Betty Fresas: repping Latin culture in the Castro

  • by Christopher J. Beale
  • Tuesday February 7, 2023
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Betty Fresas
Betty Fresas

"Betty's look is very regular girl, very approachable, very easy," said San Francisco-based drag performer Betty Fresas (real name Salvador Gurrola Jr.), "But she's super colorful!"

Betty Fresas is a tall, slender classic beauty with a twist. She retains a certain camp that shows Fresas doesn't take herself too seriously to have a good time.

Media Noche is giving people what I didn't have growing up!" Fresas said. Media Noche is the festive, upbeat and regularly packed Latin party that Fresas, a first-generation Latin American, hosts on Thursday nights at Castro mainstay Midnight Sun. Accentuated by a revolving cast of drag queens and gogo persons, Fresas & Co have grown Media Noche into a popular, visibly Latin, queer community space in San Francisco.

"We should have somewhere to go all the time," said Fresas of the gay and Latin/a/o/x communities. She tells the Bay Area Reporter that Media Noche is tailor-made for people like that, people like her.

Betty Fresas at the Midnight Sun
(photo: Christopher J. Beale)  

Origins In Mexico
Salvador Gurrola Jr. was born in Nogales, Arizona right against the US/Mexico border. The Mexican side of the city, called Nogales Sonora, is where Gurrola was raised until the age of 15.

"I act like I'm 35 sometimes," said Gurrola, who comes across as an ambitious overachiever and presents more mature than his 27 years. As a child, Gurrola says, "If the adults were having conversations, I wanted to be there listening to the chisme (gossip)." This continued throughout school too, when he got along better with his teachers than with his peers.

"I didn't want to open myself up to people because opening up would mean accepting things about myself that I can only accept behind closed doors." said Gurrola. In Arizona and Mexico, Gurrola said he tried to fit in with the other kids, but didn't really have any real friends.

In 2010, Gurrola's sophomore year, his father announced he was moving the family to the San Francisco Bay Area where he was starting a new job. His father saw it as a chance at a new life, but Gurrola remembers being depressed.

"It was such an isolated time for me," recalls Gurrola, "I didn't want to go, I didn't want to start something new. I was scared." The family decided on a home in Los Gatos.

"I think 'High School Musical' is based on Los Gatos High School. Look it up," said Gurrola on just how white his alma mater was; "Tons of privilege."

Coming Out
"I have a boyfriend and I'm gay," Gurrola said to his parents, preparing for a fight. In college, Gurrola fell in love with a boy he met working a summer job, and soon came out to his parents with a bang, "And if you don't like it, that's fine! Take it or leave it, choose right fucking now!"

Luckily, Gurrola's parents were accepting, and a new journey began where he had the support to tackle anything.

"My Sephora uniform was my armor," said Gurrola, who after college found himself working for cosmetics giant Sephora. The job allowed him to express himself through makeup as vibrantly as he could conceive, under the guise of 'doing it for work.' Before long, he was doing it for himself. That armor would evolve into a drag queen named Betty Fresas.

"The first time I performed in drag was the day after the 2016 election," the day Donald J. Trump was elected President and Fresas said, "Being able to perform and express myself helped. That's when I began to form another kind of family."

Betty performed at The Port Bar in Oakland, and then with Club Papi, and at Beaux and various clubs and events around the San Francisco Bay Area. Then the manager at Midnight Sun had an idea they wanted Betty to spearhead. That idea became Media Noche.

"Somewhere between booking the show and hosting, Media Noche has really become my baby," said Fresas beaming, "It makes me the proudest to see it come to fruition and be so successful." So successful that in March of 2022, Fresas quit her job at Sephora and began doing drag full time.

On a recent visit to Media Noche Fresas worked the entire room, kissing each cheek in the bar and welcoming people into what she now sees as her home.

"I want Media Noche to be so inclusive that whether you're locals or visiting for the night that you feel welcomed, and entertained," said Fresas, whose journey from the southern border to San Francisco mirrors that of countless children of immigrant families, fighting for a life more authentically theirs.

Betty has found her home here among San Francisco's LGBTQ community, and has created space for others to do the same. In addition to Midnight Sun, she has her sights set on sharing Betty Fresas with a worldwide audience. When asked if she is currently aiming for a spot on MTV's "RuPaul's Drag Race," she just smiled and shrugged.

So often in life, no answer might be an answer. Buena suerte, Betty Fresas!

Media Noche, Thursday nights at Midnight Sun, 4067 18th St. in The Castro.
Listen to the podcast version of this story at
Follow Betty Fresas on social media @BettyFresas
Visit Christopher Beale at

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