Monica Beverly Hillz
|Monica Beverly Hillz|
|Born||Juan DeJesus Anaya|
|Known for||RuPaul's Drag Race|
Monica Beverly Hillz is an American drag queen, reality television personality, and trans activist, originally known for appearing on season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race. She was the third ever contestant to come out as transgender on the show, after Sonique in season 2 and Carmen Carrera in season 3, which was also historic in that that was a first for network television as well.
In 2014, she was selected as one of the Windy City Times "30 Under 30" for the "best LGBTQIA activism, business, culture, non-profit work and more" as well as Bustle naming her one of the "most popular" RPDR alum. In 2015, Hillz performed at the MTV Video Music Awards with Miley Cyrus for her live performance of "Dooo It!", along with other well known drag queens and RPDR alum.
Monica Beverly Hillz was born to Elsie De Jesus (HEY-Zeus) and raised as Juan DeJesus Anaya. She is of Puerto Rican descent. After the age of four, she was raised by her maternal aunt Gladys in Chicago's Latino Northwest Side. While in school, she was the victim of physical bullying, with other students kicking, punching, and slapping her. Due to the bullying, she attempted suicide as a sophomore and dropped out of school. Gladys died when Hillz was 15, leaving five children behind. At that point, Hillz moved back in with her mother. In Chi-town, Hillz started performing at Latino gay clubs before deciding to move back to Kentucky, where she became a performer at Owensboro's only gay bar. She struggled with poverty, compounding issues she faced while as an adolescent and young adult.
At age 17, Hillz attended her first drag show, stating she "loved it." After deciding to perform in drag herself, Hillz chose the name 'Monica', a tribute to Bollywood actress Monica and then Beverly Hills, the city in Los Angeles County, where Hillz wanted to live. Hillz considers her look in drag to be a mix of Aaliyah and Faith Evans, and her look while presenting as a male to resemble singer Bruno Mars. She is inspired by Carmen Carrera, Amanda Lepore, Calpernia Addams, and Maria Roman.
While living in Illinois, Hillz worked at Macy's for 1 year, 273 days, where she experienced discrimination from certain individuals. She also worked as an escort while using narcotics, during which time she stated she was robbed and sexually assaulted. Due to the experiences while working as an escort, Hillz has sleeping issues, nightmares and laments that she has to deal with those experiences "every decades of [her] life."
RuPaul's Drag Race
In 2013, Hillz was a contestant on the fifth season of the American television reality competition RuPaul's Drag Race. Previously, she had auditioned for season 1 and season 3. During the show, it was widely commented that she seemed "excessively distracted". The reason became clear when during the show Hillz came out as transgender during the elimination portion of episode 2 in which she fell into the bottom two. Speaking to the judges, she stated, "I feel I'm not here. I've just been holding a secret in and trying so hard. I'm not just a drag queen – I'm a transgendered woman." The producers have stated that the reveal was not a contrived part of the show; they found out about Hillz identifying as transgender during the filming of the episode. Guest judges Kristen Johnston and Juliette Lewis both responded with supportive statements. As producer Tom Campbell stated, "We discovered at the same time as everyone else. It was not revealed at any time during the casting process and everyone learned about it at the same time." Fellow competitor Jinkx Monsoon called Hillz her "hero" during the announcement.
While distracted, Hillz did well in week 1. Rupaul commented that Hillz looked like Lady Miss Kier, with L'Etoile Magazine calling her face "fabulous". In week 2, Hillz fell into the bottom two against Serena ChaCha, with the two off them lipsyncing to Rihanna's "Only Girl in the World". Hillz won the lipsync battle, with Serena ChaCha being sent home. The following week, Hillz was the third contestant eliminated on the show when she again fell into the bottom two and competed against contestant Coco Montrese.
Post-RuPaul's Drag Race
In December 2014, Hillz was one of the subjects of a photo series called WERKS, shot by Nestor Photography. The show was held at Chicago designer Michelle Tan's boutique Michelle Tan Clothing. Other drag queens featured in the series included RPDR alum Gia Gunn (Season 6), Dida Ritz (Season 4), Jade Jolie (Season 5).
In 2015, Hillz joined other drag queens to film the music video for singer Glenn Stewart's cover of "(Here it Comes) Around Again", originally performed by RuPaul. Other drag queens who joined for the video included RPDR alum JujuBee (season 2), Kelly Mantle (season 6), Jade Sotomayor (season 1), Jade Jolie (season 5), Joslyn Fox (season 6), and Jaidynn Diore Fierce (season 7).
Hillz has appeared in numerous media outlets including the Chicago-based gay Feast of Fun podcast. In 2015, Puerto Rican gay scholar Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes presented a talk titled "The Drag of Poverty" in which he discussed Hillz's experiences in relation to those of other Puerto Rican performers, namely Erika Lopez and Holly Woodlawn. The talk is part of a book project La Fountain-Stokes is working on called Translocas: Trans Diasporic Puerto Rican Drag.
In 2013, American actress Amanda Bynes insulted RuPaul on Twitter, tweeting, "My dad is as ugly as RuPaul! So thankful I look nothing like you both! I had nose surgery after my mug shots so my nose and I are gorgeous!" Hillz came to RuPaul's defense, telling Bynes to "clean herself up" and "get a better wig".
In 2014, Hillz and Carmen Carrera, another trans former RPDR contestant, both spoke out against the perceived transphobic language that was included on RPDR. The phrases included "she-male" and "tranny", which Hillz stated "were not cute at all."
When unconfirmed rumors began circulating that Caitlyn Jenner was transitioning from male to female, In Touch Weekly released a cover with a male-presenting Caitlyn (then known as Bruce) in photoshopped makeup. The cover was widely criticized, and Hillz released a statement saying "I think it's so wrong in so many ways for them to poke fun and do such things to someone... They know nothing about just to make money and make a mockery of trans people everywhere. They need to educate instead of just doing nonsense like that."
|2012||TheQU: Dida Ritz & Monica Beverly Hillz talk Vogue for Tots||Self|
|2012||I AM MONICA: Monica Beverly Hillz Documentary||Self|
|2013||RuPaul's Drag Race||12th Place (Eliminated in Episode 3)|
|2013||Rupaul's Drag Race: Untucked!||3 Episodes|
|2013||SocialScope Interview: Monica Beverly Hillz Gets Personal in New SocialScope Interview||Self|
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- Preston, Dominic (January 15, 2015). "News Everyone Hates 'In Touch' Magazine's Offensive Bruce Jenner Cover". Frontiers Media. Retrieved 26 September 2015.[permanent dead link]
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- "I AM MONICA: Monica Beverly Hillz Documentary". Nestor Lphotography. 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2015.