their future projects of participating with companies or forging alliances with the Mexican government to create a tourism campaign.
Now that they’ve received 1.5 million pesos in investment from Mexican entrepreneurs: General Director of Grupo Financiero Value, Carlos Bremer and CEO of Startup México, Marcus Dantus, the projects of Rasca Mapas are closer to becoming reality. Originally Rasca Mapas was going to participate in the third season of Shark Tank México - but the company only had a month and half of operations under their belt. Luckily they were able to appear in season four. Julio and Eder agreed with Bremer to start working on kiosks in shopping centers to increase their maps position. The founder of Genomma Lab, Rodrigo Herrera, offered them to get their product duty free at the stores of the airports in the Mexican Republic. While Marcus Dantus and Patricia Armendáriz offered them a meeting to see how they could help them.
“It’s very gratifying to follow the advice of the most important entrepreneurs in Mexico. It’s a unique learning experience. We recently had a meeting with Arturo Elías Ayub at his office and he advised us many ideas for us to implement and many business ideas to monetize more of. It’s taking them into account because he’s such a qualified person! All are very good, but the lesson is to not get stuck, you have to keep innovating because if you don't keep learning then you either create or die,” Julio says.
One of the many ways that Julio keeps learning and updating his skills is to visit entrepreneurship events and conferences where he can meet other young Mexican entrepreneurs to share ideas and advice.
“As an entrepreneur, I feel I have a responsibility with my country because it’s not only creating something from my mind, but that we’re all able to create something and materialize it. The entrepreneurship industry in Mexico is developing and we’ve met people who want to make a change in Mexico. Meeting them in these events helps you a lot, from listening to their advice and having mentors helping you. You meet people with the same passion as you - and they might not sell much, but they believe in their project and they believe in themselves and it's a very good community because we all support each other,” Julio gushes. “We understand each other very well and you know that you’re not alone, that you’re not the only one who thinks the same way or that you have zero pesos in your bank account! It motivates you to work with a sense of happiness and constantly believe in your project. That’s when you realize that the ideas from Mexicans are all incredible,” he states proudly.
As for the future of Rasca Mapas, Julio is happy to announce they recently met up with the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico City to propose experiences around their scratch-off maps that will be released in Easter Break of 2020.
“The next step for us is to not only sell maps and make videos, but also encourage an experience where several businesses, companies, and the government participate. We’re planning to make a rally so you can begin a tour of Mexico City’s 16 delegations. You have your map and go to the places that are marked on the map. We want to create that experience and movement within the city of not only visiting Downtown, but to know all of Mexico City and its delegations,” Julio says.
He also encourages any young person in starting their own business to just do it. We live in the digital era where everyone can learn and prepare themselves through online and videos on YouTube. Excuses are not knowing how to gain skills is no longer the wall that is stopping us to create.
“I believe that the next generation, and we’re seeing how children are born with cell phones and it seems it’s another part of their body,” Julio laughs. “They know how to take advantage of that!”
“I would have loved to have a department of entrepreneurship development that would have instilled the culture of teaching and advising you of the bases of creating your business. But if you have an idea, just do it. You don’t need the investment of millions of pesos to make your company. One thing Eder and I’ve been told is to always validate your product, create a prototype, sell it, and with that you start your company. Starting a business with money is different, but if you don’t have it, it’s not impossible. Many things can help you. You don't need to have thousands of pesos. It's having an idea and believing in it. Put into practice, leave the indecision behind, work it and don’t rest until it’s built. It’s all about consistency, not despairing, and having love for what you do.”
To purchase your Rasca Mapas visit rascamapas.com and follow them on all their social media platforms.
YT Rasca Mapas
Todo empezó por un proyecto fallido…
Un coleccionista amigo mío me dijo que quería organizar una exposición -grande e impresionante-. Hace más de 10 años hizo un proyecto donde junto a artistas mexicanos y españoles con el objetivo de enseñarle a la CDMX algo nuevo y diferente. Sin embargo, después de eso, el trabajo lo consumió y a pesar de que su buena relación con coleccionistas y artistas no volvió a lanzarse a un proyecto tan grande. Ahora que me conocía (y por medio de mi a una nueva generación de artistas), tenía unas ganas enormes de arrancar un tipo de décimo aniversario de ese primer proyecto. ¿Mi misión? Poner mi obra, seleccionar artistas y armar juntos esto.
