NYC Drag Queen Of The Week – Jessie James
There is no shortage of drag queens in NYC. You can’t throw a rock without hitting some twink in a dress thinking he’s got what it takes to shantay down the runway just because he’s seen every season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race while practicing YouTube makeup tutorials. There’s a difference, though, between learning how to just paint your face and turning that face into a work of fucking art. This weekly series highlights the queens who stand out from the crowd and rock those heels til they bleed.
Meet Jessie James.
How did your family react to you coming out?
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They’re very religious and they’re very conservative. My mother told me to leave the house and then she invited me back under conditions. I had to go to church every Sunday, I couldn’t tell my siblings that I was gay, and I had to go to meetings with my pastor at least once a week.
Were they trying to pray the gay away?
It was less praying and more being yelled at. It was more to pound the bible down your throat so that no dicks can enter in after.
What’s a Jessie James show like?
It’s a rock and roll/Broadway/comedy show. I like to try things that people haven’t done before. You never know how I’m going to show up. I love doing really outlandish looks that people don’t expect. Lately I’ve been doing animals. I’m doing this project and dressing up as 26 different animals. A zebra was the first animal I showed up to a show as.
Do your shows ever get political?
I feel that there’s a LOT of coverage of what’s going on in the country. Part of drag is an escape. I do have very strong opinions on politics, but I like to be the queen that takes time away from politics so that you can think about something else. That’s what entertainment is for and why people seek it out so much. That’s why people pay $10 a month for Netflix so they can escape the world they’re in.
What defines drag in 2018?
It’s very different from let’s say the 80’s. Drag has transformed into more and more of a diverse art form and I feel that over time it will continue to do that. These queens that do super goth drag and are dripping blood out of their mouths during performances wasn’t something that happened before. Now, because there’s so many different venues and so many different categories of drag I feel that it’s become a lot more inclusive. No matter what your style is, there’s a queen out there for you.
How has Drag Race changed drag?
The popularity really blew up after the 6th season and now everybody’s a drag queen. Coming out and doing drag now, it’s really about standing out and being different, being true to yourself and finding your brand and staying on brand. If somebody else is doing it it’s up to you to find something else to do.
What’s one thing another queen has done in her act that you would never do?
I would never douche myself on stage in front of people.
Another queen did that?
Yeah, and she’s very proud of it. She was doing it to Come Clean by Hilary Duff. That’s something I would never do but if you have the guts to do it go for it mama.
What advice would you give to someone just starting in drag?
Don’t trust people so quickly but be open to friendships and business relationships. Also, if you want to do something, you can do it. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you want to go out there dressed as a bunny rabbit for the night just do it. That’s what should be driving you. Whatever you’re feeling in the moment ride that out. Being genuine is what’s going to get you far.