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Ioanis Patsias Rosalía Peru
Photography Francisco Medina

Motopapi: the inside story of Peru’s viral drag Rosalía concert

YouTube personality iOA meticulously recreated the singer’s acclaimed Motomami World Tour, and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at all the chaos

When images from a recent Rosalía concert began to go viral across social media, nothing seemed too out of the ordinary about the occurrence. All the usual trappings of the megastar’s performances were there: the stark white background, the Dion Lee-designed fits, the jet black hair wound into waist-length plaits. But on closer inspection, all was not as it seemed. The clips doing the rounds were not from a bonafide Motomami World Tour date, but a note-perfect homage created by Peruvian YouTuber iOA, otherwise known as Ioanis Patsias.

Before this, when Rosalía first announced the dates for her tour last spring, Patsias noticed that his native Peru was conspicuously absent from the schedule. But rather than allow the news to deter him, he did what any ardent fan would do: faithfully recreate the entire concert from scratch and lip-sync the set to a crowd of thousands.

@ioanispatsias Saoko papi saoko 🏍️❤️‍🔥🇵🇪 Recreando uno de los momentos mas emocionantes del Motomami World Tour!!!! Espero que Rosalia lo vea y entienda lo mucho que la valoramos en el Perú!!! #rosalia #motomami #motomamiworldtour #saoko #peru #ioa #mijirritos #concierto #tribute #show #festival ♬ VAMPIROS - ROSALÍA & Rauw Alejandro

To pull off this near-impossible feat, Patsias first had to dodge a lawsuit – “I didn't want any kind of legal problems around selling the concert,” he says over a video call – so decided not to mention the words “Rosalía” or “Motomami”. Despite this, the YouTubers’ 786,000 subscribers were keen to snap up the tickets, so much so that he had to upgrade their original club venue to a 4,000 capacity amphitheatre in Peru’s capital, Lima.

The show that followed was a painstaking recreation of original choreography by Majnoon Giasar – the Motomani World Tour movement designer – executed by a cast of eight dancers specifically chosen because of their resemblance to Rosalía’s crew. In a triumphant blaze of mimicry, Patsias and his dancers (or Motopapis) stormed through Rosalia’s set, arriving on the scene in luminous bunny helmets and whizzing about the stage on matching chrome scooters. And if all that wasn’t enough, a second night was added to the bill weeks later due to overwhelming fan demand.

In a conversation below, Patsias takes us behind the scenes of the two headline shows, from the gruelling regime he undertook in preparation, to the six-figure bill he racked up along the way.

“Five months in the making, more than $100,000 invested, my whole body, soul, mental health – everything went into this show” – Ioanis Patsias

Hi Ioanis – congrats on the show! What made you decide to go ahead with it?

Ioanis Patsias: For my birthday last September I went to see Rosalía at Radio City Music Hall in New York. After having that experience I was so inspired. It was crazy to see a show that seemed to be so simple in staging – the white backdrop, no costume changes – but was the most impressive and shocking show I’ve ever been to. It blew my mind. I thought, ‘this show has to be in Peru in some way.’ For my YouTube channel, I have a series where I recreate music videos by artists. People were expecting me to do another one but I wasn’t inspired by any I saw, so I decided to recreate the concert instead.

Was it expensive to put together?

Ioanis Patsias: So expensive! In our ignorance we thought it was going to cost around $50,000, but it ended up costing more than $100,000. I’m now in debt because of it. Even selling out the venue, I still made a loss. But I hope in the future, I’ll recoup it back through my content and brand sponsors. That’s how it usually goes.

But the show was really expensive. Five months in the making, more than $100,000 invested, my whole body, soul, mental health – everything went into this show. I went to flamenco classes, I went to swimming lessons to expand my lungs and gain more breath capacity. Months of dance classes to learn every Rosalía move – not only the choreography but how she turns, how she grabs the mic, every detail.

How many dancers did you work with?