Conocía solamente por IG la obra de Mateo Pizarro y se me hizo una buena oportunidad el proyecto para conocerlo y ver su obra en persona. La visita fue fascinante de principio a fin. Mateo aceptó el proyecto y empezamos a tener reuniones de inmediato. Vimos la enorme fábrica que nos darían y anonadados nos volteamos a ver diciendo this is it. Pero los días pasaron y el coleccionista y su partner tardaban cada vez más en contestar los mensajes relacionados con la expo diciendo que estaban cargados de trabajo. Los días se volvieron semanas y entendimos que jamás sucedería. Para mi fortuna, Mateo no quería dejar las cosas así y me mandó un mensaje diciendo -¿por qué no la hacemos nosotros?-. ¿Por qué no?
La planeación de Expo Pixán empezó en Julio de 2018. En Septiembre empezamos a elegir a los artistas. Tenían que ser artistas que aunque no conociéramos, nos fascinaran. A la mayoría ni siquiera los conocíamos pero empezamos a mandar mails y DMs. Había desde quienes mostraban completo desinterés hasta quienes nos mandaban foto de sus nuevas obras pero no nos convencían. En Octubre se cerró la lista -Floria Gonzalez, Tatiana Camacho, Ariel Orozco, Jorge Rosano, Francisco Esnayra, Miguel Ángel Carrera, Jerónimo Naranjo, M. Marcovich, Mateo y yo (más tarde agregamos a Whitney Lewis-Smith). En Noviembre inició la búsqueda de espacios. Nada nos convencía…. Ya sea que fallaran por las dimensiones, la renta, calendario de galerías, etc. Recordé que en el 2017 había tenido una exposición en una casa espectacular en Bucareli con un colectivo y en cuanto encontré la dirección exacta en internet lleve a Mateo de inmediato. Nos volvimos a ver como aquella vez en la fábrica del primer proyecto this is it. Los siguiente meses se volvieron planeación y planeación. También queríamos anexar un proyecto para alguna fundación y decidimos realizar las dos series de obra en beneficio al Comedor Santa María en Parras.
Ese proyecto lo iniciamos en el estudio de Mateo con el fotógrafo Marcovich. La primer serie constaría de 6 mujeres que estuvieran impactando su contexto:
Patricia Conde Promotora del arte mexicano. Es pionera como galerista en el campo de fotografía y su galería Patricia Conde se ha consolidado como referencia de la fotografía mexicana a nivel internacional.
Carla Fernández Autora y diseñadora de moda mexicana conocida por su trabajo con comunidades indígenas
Floria González Artista plástica mexicana que explora varias áreas de expresión artística como la fotografía (principalmente), video, pintura, instalación y performance.
Ana Elisa Mena Primera bailarina en la Compañía Nacional de Danza de México. Ha protagonizado en ballets como El Lago de los Cisnes, Giselle, El Cascanueces, entre otros.
Norman Listman Chef y artista mexicana. Ambas prácticas son mezcladas y dirigidas por su patrimonio.
Domitila Bedel Galerista de Machete y Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo.
Creo que es importante exponer a cada una de ellas porque cuando tratamos de construir el mundo en el que vivimos, necesitamos algo que nos importe. Historias de personas reales que de una manera u otra encontraron la forma de salir adelante en los días difíciles, que aprendieron a trabajar en equipo, que impulsan el talento mexicano y dijeron “lo logro por que lo logro”, y que abogan por un país mejor. Por el otro lado, la segunda serie constaría de retratos de los niños del comedor Santa María intervenidos por diferentes artistas -Natalia LaFourcade, Sabino, Ricardo Luevanos, Studio Madera, Helena Garza, Edgar Solorzano, Rodrigo Roji (artista), Rodrigo Rojo (actor), Alejandra Alarcón, Pablo Cotama, Monica Collado, Miguel A. Carrera, Jorge Rosano, Eduardo Ramon, Irene Aretia, Mariana Magdalena, Densa, Citlali Haroy y Jorge Carrera.
Para estos retratos nos escapabamos Floria González (quien tomó los retrato de los niños), Rodrigo Rojo y yo a la fundación en Parras. Donde convivimos todo un día con los niños del comedor. Es difícil describir lo que vivimos conviviendo con los niños. Desde que nos bajamos de la camioneta, después de dos horas y media desde Monterrey, escuchamos fuertemente a los niños cantando. El comedor está en un área de extrema pobreza y el 30% de los niños lo que comen ahí es su único alimento. En muchos casos, el único momento del día donde se pueden sentir queridos, consentidos y seguros es en el comedor. Espacio donde no solamente comen sino que hacen nuevos amigos, son abrazos, festejan su cumpleaños y aprenden de sus emociones. Le pedimos a los niños acercarse después de comer para poder tomar sus retratos, traíamos como prop una de las famosas esferas de astronauta que Floria ha usado en diferentes de sus series fotográficas. Se acercaron primero los más valientes. Aquellos niños que con todo pulmon gritaron “¡Yo primero!” y poco a poco llegaron aquellos que agarraron mi mano y en una voz que apenas podía escuchar me susurraron “¿puedo tomarme una foto?”. Después de varios retratos en el comedor y sus alrededores fuimos a 4 casas de algunas de las familias. Aquí no encontrabas a los niños cantando… entre basura, ropa sucia y muchos pero muchos animales. Nos topamos con pequeños que nos robaron el corazón. Nos fuimos de Monterrey decididos en ayudar de la manera que pudiéramos a este débil sector de nuestra población -los niños.
