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  WINDY CITY TIMES

DRAG: Miss Toto builds a full-bodied career in Chicago
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2020-09-30

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Miss Toto blew into the Windy City toting a tornado of talent after leaving Cumberland, Maryland behind. Toto quickly made a name for herself as "Chicago's Bodybuilder Barbie" and landed bookings all over the city. Toto identifies as queer and in drag uses she/her pronouns. Out of drag, Toto uses pronouns they/them.

Toto talked about their blossoming career and an upcoming gig at the Soldier Field parking lot that includes RuPaul Drag Race season 10 competitor The Vixen and recent Windy City Times interviewee RuPaul Drag Race season 12 winner Jaida Essence Hall.

Windy City Times: Where does the drag name Miss Toto come from?

Miss Toto: "Toto" is Dominican slang for "pussy." It is also a brand name for luxury toilets and the dog in The Wizard of Oz. My real name is Rock Evans.

WCT: You are from Maryland?

MT: Yes, originally. I started doing drag in Miami in 2015. I moved to Chicago last March.

WCT: What brought you to Chicago?

MT: I wanted to be closer to home, so I could drive to Maryland in 10 hours if necessary. I wanted to be a part of the drag scene in Chicago. Specifically, I wanted to be surrounded by the Black drag performers that I had been looking up to ever since I have been doing drag.

WCT: Who is someone you looked up to?

MT: The list is long, but huge inspirations to me in the city were Lucy Stoole, DiDa Ritz, Shea Coulee and The Vixen. I am a part of the collective,The Unfriendly Black Hotties, which was created by me, Bambi Banks-Coulee, Kenzie Coulee and Khloe Coulee.

I was looking for a more immersive Black experience because I had never had a big, Black friend group, aside from my family. I was in a rural part of Maryland with not many Black people and in my previous home of Miami, most of the diversity was coming from the Latin community."

WCT: Was it hard to break into the drag community in Chicago?

MT: No, because I was visiting for a year before I moved, so everyone was familiar with me. I was actively working before I moved here and made it public that I was moving.

WCT: What do you bring to the table that others don't?

MT: The way my mind works creatively is not the same as other people. My thought process works differently than others. With going digital, I wanted to make it bigger and crazier than what anyone else has ever done.

There is also the obvious, with me being a bodybuilder and I have this physique. This gives me a little edge that others don't have.

WCT: How often do you work out?

MT: Five days a week.

WCT: How have you exercised during the pandemic?

MT: For the first five months, I was living in Pennsylvania with my partner. We did home workouts. I was still training and doing fitness classes over Zoom. Now that gyms have opened up again, I try to be in there only 45 minutes and off times where I am not around people.

It's a mix of working out in the home and not being in the gym too long.

WCT: What do you think of Kameron Michaels, who was also known for a strong drag body?

MT: She's cool, but not a bodybuilder and has not competed. She's a fit person. If someone calls themselves "The Bodybuilder Barbie" they need to have competed onstage at least once. I am a full competitor and have won competitions. I think it's great that Kameron has a brand, but she also hides her physique in drag, so not sure why she has that brand.

You see my bodybuilding in my drag. You see my arms and abs. You see my work in the gym, as opposed to hiding it in a sleeve.

WCT: Where have you competed with bodybuilding?

MT: I competed mostly in Miami and once here in Chicago last year. I am very familiar with the South Florida NPC circuit, which stands for National Physique Committee. I prefer to go to Florida to compete, because I feel more comfortable there. I know the competitors, so it feels very family oriented and welcoming.

I won the Miami Classic in 2018. I had lost that competition the year prior with second place, so it was really gratifying to return and win my class.

WCT: Do you lift onstage or pose?

MT: I do posing. Power lifting is a different competition and this NPC competition is all about physique.

WCT: Is being on RuPaul's Drag Race a goal of yours?

MT: Not really. I think it is great for people that have that as a goal, but I feel I am carving my own path very well by myself without using the show as a platform. I am happy for my friends who have been on the show, but I am forging my own path my own way.

For me, right now, I am focusing on what I am doing. I am putting out the best content and art for people to enjoy safely at a time like this, because we are looking for a moment to disconnect from the world.

Doing drag and giving people drag gives me a mental break to be able to do something creative and put it into the world. People connect with me still, despite not being able to be in the clubs.

WCT: I saw you speak at the Drag March for Change. How was that moment for you?

MT: It was full circle for me. I was looking at the panel that I had looked up to since before even doing drag the first time. I felt validated and in the right place. I have worked very hard to get to where I am. I was sitting on a panel with people that I have admired for five years. I was able to hold my own and hopefully be an inspiration for other Black drag performers, too.

WCT: What inspires your cosplay drag looks?

MT: It is really all over the place. I love horror movies, but I want to stand out as a character. If I watch a cartoon and see myself in that costume, it might spark something where I want to transform the 2D character into a 4D person, but it also has to be a drag look as well. I may put nails on with lashes and bigger hair. I crank it up to the next level.

I feel that is what separates regular cosplay from drag cosplay. There is something special about the way drag performers do cosplay. We are not just making a look, but also a story to the character.

WCT: What is your latest song to lip-synch to?

MT: On the digital platform it is more about creating music videos. Once I make a music video then I run it around to different shows. When I am done I put it on my social media for everyone else to enjoy.

For the Drive-in, I am performing an Ariana Grande song, but with a spooky Halloween twist. I have only performed a few times live since the pandemic and didn't love the experience because I am not comfortable being around crowds currently. I don't touch money and that is part of the issue. Some places that are booking queens still want people to walk around, interact with the crowd and touch dollars. We have to make our money somehow, but I don't feel safe doing that.

This is my first opportunity to perform live onstage and not feel the pressure to be in the audience. I have been working with CircuitMOM for a year now as a dancer, choreographer and in drag. This level of production hasn't been seen in a drag show in forever, so I am looking forward to it!

The Drop Dead Drag Pageant has two shows from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Lakeshore Drive-In, 1362 S. Linn White Dr.

Tickets for car passes are available at CircuitMOM.com and LSDriveIn.com .

For more on Toto, visit TheMissToto.com .


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