HUFFPOST PERSONAL

Why Miss Toto Says 'Bodybuilding Is Drag For Straight People'

At night, Miss Toto is a fierce, femme, muscular drag queen that performs in shows across Miami. During the day he’s known as Rock Evans, a masculine personal trainer and bodybuilder who competes in National Physique Committee competitions. Both have their own followings online, so rather than choose one or the other, he decided to use his influence to challenge stereotypes in both worlds.   

At first, these two roles might seem starkly different. But what he soon realized was that bodybuilding and drag have a huge overlap.

“Bodybuilding is literally drag for straight people ’cause it’s all about the show,” he said.

Both involve a great deal of physical training, grooming, rehearsal and performance. Evans recognized that some of the hyper-masculine men in the bodybuilding world would hesitate to see it that way. But to them, he said, “I wish you knew that you are doing some of the most stereotypical feminine things to get ready for this bodybuilding show, to be onstage and be judged by people you don’t know in a tiny little shimmery Speedo.”

Evans grew up in Maryland, where as a kid, his parents were supportive of his sexuality. They told him that they accepted him as he was, giving him a safe haven at home. Other gay friends of his, with less accepting families, often came to his house to comfortably be themselves without repercussions. After he came to Miami for grad school, Evans was introduced to both worlds he thrives in today. His entry to drag came about from going to local parties at bars which encouraged free drinks for people who dressed up in a non-heteronormative way. There, the drag queens he befriended encouraged him to do drag himself, and he began to create the character of Miss Toto.

It was through Miss Toto that he reconsidered his early experiences in Maryland. Despite his family’s acceptance of his sexuality when he was growing up, “the idea and concept of nonbinary and gender non-conforming weren’t things. It was only you were cis, or you were trans.” By undergoing the transformative process from his daytime presentation as masculine, to the “femme strong being” of Miss Toto, Evans realized his identity as gender non-conforming. 

At the same time he was creating Miss Toto, Evans started working at a local gym for extra money and found himself falling in love with fitness and personal training. In those early days, he would be going out with his drag queen friends until 3 a.m. and then heading to the gym to open up at 5 or 6 a.m.

“Looking back on that, I’m like, I really loved it,” he said. “Those were the times that I remember the most about coming up in the drag scene in Miami, ’cause we were all together, we were having so much fun … ”

Today he maintains a website for his personal training work and dual social media accounts for his lives as Rock Evans and Miss Toto. In his fitness life, he wants to be the most prominent gender non-conforming bodybuilder to go pro. In the drag world, he wants to use Miss Toto to open audiences’ minds up to all of the different iterations of drag queens that exist. Through performing as a femme drag queen with muscles, he hopes to show that drag queens can present in a lot of different ways.

“There are hairy queens, there are bearded queens, there are kings that are cis male, trans male,” he said.

By being outspoken about his own experiences, Evans has helped many of his fans find the confidence to express their own identities. He often receives messages from fans who have come out to their parents after seeing him perform or hearing his podcast where he discusses LGBTQ+ issues with friends. Evans admitted that the warm reception from audiences adds another layer to the personal validation that comes with performing onstage. 

“Originally I was doing this for me,” Evans said. “I’m having fun, this is how I’m expressing myself, whatever. After speaking to people, they’re like, ‘You’ve brought so much joy to me just through watching your shows and I can tell that you love it, so I then, in turn, love it.’ That makes it even better. It brings it full circle.”

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