One of our favorite “Cucu” queens, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, shines as a glorious Navidad queen in her festive song and music video, “Bring Me the Holidays”. Co-written by Armando Barrientos, the jazzy ballad with a distinct pop influence ushers in the joyous spirit of the holiday season, whisking listeners on a magical journey through an enchanted Christmas forest.
Cynthia Lee Fontaine, the stage name of drag performer Carlos Díaz, won our hearts on season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race, winning the title of Miss Congeniality. Sadly, after filming, Cynthia was diagnosed with stage one liver cancer. Fortunately, by season nine, she was in remission and returned to the competition on the second episode as the “fourteenth queen” of the season.
We were able to catch up with this queen with a heart the size of her home state of Texas to talk about the new single, what the holidays mean to her and some of her favorite Puerto Rican traditions. Catch up with Cynthia and discover why she’s sure to be on Santa’s “nice list” this year.
What have you been up to lately, besides releasing the Christmas song?
You know what? I’m very happy and I’m blessed because in the past five months, I have had the opportunity to get back to traveling. You know, the pandemic was still on and since last year we’ve been living in this terrible situation. So, for me coming back to travel and getting the opportunity to perform in other cities for my fans has just been just a great, amazing experience. So, I’ve been traveling a lot. The last cities that I got the opportunity to travel to were Seattle…actually, I just finished a mini tour in California: San Jose, West Hollywood and San Francisco. I went to Dallas. I went to Boise, Idaho. I’m just blessed.
That’s great. And you know, obviously we’re here to talk about your Christmas song, which is fantastic. What inspired you to release a song for the holidays?
Well, “Bring Me the Holidays” is a big inspiration right now. It’s connecting with people and just letting them know that the holidays are around the corner. And the spirit of Christmas for me, the biggest inspiration is just to bring a little bit of release for everything that we’d been through in the past year, since COVID.
I want to bring a song that uplifts our hearts, lifts the spirits of everybody and I just want to try to make them smile after a terrible year that we‘ve never experienced before. I just want to let them know that, you know, we’re still alive. We have the opportunity to still smile and celebrate and I want to share that beautiful and magical experience with the people who are surrounding us, our friends. And in my case, my fans as well.
Speaking of magical, the video is amazing. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Well, the idea of the video is like this beautiful white witch walking through this beautiful, magical forest. Receiving the holiday, you know. You will see in the video that there’s wind and I’m just closing my eyes. You know, it’s in a magical way like a whisper. It’s the universe and Mother Nature telling me, welcome to the holidays. Welcome to this magical experience. You’re going to be happy. You’re going to see your friends and your family again. And you’re going to have this beautiful journey surrounded by the love and support of those who always love you as well. So that’s the main focus of the video.
So, are you ready to take on Mariah Carey and take the crown of queen of Christmas and release your own full Christmas album?
Oh my God. That would be great! Everybody’s telling me, “Oh, so you are the Mariah Carey of drag!” And I don’t know if I can fill her shoes. As a singer, you know, it’s a beautiful compliment. I like that and I think people are getting that vibe already. So probably for next year, I’ll be coming out with a full EP for Christmas and people are going to be like, “She is singing for Christmas, we love it and we are ready for more!”
What do the holidays mean to you?
For me, the holidays mean I’m gathering with family, being surrounded by the love of family members and friends. I’m from Puerto Rico and we celebrate Christmas for a long time. We start celebrating at Thanksgiving and we go all the way to January 18 or 20. So, it’s a long holiday for us, you know, but we gather with friends, we gather with families, you know, and I think that’s the most important part. Especially in my case, I have beautiful memories from when I was a kid. My two big sisters and my big brother live in Orlando. Sadly, my brother passed away during the premiere, on my tour promoting season eight. I remember when we were kids, we love our brothers and sisters and they surprised us, coming back from Orlando. It’s those memories, you know. The holidays for me, it’s families gathering. It’s gathering with your best friends. It’s having our great and amazing times dancing. It’s music. It’s eating Puerto Rican food. So that’s what Christmas means to me.
Well, I have a personal question since I knew you were from Puerto Rico. Do you have a good coquito recipe?
Okay, this is very interesting what I’m going to tell you right now, because part of my family is religious – part of my family is Adventist and part of my family is Catholic. So basically, part of my family drinks coquitos with alcohol and part of my family doesn’t. But let me tell you, both families, they like coquito that is made with cinnamon. It gives them this special flavor that is distinctive to the traditional coquito that is made with rum, that’d be Puerto Rican and Cuban rum, you know, and he’s with egg and coconut, you know.
It’s very similar to eggnog. The only thing that changes the flavor is the alcohol, of course, you know, that you can go stronger with the rum, but I think, between you and me, if you buy the Goya coconut milk, that’s going to save the day for you instead of preparing the coconut from scratch. I really, really, really enjoy the flavor because it tastes as similar as the natural from scratch.
Besides your own song, of course, do you have a favorite Christmas song?
Yes, actually. “Bring Me the Holidays” is my second Christmas song that I’ve released. The first one was a cover of a well-known international cover from Jose Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad”. It is just beautiful. It’s one of my favorites so far, you know, besides my song, “Bring Me the Holidays”!
What are you asking Santa for this year?
I’m asking Santa Claus for this Christmas, health, prosperity and safety for everybody. That’s what I’m asking for right now.
After the holidays and everything, what is next for you?
Well, next year, I’m going to release two more singles. I’m very excited. One of them, the music video is done, you know, logistics and everything are well-prepared and I’m excited because it’s going to be a collaboration with a local Austin artist. There’s going to be a dual performance video and single, so I’m very excited about it and I’m going to be traveling again, to Europe, I’m going to be having a small UK mini tour and I’m contemplating the possibility to go to South America again, to other countries besides Peru. So, I’m very excited about that.
Will you be attending DragCon in May?
Yes, absolutely. I’m going to be at DragCon. I’m going to have my booth and I’m going to be more than welcome to receive all the fans. I think I’m ready, you know, and the fans are ready to see us back again after the pandemic, and there’s going to be a great, amazing experience, honey. And I have a couple of things to prepare for them as surprises for DragCon itself. So, I’m definitely going to be there.
Cynthia Answers the Socialite Seven
Who has been the biggest influence in on you and your career so far?
What is your lip sync favorite song?
“That’s the Way It Is” by Celine Dion.
What talent would you like to wake up with tomorrow?
Probably the talent to do my makeup in five minutes.
What are three things you can’t live with?
My Bible, my favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and my wigs.
If they made a movie of your life story, who would you want to portray you on the big screen?
Oh, my God! Maybe Frankie Grande, Arianna’s brother. He’s a great actor. We have both have admiration for our careers. And I think like he would really portray me really well if they do a movie – it might be called “Memoirs of My Cucu”!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Do not pay attention to negativity, focus on positive things for your life.
What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
Oh, to be very honest with you, to get my character as an entertainer, as a drag queen mainstream onto a TV show, especially on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I used to work for a TV show for so many years, being in front of the camera. I was one of the main artists, but especially being in drag is the biggest achievement ever.
Watch Cynthia Lee Fontaine’s “Bring Me the Holidays”
Cynthia Lee Fontaine’s “Bring Me the Holidays” is available on all streaming platforms including Spotify and Apple Music. Visit CynthiaLeeFontaine.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.