La Cholita Takes Charge!
It’s been over a decade since Natasha Estrada took the stage at the world-famous Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Festival and left home with the event’s most distinguished title– Miss Viva Las Vegas.
The year was 2007 and Estrada had become a popular performer in Southern California, known for her stage name, “La Cholita.”
Not too long before that, Estrada’s mom, an artist who believed in her daughter’s charisma and stage potential had taken the young Estrada to watch a burlesque show headlined by internationally acclaimed Burlesque dancer, Dita Von Teese.
Estrada, who was born and raised in Highland Park, was fascinated.
“(Burlesque) really encompassed so many things that I love…designing and costuming and glamour and music and movement and sensuality,” she says.
Using her grandfather’s 1940’s L.A. Pachuco influence and her Mexican culture as inspiration, Estrada began designing colorful costumes. One of them included a Mariachi hat. Another incorporated the colorful pattern of a Mexican sarape. A third ensemble was a vibrant take on a Flamenco dress.
She asked a local club promoter for an opportunity to dance on stage between acts.
“After some hesitation he was like, ‘ok, we’ll try it out,” recalls Estrada. “And it was a hit!”
Her bright costumes and her ability to elegantly remove them on stage through a series of sensual dance moves made her stand out.
“I was paying homage to our culture and my grandpa’s upbringing,” says Estrada. “There wasn’t much representation of Latinas in the burlesque world.”
Men and women everywhere were happy to see a curvy woman dance with confidence.
Myrna Delvalle, for example, a fan who has been following Estrada’s career for several years says she first caught a glimpse of Estrada on Facebook.
“I thought immediately…‘heck yes!’ It’s about time we have a model who is not only Latina but someone who embraces her curves,’” says Delvalle.
After getting crowned Miss Viva Las Vegas in 2007, Estrada’s career took off. First, with an international tour, then as a spokesmodel for Burlesque-inspired Bordello shoes and a series of other engagements. She had gained loyal fans around the world that would send her compliments, gifts and letters.
“It was a really exciting time,” recalls Estrada.
Motherhood, Heartbreak and Success
Four years after the Viva Las Vegas title, Natasha Estrada got pregnant.
With her pregnancy came the realization that she was going to be a single mom.
“My pregnancy was really difficult for me,” remembers Estrada. “I wasn’t in a supportive relationship at all. Looking back, it makes me kind of sad. I felt very disconnected, going through a breakup on my own.”
Adding to her heartbreak was the fact that people started suggesting that motherhood would, in essence, end her career in show business.
She says she started receiving discouraging comments such as: Well, you gave it your best shot and your career is done and at least you had a good run.
“People almost expected me or wanted me to stop,” says Estrada. “It really made me see that motherhood is seen as the end, like you’re just falling into the abyss.”
Estrada delivered her son, Valentino, in 2011. She was depressed, lonely and working a nine-to-five to provide for her newborn son. She had gained weight through her pregnancy and couldn’t find a way to remain optimistic about much.
One afternoon, as she was driving home from work, Estrada received an email from Dita Von Teese.
Von Teese was recruiting unique acts for her popular Strip, Strip Hooray Tour and had sent out a Tweet asking her fans to name the best LA burlesque performer.
The Twitter community went abuzz alerting Von Teese about Estrada’s talent.
Von Teese got a hold of Estrada and not only complimented her fire and passion on stage, she invited her to join the cast of Strip Strip Hooray.
“For me to be in such a low, dark place… it was like everything had cosmically aligned,” says Estrada with tears in her eyes. “I told myself ‘you can do this. You have this power.’ It was even greater being a bigger size.”
Estrada got to travel the world with Von Teese and oftentimes took Valentino along. What started as an opportunity to work with the woman she had admired on stage the first time she was introduced to burlesque— became a supportive friendship.
Von Teese has since invited Estrada to join her tour, on separate occasions.
At home, Estrada stays involved with her son’s extra-curricular activities. She has served as a coach for Valentino’s basketball and soccer teams.
They make frequent visits to L.A. public libraries and have memberships at the Autry Museum of the American West, where Valentino loves to learn about Native American cultures.
“I am raising a little boy,” says Natasha. “I’m setting an example of what a love relationship is.”
Regarding her career in show business: “I don’t hide what I do. He’s been coming to shows with me ever since he was a little kid. He’s not exposed to anything that I believe is inappropriate,” explains Estrada.
“At the same time, I think it’s important for him to see that his mom is an empowered, confident, sexual woman. A woman that is not afraid to own who I am.”
Self-Love Tips From Natasha
All we have is right now. This moment. Start here.
You can always strive for improvements but don’t wait to start loving yourself when you lose ten pounds, or wait to ask that guy out, or buy that dress or take those photos!
Do whatever you want to do and begin your journey now.
You are enough, you are magnificent, give yourself credit for all you have been through and are going through and STOP comparing yourself to other people.
You bring something to this world that nobody else can, not even the people you look up to. It’s never too late to try or become anything you’ve wanted.
Connect with Natasha!
Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine had the honor of spending an afternoon with Natasha Estrada and her son Valentino, a riveting and creative young boy. Natasha arrived with her larger-than-life charisma and opened up to us, sharing tears, laughs, motivational stories and many other aspects of her career and motherhood journey. Additional snippets from the interview, including her suggestions for raising a boy in Los Angeles will be featured in the Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine premier print edition, launching in July 2018. We wish Natasha continued success! | Every Mom Has a Story.
Photography: Rachel Carrillo
Make-Up: Monica Llanes
Hair: On Location Glam
Wardrobe Stylist: Irene Marquez