Alexis Mateo shares the inside story on life in the House of Mateo
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Alexis Mateo found worldwide fame in 2011 as a cast member of season three of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Now living in Tampa, Florida, we recently caught up with Alexis to catch up on life on the pageant circuit and her famous drag-daughter Miss Vanessa Vanjie Mateo.
How’s life in Tampa?
Tampa is beautiful. It’s a very historic place, with a strong Hispanic background. I don’t have a lot of friends here, so when I get some time for me I like to get out and explore. We’re close to some of the best beaches in Florida.
Does the discussion of the pageant circuit on RuPaul’s Drag Race encourage new contestants to compete in pageants?
To be honest, no. The show depicts pageants as a bad thing. People use the term ‘pageant girl’ as a negative way to describe me. I guess because RuPaul was never a pageant girl, pageants will continue to be seen negatively on Drag Race.
Your mother came to stay with you after Hurricane Maria. Is she still staying with you or has she returned home?
My mom returned to Puerto Rico after seven months with me. She’s doing good. Puerto Rico is growing again, but the economy has been badly affected. The gay scene in particular has been hard-hit – lots of clubs have closed, and many entertainers have no place to work or to showcase their talent.
Your drag daughter, Miss Vanjie, has turned disaster into triumph and become a huge star. Have you had a lot of people wanting to join the House of Mateo?
A lot of people don’t realise, but we were all friends for many years before I even decided to form a Drag Family. But no more kids, I think it’s the end of the line for the House of Mateo. We all grow in different ways - Vanessa is one of my best friends, but with all of her travels and success we don’t get to catch up very often these days. I’m very proud of Vanessa.
Is being a member of the House of Mateo pretty much what we see on Pose?
It’s exactly like Pose, but more! Egos and success often get in the way, but I always remind myself that I’m the house mother and I have to maintain the house.
If someone was interested in drag and wanted to try and get a booking to perform at their local club, what advice or guidance would you give them?
Do it as a hobby, and always get paid – no free performances!