El 1 de Septiembre fue el opening de la exposición. Pusimos en la invitación que el evento empezaba a las 7:00pm y desde las 6:00pm ya estaba llegando gente. Hubo varios momentos durante la noche en que todos los cuartos de la casa estaban completamente llenos. Tenías a Mabe Fratti tocando el chelo mientras cantando, cautivaba al público del área de escaleras. En el pasillo principal veías a Lupe Blazquez sacando el saxofon, mientras que en el cuarto azul empezaba el performance del cuarto de Floria González. Mientras tanto, en la parte de arriba estaba Jerónimo Naranjo haciendo una demostración de su instalación “Piano Kinesis”; entretanto, Mateo y yo explicabamos las obras del Comedor Santa María junto a Maria Rivero González, y Regina Campos (nuestra gestora cultural) cerraba ventas de obra.
La noche fue surreal. Los artistas que había admirado durante años venían a mi diciendo lo felices que estaban de participar en esta exposición. Gente nueva y extranjeros decían que hace mucho no estaban en un espacio tan bien curado y con esta calidad de artistas. Amigos lloraron diciendo que todavía recuerdan mis primeros dibujos y ahora están ante mis nuevas piezas. Mateo y yo lo hicimos. Y es lo que pasa cuando crees en un proyecto. No tienes que ser un coleccionista privado, una galería grande o un curador con años de experiencia para poder lanzarte a hacer algo de gran calidad. A veces solo tienes que ser un artista joven con mucha pasión y juntar un equipo que crea en la visión que tienes.
Exposición Pixán seguirá abierta hasta el 28 de Septiembre en Bucareli 69. Y todos los días tenemos visitas para tours privados. Si estas en México, espero puedas acompañarnos.
by Josephine Jael Jimenez
Time used to move slowly when I didn’t enjoy every minute.
It was agonizing to watch the clock as it ticked slower and slower,
making each day before my new life hurt with every little stop around.
But still, those years are gone and those days with them.
They no longer exist, only the memory of the pain remains.
But now time moves quickly and I’m having trouble keeping up.
It moves even quicker when I’m in the presence of my love.
What kind of mania is that,
to feel minutes as if they’re seconds and hours as if they’re minutes
in the presence of your heart in human form?
It’s a different kind of pain.
If we were to be apart, time would move slowly again.
The pain of my younger youth would return
as I stared at clock after clock until I could be together again with my heart.
My life would feel longer and maybe I would have more time to be great and good,
but length of life doesn’t feel as important as it used to.
All I want is to fill every second of everyday with bickering and love and silence
between me and my heart in human form.
Clocks can move at record speeds
and my life can feel short and full of nothing that can be called great,
but it would be sweet and full of minutes and seconds and hours
that were more beautiful than the painful moments that lasted forever when we were apart.
Never did I think I would crave a faster life, a quicker timeline.
Time was all I wanted,
death was the only thing I feared.
That all changed when love came to hold my hourglass and whatever angle it chose.
All that matters now is when I’ll get my next dose of love
and how long I get to be intoxicated with it before I have to go away,
even for a second, and hour or a minute.
Time used to be the love I hoped to hold with me when I died,
but now she means nothing to me.
She’s kind when you hold her close,
but she’s cruel when you forget to love her the most.
by Katie Garner
Originally featured in the FUTURE issue
“Space plague. Yup. I’ve got space plague.”
“Uh, yeah, but don’t worry, I don’t think I’m contagious.”
“There’s no such thing as space plague you dumb fuck.”
“Maybe they don’t call it space plague wherever your backwater alien ass is from, but where I come from they call it space plague. So. Suck on that.”
“What? Okay, look-- I don’t have time for this.”
“You have an escape plan?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Well while you’re working on your escape plan, can you tell me what year it is?”
“I don’t get the question.”
“C’mon man, the year! Jesus, uh, I don’t know, how much time has passed in the history of humans?”
“Wait, years? Years haven’t been used as a unit of temporality since the early electric age.”
“... that wasn’t the response I was looking for. Sorry if it starts to smell in here. Little bit of pee escaped just now.”
“Something is definitely wrong with you, but it’s not space plague.”
“Focus instead on how we’re going to escape from this... cell. Can you see anything? I can’t see shit.”
