‘I HAVE COME A LONG WAY’
Text: Paul Hofman
Foto: Rob Jacobs
Hair: Jean baptiste Santens
Video: Paradox Productions
Boris Itzkovich Escobar (33) is better known by his stage name Envy Peru. Like ambassador Paul Morris, she is from South America. Drag queen, actor, model and make-up artist Envy Peru was the winner of the television programme ‘Drag Race Holland’ a few years ago. This year, the drag queen not only shines on stage but also as ambassador for Pride 2022.
Now that the corona measures have been abolished, she is busier than ever. She is our country’s first Drag Race Superstar. It is a great honour for her. ‘Just like the fact that I was asked to be the ambassador for the Pride.’ How did that actually happen? ‘You don’t just become an ambassador. You represent the LHBT-community and that comes with great responsibilities. For me, it means that I am seen as an example and I consider that a great honour. Especially if you realize where I come from.’
‘Paul Morris and I were asked by Lucien Spee when we were guests on a New Year’s special of drag queen Niki Today. Paul and I have been very good friends for years, so our ambassadorship makes it even more special for us. I think it is great that we have at least two Latino representatives. It is fantastic. I am truly grateful for it.’
The theme is close to Envy’s heart. ‘My Gender, My Pride means to me that whoever you are and whatever you do, embrace it and be proud of it. It’s a freedom to be yourself and not be pigeonholed.’
Envy remembers her first Pride like it was yesterday. ‘I had just turned nineteen. I went there with my two best girlfriends. I was still in the closet so it was very exciting. I remember seeing Megan Schoonbrood and Sugi on the canal near the Leidsestraat. I looked at them in admiration. I hadn’t seen many drag queens before. It was insanely beautiful.’ Years later, she could not have imagined that she would be standing there as Envy Peru. ‘Never for a moment did I think that I was looking at my own future and that one day I would do it myself.’
How did her name come about? ‘My mother raised me with a lot of love for my roots. When I picked my drag name I wanted to make a connection to Peru anyway because I am super proud of the culture I come from. I want to represent my homeland that is not represented enough. Envy means to envy and to love. By this I mean that someone from Peru is more than a stereotype like little Indians, pan-flutes and lamas. Someone from Peru can also be a beautiful queen and diva.’
As a drag queen, she wants to build bridges between the LGBT community and the rest of the world. I can use my own platform for that. This community has supported me so much over the years. I want to make a difference and give back to those who have given so much.
She is definitely a role model for immigrants, says Envy. ‘I have come a long way. As an illegal immigrant, I came to the Netherlands when I was five. I spent seven years of my life in children’s homes and lived with foster families because my mother could not take care of me for a while.’ When she was eighteen, she went to live with her mother again. ‘Then I started to discover who I am. Through hard work and a lot of willpower, you can make your dreams come true in a new country. I see myself as a rich person because of the experiences I had at a young age. Despite everything, I have continued to look positively into the future.’
She is proud of her ‘profession’. ‘Drag is mainly appreciated within our community. I am bringing it to a larger audience. You know, there are still so many prejudices about our art form. I hope that when people outside our community see or hear me, I can change their minds and drag will be normalised. Drag is an art form.’
As an ambassador and as drag queen, she is brimming with energy. However, Envy does have some concerns. That is the fear that we are going back in time. I think that we as LHBT-ers are not yet protected enough when it comes to discrimination and violence. That really has to change. I have a lot of faith in the openness of the new generation. Unfortunately, they are not yet the leaders of the future. I hope to see every member of our community loving whomever he/she wants in freedom.
When we ask her who she considers her role model, Envy says without hesitation: ‘It’s my mother. When she had me, she had to give up a lot at a young age to give me a better future. As a 24-year-old with a four-year-old child, she emigrated illegally to another country. There are many who would not do the same. She succeeded and I am eternally grateful for that.’
Pride ambassador since 2022