San Antonio’s ‘Idol’ contestant to debut on ABC Sunday

Make a date with ABC at 7 p.m. Sunday! That’s when a San Antonio drag queen makes her splashy debut on “American Idol,” the network confirmed.

Ada Vox, who has a memorably torchy voice, said she made an instant impression on the ABC judge trio — Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

“When I walked into the room, it was great!” recalled Vox, who, when not onstage in drag, is Adam Sanders, 24, a South San High School grad and UTSA alum.

“They don’t see someone like me — a 6-foot-plus drag queen — every day. It was a great time. I didn’t know what to expect. I sang what I sang, and I made my mark,” Vox said. “I went in with a big princess dress and tore the bottom half off.”

She said the transformation takes, on average, about two hours.

“I’m a man so I have to shave everything,” Vox said.

As for her voluminous bust: “I’m wearing hand towels in my bra.”

She said the judges chatted about her first “Idol” appearance in 2013, when the show was still on Fox.

That time, the San Antonio singer was not in drag. Dressed in a drab plaid shirt, Sanders was physically underwhelming, but when he opened his mouth and belted a soulful number by Etta James, he completely wowed the quartet of judges at the time — Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson. In fact, three of them jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.

Back then, he made it into the top-50 on “Idol.” He hopes to go further this go-round.

“The judges told me, ‘Wow, you came back — totally reinvented,’ ” Vox said.

That reinvention happened soon after Sanders was on “Idol.”

“I was invited to be part of San Antonio’s Gay Pride event. It was an entirely new experience for me,” Vox recalled.

“The drag queens sparked my interest. None of them were actually singing, they were all lip-synching.”

That’s also when Sanders was told his voice “didn’t fit my image. They said, ‘You’re singing big diva songs, but you look like a chubby Mexican boy.”

It took awhile for Sanders’ family to get used to Ada Vox.

“I wanted them to understand that I don’t actually want to be a woman. This is just an alter-ego I created,” she said. “They were afraid of what I’d have to deal with. First, my sexuality, then being a drag queen on top of it.”

Vox is thankful people are much more “accepting” today. “That’s why it’s the perfect time for someone like me to come out of the woodwork and onto the show.”

Jeanne Jakle’s column appears Thursdays and Sundays in mySA. Read more of her columns here. | jjakle@express-news.net | @JakleJ

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