“No, I can’t see anything. I’m blind. Can you move your arms? Try to feel around behind you.”
“You’re blind? Like, blind blind? Are all people blind now?”
“What? No. I was born blind. Where are you getting all this crap?”
“I was a pretty sheltered kid growin’ up, man.”
“Do you feel anything behind you or not?”
“Just a smooth wall. No grooves or knobs or anything like that.”
“Yeah, this sucks. Hey, I told you why I’m in here, why’re you here?”
“You did not tell me why you were here. Even if there was such an illness called ‘space plague’ there would be no reason to imprison you. Also, anything with ‘plague’ in its description would imply that such an illness would be contagious--”
“Fine, fuck. I don’t have space plague. Happy now?”
“No. Now I’m just trapped in a storage closet with a bad liar.”
“Fuck, just, listen for a sec. I actually don’t know why they shoved me in here. I’m from the past. The extremely distant past. I woke up this morning on a spaceship and that’s all I know.”
“What do you mean, you woke up on a spaceship? Traveling into the future wasn’t your intention?”
“No! All I remember is drinking a few with Johnny last night and crashing on his couch. Next morning, my back’s killing me, and it’s really bright, so I thought maybe I passed out on the sidewalk again. Instead I’m slumped against the wall of some hallway, but like, a clean hallway, like a dentist’s office. And a woman was standing over me. But, like, there was something wrong with her face. You know how on TV they blur out advertisements and dicks and stuff? Her face was like that.”
“I don’t know what a TV is, but the woman was probably Candace.”
“You know her?”
“Not exactly. Candace is the AI for all the Hegemony ships. Apparently her original design was so unsettling that they altered her into what you saw.”
“Hold up, that was the uncreepy version? God, the future sucks.”
“Then what happened?”
“I sorta freaked out when I saw her, so I bolted. Ran in the opposite direction for a while. Sirens were going off, which freaked me out more, and then something shattered and my ears were ringing, like my brain was rattling against my skull. And then I woke up here.”
“That’s it? You didn’t see anyone?”
“No man. Just the censored robot maid and a bunch of windows that clued me into that fact that I’m on a goddamn spaceship. Now c’mon, what are you in for?”
“They arrested me on charges of treason, but in reality this is an attempt to silence a leading voice of dissent.”
“You keep saying they. Whose ‘they’?”
“The Hegemony. They’re the primary executors of law and order throughout all inhabited worlds, whether those worlds want it or not.”
“So they suck?”
“Crude, but not inaccurate.”
“And we’re on a Hegemony ship?”
“That’s why I can’t stress the importance of finding a way out of here. The Hegemony isn’t known for being merciful.”
“Like, I get that, but I’m a shitty time traveler and you’re a blind revolutionary, so what the hell are we supposed to do against a ship full of space cops?”
“The only thing we can do. We bargain.”
“Buddy, I don’t think you got the gist of my story, cause I didn’t exactly bring my wallet with me into the future. Time travel didn’t even, uh, let me bring my clothes.”
“That doesn’t matter. You’re the bargaining chip.”
“What you experienced is a documented phenomena. It’s extremely rare, of course, but it happens. A while back, a man materialized on a medic vessel, screaming gibberish at the doctors and nurses until they realized he was speaking Latin. The Hegemony goes crazy over these people. They’d do anything to get information out of you. Even, just maybe, give us our freedom.”
“What’s this ‘us’ shit? So I get to be probed by shady space government and you get to go back to raging against the machine?”
“...I know it sounds bad, but you need to understand my importance as a political leader in a growing movement against an unjust entity--”
“This is how this is gonna go. You help me get back to my time, and I’ll get you out of here.”
“If the Hegemony can’t even master time travel, what makes you think I can? I’m not a scientist!”
“Fuck, I don’t care! You can at least help me figure my shit out! I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to go, and I don’t know anyone else!”
“Okay, fine, just shut up. We can work together...for the time being.”
“Awesome. Do you think the robot maid can bring me some clothes? I’m freezing my nuts off.”
“I think I hate you.”
“S’all good buddy, I think I hate you too.”
Poem by Sarah Rizvi
Not all men can discern their purpose
Many want a family but forget the first rule: to stay
Not my dad
Ali Rizvi was always destined for something
Youngest son of Syed Muhammad Rizvi and Sultana Rizvi
Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Not only did he begin in the name of Allah the most merciful
He didn’t need to say the prayer out loud,
his life was that of a prophet
His mother grew sunflowers in Lahore and his grandfather beat him at chess
Life takes work and even with enough sunshine flowers can still wither
He is like the trees in his new California home, Sequoias
Short roots in the soil but branches in the sky
An immigrant with an imagination
He taught me that even if the most you accomplish in life is patience
And even if my greatest feat
Is being his daughter
Is holding his hand when he passes
That's more than enough
Because who doesn't want to go down in history as a superhero’s child?
