"I don't do drag, I do impersonation," says Louis Padilla of his Shakira lookalike act. "Drag is about looks, about being as much like a lady as possible, but an impersonation is a whole show; it involves duplicating someone's entire performance, [including] their attitude and moves." Padilla admits that not having hips makes it a challenge to mimic Shakira.
"I practice barefoot in the sand near water, which actually goes along with Arabic mythology, and that's something Shakira herself is into." Padilla, a 29-year-old who cashiers at the EastLake Wal-Mart, earns between $400 and $1000 for a ten-song, hour-long performance. He lip-synchs to recorded Shakira tracks. He began impersonating the Colombian-born singer around eight years ago and makes his own costumes. "It's when I put on my Middle-Eastern belts that I really take on her persona."
When the real Shakira kicked off her first world tour at the Sports Arena in November 2002, Padilla was up front, standing on a riser. "She made eye contact and was smiling at me. There was a connection. I could tell she was really surprised to see someone dancing just like her, especially a boy!"