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Q&A with recent University graduate Vibia Fagdalene about her upcoming drag album release

Fagdalene released the first single “Urban Queens” off of the album on June 25.
Image by Tyler King
Vibia Fagdalene poses on the album cover for “Urban Queens”

Vibia Fagdalene, also known as Tony Burton, is a recent University graduate and founder of Loring Collective, a queer artist collective devoted to the empowerment and progression of queer visual and musical talents in the Twin Cities.

On June 25, Fagdalene released the first single, “Urban Queens,” off of her upcoming album of the same name. This is Fagdalene’s first drag album and Burton’s first time doing drag.

A&E spoke with Fagdalene to discuss her journey into drag, the Twin Cities drag community and the inspiration behind “Urban Queens.”

How did you get started in drag?

“I was interested in drag for a while and then COVID hit. I was like, ‘This is the perfect time to start trying out.’ My boyfriend is a go-go dancer at the Gay 90s, so he already knew about the drag community and he brought me to the 90s. I started meeting the queens and asking them questions. They encouraged me to come to the 90s amateur drag night and, since then, I’ve performed twice.”

I love your name! How did you choose it?

“‘Vibia’ is inspired by an ancient gay Greek love affair involving the Roman emperor Hadrian and his mister Antinous. Hadrian’s wife’s name has been altered throughout history and time but one name I came across for her was Vibia and I really connected to it. Because Tony’s last album was called “Hadrian & Antinous,” and tells the story of their affair, I was thinking about how I could put an aspect of Tony in my name but also give myself my own spotlight. ‘Fagdalene’ was inspired by one of my favorite albums, “MAGDALENE” by FKA twigs. As I was listening to it, I thought ‘I would love to perform this one day,’ so to be kind of tongue-in-cheek I decided on Fagdalene.”

What is your favorite part about doing drag?

“Escaping expectations. When I was in high school, I did theater and I loved performing but I could never be the female lead. I wanted to play the musical divas my girlfriends got to play in the shows but I couldn’t because society didn’t think a man was capable of playing those roles. Drag allowed me to play those parts for the first time. It’s finding yourself in a whole other light.”

What was the inspiration for “Urban Queens”?

“It’s based on the expectation that drag is glamorous, but the reality is that a lot of these queens are broke and they have to be really creative to put on a show. I was thinking of a way to represent that and give it a name. Like, yes, they’re queens but there’s also this grittiness or grossness to urban life that I love.”

What is something you want people to know about drag?

“You don’t need to identify with the binary to do drag. Often in the queer and drag communities, they just focus on drag queens and although drag queens are amazing, there are so many other identities in drag that need to be lifted up, like drag kings and nonbinary performers.”

When do you plan to release the album?

“I’d like to release it on my birthday, November 28.”

Can you give us any sneak peeks off the album while we wait for it to release?

“The last song on the album is called “Red Light Special” and it features Tony. It’s an eerie, serious song that showcases a bit of a conflict between myself and Tony because we’re both such strong individuals. In the song, it’s hard to distinguish who is singing, representing the unknown future of their musical careers. Who will produce the next album, me or Tony?”

This interview has been edited for length, grammar and clarity.

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