In Galveston you’d have to be an ostrich with your head in the sand if you are not aware of the original Island Diva, Misty Valdez. Well known for her more than generous contributions to the LGBTQ community and her undying devotion to that community, the very name “Misty Valdez” is synonymous with fundraising, philanthropy and spreading goodwill — not to mention some mighty fine drag and perhaps the best lip-synching one will ever see!
After 35 years of performing and earning the well-deserved title of Island Diva, Misty Valdez is retiring.
Now before you gasp and pass out, don’t worry, Valdez is not cashing in her ticket. She’s just slowing down to focus on her health, family and an easier path to assisting and helping others in need.
“Beinga diva…. It has much to do with your service to people and your social
contributionsto your community…and your civic contributions, as well.”
Judging by Miss Franklin’s standards for “Divadom”, Misty Valdez has certainly earned the title!
For the past 27 years the “Painted Lady from Galveston” has tirelessly worked to raise money and awareness of and for the HIV cause. No stranger to the stage, Misty has hosted or performed at gatherings and fundraisers too numerous to count. Over these years, Misty Valdez has hosted garage sales, plate dinners, bingo games, car washes, pageants, silent auctions and just about any activity or gathering that generates money for her causes.
When asked why she is retiring, a smiling Misty says, “I’ve been bookin’ and cookin’ for a long time, I think it’s time to slow down a bit and focus on myself. I have been performing for over 35 years now.”
It is no secret that health issues have plagued the Island icon for quite some time. Aside from all her cooking, food hauling and organizing, Valdez has battled diabetes for many years.
“With the neuropathy, sometimes my feet hurt so bad I couldn’t get my heels on, let alone stand on stage and perform. But I did it. I took those shoes off and gave it my all,” she says.
Valdez says that on her worse day, when she feels beat, “A little make-up on my face brightens my world and the day or night, is saved.”
Known for her big Texas hair, flawless make-up and sparkling gowns (unless she’s performing her housewife bag lady character), Valdez has brought joy and smiles to thousands. Her “self-healing” make-up applications works for her and her audience!
Born with a very strong conviction for helping others, something Misty attributes to her mother and family, she has never turned down any opportunity to perform or assist when it comes to raising money or awareness. Ever the trouper, Misty Valdez has climbed onto more stages and stood under more spotlights than perhaps any performer around. Valdez is proud of her accomplishments and efforts.
“I just want to know I have made a difference in the lives of others,” she says.
Valdez is quick to point that she is certainly grateful to all the performers and people that have helped her along the way.
“So many have supported me and these efforts. I cannot begin to name them all, but they are my angels,” she says.
As for retiring and going away, Valdez says, “Well, I will help when I can. I mean, so many have supported me and I will support them if I can.”
It is fair to say the Island and its LGBTQ community has not seen the last of their beloved Diva.
“Ittakes a long time to be a Diva. I mean, you gotta work at it!”
If anyone would know, Diana Ross would!
With being a diva certainly comes responsibilities and Misty Valdez has made sure to keep her goals in focus as she tirelessly performs, organizes and raises money. Not one to brag on herself, but it is fair to say that the Island Diva has, over the years, raised close to $80,000+ dollars for various charities and causes. That’s a lot of taco plates, tipped dollars and donations to the cause(s).
A long-time supporter and provider for Access Care Coastal Texas (ACCT), Misty and her contributions are well known and loved around the organization’s offices on 23rd Street.
“I really enjoy working to help others and to know that maybe I have made a difference,” she says.
The community today is filled with performers, drag queens, illusionists and an array of styles, acts and gimmicks. When asked what makes a Diva, the unimposing Valdez says, “Many things. First, you have to remain true to yourself, focus on your goals and be a leader, not a follower. You have to be able to take criticism, whether warranted or not. And you must understand that you cannot please everyone all the time. Do your best and from your heart.”
When asked what is next, Valdez says she plans to do some cooking, baking and just taking life one day at a time, with a focus on her health. She will perform now and then, but no more organizing and planning events. Her retiring wish is to win the lottery.
“If I won, I’d have so much money to help others. I’d probably give it all away,” she says.
That would be a wonderful thank-you for a person that has done so much for others.
Finally, when asked if she will miss it, the performing and all the hoop-la, Valdez laughs and says, “Oh, I’m sure I will and it will be a little sad, but when the make-up goes on, I am happy and ready to roll.”
For all that she has done and the contributions to her community, Misty Valdez is a living legend. The Island is forever grateful and most proud to have her as their Island Diva — a title that is well deserved and honestly earned.
Thank you, Misty Valdez.
Forest Riggs, a resident of Galveston is no stranger to the adventures of life. A former educator and business owner, he enjoys Island life and all that comes with it. He says he is a “raconteur with a quixotic, gypsy spirit.” Forest has written for several newspapers and magazines as well as other writing pursuits, including a novel and collection of short stories.