Updated: Dec 12, 2022
By Caroline Gordon
As a child, Angel Muriel gazed in awe at the different kinds of makeup his older brother laid out in front of him – concealer, foundation, highlighter, and eyeshadow pallets with dozens of colors.
Once his makeup was complete, it was time for the outfit.
Muriel rifled through his mother’s closet in search of perfect pairings. Once dressed, he became another person. He was no longer the young boy struggling with mental health issues and figuring out his sexuailty.
He was a queen. This was just the beginning of his reign.
Fast forward 17 years, and Angel Muriel is a professional drag queen.
During the weekdays, he studies and sews his way toward the end of senior year as he completes his degree in fashion merchandising.
On a recent snowy evening, Muriel wore a mustard yellow FSU Residence Life shirt as he worked the late-night shift as a Student Desk Attendant. He twirled his curly hair as he pondered his identities.
He is quieter than his drag persona, not as bold as her, and not dressed like her when he is Angel.
“I’m more of a casual and fierce individual. She is just overloaded on fierceness. She is the life of the party. When she walks into a room, automatically she gets stared at. She is beautiful,” he said.
Muriel added, “It’s really about Ending that character. She’s just another person I get to know. I pull inspiration and confidence from her as well as from myself.”
Muriel’s drag name is Vivian Delamour. He said the designer Vivian Westwood is the inspiration for her name.
He added he is Latino and Delamour means “of love” in Spanish.
Despite having two identities, Muriel said he is androgynous. He said he is OK with lingo from the gay community, such as his friends saying “hey, girl” to him.
“I don’t like falling into the category of a man or a woman. I’m free. I’m just human,” he said.
Muriel recalled a memory of walking down 42nd Street in New York City when people stared at Vivian in amazement. Vivian showcased Angel’s sewing talents as she proudly strutted through her kingdom.
With a smirk, Muriel said he identifes as a queen.
“Especially when I’m performing, I’m the queen,” he said.
Muriel said as a boy, he would feel attracted to the other boys he played with in his neighborhood.
He added, at the age of 5, he knew he was gay, but came out when he was 20. He is now 27.
The closet was Angel’s choice of hiding because he was transitioning from not seeing his father for years to then forming a relationship with him.
One day while driving with his mother, he busted down the closet door.
“I was like, ‘Mom, I like men’. I’m surprised she didn’t stop on the side of the road, but she was more accepting because my brother already came out of the closet,” he said.
Muriel said his coming out was “a new experience for her,” having her two oldest kids identify as gay.
He explained his uncle was gay, which exposed his mother to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Unlike his mother’s acceptance of his sexuality, when he came out to his father in church, his father referred to the Bible.
Muriel said the notions of masculinity in the Latin community influenced his father’s reaction.
“I’m not going to force myself to love someone of a different sex that I don’t feel comfortable with. I knew from a young age. I was unapologetic, and I still am,” he said.
Muriel added Vivian has helped him embrace his sexuality.
He said performing has helped him develop a sense of style. It brings him to the “forefront” of who he is.
Muriel explained that society’s definition of a drag queen is a “man who dresses up in women’s clothing for the purpose of entertainment.”
In Muriel’s eyes, the art of drag means more. He said drag “pushes boundaries,” especially recently as there is a straight, cis male queen on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” this season.
“When you think it can’t happen, us drag queens make it happen,” he said.
Muriel said we must see diverse queens to normalize drag in society.
“Drag is an artistry such as singing or painting is,” he added.
Muriel said most people assume acceptance from society is the most difficult part of being a drag queen.
However, Muriel said the time it takes to get ready is stressful, despite being passionate about makeup and fashion.
“The paddings, the stockings, the outfits, the hair, the heels – it’s a lot. For me, I don’t care about what society thinks. That doesn’t pertain to me,” he said.
He added, “If you don’t appreciate the artistry, that’s OK. You’re not entitled to. If you do, I appreciate it.”
In addition to drag helping Muriel through his struggles with his sexual identity, drag was also an outlet for him to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic accident he suffered.
In October 2019, Muriel said while he was biking his way to work, a 17-year-old girl without a license or permit struck him in a school zone.
Muriel suffered a broken collarbone, a concussion, and bleeding on the left side of his brain.
Due to the brain injuries, Muriel said he sometimes forgets information, making it difficult to converse with others.
He said the doctor told him he would be concussed for months to years.
Muriel said he struggles every day to motivate himself to keep going.
“I’m not one to give up. I succeed in everything I put my mind to. I am always proving myself wrong,” he said.
“I’m alive and that is something to be blessed for. I am here living the dream. I got three months to get my degree and that is the best thing I can give thanks for in life,” he said.
Muriel said drag and sewing saved him from the trauma of the accident.
He touched on his experience performing on campus. He noted FSU students were a “supportive crowd,” but he was nervous.
“I knew within my body, when that beat came on and I had to perform that song, all that went away. It’s just the world of fantasy that I get into,” he said.
Muriel added, “I like to leave my audience in awe. I love to see the reaction of people captivated.”
Muriel added he is humble while in drag, but people stereotype him as self-centered.
He said interacting with his audience is a priority for him while on stage.
“They make the show,” Muriel said.
He explained the different categories of queens: comedic queens, look queens, performer queens, and singing queens.
Muriel said he identifies as a look queen and a performer queen, because he lip syncs with his own choreographed moves, and a “slightly comedic queen.”
Muriel explained how studying fashion has influenced his drag persona.
He said his FSU coursework has helped him become a “stronger designer,” while also allowing him to know his “aesthetic as a drag performer.”
Muriel said he is striving toward being a haute couture designer. Haute couture is exclusive, custom-fitting, high-end fashion, which is completely hand made.
He said his purpose is to influence a younger generation who are interested in fashion and drag.
Muriel said drag has taught him to become a more innovative designer and that after graduation, he plans on furthering his inclusion of drag into the fashion world.
“I would like to be a fashion model, but as a drag icon in magazines. I want to be known for my artistry and who I am – the beautiful person I bring to every aspect of my life.”
Angel Muriel and Vivian Delamour can be found on Instagram @queeenvivy.