Born in a small town in Mexico, and relocated to Los Angeles when he was just months old, gender bender Karis was the first boy at Chatsworth High School to attend his prom dressed in drag. One week out of high school he had already started his costume fabrication career as an Assistant Designer, making and designing garments for Marilyn Manson’s tour, Queens of the Stone Age, TLC, Ludacris, even Angelina Jolie. But somewhere along the way he picked up a hoop and in no time at all he had transported himself from behind the scenes to center stage, wowing audiences with his androgynous beauty and mad hoop skills. Having mesmerized Mutaytor audiences since 2003, Karis remains the crown jewel of Lucha VaVOOM and when we launched our first annual Hoopie Awards celebration years ago it was Karis who scored himself our very first Male Hooper of the Year award. And now he can add performing with Christina Aguilera at the American Music Awards to his already impressive resume.
“They didn’t want any props on the stage,” he told Hooping.org. “My friend is a casting agent and they were looking for freaks and people with strong personalities for a performance with Christina, but they only wanted people, so the fact that I had my hula hoop wasn’t working in my favor. But once they saw the hoop and my look they changed their minds. They decided they wanted me on stage.”
Things would take another unexpected turn in his favor when the choreographer for Christina’s performance turned out to be someone he had worked with before, back when he was hired to teach one of Madonna’s dancers how to hoop for her Confessions Tour. That connection may have been responsible for his role on stage expanding from hooper extraordinaire, to being the one helping Christina navigate the on-stage stairs in her super high stilettos.
Two rehearsal days and one complete run through later on the day of the show itself, it was showtime. How was it working with Christina Aguilera? “She was very nice,” Karis explained. “She wasn’t really around early on. She got there on the second rehearsal once we basically had it all down and she showed up and did her thing. I have to say she has an amazing set of pipes. Regardless of what anyone may be saying about her weight that girl can sing.” At the 40th American Music Awards, Aguilera performed a Lotus medley that included “Lotus”, “Army Of Me” and “Let There Be Love” – all material from her new album (available on iTunes). The coach of the NBC television show The Voice took the stage by storm, emerging from a “lotus flower” made of backup dancers before descending into a gaggle of dancers with bags over their heads that were labeled with terms of hate like “Freak” “Queen” and “Loser.” But when these so-called outsiders were unveiled, they turned out to be amazing people with impressive talents, including Karis himself and his powerhouse hooping.