His show must go on: Young Bklyn drag queen forges ahead despite outrage, threats over recent performance

Family affair: Desmond’s dad Andy Napoles, left, and mom Wendy Napoles receive almost daily visits from city social workers investigating complaints filed against them after their son’s December show at Williamsburg’s 3 Dollar Bill, but refuse to let their critics get them — or their son — down.
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The family of an 11-year-old Brooklyn boy known internationally as one of the city’s most talked about drag queens continues to receive death threats, as well as investigatory visits from city social workers, weeks after writers for conservative and pro-life websites ignited a firestorm over his recent performance at a Williamsburg bar.

Mom Wendy Napoles said haters of her son Desmond Napoles — who performs in drag as Desmond is Amazing — filed more than 150 complaints with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services after his December show at Meserole Street gay bar 3 Dollar Bill, which went viral when critics attacked the performance as exploitative “pedophilia” because Desmond wore a crop top while accepting cash from the crowd.

Each of those complaints necessitates its own 60-day investigation, resulting in almost daily home visits from agency inspectors — some of whom arrive as late as 3 am, according to Napoles.

“We’re prisoners in our own home,” she said. “They’ll come anytime.”

The mom, who said she vets all of the venues where Desmond performs to ensure they’re safe and appropriate, blasted her son’s critics as homophobes, claiming it’s perfectly legal for a child to preform at a bar if accompanied by an adult.

“No clothes came off my child,” she said. “I don’t understand how people can believe he was stripping, there was a lot of homophobia there.”

A Child Services spokeswoman would not comment on any individual case, but said the agency’s policy is to consolidate duplicate complaints, all of which are screened by a state register that determines whether they merit an investigation by local authorities.

But Desmond — whose mom said is depositing all the money he makes performing into a trust fund he can’t access until he is 18 — isn’t letting the uproar over his passion get him down.

The fifth grader, who rose to fame after being caught on camera dancing in a rainbow tutu at the city’s 2015 LGBTQ Pride Parade, said the joy he finds dressing up in wigs, skirts, and lip stick is only bested by the thrills his performances bring to his fans.

“I like performing so much,” he said. “I like to entertain people, it makes them happy.”

Ever since he could walk, the Brooklyn-born-and-bred youngster showed a performative streak, and his interest in drag dates back to when he habitually stole clothes from Napoles — who is now her son’s assistant — to create gender-bending characters he’d act out at home, she said.

But after a 6-year-old Desmond went trick-or-treating dressed as Elsa from the movie “Frozen,” mom’s old duds just didn’t cut it anymore, and he started asking for his own feminine wardrobe, according to Napoles.

“He went as Elsa for Halloween, and something really clicked for him,” she said. “After that, every time we went to the store, he wanted a skirt or a dress.”

Unsure of their son’s burgeoning sense of style, Napoles and her husband took Desmond to a therapist, who advised neither discouraging, nor encouraging his behavior, and suggested it could just be a passing phase.

It wasn’t, said mom.

“It was never a phase for him, and soon dressing up at home wasn’t enough,” she said. “He wanted to dress up and go outside — then he wanted to perform.”

Desmond made an early drag appearance in a music video for fellow queen Jinkx Monsoon — who won the fifth season of television’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” competition series — but his career really took off after his Pride appearance went viral, Napoles said.

Since then, the boy has rubbed shoulders with RuPaul himself at the iconic queen’s DragCon convention, walked the New York Fashion Week runway as a model for designer Gypsy Sport, and signed with a talent company, which started booking shows for Desmond earlier this year, according to his mom.

On stage, the tween wows spectators by doing impersonations of celebrities including Gwen Stefani, whom he channeled during his so-called controversial performance at 3 Dollar Bill, and Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz from the film “Beetlejuice,” Napoles said.

And although Desmond may have inherited his early wardrobe from his mother, she said his penchant for performing in front of an audience is uniquely his own.

