I will never forget the very first time I saw Shantell D’Marco in a pageant. I don’t remember the name of the pageant, but it was held at O’Zone and the presentation was Winter Wonderland. Every contestant came out in big furs and hats, etc. and Shantell was the final contestant. She came out on stage in shorts a tank top and roller blades and got on the microphone and said “Good Evening Ladies and gentleman, and distinguished panel of judges, my name is Shantell and I give you Winter Wonderland….in South Florida.” Needless to say the crowd went crazy and she gave us that beautiful smile she has become famous for. At that moment, I said to myself, this girl is special and is going to be big. Fast forward to now and she has won many titles, is a cast member at the Parliament House and is your current reigning Miss Florida F.I. It was a pleasure to sit down and chat with Shantell less than 2 weeks before the first preliminary for Miss Florida F.I. 2017: Miss & Mister Noche Latina at Bailo Nightclub (7020 NW 72nd Ave, Miami) on Wednesday, January 25.
What was the first drag show you saw and tell me about the experience?
This is taking me back to the late 90’s to the Waterfront Nightclub in Miami, FL where I saw Yuli Mastrozzimone perform on a Saturday night. The experience was so unique, to the point that a couple of weeks after I was performing at that same night club and she was calling my name as one of the entertainers.
When did you decide you wanted to do drag and when did you realize it would be your career?
Right after I had the chance to perform for the first time at the Waterfront and then Ozone night club and noticed the power of being on a stage with a live audience just a couple of feet from me, I decided that was what I wanted to do … lots of people told me that it was hard or almost impossible just to have a career as a Female Impersonator but look me at 15 plus year after that first performance holding a strong and stable career.
Who is your drag mother and who is your favorite queen other than your drag mother and why?
I don’t have a drag mother. I think it’s the reason why I did not have a last name until later on in my career. I started on my own … listened to many people like Gloria Klein, Fernando of Miami who helped me tremendously, and Mariloly who all gave me some advice and helped me in the beginning. I do enjoy seeing a lot people perform naming one as my favorite is really hard. However, I did enjoy the old school performers like Gloria Klein and Bianca Brinsky (may she rest in peace), and that’s what made me so fascinated with the art.
What’s your favorite number to perform and why?
Working for so many years and being a cast member at numerous night clubs, I have many favorite numbers to perform. I love music with feeling and songs that have a message. As far a favorite? Hmmmm I would have to say Troy by Sinead O’Connor. That woman’s voice is power.
What’s the best thing that has happened to you in drag?
The blessing of meeting so many people through the years, both on and off the stage, is the thing that happened to me in drag. I have met good friends, sisters, family, promoters, and my love. They’re all a part of my life now because of drag.
What differentiates you from other Queens (Makes you Unique)?
Hmmmm, I don’t know … We are all unique. You can have the same song performed by 50 drag performers and you will see it done differently every time. That’s the beauty of being an artist.
What does the future hold?
After Miss Florida F.I., the sky is the limit. I have many plans up ahead, all with the direction of making my name and my brand legendary.
Why we Love her
1) She appreciates and respects the history of Drag.
2) She got her start right here in South Florida.
3) She has grown into a seasoned performer.
4) She is so pretty, as Gloria Klein says “What’s not to Love?”