Meet the real people behind Noho’s favorite drag performers.

  • Liz Mazzei, of Holyoke, who performs in drag as Loo D'Flyest Priestly, and Randy Barrios, of Northampton, who performs in drag as Hors D'oeuvres, in downtown Northampton, Friday, June 28, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liz Mazzei, of Holyoke, who performs in drag as Loo D'Flyest Priestly, and Randy Barrios, of Northampton, who performs in drag as Hors D'oeuvres, in downtown Northampton, Friday, June 28, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liz Mazzei of Holyoke, who performs in drag as Loo D’Flyest Priestly, and Randy Barrios of Northampton, who performs in drag as Hors D’oeuvres, in downtown Northampton, Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hors D'oeuvres introduces the next performer at a drag brunch at Sláinte Restaurant in Holyoke Sunday afternoon. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hors D'oeuvres gives out good luck birthday spankings at a drag brunch at Sláinte Restaurant in Holyoke Sunday afternoon. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Hors D’oeuvres gives out good luck birthday spankings at a drag brunch at Sláinte Restaurant in Holyoke Sunday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Loo D’Flyest Priestly. Ben A Johnson—SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer 
Published: 7/2/2019 4:35:53 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Randy Barrios and Liz Mazzei use the words “shy” and “introverted” to describe themselves, but when the two drag performers are on stage embodying, respectively, Hors D’oeuvres (pronounced HORZ DUH-vorz) and Loo D’Flyest Priestly, they seem quite the opposite.

Loo can be found performing at Sunday drag brunches at Sláinte Restaurant in Holyoke wearing a glitter beard or dressed in colorful overalls as Wario, a Mario Nintendo character, and sometimes incorporating drums into her performance. Hors hosts the brunch shows and others, wearing sequined rainbow overalls or patterned dresses and has given out good luck birthday spankings to show attendees.

“Randy and Hors are two very different people,” said Barrios. “Hors goes to a party, and she will mingle, do whatever. Randy goes to a party standing by the wall, holding a drink, waiting for someone they know.”

The two sat at a table in Pulaski Park on Sunday while nearby a musician strummed a guitar. With the sky cloudy overhead, Barrios carried a rainbow umbrella at his side.

Both Barrios and Mazzei have been performing drag locally, often at “Drag Brunch with Hors and Friends” at Sláinte and at Northampton’s annual Pride festivities. Hors was the main host of Noho Pride’s entertainment this year, and Loo was a cohost of the drag show. They and others are also working on starting another drag night at “Club V,” a space at the Florence VFW. 

Loo is a drag king, while Hors prefers “drag performer” rather than drag queen. “I’m not offended by the term drag queen, I’m just not married to the feminine,” Barrios said, adding that he considers Hors genderflux, meaning her gender varies over time.

Barrios, 37, lives in Northampton and came to western Massachusetts from Texas in 2006 to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst for graduate studies in sociology. He now works as an event coordinator at the university, having spent years producing burlesque shows full time. Though many of his friends and colleagues know he plays Hors, Barrios said that, before talking to the Gazette for this article, he hadn’t used his IRL — in real life — name in the press before. 

“I still have this deep down fear of being harmed just for being me,” Hors wrote on Facebook after the interview on Sunday. “It’s strange to still police my queerness in this way, being so bold in who I am for so much of my life. So, I’ve made a decision: I’m done giving into that fear.”

“This is my full coming-out article,” he said in the park with a laugh.

Mazzei, 33, is from the Valley and now works at an elementary school in Amherst. She has been doing drag since 2012 when she was inspired by performers at Diva’s Nightclub, the now-closed Northampton venue where she worked.

For both Barrios and Mazzei, their drag characters are powerful outlets. 

“For me, Hors is this great extension of Randy without trauma,” Barrios said. “Hors is the way I express those good, loving parts of myself.”

“A lot of things are really depressing right now,” Mazzei said, “so I offer medication through laughter and entertainment.” And as a shy person, “what it does for me is it allows me to be a little bit braver … I like the escape that the stage gives you. It’s truly medicinal.”

For Barrios, organizing drag shows and connecting with other artists is a way to create community. When he first got to town, “everyone was like, ‘Everywhere in Northampton is the gay bar,’” he said, noting how LGBTQ-friendly the city is. At the same time, he missed having a unified place to come together and meet people. 

As for his alter ego, “Hors doesn’t have a gender,” Barrios said. “I wear overalls just as quickly as I’ll wear a gown.”

Loo has dressed like characters from Disney, video games and children’s shows and movies. 

They both avoid repeating costumes. “I cycle through outfits,” Barrios said. “I will only wear an outfit once per year, per show. I’ll wear it again, but it has to be at a different venue or a different show.”

When they first started performing drag, they both bought costumes, but lately, Barrios and Mazzei have been designing their own. Barrios said his husband has started making many of his costumes, including the gigantic bows Hors often wears on her head.

All that garb takes up a lot of space. “When my wife and I had to move, I was like, ‘We need two bedrooms,’” Mazzei said. “I do drag, and she does drag and burlesque. The second room only has to be all of our costumes and sewing things.”

“Our third bedroom is our drag-and-burlesque/sewing room as well,” said Barrios, who noted that makeup is its own undertaking: “Just painting my face, if I really do it quickly, I can do it in an hour — but probably not. I tend to take a couple of hours.”

And last but not least are their character names. Loo D’Flyest Priestly evolved from Mazzei’s childhood nickname. “People used to call me Lizzy Loo. Or my mom would call me Loo, for short.”

Hors D’oeuvres traces back to Barrios’ time working at The Saint, a gay bar in San Antonio, Texas that hosted drag shows. At one point, the bar served snacks with the show.

“In the advertisements, it would say, drag show featuring hors d’oeuvres. I worked the door at the time, and every day people would call in and ask ‘what time HORZ DUH-vorz came on,’ and we would laugh and laugh … I liked the joke so much that I adopted it and created a character specifically around the joke.”

Recently, J.M. Sorrell, former spokesperson for Noho Pride, wrote an opinion piece published in the Gazette criticizing drag queens, particularly their strong presence at Noho Pride, and calling the entertainment form a kind of misogyny. “I have a problem with men ridiculing women as sport,” she wrote.

Hors wrote a column for the Gazette in response. “At a fundamental level, we’re all doing drag,” the column reads. “None of us are born with social norms telling us who can and cannot wear certain types of clothing or how we should behave.”

Even though he was offended by the original column, Barrios said “it was a surprisingly positive moment for both Pride and me. The community response to what I wrote has been really nice, and we’ve gotten a lot more volunteer inquires for Pride.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at

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