Adrena Lin: Gender Expression through Art and Fashion

Posted by F Studio New York on


"Becoming a drag queen was initially an act of self-preservation to keep myself sane and strong through the ostracism." - Booboo

Steven "Booboo" in his design (Photo: Brandon Reis / Courtesy of Steven "Booboo" Panoncillo)


Steven “Booboo” Panoncillo (he/him)  is a 22-year-old BFA Fashion Design graduate from FIT NYC. He owes his accomplishments in fashion to his drag identity, Adrena Lin (she/her), who he created to cope with the daily oppression he faced growing up in a conservative Coloradoan town. 

BooBoo enjoys creating collections from stories he writes, bringing the plot and characters to life through each look. There is a sense of horror but also a sense of romance and nostalgia within his creation. BooBoo’s goal is to inspire others to partake in the art of transformation.


Adrena Lin (Photo: Courtesy of Steven "Booboo" Panoncillo)


How did you start pursuing a career in fashion design and drag performance?

Drag is the reason that I decided to pursue fashion as a career. I went to high school in a religious, conservative town, and when I came out as gay, there were no resources for me to learn more about developing my identity. So I turned to the internet searching for support or a listening ear, and I found a queer online community dedicated to creating a network of drag performers who may not have a support system in their everyday lives. By forming long-lasting friendships with drag artists worldwide and participating in many online drag competitions, I learned to develop a sense of confidence, a personal aesthetic, and a newfound need to stay creative constantly.

I started out creating garments by hot-gluing fabric into my dress form and transforming garments from Goodwill. Eventually, however, I dusted off my sister’s old sewing machine and learned how to sew by watching Youtube videos. Becoming a drag queen was initially an act of self-preservation to keep myself sane and strong through the ostracism I faced in high school. It ended up handing me the self-assurance and the skill set to pursue a career path that I would have seen as impossible otherwise.


Booboo's Malaguena BFA Fashion Design Collection  (Photo: Brandon Reis / Courtesy of Steven "Booboo" Panoncillo)


Can you define who a drag queen is?

As it stands today, defining what drag is pointless because the definition of drag is ever-changing. There are so many talented drag artists all over the world constantly producing new art and content that pushes the boundaries of what drag can be! At this stage, the best way to define drag is an overt expression, rejection, or distortion of one’s identity through performance, makeup, and fashion. And by that logic, I guess that means a drag performer is a moving canvas dressed and painted up to portray a physical projection of an identity being validated.


(Photo: Brandon Reis / Courtesy of Steven "Booboo" Panoncillo)

What are some common misconceptions about drag queens? 

The most common misconception I have faced is that cisgender women cannot be drag queens. People obviously think drag is “men dressing up as women,” which is an archaic impression of our community. Though some queens do gatekeep and reject drag artists who do not fit into their perception of what should be allowed, I have enjoyed meeting and competing with bioqueens (one of the terms used to refer to a drag queen who identifies as a cisgender woman). They have an abundance of talent and wisdom to contribute to the drag space.

Anybody can do drag!  I encourage those of all gender identities and sexualities to put on some lipstick and twirl around in a caftan every once in a while!


 "People obviously think drag is “men dressing up as women,” which is an archaic impression of our community." - Booboo 


Are there any challenges for queer community members in the art/fashion industry? How did you overcome these challenges? 


Queer people of color (PoC) created culture. Modern music, art, dance, and especially fashion have been influenced by-and appropriated from- communities of color who used their art forms to unify through the oppression of white supremacy. I think that many brands profit off the queer identity by featuring queer people of color in Pride marketing campaigns, but I know that more often than not, queer PoC are overlooked in the hiring process.

It is crucial for emerging designers to throw our support at independent brands created by PoC and queer PoC and support them thriving on their own terms because the mainstream fashion industry will always take away more than it gives to marginalized designers.


What is your vision for the future of fashion?  

Fashion and art quickly dive into digital platforms to experiment and push the boundaries of what is possible. This surge in interest in digital creation happened at least partly due to COVID-19 and the year at home that was 2020. Lockdown gave more life and power to the world of VR and AR, and it also renewed people’s enthusiasm for the craft of fashion. 


Moving into the future, I see a harmonious fusing of digital and tangible fashion, with brands partnering with NFT artists and 3D designers to create visually impactful and imaginative shows. The future of fashion will be filled with opportunities to highlight the artistry and craftsmanship of garment construction and add new elements to pieces of clothing through digitally generated features.


Do you watch RuPaul Drag Race by the way? 

When I started drag, I was a huge fan and pulled a lot of inspiration from RuPaul’s Drag Race. I have not watched as frequently in recent years due mainly to the toxicity and prejudice that the Drag Race fandom often fosters and encourages. Sadly...


Will you join the show one day then?

I do! I would love to audition for the show one day with hopes of making a positive impact on the community through my participation.



Click to see Booboo’s BFA Fashion Design Graduation Collection. ->


Special thanks to Steven “Booboo” for being here with F STUDIO!