Ioanis Patsias: I had my choreographer Miguel Suarez working with me from day one, but I also did an open casting of over 100 professional dancers from Peru. I picked eight – Francisco, Oleck, Bryan, José, Gerson, Jasson, Luis and Dominick – because of their dancing abilities, but also how close they looked to the original Rosalía cast. One had dreads he’d grown for three years and he cut them off just for the concert. He did a whole body of tattoos to impersonate one of Rosalía’s dancers. Another bleached his eyebrows, dyed his hair pink, got piercings – they went through everything.

What was the rehearsal process like? Was there a point where you thought it wasn’t going to happen?

Ioanis Patsias: Yes, in so many moments. The thing is that the choreography is very precise, and it’s very demanding, and we had less time than Rosalía and her team had to put on the show. The last month we were rehearsing seven hours a day from Monday to Saturday – it was really intense. There was a lot of pushing through frustration and fear. But we did it. The eight dancers I picked were perfect.

Did you all bond behind the scenes?

Ioanis Patsias: It’s crazy because this is my first time going through all this and we’re like a family now. We spent a lot of time together and there were so many emotions involved. They’re really happy because in Peru it’s difficult for dancers to get an opportunity like that, to be on an international level show. And also after all this press, for them to see their faces around the world – it’s crazy for me, and I know it’s crazy for them too.

Some people on social media thought the show was saying ‘if you’re not coming here then we’re going to take your show and do it ourselves’.

Ioanis Patsias: No, it wasn’t like that. A lot of Peruvians that love her went to Colombia, Chile or Argentina. I wanted to pay tribute to the art and effort that Rosalía and her crew put into the show, like a drag show. When I go to see a Britney Spears impersonator, I know that it’s not Britney Spears but I feel the same energy, and my show was like that.

Is it weird knowing that she’s seen the performance?

Ioanis Patsias: I don’t know how much she’s seen. I don’t know if she’s seen, like, a couple of TikToks or the whole show. She’s a producer and in charge of everything, so I know that she knows how much work goes into putting on a show like that. She might be like, ‘how did they do it?’ because it’s a lot of work. And because the people on YouTube usually spend one day or maybe even a week filming a video.

“I was scared she would think I was a stalker or something. It’s just too precise. The same water bottle, the same towel, the same glasses. I was worried she would be like ‘he's crazy!’” – Ioanis Patsias

Was there any worry at any point of how Rosalía was going to react to your show?

Ioanis Patsias: Firstly, I was scared she would think I was a stalker or something. It’s just too precise. The same water bottle, the same towel, the same glasses. I was worried she would be like ‘he’s crazy!’ The second thing that I was worried about was that she would think that it was a brand – or maybe even the Illuminati – behind it. That it couldn’t be from a content creator or a fan from Peru. But there’s nothing behind it – it’s just me and my bank loans. I think they’re still figuring out if there’s someone funding me. Because [the show] is part of this new generation of content creation, I think they don’t know how to react.

So those were my two concerns, but thankfully she commented on a video of the concert and then she followed me back on TikTok – she wouldn’t follow a psychopath or a stalker?

Do you have a background in performing?

Ioanis Patsias: No, I have a bachelor's in economics. I worked in consulting firms and corporate finance, and my last years in that world were in social media and marketing which helped me learn about content creation, filming videos and creating productions. Seven years ago, I decided to quit my corporate job for full-time content creation.

If Rosalía was sitting in front of you right now, what would you say?

Ioanis Patsias: I would thank her for creating the Motomami album and world tour – I think it changed a lot of things in the music industry and the content creation world. When she realises that there’s nothing behind me and that I’m not a stalker, I hope she can send a video talking to the Peruvian fans, because there’s a lot of people here that really appreciate her work. She’s been an inspiration to me in this process, and also the dancers who now have a platform to share their talent. I will be forever thankful to her for inspiring me to go through this challenge.

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