Everyone Gets Up and Dances
Atasha Manila, Server/drag queen, Inay's Asian Pacific Cuisine
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Louie Alfajora is a beloved fixture in the commerce of Beacon Hill. By day, he mans the counter at the Despi Delite Bakery. In the evenings, he waits tables at Inay's Asian Pacific Cuisine. And during his Friday-night shifts at Inay's, he performs musical numbers—while still waiting tables—as his drag alter ego, Atasha Manila.
What's the most challenging aspect of being a drag-queen waiter?
Busing tables. It's hard to balance every dirty plate in your hand while you have six-inch stilettos on. And with my waist cinched, a wig on, and padding, busing tables gets hot!
What's Inay's most popular dish? And what's Atasha's most popular number?
Tilapia cooked in coconut milk with jalapeño and ginger is our signature dish. [It is delicious, and costs $8.25.—Ed.] And Atasha's greatest hit of the moment is "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. But Nicki Minaj is my go-to diva—"Super Bass," "Starships." And ABBA's "Dancing Queen" is my forever closer. Everyone gets up and dances.
What's your worst-ever food-service disaster?
Oh my God. I was in drag. A family of eight came in, and they were surprised to find a drag show, and I dropped a glass of ice-cold water on their baby. They had a little boy in a high chair, and I'd brought out six full glasses of water in high heels, and I served five just fine, but the sixth fell onto the little boy's head. It was so awful. It was a big glass. The baby screamed. It was ice-cold water. They ran out. I CAN'T BELIEVE MY WORST STORY IS ABOUT SERVING WATER!
Inay's Friday-night dinner service is now a thing of renown—but do you still get the occasional weird response from people who just want their lumpia without a side of girlyboy?
There have been people who turn and walk out. People who don't know there's a Friday drag night. It used to get me, but now I know you can't please everyone, so you suck it up and do your thing and serve the people who are willing to be served by a drag queen.
Fuck the haters. Have you gotten to the point where you have die-hard Friday-night regulars?
Oh, yes. There's a lesbian couple that started coming in almost three years ago, and they come see everything I do. Now I go to their house every Monday night to watch RuPaul's Drag Race.
Speaking of Drag Race, have you sent in an audition tape?
Not yet. I'm not sure if I'm prepared, mentally. Those bitches will cut you to pieces! Look at all the shit they did to Jinkx! Maybe next year.
Back to food: What's the weirdest order you've over gotten?
Pho. We're a Filipino restaurant, not Vietnamese!
Do you watch cooking shows on TV? If so, what's your favorite?
Paula Deen! I love her, even though she's fucking racist. She's very funny, and she eats. You see all these bitches on these cooking shows, and they're so skinny. This bitch eats what she cooks. Barefoot Contessa looks like she eats, too. I like the big bitches. They eat their feelings, like me. I also love Top Chef, Iron Chef America, and Amazing Wedding Cakes—it's very artsy!
What do you cook at home?
Eggs. Sunny-side-up eggs. That's my go-to, because I'm always so busy. But when I cook, I cook—porridge with chicken and eggs, or deep-fried chicken wings...
Beyond Inay's, where's your favorite place to eat in Seattle?
My mom's. My mom's cooking will always and forever be the best. I eat everything she cooks.
You're on death row—what's your perfect last meal?
Deep-fried pork hock, a hamburger with sea salt and french fries, and spicy chicken nuggets from Wendy's.