“He has no nervousness,” said Napoles. “He just gets up there. I don’t know where he gets the confidence. I could never do it. I would die.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 12:32 pm, January 16, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Wilbur D. Horse from Never Never Land says:
Suppose a male parent dragged his 11 year DAUGHTER into a bar, to perform for, and accept money from, drunks? You would be screaming bloody murder.
Jan. 16, 2019, 7:38 am
Petey from Sunset Park says:
What is any 11 year old doing in a bar?
Jan. 16, 2019, 10:24 am
Paul from BH says:
I already wanted at a bar and see a drag show at the age of 11. wish she is my mum.
Jan. 16, 2019, 11:09 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Read the article, Petey. He's performing.
Jan. 16, 2019, 11:11 am
Daffy from The Hills of Clinton says:
What a Queen!
Jan. 16, 2019, 2:10 pm
Beach Haven Baby from Sheepshead Bay says:
It's Desmond's CHOICE. And his parents support him. That's real parenting! He looks happy and he'll have a more fulfilling, richer life than those who judge and mock him. The times are changing.
Jan. 16, 2019, 2:44 pm
Charlize from Flatbush says:
Words can hurt - the correct term is “trans person” - thank you, not sorry!
Jan. 16, 2019, 3:49 pm
John from Bay Ridge says:
Poor kid.
Jan. 16, 2019, 4:12 pm
Wiilie from Sunset park says:
Even though he is accompanied by an adult. Children can't be in a bar that serves alcohol, can they ?
Jan. 16, 2019, 4:46 pm
Adamben from Bedstuy says:
If the tRump variety show can run the guberment then everything is allowable. Quit your bellyaching, y’all!!!
Jan. 16, 2019, 5:02 pm
Keep you church out of my life says:
So many good christians care about how other people choose to raise their children, instead of worrying about themselves. These are the same people who want to make women's choices for them because of "god".
Jan. 16, 2019, 6:02 pm
Keep you church out of my life says:
There you go, preaching what's right for who, and nobody asked your opinion. You are the one who is attempting to sexualize a child, since you brought it up.
Jan. 16, 2019, 8:39 pm
concerned from Greenwood says:
Desmond is amazing. I would gladly cheer him on at one of his performances. Gender is a construct. There are some hateful backwards people making comments on this kid. Leave him alone and get a life.
Jan. 17, 2019, 10:51 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Gender is a construct, that's why there are at least 63 genders LOL
Jan. 17, 2019, 3:55 pm
Arthur Chaney from uptown says:
my father took me to bars all the time while he got wasted and raped women and abused me but no one gave a ——. where this kid is out living his dream and having a blast and people go ape —— #choices
Jan. 17, 2019, 6:38 pm
HONEY Pooter from Williamsburg says:
Excuse me - but really women have CURVES!! This skinny tweety bird can go on promoting UNREALISTIC BODY IMAGE to young girls , pressuring them to wear make up, and value their self-worth based on clothes - but we won’t listen!! I’m proud of my stretch marks, my dirty dead hair, and wrinkles! I don’t need a WHITE MAN telling me how women are opposed to be !
Jan. 18, 2019, 8:12 am
Eileen Wong from Sunset Park says:
We let transgenders touch our children in public bathrooms and this what happens! No one should be surprised. It’s not his parents fault, it’s the pervert bathroom law.
Jan. 18, 2019, 1:14 pm
Ian from Greenwood Heights says:
Put him on TV, fine. I don't agree, but fine. Kid's too young to be in a bar.
Jan. 18, 2019, 8:09 pm
Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
This is sadly exploitive. I expect better judgement from his parents.
Jan. 19, 2019, 10:44 am
April from Kensington says:
I support Desmond's quest for performance excellence. I appreciate the creative energy and Desmond's vision to craft a vision as a pop culture icon. The naysayers are simply jealous. My parents were successful artists and I appreciate the support the Napoles family gives to their child. Rather than suppress creativity and crush his spirit I am glad Desmond is thriving in Brooklyn. I met them at Wigstock on Labor Day 2018.
Jan. 19, 2019, 11:26 am
me again from Queens says:
So wrong in so many ways. The kid doesn't look too healthy. One of the lowest moments has been the parents allowing Desmond to be in a video with Michael Alig (the one who did time for murdering and dismembering his drug dealer).
Jan. 19, 2019, 12:15 pm
Instead of permitting the 11 year old child who is to young to make an adult decision to wear and act in drag. (to young to know what acting in drag really is) give him a baseball bat so he could knock a sense of normalcy in the head of his disgraceful parents. They are using their child as their puppet for their own pleasure.
Jan. 19, 2019, 1:43 pm
I really don't understand why so many adults are overly concerned about how a child dresses. Are you people afraid that if the child dresses too sexy, you won't be able to control yourselves? Mind your own f****n business.
Jan. 21, 2019, 9:46 pm

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