Baleada Queen is one of Central America’s most enigmatic and best kept secrets. A gringa who found success as a telenovela star at an extremely young age, only to have a very public meltdown and disappearance between the years of 2015 and 2016. She has recently gained attention for the puzzling photographs and videos she began publishing post-disappearance, first on her Instagram (mysteriously deleted) and then on a virtual shrine—a website dedicated to herself (now unavailable). In one aspect, these pieces appear to be an attempt to reach out to her former audience (and a new one as well) in order to combat the loneliness and isolation she feels. More than anything, they serve as a candid and public diary, chronicling her road to recovery and redemption.
You can view Baleada Queen’s video piece, Welcome To My Home, here.
DigA: Who is your inspiration?
BQ: Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes, women like myself who are capable, intelligent and accomplished but due to disability/mental illness are dismissed, undermined and infantilized. I know from personal experience how unnervingly easy it is for a woman to be written off under said circumstances. We do not see the same treatment for men. Men have public meltdowns and maybe they get laughed at but ultimately they are seen as mere eccentrics if not geniuses the vast majority of the time. They almost always maintain their autonomy, women not so much. This is a very gendered issue.
I identify with these women a great deal due to my own story.
My parents are diplomats, so I am North American but I grew up in Latin America. I lived in Mexico City when I was very young and then Honduras as a preteen on. When I was 11 I was scouted by a talent agent in a mall in Tegucigalpa and after some modeling, was cast in a telenovela called Baleada Queen.
It’s about a young North American girl who finds herself in a small mountain village in Honduras with her coffee mogul father after her mother’s untimely death. The show was wildly successful.
I gained a pretty penny from the show (it ran for 10 years before getting cancelled). I moved to New York once filming was over and there I got involved heavily in alcohol and drugs. I was blowing through my money so fast it was scary.
At first the lack of recognition and fame (in the United States) was quite nice, but after a while I began to feel an immense void. I began acting out as my substance abuse problem worsened, which ultimately resulted in my having a complete break from reality (I don’t wish to elaborate any further, it’s difficult for me to talk about). Of course this was never covered in the tabloids in the US, but it was in the Latin American press. I previously had a squeaky clean image so this was quite scandalous. My lawyers are very good and made most of my bad press disappear. You will be hard pressed to find any details when you google me.
Eventually I was forced to move back to Honduras with my parents and put under conservatorship (like Britney). I now live with them like an adult child, which I resent. I have developed severe anxiety and agoraphobia and I never leave our estate. I started my project as a way to document my experience and my recovery and to talk about the way women are treated within this narrative. I’m quite lonely and need a way to connect with my fans. I was also secretly hoping to become Instagram famous, thinking I could somehow revive my career. This was of course before I suspended my account.
Anyway, I am sorry. This is a roundabout way for me to explain why they are my inspiration and motivation.
DigA: The ‘Welcome to My Home’ video is a tour of your home “where we live.” Who is “we” and how do “we” live together?
BQ: “We” are my parents, my dog Snoot, my bodyguard Guayabo, our housekeeper Amalia and her daughter Azucena. Due to my parents’ work, they are absent during most of the day and travel a great deal. My relationship with them is strained as I partially resent them and partially feel guilty for being a burden. I have a very special relationship with Amalia, as she has known me since I was very young. Guayabo is probably my best friend at the moment. He is my protector and confidante. He has also known me since I was young. He worked as a PA on the set of Baleada Queen. He often serves as my cameraman when I make videos.
DigA: How does your voice in ‘Welcome to My Home’ impact the narrative? Can you talk about why the voice is specific to your ouvre?
I recorded my dialogue backwards and then played it forwards. I wanted my speech to sound slurred. I want to illustrate the way I feel internally being on so many psych meds. I have tried so many different drugs for my condition, most did more harm than good. My medication always makes me feel as if I’m extremely sedated or sleep walking. I wanted to sound and look like I was sleepwalking through the video.
How is it specific to my oeuvre? I think it’s because I’ve been sedated and trapped in one form or another since I had my psychotic break (and began medication). My photos and videos are all dreams (during this sedation) that have manifested. ‘Welcome to My Home’ is the first long video I’ve done where I’ve been really, truly open with my fans by letting them into my home, so I think the voice appears a little more dominant in this video vs. my prior ones (because of the length and detail).
DigA: What makes you, Baleada Queen, a star?
BQ: Well, in the traditional sense I am a star because I starred in a telenovela. In a larger sense I believe I’m a star because I have that something, you know? I like to call it duende.
I know I am beautiful and have a commanding presence. I truly believe people adore what I do. When I had my Instagram, I had people comparing me to That Poppy, Lil Miquela and Lana del Rey. I could only dream of being so famous, but I am a real girl!
I think I possess a certain degree of elusiveness that people can easily obsess over. I do not cultivate this on purpose. I think my mind is just a mystery to people. Mystery is an important aspect of star quality.
DigA: How does the audience you’re cultivating affect your isolation? Does it impact your fame?
When I had my Instagram account, the audience I cultivated had two opposite effects.
On one hand, I made a lot of special friends (mostly in the vaporwave community) who were very supportive and it made me feel as if I were not completely alone. I felt they really “got” me. I had lots of followers who left positive comments that made me feel adored and appreciated and a little bit famous.
On the other hand, tons of individuals who I knew personally began unfollowing me once I started taking photos of myself. Most of these followers were straight males. This made me feel bad. I think my photographs sometimes freak people out and make them uncomfortable. I think straight men especially are uncomfortable with my photos because they don’t know what to make of them.
I became very overwhelmed with Instagram politics. All this following and unfollowing drama that exists on the platform made me feel very uncomfortable, not to mention the methods one has to employ to grow their following. I didn’t like having to apply those tactics and it started to make me feel like a fake. I finally suspended my account. It is not deleted! I still have the option to return if I care to.
I suppose in some ways my Instagram experience impacted my fame. It exposed me to a North American audience who had previously never heard of me. However, I feel my experience also played games with my self esteem. One minute I felt confident and elated, the next I felt very insecure. Whether or not I got a lot of likes began to affect me personally and hurt my feelings. I feel Instagram wreaked havoc on my sense of self and ultimately left me feeling more isolated.
Now I have my website, I feel safer there. If people judge me, there is no reflection of it because there is no ranking system with likes and there is no comment section. I don’t have to feel like I’m being approved of or disapproved of because someone follows me or not. I do feel a little more alone though, no reflection also means no positive feedback. I also don’t know if my website is reaching people in the way that my Instagram account did. I do feel more official though, social media pages aren’t taken seriously like websites.
DigA: Do you have any upcoming projects?
BQ:I took a short break from my photographs and videos because I went away for treatment, but now I am back home and plan on adding to my website.
Primarily I would like to focus on my pop music. You can find it at www.soundcloud.com/baleadaqueen [link no longer accessible]. I think my music may help revive my career. I am spending the month of July in New York with friends, it will be the first time since my meltdown where I will be away from my parents without supervision. I want to give some live performances of my music while I’m there. I am very inspired by Grace Jones.
I also want to make a full length music video for my youtube channel. I am working on a new song now, and hope to have the music video completed by May. I am trying to use my father’s drone to film part of the video, but he is very strict and I am not sure that’s going to happen.