Alpha Mulugeta performed in drag for the first time in a USC School of Cinematic Arts student production; years later, while earning his master’s in social work from the University of California, Berkeley, he began performing in Berkeley and Oakland drag venues as Honey Mahogany. When not strutting the stage of Bay Area nightclubs in high-glam makeup and costumes, Mulugeta worked as a programs director for the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County in Northern California, where he helped establish a mental health clinic for the LGBT community and worked with at-risk youth.
Mulugeta’s drag career got a huge boost in 2013, when Honey Mahogany competed on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Although Mulugeta appeared in just five episodes of the series, a new drag star was born. Mulugeta later appeared on two television series, The X Factor and Looking, released an EP, and performed in several theatrical productions in the Bay Area.
A community activist as well as a performer, Mulugeta helped lead the fight to establish the Compton’s Transgender, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual District in San Francisco’s Tenderloin—named after Compton’s Cafeteria, the site of the nation’s first transgender civil rights uprising in 1966.
Mulugeta earned a BA in psychology from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.