Brenda Hernández Jaimes
There are Drag Queens, and then there’s Mexican Drag Queen, @YayoiBowery, who will sparkle your brain with a colorful explosion of a glossy shark and a divine Monarch butterfly. She stands out from the rest by being true to both of her namesakes: Yayoi Kusama and Leigh Bowery, and who is obsessed with anime by giving a mind-blowing taste for a whimsical and fantastical world. Through her Instagram account and Youtube channel she provides an insight to her wonderful creativity by uploading magnificent photos and informative videos. It all began when she was invited to the A Hell of a Party!, the annual Halloween party organized by @AnalMagazine in Mexico City. It was 2014 and Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective Infinite Obsession had turned the whole city upside down to the point that people were camping outside the Tamayo Museum. It was in that moment that Bowery jokingly said she would dress up as Yayoi Kusama.
“I love to wear costumes. Halloween and Día de Muertos are parties that I never miss. I love to disguise myself and it fascinates me. After I said I would dress up as Yayoi Kusama, I thought why not? The following year, I was super excited with that party because the people who go put in a lot work into their outfits, it’s so impressive! What I loved the most was that it is not a classic Halloween party that everyone has scary costumes, but it’s a lot of pop culture. The costumes refer to characters, artists and cartoons. The second time I went as Leigh Bowery and the third time as Divine. I saw people approaching me and taking photos with me. It was at that moment that I wanted to create a character that could be whatever I wanted.”
Yayoi Bowery is the perfect combination of fashion, art, and anime. She grew up watching Dragon Ball Z and going to the Mole Comic-Con. By combining these two important artists with her love of Dragon Ball Z, Takashi Murakami, Jeremy Scott, and Drag Queens such as Divine and Kim Chi, Yayoi Bowery was born.
“What drove this creativity was that when I was going to study I was between visual communication, industrial design, and fashion design. I was hesitating a lot and ended up studying visual communication because I really like design and partly because I never felt that my family was going to accept that I study fashion design,” she confesses. “So two years ago I started with Yayoi when a friend was moving to Spain and she was selling her things. Among her possessions was a sewing machine. So I said I would take it. That's where I started to sew, learn how to sew, and that's where I got everything. Because what I offer to Yayoi is this creative part through makeup and my outfits. And working as a Publicist, I think the obsession and fascination with brands and products were what Yayoi ended up being.”
It was alongside another friend that Yayoi began to experiment with makeup and find inspiration with Pantone’s Color of the Year and Valentine’s Day. She started doing more conceptual makeup and photograph herself.
“That's when I decided to open my Instagram account to start "documenting" how my progress was going. The first photo I have is the first time I did Drag makeup - that was disastrous,” Yayoi laughs, “But it was worth it because we all start so basic and the thing is to continue practicing and learning. It was through this Instagram account that little by little I went to experiment with makeup and create Yayoi. But the day I can say that Yayoi was born because it was the day I said, ‘I want Yayoi to be this way’ was January 6 during the Three Kings Day because I gave myself a grey wig. For me, Yayoi is an anime character that loves to use white outfits because I feel like I’m in limbo.”
Like many of her generation of Mexican Drag Queens, Yayoi shares RuPaul’s Drag Race as the spark that motivated her to do Drag. And like some of her counterparts, she also shares that before doing Drag she felt ignorant. Nevertheless, that changed when she started to do Drag. It opened her to a world of many possibilities of living as fully as possible.
“I remember once an ex showed me RuPaul’s Drag Race and got weirded out. I didn’t understand, but at the same time, it was because I think that many gays live with a certain amount of internalized homophobia. Before I didn’t wear tights or paint my nails. I would always say, why do I have to do that?” Right now I feel so free doing it and that's thanks to Drag. So that’s something that’s also very important and I’m grateful that we’re going to take this feminine part and we’ill accept it because we all have it and I think it’s good.”
“In the end it’s ignorance. I remember the first time I met a Drag Queen and it was @DeborahLaGrandeDrag and I perfectly remember my feelings were between fear of who is this? Why are they doing this? Now that I do Drag, I see that it’s cool being creative. Drag has led me to have the courage to get on a stage! And I always try to make the public have a good time. Even when I'm not on stage, we're going to laugh and we're going to have a good time,” she says.
Yayoi is true to her words and loves taking Drag to different spaces in Mexico City. She used to see Drag as a fun experiment that took her to parties and an opportunity to post photos about it. She didn’t have a clear vision of where she wanted to take Yayoi. This all changed after hearing about the Drag Queen Story Hour program, founded by fellow Queen @LoryStoryy, was being sued by ‘United Strong Families for Nuevo León’ for allegedly corrupting children. However, this inspired many Queens of Monterrey and the rest of the country to help extend the project.
