NYC Drag Queen Of The Week – Jasmine Rice Labeija
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 Jasmine Rice Labeija.
What was it like growing up gay in South Korea?
In Korea they almost acted like homosexuality didn’t exist. So, it was very hard for me to grow up there.
When did you come out?
I came out as soon as I moved to the U.S when I was 16. I got accepted into the Juilliard pre-college program.
What was it like to come out to your family?
My family is very, very conservative. They’re traditional Asians who are Republican and Donald Trump supporters. Coming out as gay when I was 16 was very difficult. They wanted me to go into therapy. They wanted to move back to Korea. Now, I think I have educated them enough and they are supportive of me and love me very much.
Do you incorporate a lot of Korean culture into your act?
Yeah, but when I do drag I like to incorporate a lot of other cultures as well. I see drag as a melting pot and an art form. It’s not making fun of a culture, it’s not stealing culture, you’re literally celebrating every form of art, culture and life.
Is cultural appropriation bad?
If someone’s making fun of it, then yes, I think it’s bad. If someone is actually appreciating the style of it and they’re doing it because they love it, I don’t think it’s bad.
You have a very interesting reaction if you see someone on their phone while at your show.
If someone is at my show and on their phone and I see that they’re checking Grindr or texting someone or going through their social media I take their phone and go through their nudes and sometimes I will show it to the audience because that is so disrespectful. Drag takes a lot of effort.
What kinds of reactions do you get when you do that?
I’ve never experienced anyone getting offended by that. Most of the people don’t care because in all honesty all gay guys have nude photos of themselves on their phone. 99% of the guys have Grindr and they send it out anyway to strangers.
Drag is exploding all over pop culture now. Is it a problem that there are so many more drag queens trying to break into the business now?
I think it’s great that people want to express themselves, but I think it is a problem when people think it’s so easy to do drag. It takes a lot of effort. It’s really an artform.
Out of ten seasons of Drag Race four of the winners have been from New York. Is there added pressure to perform at a certain level because of that?
No, I think Ru Paul’s Drag Race is finally catching up to what New York drag is. I think New York drag has always been the forefront. We have Broadway here, we have ballerinas here, we have opera singers here, we have actors here, there’s so much talent here and I think that’s why a lot of the winners are from New York City because they were nurtured here.
Catch her Monday’s at Rise Bar for Messy Monday’s with Pissi Myles at 10:30pm, Wednesday she alternates between Barracuda Bar for Gurlesque with Tina Burner and Holly Box Springs at 11:30pm and Ritz for Turn T Wednesdays, Thursday she’s at Pieces Bar for Jasmine Live at 8pm with rotating co-hosts Holly Box Springs and Ragga Muffin at 8pm, Saturday she’s at the Pines with Kizha Carr at 3pm, Sunday she’s at District Social for Drag Brunch with rotating co-hosts Carmen Sidemi and Jan Sport at 12pm–2pm and at Hardware Bar for Skinny Brunch with Brita Filter at 7pm.