Drag queen drops 500 pounds, beats Taylor Swift on Billboard dance chart

Vizin, who is from the Arikara Tribe in North Dakota, has been doing drag since she was a young boy, dressing up and playing with make-up. After losing 500 pounds a few years ago she found her persona and her voice. Her single, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" debuted ahead of Taylor Swift on the Billboard dance club song charts.
A still from Vizin's music video for You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real). (Courtesy of Q Haus)

Originally published February 4, 2018 

Vizin, who is from the Arikara Tribe in North Dakota, has been doing drag since she was a young boy, dressing up and playing with makeup. 

"I've been doing drag for many, many years since I was a little boy, just getting into my shirts and stretching them out on the neck and wearing them as skirts."

She first did drag on a stage at the Bismarck Pride Fest in North Dakota and fell in love with performing. Vizin has been performing and singing as a drag queen for 10 years. 

"My mother actually helped me with my dress," she said. 

But finding the perfect dress is not the only thing that her mother helped with.

A star is born

"I used to be 703 pounds," she recalled. "I was very large and very in charge!"

In 2009 Vizin's mother, concerned about her health, tricked her into going to see a doctor and getting gastric bypass surgery.
Vizin before and after gastric bypass surgery, she says her mother tricked her into getting. She was 700 pounds and has lost 500 pounds so far. (Instagram)

"It was something I was very nervous about doing but when I met with the doctor, he made everything seem easy."

It was after the surgery and losing 500 pounds that Vizin emerged. 

"Vizin is a Barbie doll. She is inspired by Marilyn Monroe, Mariah Carey, of course Barbie and everything glamour, she is larger than life and that's who you have to be when you're in drag."

As her alter ego, Vizin challenges Native American stereotypes and educates audiences about what it really means to be Indigenous.

"When I perform, it's more about bringing forth that power from my culture. As you know the drum beat from pow wows is the heartbeat of Indigenous culture and so I try and take that into my essence and give that to the crowd."

That doesn't mean tired tropes or Pocahontas imagery. 

"I don't want to show up in buckskins and a headband or anything. I can make tasteful nods to those but I try not to make it too campy, too extreme or offensive to my culture."

Vizin isn't just about being big, bold and beautiful, while lip-syncing her way to fame. It turns out she has real pipes.

Her single, a cover of Sylvester's 1978 disco hit, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), debuted ahead of Taylor Swift on the Billboard dance club song chart. 

"Debuting ahead of Taylor Swift is very exciting," Vizin said. "I don't even know how to put it into words myself, all I can say is I am totally gagged."