“We live in a machista and very homophobic country. With Drag Queen Story Hour I realized that Drag can take you to many places and not just a club. I want Yayoi to contribute little by little. Last year I went to a foster home and that was fun! It was a super nice experience. I want to do more of these things, not only with children but also make an exhibition for Drag art. I want to invite Drags to create and share their art either a performance or a painting. I want to take Drag to many spaces because I think it’s so creative that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to lip sync at a bar, which is fine, but I think we can expand it because that’s what Drag gives me. It’s a creative explosion that I can take wherever I want it and that the Drags and the people who want to do it can be inspired to do it!”
Yayoi also shares that for her being a Drag Queen should be a balance of fun and responsibility. She’s adamant about people giving respect to the work that many Queens do before and during their show.
“I think it's a balance. Take it seriously, but there’s also the fun part. If you do Drag for fun then that’s very valid, but if it turns into a job and you only do it for fun then you’re damaging the work of other Drags. Then there’s this big responsibility of meeting schedules and demanding a fair wage. We’re very used to being paid with three beers and they expect us to work for 200 pesos and you’re up there all night and don’t even have money for an Uber. Also, there needs to be respected before and during the show, your transportation, your Drag show and the props you use. And many times you even end up paying to be there,” Yayoi continues. “I feel that there’s a responsibility, but beyond that, I think that what I like to show is this diversity that we have. That Drags aren’t only for thin or young people. No matter how old you are, you can live your dream. I studied and have a career and work in advertising. At the age of 28 I started doing Drag and I found something, I don’t know if it’s a vocation, but it’s something that fills me up a lot. No matter how old you are, always encourage yourself to get rid of that itch and do what you have always wanted to do. Because maybe it doesn’t work, but you at least tried, but maybe it does work! And it gives you a new perspective on life and that’s incredible. If you die tomorrow...you didn’t do it! I really want to go out of this world and say to that cool I did what I wanted!”
She also talks about the economic barrier that Mexican Drag Queens suffer and that people shouldn’t compare them to American Queens.
“Many people say that Mexican Drag compared to RuPaul’s Drag Race isn’t polished. I always say that Drag is an expression that comes from popular culture. So we can’t ask the Mexican Drags to be like the ones in the United States because, in the end, it’s a very different culture. And because in the end American Drags are better paid than the ones here in Mexico. All these socioeconomic factors arise where we have to be creative. That's why in Mexico we’re very good at bewitching and that’s the tea! That's why I love the word bewitch because with what we have we try to solve it in the best way!”
Yayoi also shares that when she went to DragCon in New York and then to Los Angeles, she couldn’t help but notice the obvious difference between the two.
“I dare to say that Mexican Drag is more like New York. It’s more experimental and that gives me great pleasure. We might look basic, but we’re giving our fight. And projects like La Más Draga are providing a professional look of Mexican Drag to an international audience and leaving a good impression. And people are seeing it! People from California, when [my mother], @MargaretYYa went there and I was surprised how many people know her in Los Angeles! It’s cool that there’s a vision towards Mexican Drag and that it’s very unique.” she says and shares her advice for people interested in doing Drag.
“I wish you first of all to have fun. Because a lot of people say that Drag is not art and from a certain point I agree, but for me, art doesn’t have to be in a museum. For me, it’s the expression of your creativity. In the end, creativity is all your feelings that you have and you express them in a way. And it doesn’t matter if it's a painting, a poem, it doesn’t matter if it's a dress or Drag makeup. Just do it! Because you set yourself free! It’s as if you were an Instant Pot and you’re releasing this heat from inside you in a creative way,” she says.
As for the future, Yayoi is currently shining in ads for Urban Decay and Reebok Mexico. She’s been working to reach these different spaces and she’s not stopping anytime soon. Along with her exhibit and Drag Queen Story Hour, Yayoi would love to give creative workshops to help lessen the exploitation of fellow artists and Queens to continue being #ExtrañasPeroMuyInteresante !
Brenda Hernández Jaimes
Dressed in a varied selection of masks that range from a fierce latex dominatrix to a glossy piñata or a captivating cactus, @Ssuculenta always takes center stage. What started as a photographic project has now become the lightning rod of empowerment for Mexican photographer, Memo Hojas. Suculenta’s intense aesthetic leads the conversation and shines in whatever space she’s in. Simply put, Suculenta is unapologetically a latex-wrapped beacon of risqué fascination that is sparkled with Mexican tradition.
