When I woke up this morning, I found out my friend Claudio passed away.
I first met Claudio around 2011, back when I was still living in Connecticut and escaping to the city on weekends. He had been a fixture in the club scene at the time. I remember walking upstairs at the Ritz — one of my first times at a club ever, feeling awkward and totally out of my element — and seeing him there: Maddox Madison, a larger-than-life queen armed with a giant gorgeous wig, sky-high stilettos and a face beat to the gods (dragspeak). He commanded the room with his hearty laughter and even larger personality — a mixture of genuine sweetness and biting New York City-bred sass. But he wasn’t intimidating to me. He was warm, and we got along as friends immediately.
Watching his transformation into Maddox Madison was awe-inspiring: Maddox had a truly unique look — one which he shared with the world. I remember sitting in my friend Jake’s apartment with him last Halloween, watching him carefully apply copious amounts of make-up before we headed out for the night, feeling completely inspired by his dedication and talent. Until today, I was sure that he would go on to snatch the crown on a future season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m devastated that he won’t have the chance.
Out of drag, Claudio was an incredible friend to me. I’ll never forget how supportive he was of me and my career: He’s left countless comments here on MuuMuse alone. I was always incredibly touched by that small gesture each time. He really believed in me.
Claudio also loved music. Fiercely. I remember riotous conversations at 4 AM at late night diners, cackling and yelling about pop divas. But there was one artist that he idolized above them all: Beyoncé. Bey was to him as Britney is to me. #1. Untouchable. His Queen.
I’m still in shock right now, and so incredibly sad. My heart hurts for Claudio’s family.
I wanted to leave this here in memory of Claudio: “I Miss You,” perhaps my favorite Beyoncé ballad of all time — and more fitting than ever today. I’ll always think of him when I hear this song.
We will miss you, Claudio. Every day.