For as long as he can remember, Julio Marcelino has been a die-hard member of Mariah Carey's fandom, commonly known as the Lambily.
In 2014, he even auditioned to be a background dancer for her performance on the The Today Show. Sadly, he didn't make the final cut of auditions — but his dreams have now come true as he takes the stage with Mariah every night on her Caution World Tour, which she is currently finishing up in Europe.
In between a set list of new jams from her latest album “Caution” and a medley of hits from the cult-classic soundtrack to the 2001 Carey starring vehicle Glitter, Mariah competes in a duel with her evil alter-ego, Bianca — originally portrayed by Mariah herself in the unforgettable 1999 video for her Jay-Z-featuring, Billboard Hot 100-topping hit "Heartbreaker."
But in Carey’s stage show, Marcelino takes on the role of Bianca — appearing on stage in a red skirt and cropped cardigan, with matching stilettos and a jet-black wig. “I have a friend who heard that Mariah was looking for someone who could perform in heels and pull off a masculine-feminine look. He ended up getting in contact with Bryan Tanaka and recommended me for the part,” Marcelino explains to Billboard.
Mariah has been dating dancer Bryan Tanaka since December 2016, and he plays a large role in crafting the choreography of her performances. Marcelino auditioned in front of Tanaka in late January, just as Mariah was preparing to wrap up her residency in Las Vegas. “I went into the studio and performed three dances for them, and then a week later I got the call that I was hired," Marcelino recalls. "I went straight to Las Vegas to start rehearsing for the tour."
Prior to hitting the stage with Mariah, Marcelino was a struggling artist who received his first glimpse of the spotlight when he was working as a go-go dancer at West Hollywood iconic gay bar The Abbey. He later became a member of The Kiss Boyz, a trio of gender-fluid dancers, models and recording artists, who have danced backup for artists like Taylor Swift, Eve, Rita Ora and Janelle Monae.
When asked what’s it’s like performing in heels every night, Marcelino tells Billboard that it’s an incredible feeling. “People used to tell me not to dance in heels, because it would put me in a box, but I’m so glad that I listened to myself,” he says. “Being an artist means doing what feels right for you. I love to embrace my natural feminine energy and I’ve always been inspired by the strength, beauty and sexuality of the women in my family.”
Performing with Mariah has also brought new found fame to Marcelino and his group, the Kiss Boyz. The trio was recently featured in Gay Times Magazine, where Marcelino spoke about celebrating femininity and masculinity. “I wanted to support myself doing what I really love, and it’s been hard," he says, before exclaiming: "But who would have thought that Mariah Carey would have a gay man dancing in heels on her tour?”
You can still catch Marcelino on tour with Carey in Europe, with stops in Paris, Barcelona, and Hamburg before the European leg ends in Amsterdam on June 13. Tickets available here.