“Suculenta was an exploration of my feminine side. For me the project is an escape because I suffer from depression and Suculenta gives me this empowerment that I sometimes don’t find as Memo,” he shares. “When going out, people look at me and ask me for photos. Having this grandeur and dazzle on the street feels pretty good and I like it. Because at the end of the day, Drag is a show. Going out on the street is the show. It’s a whole show letting everyone see you and telling you that you look incredible. The project has been that - really driving that confidence towards me for Suculenta and Memo.”
When Memo began to create Suculenta, he wanted her to have a clear duality. Starting from her name, he was inspired by combining his love for plants and having fun with sexual innuendo. For her aesthetic, Memo turned to his bondage and shibari experience which easily translated to masks and his wish for not using makeup.
“Suculenta is a very crazy character, but she has a very clear aesthetic that she doesn’t want to be pretty. She’s a dominatrix that is imposing,” he says. “As Suculenta, I try to do many things. I can’t do my makeup in a pretty way, because I don’t want to do that. I want to have certain elements that people say, ‘your mask is cool’. I would also like that when people see me that they feel inspired to break that fear of using makeup and just be daring,” Memo says.
Being a Drag Queen, he feels his responsibility is to inspire and have fun in one way or another and to break into the spaces. From his corner, Memo wants to inspire people with Suculenta’s aesthetic, reference and story. Even though Memo has been doing drag for less than a year, he’s proud of Suculenta’s growth in terms of aesthetic and character. Memo encourages anyone interested in Drag to just do it and to buy an eyeliner that won’t smudge.
Memo has been fortunate of being surrounded by many iconic Drag Queens that have driven the scene in Mexico. One of them is his mother, @ninade_lafuente who did Suculenta’s makeup for a Valentine’s Day party. For Memo, it was in that moment that he felt beautiful and empowered to have this feeling forever. Little by little, he learned how to do his makeup and how to execute his outfits. Since the very beginning, Suculenta has and still is seen through photos. This all began when Memo approached his boyfriend, Memo Díaz Martín to collaborate with him. For Hojas it was clear that Suculenta’s aesthetic was perfect for Memo’s colorful photographic style.
“When I met Memo, I was afraid to say, ‘Hey, can you help me?’ Because there’s also this discrimination within the gay community that doing Drag is too feminine because you dress like a woman. So for me, it was hard to tell him, but I knew that Memo would help me in one way or another because his aesthetic goes well with the drag scene,” he smiles. “Before me, Memo had the aesthetic of using women as his models. I think what’s cool is that we both complement each other. It’s cool that I’ve been introduced to his world and he’s part of the one that surrounds me. What motivated me to continue was to teach him about the Drag Queens, the aesthetic and feeling his support,” Memo says.
Their romantic relationship has also cultivated their artistic collaboration. While Díaz Martín is the photographer and creative director, Hojas can help him produce the magic that is shown on the exuberant Drag Queen photography. He’s also a link between the Queens and Díaz Martín.
“I think it’s very important to give voice to Drag Queens. I think it’s something very political and each Drag shapes it in their way in terms of aesthetics,” Memo says.
They’ve worked with @ameliawaldorf, @margaretyya, @quetzal.lv, @cordeliadurango, @deseosfab, and @debramen. The Memos have created sharp and bright photos of these iconic Queens. Mixing their stories and aesthetic with important Mexican political moments and figures have shaped a new era in the Drag scene of Mexico.
Their artistic collaboration has just begun and they’ve been producing magnificent photos. Starting with Suculenta’s first photos, Díaz Martín was able to communicate her story and aesthetic through his lens.
“It’s cool because Memo and I are also inspired by their aesthetic. It visually nourishes us. Each Drag has their own varied aesthetic and character that can help me develop certain concepts,” he says,
Memo admits that for now, he has placed Suculenta to a side a bit. He’s currently studying at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), working and focused on his other photographic project: Morrxs. And Hojas isn't stopping anytime soon.
“I want to put more production to Suculenta’s photos. I told Memo that it would be cool to takes photos on important dates. We’ve done Valentine’s and Christmas. We already have certain photos and concepts developed that we would like to produce,” he informs. “At this moment I want to start different things. Right now it was fun and strange, we collaborated with a friend of Memo, who is a florist and it was very strange. It was something new for him because he’s heterosexual so it was very difficult for him to understand. But it was interesting.”
The result was creating a blossoming kingdom of beautiful flowers surrounding Succulenta that showcased her feminine side.
“I wouldn’t like to be stuck in one single aesthetic. I feel that many times Drags become stagnate in a single makeup and look. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but Drag gives you a lot to explore of different themes with various makeup, clothes, and references. Drag can use art, design, architecture and so many things that are also references from characters and artists. At least I would like to start pulling certain aspects from those elements,” he continues and shares the level of difficulty it is to be a Drag Queen in Mexico City.
