Kaua‘i native vies for spot in drag queen Sasha Colby’s Stripped tour stop in Honolulu

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Six years ago, during a fundraising lip sync battle for drag queen and pageant contestant Anna Mei at Scarlet Honolulu, Dillon Ancheta stepped on stage for the first time as his drag persona Mallibu Del Rey.

Mallibu Del Rey, or Mallie, is the drag persona of Kaua‘i native and Hawai‘i News Now anchor/reporter/producer Dillon Ancheta. (Photo from Instagram)

“After experimenting with makeup here and there, like in the shadows of my own home, that opportunity arose and I said, ‘You know what? Let’s do it,'” the 27-year-old said. “I did it. And I lost.”

Ancheta, an anchor/reporter/producer for Hawai‘i News Now, concedes Mallibu wasn’t yet at her finest during her public debut, but the experience — while somewhat nerve-wracking knowing people’s eyes were focused on her and not knowing if it was a good or bad thing — was exhilarating.

“Honey, I knew I was busted. That wig, that makeup, the body was not right,” said Ancheta, who was born and raised in Līhuʻe, Kaua‘i, and now lives in Waikele, O‘ahu. “But from there, I was able to grow.”

Mallibu, or Mallie for short, now is one of three finalists in the running to open for O‘ahu native Sasha Colby, on April 19, 2024, at the Hawai‘i Theatre in Honolulu as part of Colby’s Stripped tour.

Colby is the first Native Hawaiian transgender person to be crowned a winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — for season 15. The tour will take her to more than 20 cities throughout North America, culminating with the Honolulu show.


Colby put out a call on Instagram the week after Thanksgiving to drag queens in each of the tour cities to submit a 1- to 2-minute audition video. Ancheta said there were at least five queens who auditioned for the Honolulu show.

  • Dillon Ancheta is an anchor/reporter/producer for Hawai‘i News Now. The Kaua‘i native, whose drag persona is Mallibu Del Rey, is in the running to be part of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 15 winner Sasha Colby’s Stripped tour stop in April in Honolulu. (Photo from Instagram)
  • Dillon Ancheta, whose drag persona is Mallibu Del Rey, reports from the 59th annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo for Hawai‘i News Now in 2022. (Photo from Instagram)

The public voted from Dec. 7 to 14 for the top three O‘ahu queens. Colby is expected to announce who won sometime after New Year’s.

The other two drag queen finalists are Chevis Regal of Las Vegas, who was born and raised in Makaha, O‘ahu, and Kamulani of Mililani, O‘ahu, who was born and raised in Pearl City, O‘ahu.

“If I were chosen to perform alongside Sasha, I feel it would push me to the next level of drag in terms of discovering what I can accomplish as a performer,” Ancheta said.

He never thought he’d become a drag queen. He didn’t even know much about drag until he started experimenting and learning about it. For Ancheta, drag is a form of art and theater; it’s all about character building.


“A lot of times, it just so happens that the character you’re building is a fierce woman with massive hair and glitter everywhere, you know?” he said. “I wish more people understood that. That it’s not about male/female gender roles.”

It’s sort of like a confidence shield for him, with Mallie bringing out a different energy. Drag also is also an outlet from the stress of working in the news business.

“I’m surrounded by bad news all day, every day of the week. Quite literally, bad news,” Ancheta said. “But when I get to transform, when I get to put on the face, put on the wig, put on a stunning costume, it frees me from that. It allows me to be this fun, happy queen that people look up to and smile and go to clubs to see and enjoy. And that brings me joy. When I see my audience having fun, that gives me energy to keep going.”

He has come a long way since that first gig in 2018. It was while looking in a mirror with Mallibu in all her vintage Hollywood, campy, glamourous glory staring back at him during a show in 2021 when everything changed.

“For the first time, I felt beautiful and confident,” Ancheta said. “I said, ‘Holy cow, that’s me.’ From there on, it was a whole new level of Miss Mallibu.”


Mallie’s gigs are usually on the smaller side, at a club or party. She takes gigs wherever and whenever they come up and often runs her own shows, including a quarterly drag brunch in downtown Honolulu and her own lip sync battle show.

This year was all about branding and expanding for Mallibu. It was Ancheta’s 2023 New Year’s resolution: “Anytime you can expand your brand, you’re doing well.”

Mallibu Del Rey, fifth from left, poses for a photo with other drag queens during Kona Pride 2023 in September on the Big Island. (Photo from Instagram)

He focused on getting bigger gigs and also had some outside O‘ahu, including a performance during Kona Pride in September on the Big Island. Mallie also was invited to do a show at Seattle Pride. She is coming back to the Big Island in March 2024 to co-host and perform during a Donkey Mill Art Center Foundation fundraiser.

Ancheta also started selling Mallibu merchandise this year.

He said being a part of the Stripped tour and performing in a bigger venue with more people watching will push him to “go over the top” and become an even better version of Mallibu and himself. It also would be validation of all the work he’s put in during the past 6 years and that his craft is worthy of being seen on a national scale and by the likes of Colby and the tour’s organizers.

He’s also humbled and blessed by all of the support he received during the voting phase, including from people on Kaua‘i and throughout the islands, the mainland and elsewhere such as Japan and Mexico.

  • Mallibu Del Rey, the drag persona of Kaua‘i native Dillon Ancheta, is in the running to be part of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 15 winner Sasha Colby’s Stripped tour stop in April in Honolulu. (Photo from Instagram)
  • Mallibu Del Rey, the drag persona of Dillon Ancheta, takes a selfie in May 2022. (Photo from Instagram)
  • Mallibu Del Rey, the drag persona of Kaua‘i native Dillon Ancheta, poses for a photo in August 2022. (Photo from Instagram)
  • Mallibu Del Rey, left, and Melody Lucas during Honolulu Pride in 2022. (Photo from Instagram)
  • Mallibu Del Rey, the drag persona of Hawai‘i News Now anchor/reporter/producer Dillon Ancheta, reports live during Honolulu Pride 2023. (Photo from Instagram)

Ancheta said being on stage alongside Colby would be mind-blowing.

Even though Colby is more of a sexy, bawdy queen, which Mallibu definitely is not, she’s proof that people from Hawai‘i can make it big. That inspires Ancheta.

“From the shores of Waimānalo to Hollywood, L.A., and internationally, she is a ray of hope for someone like me who is here in the islands and dreaming of the bigger world out there,” he said.

Winning also would be an opportunity to not just highlight Ancheta’s drag, but what he stands for: the values of aloha and the values of Hawai‘i. He might not be native Hawaiian by blood or ancestry, but Mallie is a local queen at heart.

“Even if you’re not Native Hawaiian by blood, if you live here, it’s your responsibility to care for and about this place,” Ancheta said. “Know the cultures, the value, the respect that is shared. Know that aloha is not just a word, it’s a way of life. I think that’s so important for people to understand. As Mallie, she hopes to portray that and be a symbol of aloha and love.”

Mallibu Del Rey, the drag persona of Kaua‘i native Dillon Ancheta, is in the running to be part of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 15 winner Sasha Colby’s Stripped tour stop in April in Honolulu. (Photo from Instagram)
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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