Valentina is the stage name of James Leyva , a drag queen, performer, acting artist, and one of the Season 9 contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race placed 7th and the winner of the "Miss Congeniality" title , as well as one of the All Stars 4 contestants once again placed 7th. On Season 9's premiere, the contestants were challenged to make a look inspired by their hometown and remake their favorite Lady Gaga look. For her hometown look, Valentina did a mariachi-themed outfit. She was praised by the judges, but didn't win. She was praised both for her performance, and runway look, fact that happened again in most of the consecutive episodes, where she placed high again 3 times in Episodes 3, 4, and 7 , and was, also, safe 3 times in Episodes 5, 6, and 8. Valentina and Nina Bo'nina Brown were paired together and struggled with filming their TV pilot as they had not prepared a script and had to improvise.
They stand off, and Valentina finally concedes. The show's first first-generation Mexican queen, who centered her immigrant identity and treated herself as nothing less than a superstar, had lost spectacularly in front of the world. Jinkx Monsoon, on the other hand, was praised for making a similarly risky choice with Little Edie. While their performances were not necessarily up to par with the other queens, the issue of celebrity impersonation for Latinx queens highlights the conundrum they face when making their "Snatch Game" choices: Impersonate a Latinx star no one will recognize, or fail to capture an American star on the basis of language and culture? Drag Race has also often failed to represent Latinx culture beyond stereotypes and caricature. Performativity and irreverence around taboo subjects such as gender and sexuality are historically part of the fun and craft of drag, and make the show accessible to mainstream audiences. A particular feeling of loss and mourning can define certain aspects of the first-generation immigrant condition — the more assimilated you become, the more the culture and language that created and shapes you slips away. Her visibility in that moment as an unapologetically Mexican-American contender gave her audience a nationally televised moment to see Latinx culture represented as a thing of beauty, desire, and pride. From her first look representing her hometown to her Maria Felix tribute look in Episode 5, Valentina showed that she was unafraid to draw inspiration from deep cuts in vintage Latin-American culture. One of these moments occurred in Episode 5.
Valentina is the stage name of James Andrew Leyva  born May 14, ,  an American drag performer , actor, television personality and singer best known as a contestant on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race and fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars. In June , New York magazine published the results from their panel of judges and writers which ranked her in the top twenty Drag Race superstars. Valentina was born in Bell, California to Mexican parents,  and began working as a professional drag queen around ten months before filming RuPaul's Drag Race, although she already had a background in fashion and the performing arts. In , Valentina won an early club version of the Boulet Brothers' "Dragula" contest , a precursor of the television show. On February 2, , Valentina was announced as one of fourteen contestants competing for the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. On November 9, , Valentina was announced as a contestant on the upcoming fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars, a spin-off of the regular Drag Race series which features returning contestants from past seasons. Valentina released her debut single, "A Prueba de Todo", in December Drag Race: All Stars winner Alaska Thunderfuck did a parody song of " Despacito " called "Valentina" in October , with lyrics about Valentina and her infamous elimination from the show. Valentina is now one of several Drag Race alumni who identify as either nonbinary or gender-nonconforming.
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