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Queens Drag Queen Jiggly Caliente Sashays into Reality TV Stardom

By DNAinfo Staff on February 27, 2012 9:29am

Queens resident Jiggly Caliente stars in the reality TV show
Queens resident Jiggly Caliente stars in the reality TV show "RuPaul's Drag Race."
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Mathu Andersen/Logo

SUNNYSIDE — Jiggly Caliente has become a reality TV sensation on "RuPaul's Drag Race," but the drag queen from Queens has no plans of leaving her home borough anytime soon.

Caliente, who bills herself as New York City's "plus-sized Barbie," said the fame she has garnered  from the hit show, running now on the Logo channel, hasn't sparked any desire to abandon her beloved Sunnyside for the glamour of Manhattan.

"I still get the hustle and bustle from the city 'cause I'm so close," Caliente said of living in Queens. "I get the craziness of the city, the busyness and all that, but I get the quiet of the suburbs."

The 31-year-old Caliente, whose real name is Paulo Arabejo, admitted she also loves residing near the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst, the busiest shopping center by square foot in the nation.

"What shopping bitch is not going to be happy about that?" she said with a laugh.

On the show, now in its fourth season, celebrity drag queen RuPaul searches for "America's next drag superstar" among performers with stage names like Madame LaQueer and Sharon Needles. Contestants from across the country compete through events such as photo shoots and lip-syncing contests.

The show's fourth season was filmed last summer but just hit airwaves last month. Caliente staved off elimination early this season by lip-syncing the Britney Spears song "Toxic" while shedding some of her clothes. She has become something of a fan favorite, landing thousands of followers on Twitter.

If Caliente wins the competition, she will receive $100,000, a lifetime supply of cosmetics, a "one-of-a-kind" trip and a headlining spot on Logo's Drag Race Tour this summer, a spokesman for the channel said.

A winner will be crowned during the April 23 episode. Caliente remained tight-lipped when asked how far she made it in the competition, since the contestants are under contract not to reveal the outcome.

"I don't have the money to get sued like that," she quipped.

Caliente said she also has no plans to cut out her regular gigs at Manhattan clubs. She performs every Wednesday at XL Nightclub at 512 West 42nd Street in Hell's Kitchen, and some Fridays and Saturdays at the Web on 58th Street between Madison and Park avenues in Midtown.

She said she might add to her resume by writing a cookbook and releasing a single in line with the music of hip-hop group TLC and rapper Nicki Minaj, who grew up on the other side of Queens in South Jamaica.

"Who knows where drag will take me?" she said.

"RuPaul's Drag Race" airs Mondays at 9 p.m. Eastern on Logo. Previous episodes can be viewed online.