“It’s daring. Beyond the heels, makeup and all this. To dare is to take a great step of really doing it. In that step, it involves personal situations of personality, self-esteem, and many things that at the end will be reflected onto the character,” Memo says. “I think the important thing about Drag is to dare yourself to do it and enjoy it. That's the important thing about Drag. Enjoy it. Not only for you but for those around you. In the end, you’re sharing your art with others. I think that's pretty cool. Having this communication, contact with people and that you can engage with. At least I did it for that reason. It’s these situations of being asked for a photo that makes you feel like a Queen. It's cool. Beyond looking good or not, enjoy it because, in the end, it’s an experience. Every Drag Queen showcases and lives it in their way.”
Memo is true to Suculenta as she is with him. He’s in no rush to bombard everyone by showcasing her wild and feminine side. There will always be another Drag Race in Mexico City and another opportunity for Suculenta to shine. For Memo it’s all about investing the time, dedication and love to Suculenta so when she’s in front of the camera, her confidence is reflected onto Memo and ultimately inspire another young gay man to discover his inner Queen.
Brenda Hernández Jaimes
It has always been vital for Díaz Martín to showcase certain aspects of life such as the Drag community in Mexico. He had always been curious to go in and see how it was all done. Yet at the time he didn’t know anyone who was part of the Drag Queen culture. That all changed when he met his current boyfriend, photographer Memo Hojas, who also does Drag under the name of Suculenta. Their wonderful collaboration began with Memo’s colorful aesthetic complementing Suculenta’s audacious vision. They’re able to produce images that are both imaginative and hyperreal. The fruits of such impacting images were able to build a bridge for Memo to connect with other Drag Queens who were captivated by his photographic style.
“I love it because I think they’re extremely creative people. I’m very excited to work with people that I admire and I think we connect our worlds very well,” he continues. “At least the ones I’ve worked with so far have been people that have taught me something. That’s important in photography, being able to work with people and learning from them. I’m the photographer and direct the session, but they also contribute a lot to the vision that I have.”
“She’s just beginning her transition. It’s not that drag led her to discover that she’s a trans person, but in the end, it connects a lot with who she is. It gives her that bridge to the person she wants to be,” he continues. “This is so authentic and courageous. Her courage also amazes me a lot because a Drag Queen walking on the street doesn’t go unnoticed. Just the fact of going out on the street like this is already aggression and transgression for many. Their strength of doing Drag, being who they want to be and not ask permission or approval inspires me.”
Inspiration has fueled Memo’s creative system and prompted a breakthrough in his photography. Never one for permitting an obstacle or lack of resources from stopping him to create his stories through photography, Memo now feels new ideas arise. For him the inspiration is inevitable and with open arms, he receives the constant imagery that Drag Queens produce.
“As a photographer, I think we tend to give ourselves obstacles for not starting on projects because we don’t have the fancy set. Then when you see the wonders they can do with a little paper, a piece of cloth and glue make you realize that anything is possible. The point is to have an idea and know how to execute it,” he says.
“What I’ve learned a lot from them is how they make works of art. I can’t say it’s not art! The way they put on makeup, change their features and their body. It’s not comfortable. I mean, using a belt that has a small waist with a man's body, you suffer too. But add all these challenges and being able to do it incredibly. It inspires me a lot. I love knowing them a little more closely, their stories, to know what they’re doing and where they want to take their drag character.”
“Be very brave. Beyond being a person of the LGBTTTIQ community or whatever you decide to identify as...I think the world will be difficult. It’s difficult for everybody even for people that we think have their life resolved. But I think that helping others opens doors for you and others,” he says.
“Always believe in your work even if it’s not so good, nobody was born as the great photographer. I discovered photography late into life. I discovered it at 21 and started doing it later. Even as a non-heterosexual person I got out at 25 that’s late because most of the people do it at 16 or 18. But it doesn’t matter, there’s always time but don’t just do nothing,” he says. “Keep working, help people and believe in yourself. Those three things seem fundamental to me always. When someone needs you if you can help people, do it. Don’t say, ‘well they’re not going to pay me’. Not everything is for money. it doesn’t have to be recompensed. There are things you can do to help others, for passion and because you like it. Photography isn’t about only having talent, it’s also about commitment to the people around you, to inspire others, to help others. If you only use your talent to earn money, it seems to me that you are also betraying it.”
Memo is true to his words and values. He isn’t one to keep his talent and vision to only produce money. He holds them high and helps other creatives in Mexico City to make their stories into reality through photos. His good energy has been a pivotal factor for being able to photograph many Drag Queens and helping their stories be seen.
“It sounds very optimistic, but we can all make a more friendly world and more beautiful for others. If you can use what life gave you and can use it in the arts then do it. Do it with courage, with humility and things will happen.”