When it came to desserts, Josue Luciano had no formal education. He was just a guy making cupcakes and cake pops in his spare time while working at a grocery store. Soon enough he found himself longing to transfer over to the bakery department but without the experience, he thought it would never happen. Luckily his sister worked at the same store and dropped a hint to their manager that her brother was the best baker they were ever going to get. One thing led to another and the job was his.
Today he works in a Pittsburgh bakery and when he’s not at work, he’s still putting in work on his amazing Drag Cakes. Inspired by drag queens around the world, Drag Cakes take the aesthetic of a Queen’s look and makes it even sweeter. Now we’re talking with Josue Luciano all about his Drag Cakes, the underdogs, and his plans for the future in which his cakes could provide happiness for everyone out there.
Kendra: After working at the grocery store you headed to Pittsburgh where you’re baking at Grandview Bakery doing cakes that make fandoms from so many walks of life overjoyed. From horror to fantasy to anime, you’ve really nailed capturing the essence of a character in cake form. Your designs are never too obvious but to a huge fan, they know right away. How do you balance being true to the character/drag queen without being too obscure in the design?
Josue Luciano: That’s a very good question! I can draw Pikachu on a cake or carve it and make an exact replica, but that’s not what my art is about. At the end of the day, I still want it to look like a birthday cake. I usually just stare at a character or an outfit, and in my mind, I try to decompose it and find ways of recreating the patterns and shapes I see but with a cake decorating technique. It’s a way of challenging myself because it pushes me to do things in a different way.
Kendra: Yes, the drag queens and Drag Cakes. Let’s talk about all that! Your first Drag Cake came earlier this year thanks to Monet X Change. What about that look made you want to in a sense serve a true lewk on a cake?
Josue Luciano: I had this idea of making cupcakes inspired by drag queens and I tried it back in October but I wasn’t completely satisfied with the final product so I left that project on standby. Fast forward to January when RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4 was airing. The runway theme that week was “Angelic White” and I fell in love with Monet’s outfit because of the juxtaposition of looking angelic but also possessed by a demon. The next day I was at work and I couldn’t stop thinking about that look. It was all white with a glittery red heart and since it was almost February, I thought to myself “What if I recreate this outfit on a cake and make it seem like it’s a Valentine’s Day-themed cake?” So I did it, and took a picture and posted it on Facebook where I got a lot of great compliments and people started encouraging me to do more looks.
Kendra: RuPaul is definitely the most iconic household name when it comes to drag which is why those on the show go on to have insane fame. Well, some of them. But your cakes don’t just showcase girls who’ve been on the show proving you love the art of drag in all forms, not just on TV. When you do a cake inspired by a queen who has yet to appear on the Race, are you drawn to their overall aesthetic, the ensemble, their live show?
Josue Luciano: I enjoy bright colors, patterns, and juxtapositions so the aesthetic plays a big role when I’m looking to recreate an outfit. But the main reason I do drag cakes of queens that haven’t been on the show is because there are thousands of talented drag performers out there, and I feel that a lot of them don’t get the recognition they deserve so this is my way of paying homage to them.
Kendra: Right out of the gate you were an Yvie Oddly Stan and have the numerous cakes to prove it. That being said, you’re also a fan of superheroes, especially X-Men. Would you say that you’re always the one to root for the underdog and does that come from a personal place?
Josue Luciano: Being invincible is boring. To me is more fun to watch the underdog because they have a lot of room for growth and you never know what to expect. I consider myself an underdog because I am a Hispanic gay man living in the United States, but that pushes me to be a better human each day and use my voice for those who are too afraid to speak up.
Kendra: For a little fun at the end, we’re going to play a version of FMK but it’s Eat, Bake, Fight. Thinking of your favorite Queens, which would you want to eat cake with, hit the kitchen and bake with, and then which would you have a major food fight with (it involves cake)?
Josue Luciano: I would love to sit down and eat cake with Bob The Drag Queen. She’s one of the funniest queens out there and I know for a fact that I would have a good time. I would bake a cake with Yvie Oddly because she’s so odd that I’m curious to see if we create a delicious dessert or a living monster. And finally, I would definitely have a food fight with Katya because who wouldn’t want that?
Kendra: Lastly, what are your cake plans as we head deeper into 2019? More work with Drag Cakes?
Josue Luciano: Definitely! Thanks to the drag cakes I’ve gotten the opportunity to connect with drag queens and drag fans from all over the world which has been amazing. I’d love to travel and meet them in person and share my art with them. I’ve been asked a lot to do cake decorating tutorials and I’m starting to consider it. And lastly, while there are bakeries that refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples, I’d like to have my own bakery where anyone is welcome.