Words by Josue Rawmirez, edited by Freddy Jimenez and Aimee Ambriz
A dramatic mug with glitter lips and rhinestone brows is the trademark face of makeup artist Martin De Luna Jr, (he, she, they) better known as Lushious Massacr.
With their makeup talent and audacious, earnest personality, Lushious has enthralled audiences on the club floor, the runway, and on social media. Their YouTube channel is full of honest conversations and insight from their experience as a queer crossdressing femme, as well as an up-and-coming cosmetician. Along with Lushious’ cosmetic prowess, their humble attitude, and Drag were naturally shaped by their journey of self-expression.
De Luna grew up in Brownsville, Texas as an introverted kid. He described himself as “the kid who would go to school then go home.” His school days were full of silence, “I would not speak to a single soul, sometimes not even my teacher,” he mentions. De Luna described his shyness as a coping mechanism to stay under the radar and to repress the insecurities tied to his femininity.
“I was one of those “jotitas,” honey, that when I walked, you would see it my walk, you would see it in my hands and my mannerisms. You would hear it in my voice. I don’t know, naturally, I would flip my hair. I was that kid,” Lushious laughs. He was not the kind of kid that was able to turn “it” off and blend in. In order for him to survive in Brownsville, he had to suppress himself.
De Luna grew up closeted and didn’t feel comfortable expressing himself by cross-dressing or doing drag and makeup. “I was just not comfortable doing it or displaying it in front of my family. I was very afraid of my mom, my dad, or my siblings finding out,” De Luna mentions.
Additional anti-trans and homophobic attitudes encountered locally added to De Luna’s worries. “We are in 2021 now-but, baby, Brownsville in 2007-2008 when I was freshly graduating out of high school – it is not the same Brownsville where we breathe and live in now,” he said.
“I come from a generation when I did go out and cross dress… our lives were really in danger.” She remembers going to the gay clubs in downtown Brownsville, where on occasion “the dolls got shot at with paintball guns.” They had a brick thrown at their car because it was full of drag queens.
He felt like he needed to get away and moved to Houston. It was there, at the gay clubs, that Lushious Massacr was conceived. De Luna credits drag queens and trans women for saving his life, “They showed me the ropes, and they showed me that we are out here living happy lives. We are creating, we are thriving, we are drag queens, we do pageants.”
At 19 years old, Martin met her drag mother, Divina Garza, who helped him come out of his shell and find his confidence. She would tell De Luna, “Oh, look, honey. If I can do it, you can do it, too. Look at me, look at what I can do; I’m doing shows, I’m coming over and meeting men, and these men are making me feel beautiful. You can do it, too. It’s not only for me; it’s for you, too.”
For Lushious, the inclusivity was welcoming, but embracing the queerness and the femininity was sublime. “All the things that I was so ashamed about, now, I walked into this world where it was celebrated above everything. The more queer, the more gay, the more femme you were, the more you wanted to explore your gayness; the more it was accepted and celebrated and even rewarded,” she explains. In pageantry, the better or fiercer drag queen is given the top prize.
Texas Pageantry became a passion for Lushious; she lived and breathed it. She felt part of an underground community with a purpose and sense of sisterhood. “I have no idea what kind of person I would be or if I would even be on this planet if it wasn’t for drag queens,” she says. Drag allowed De Luna to find their voice and to figure out who they were. Through drag, he became confident, comfortable in speaking, and sharing himself with others.
As he grew the persona of Lushious, their makeup artistry was gaining a reputation. Massacr is a title she prides herself on because, as she says, “I slay and kill everybody with my looks.” Massacr has won several accolades because of her makeup skills, including becoming a 2019 Sephora Squad member. A year earlier, Lushious moved back to Brownsville and started a YouTube channel to share her artistry and experiences about much more than cosmetics.
Lushious is a self-proclaimed “filthy drag queen,” which refers to her inability to shy away from certain “taboo” subjects that are a common occurrence in her life. Topics like safe sex, body positivity, and queer culture – the good and the toxic – are viewed through the lens of truthful humor. Lushious wants to make people laugh and to help people learn from the mistakes that she’s gone through.
“I don’t want them (viewers) to be used, abused, or feel less than. Being queer, being feminine, being trans, being someone who is a drag queen or someone who crossdresses – that can be a hard life,” he says. “You can feel so much self hate and rejection of yourself, and it can take you to some dark places. So, I share what I go through in hopes that they can learn through my misgivings and hopefully see what not to do.”
During the pandemic, De Luna, like the rest of the world, was confined indoors. Without being able to travel or see friends, they dove into their work. They posted on YouTube every single day for an entire year. Lushious was hitting a stride and had momentum with her channel growing to over 63k subscribers. “As an artist, my main focus is Lushious and creating content for her, this persona I have created online,” De Luna states.
A lot of that content “co-stars” Brownsville, Tx and its people, culture, and customs. De Luna does so as a big F-U to people that made him feel like he didn’t belong here, to the younger versions of his family and friends that never understood him and didn’t make him feel safe and supported.
It is a huge way to say, “I claim Brownsville and am proud of Brownsville. I am a product of Brownsville, this is who I am and these are the kind of people who live here, who thrive here and we exist here.”
That is why Lushious makes sure to constantly talk about the city. Now that they are older, they have grown proud of where they’re from. “I did go through a phase – and I’m sure a lot of people do – when I was younger, where I was like, “Oh, my God! I hate Brownsville, I can’t wait to get out of here,” but as an older, more mature person – I hope I’m more mature – I see it for what it is. For what it gave me, for the things that it taught me, for making me the person that I am, and my family is from here,” he contemplates.
It was during their time here that she received the opportunity of a lifetime. “I think first and foremost, I am definitely a drag queen. Then I got this weird opportunity to go on this show and do Shangela’s makeup” he says. By Shangela, De Luna is referring to the iconic Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and the show is HBO’s Emmy nominated reality series, We’re Here.
“I love the show. I saw season one during the pandemic. Every episode was so emotional, and I felt like it was so important, the stories that they were telling,” he describes. The premise of the series is that hosts Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka, and Shangela travel across the country and stop in different rural communities to mentor and transform queer locals and allies into drag queens. Every episode ends with a performance for the community.
De Luna saw the opportunity as a calling to be a part of a show with a wealth of queer talent and such a positive impact. So many incredibly talented queer people go into making the show and put their hearts and souls into helping it come to life.
“We get to really make a difference and make an impact on people’s lives. We show up almost like examples of little gay fairies and we spread our gay Jota Magic on them,” Lushious laughs. “We figure out a way to make their experience a little bit better and share their story at the same time.”
The show helps heal queer people around the world including Lushious herself, “I am a very priveleged person, I’ve traveled the world, done so many things in my career. I am a very blessed individual but at the same time I had no idea that I had so much healing that I still needed to do.”
While on the show, De Luna was healing those parts of himself that still left him feeling like an outsider, like they live in a small town with no representation or safe haven. Where one can feel so alone.
“Just the fact that people tune in every week to watch the show and they truly connect on a real deep level. Even if it is just one teardrop, if I can do that in any way, my life has purpose,” she states.
We hope to see much more as We’re Here was renewed for its third season. De Luna and colleagues Tyler “Layla McQueen” Devlin and Jeremy “6” Austin were recently nominated in the category of Best Period/Character Make-Up in a TV Special by the Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild 2022 Awards.
Lushious continues making people laugh through his YouTube channel and inspires people with their artistry. We love to see it. Their journey of self expression and self love is an example that being true and your most authentic self, while trying and difficult, can have amazing results and opportunity.