by BILL O’BRIEN
A Waterbury native won his third straight Emmy Award over the weekend for his work on a reality TV special that was part of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on VH1.
Zaldy Goco, who goes by just Zaldy professionally, won for outstanding costume design for variety, nonfiction or reality programming for the episode titled “Trump: The Rusical.” He won the award Saturday night during the Creative Emmy Awards ceremonies in Los Angeles.
This was the fourth time he has been nominated for his work on the show, and he has taken home the trophy the past three years.
Vogue magazine once described Zaldy as “the designer RuPaul wouldn’t go anywhere without.”
“I’ve been working with RuPaul from the beginning, in the early ’90s,” Zaldy said. “I’ve designed everything she has worn since the beginnning. We’ve developed a really strong creative bond. She’s like my family. We work so well together. We’re very intuitive about what the other is thinking.”
Zaldy was born in Waterbury to parents — both doctors — who had come over from the Philippines. His mother, Dr. Evelyn Santos, was an anesthesiologist at Saint Mary’s Hospital who now lives in Senora, Calif., and Las Vegas. His father, Dr. Nestor Goco, was a general practitioner at Saint Mary’s who now lives in the Philippines.
Around age 8, his family moved to Cheshire. Then he moved to Virginia where he started high school, finishing school when he moved to San Francisco.
He has always loved the world of fashion and credits his childhood in Greater Waterbury as one of the incubators for his passion.
“Growing up in Connecticut, I grew up in a lot in nature,” he recalled. “The design of nature was always fascinating to me. How leaves were formed. That kind of natural upbringing influenced my views of design.”
His mother and his aunt, Dr. Erlinda Villaluze, a retired pediatrician who also worked at Saint Mary’s, were always into design, he said, in the clothes and jewelry they wore every day. That, too, played a role in his life.
He moved to New York from California and started making his way in the world of fashion.
He has designed clothes for some of the superstars of pop music, from Lady Gaga to Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry. He also designed the clothes for one of Pink’s tours, and is doing some of the elaborate costumes for Cirque du Soleil.
Zaldy, 53, now has his own studio in New York, but he travels a lot for work, especially when he’s doing the outfits for a singer’s music tour. Wherever he goes, he has fond memories of Connecticut.
“I always remember Waterbury,” he said. “It was a special place to grow up in.”