“I always wanted to perform,” says Moshiel Newman Daphna. “But when you grow up as a Hasidic Jewish boy, performing isn’t really something that is pushed in any real way. So I never really had the opportunity.”
That all changed after Daphna came out as gay and witnessed his first drag queen at a gay bar. Four-and-a-half years ago, Daphna created a drag alter-ego and Lady SinAGaga took her first high-heeled steps as a participant in a sober drag pageant. Besides the obvious pun in the name — “I always joke that the best thing I’ve ever done in drag is pick a name and after that, it’s all gone downhill” — SinAGaga pays homage to her upbringing by incorporating the “Star of David” into her costumes, jewelry, and even makeup.
“I was at a Michael’s and Hanukkah had just passed, and they had a sales table with a thousand little plastic Stars of David,” she says. “So I just took the bag and started using them and putting them as like a little beauty mark.”
Despite her name, SinAGaga doesn’t only lip sync to Mother Monster’s hits. “People always expect Lady Gaga [songs] because my name is Lady SinaGaga, so I always oblige,” she says. “But I also love a good ballad. I love anything that really gets the crowd going.” SinAGaga will get D.C. audiences going on Sunday, Aug. 4, when she emcees the Nice Jewish Boys pageant at U Street Music Hall along with 2018 titleholder Jeremy Sherman.
“I’ve never performed in D.C. I’m really excited just to see what the queer Jewish community down there is like,” she says. And this being D.C., SinAGaga isn’t ruling out political jokes. “I’m the type of person who believes, if I’m lucky enough to be a queer person who’s given a microphone, I can’t shy away from important things. I can’t not say things that are going on.”
SinAGaga is proud of the influence she’s been able to have on her fans — particularly when she hears from her own Nice Jewish Boys. “The amount of messages I get on Instagram, just private messages from Jewish people, from young gay Jewish boys, from young gay Jewish boys’ mothers, about how much it means to them that I’m a queer Jew, who is visibly both queer and Jewish simultaneously, always humbles me. To me, it’s all about human interaction, because at the end of the day, behind the huge costumes and makeup and the hair, there’s just a person that wants to connect to other people.”
D.C.’s Mr. Nice Jewish Boy Pageant is Sunday, Aug. 4, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. Tickets are available via www.ticketfly.com. Search “nice Jewish boy.” For more information, visit www.facebook.com/NJB.DC. Follow Lady SinAGaga on Instagram at @ladysinagaga.