With more than 163,000 Instagram followers, Desmond Napoles truly earns his stage name, Desmond Is Amazing. Turning 12 this June, Desmond—with full support from mom Wendylou—has been donning drag for years, making appearances at the NYC Pride Parade since age 4 or 5 and marching in it since he was 8. A RuPaul’s Drag Race lover, Desmond has gotten to meet RuPaul, model in fashion shows, and court the wrath of the right wing.
I chatted with Desmond and his mom about the whirlwind he’s in the middle of, and whether it might all be too much.
Michael Musto: Hello, Desmond. How many times have you met RuPaul?
Desmond Is Amazing: Four. The first time was at RuPaul’s DragCon. Ru came up to me and said I was looking so pretty.
Musto: Did you almost faint?
Musto: Do you ever worry that this all too much for him?
Wendylou: Actually, he’s ready to go with everything, and I’m the one who is exhausted. If [a kid] has a talent for it, they should do it if that’s what they want to do. As long as you put boundaries on it. On weekends, we don’t schedule anything crazy, so he still has time—a day to himself. I try not to overwhelm him. At DragCon, people will crowd around him, but other than that…
Desmond: I love going to DragCon, but it’s also chaos.
Musto: What is that chaos like at events?
Wendylou: There are a lot of people grabbing him and wanting to give him a hug or take a photo without asking. He gets a little bit mobbed at times. Or Desmond will have a line of fans, and photographers will want to butt in, and Desmond will say, “No, my fans are taking pictures of me.”
RuPaul came up to me and said I was looking so pretty.
Musto: How is school going for Desmond?
Wendylou: He has been doing well. He loves drama class. He’s not too crazy about gym class. He has a fan club at school.
Musto: How do they know about him?
Wendylou: I have no idea. They kept coming up to him and saying, “Are you Desmond?” and word spread through the school.
Desmond: I like drama class, and I love having fangirls and fanboys at school.
[Desmond goes to the bathroom]
Musto: Wendylou, two years ago, Desmond told me he’s gay, and you said you’d known for a long time already. How could you know? Sexuality is tied to hormonal feelings.
Wendylou: He used to come home from school and tell me about crushes he had on this boy or that boy in class. He actually came out and said “I’m gay” last year.
Desmond: [Returning to the conversation] I’m gay!
I love having fangirls and fanboys at school.
Musto: Do you think you could be transgender?
Wendylou: No, he enjoys dressing in drag as a hobby. He identifies as a boy when not in drag, and even in drag, he still uses male pronouns.
Musto: What is your favorite outfit that you’ve worn, Desmond?
Desmond: All of them!
Musto: Do you ever do half drag?
Desmond: Sometimes in between.
Wendylou: He’s worn a shirt and tie with his drag before, playing around with the idea. Sometimes he wants to do boy hair with his drag. He’s mixing it up. He has his own little style.
Musto: A girl version of Desmond is on the scene, named Katastrophe Jest. She’s 17 and has been doing drag for three years.
Wendylou: They’re actually friends.
Desmond: I think she’s fabulous.
Musto: Will you wait six years and apply to be a contestant on Drag Race?
Desmond: You have to be 21, I think. Because they serve alcohol.
Musto: So you’ll have to wait nine years.
Wendylou: Hopefully they’ll still be doing Drag Race then. They can always bring him on as a guest judge.
Musto: What do you want for your future, Desmond?
Desmond: Happiness. Marriage.
Musto: They’re not the same thing. [Laughs]
Wendylou: Sometimes they are. It might be the theme song from Married With Children.
Musto: Yes, “Love and Marriage.” How about your career, Desmond?
Desmond: I want to be an ortho….
Wendylou: Ornithologist. He wants to study birds.
Musto: Because birds are like drag queens?
Wendylou: We have two cockatiels.
Musto: Wendylou, you answer all the nasty right-wing tweets about Desmond, and you do a very good job of it.
Wendylou: We get a lot of nasty everything. Dad answers on Twitter. I defend Desmond against haters on Instagram and Facebook. I hate Twitter. It’s like a cesspool.
Musto: Are you surprised by the hatred Desmond’s free-spiritedness has stirred up?
Wendylou: Yes. A couple of years ago, he went viral, and it wasn’t like today. We still had our share of haters. But these days, it’s become violent. We get a lot of death threats. Strange people show up at our door. People put all our information online so they can harass us. People call CPS [Child Protective Services] on us and try to use it as a weapon. They think Desmond will be taken away from his family because he does drag.
Desmond: I have advice for these people: Put yourself into a hospital.
Wendylou: I don’t know if it’s because of President Trump. It’s terrible. We had Obama, and everything was positive.
Musto: I’m glad you’re pissing off the righteous folks. It means you’re doing something right.
Wendylou: People tell us that, but it wears you down day after day. A hate group has decided to go on his page and make comments, and it takes me forever to block and delete these people.
Musto: Focus on the positive, I guess?
Wendylou: We do. We get messages from kids who are inspired by Desmond: “You inspired me to do drag or be myself.” It balances out the hate a little.
Musto: Great to talk with you both.
Desmond: This was fun. See you soon.