Madam Reaper

The shy and beautiful Madam Reaper cried as she received her crown during “The Miss Gay Long Island Pageant,” as though she had just won the Miss America Pageant. Madam Reaper, aka Adriana Amaya, was the first “real” woman to have won a title in a drag pageant for her talent in the field of burlesque, a new, never-before-considered category in the pageant.

Adriana is half of an identical twin. Both Adriana and sister Viviana can sing, dance and “take it all off,” although Viviana prefers belly dancing. They have often been mistaken for one another by people who know them well, including myself. Both have performed on Fire Island in Ariel Sinclair’s show as well as NYC. Adriana has a summer residency at Off Key Tikki, where she does her burlesque routines each week.

How does it feel to have been the first real female to have won a drag pageant?
It almost feels unfair. It’s a true honor—honestly, mind blowing.

What went through your mind when you received that crown, because you were actually crying?
I was blown away. You never know what to expect. I’m standing next to these amazing performers that are a thousand times better than me. You never know what they want or what they are into. They know more about being a woman than I do.

You are basically very shy.
Yes, I’m very shy.

How did someone so shy decide to take her clothes off live, and on stage?
I really don’t know. I guess burlesque is my voice. It’s my way of communicating with the world.  It’s always been like that, through singing and acting. The words and the songs were given to me, and I let loose. That’s it.

You do sing, and beautifully. Why not pursue a career in singing?
I’ve tried, but I’m not in a rush to be a big superstar. I’m just having fun honestly. I’m working. I’m getting gigs. Until that stops or I’m getting bored and move on to the next thing, that’s all I can really say. I’m like a gypsy.

And having a twin that appears to be an identical version of you: What is that like?
That’s boring. There’s nothing freaking special about it. It’s like being born with a best friend and all that other psychological bullshit.

Your mom has come to your shows and has been asked to leave. What is that about?
She was born in the ‘70s where being a stripper was the last and worst resort possible, and here’s her daughter proudly stripping. I mean, it’s more than stripping, but…it’s hard. I mean, I’m not the only burlesque dancer. I’m sure that is the issue. Honestly, she’s gotten better. I’ve only been doing this for a year and a half now. During that time we’ve come from our highs and lows, and we’re in a much better place.

What made you start doing burlesque?
It was bound to happen. I’ve always gone through the crazy and extreme, whether it was makeup or singing or tap dancing when I had two left feet. My friend called me up one night to enter a singing competition. I sung the shit out of “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” and I won. Along with that prize came a job at Tikki to perform every Tuesday. I thought that was pretty cool, but what do you do every week? I started with singing, and I enjoyed it. Then I met so many amazing burlesque performers like Betsy Propane, Trick the Bastard, Bunny Buxom, and I was blown away by how glamourous, how professional and how passionate they were about it. So I decided I wanted to do that. I bought my first pair of pasties from Expression for $2 in silver, and I just went on stage, and I shook my titties like my life depended on it. I haven’t looked back since.

How do you feel when you’re performing?
I feel exhilarated and nervous and empowered.

Eileen Shapiro

Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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