With the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag U right around the corner (9pm EST tonight on Logo), we shine the spotlight on one of Ru’s hand-picked drag professors. This week, we talk to Jujubee - one of the definite standouts (and top three queens) from RuPaul’s Drag Race season two. Funny, fabulous and – of course, fierce, this globetrotting gay-sha took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about his experience on Drag U and dishes about Kimora, wigs and his fellow drag professors.
SL: Hi, Juju!
Juju: Hi baby, how are you?
SL: I’m great – I’m a huge fan of the show and I’m so happy that I got a chance to speak with you.
Juju: Awww…you’re so cute! I’m excited to have this interview with you, girl. It’s gonna be a hot one!
SL: I especially appreciate the fact that you’re doing this interview, because I saw on your Facebook page that you’re a little under the weather today…
Juju: Yeah, I am. I just landed in…well, they call it “Loo-ville”, but I call it “Louis-ville”…(laughs)…that’s where I am right now.
SL: You’ve been busy, traveling all over the place – they’re running you ragged, aren’t they?
Juju: Yeah…I mean, that’s my manager. He gets me all of this work and I go where he says I go…I’m only doing what I love, so I can’t complain about anything and, you know, I’ll just take it as it comes.
SL: Has all of this travel come about since the show, or were you touring before Drag Race?
Juju: Literally, right after (I think it was) the 26th of April, that was the finale that was shown,
the week after was when everything started for me. I’ve been planning on it and all that, but I just wanted to do it as “Jujubee from RuPaul’s Drag Race“. I mean, it wouldn’t have meant anything if I had just traveled without it.
SL: You’re based out of Boston, so were you just performing out of clubs there before you were discovered?Juju: Yeah, totally. I was working about three nights a week at clubs. I was also a makeup artist for a cosmetic company, so I was doing all that, so that was all dandy, but I wanted to kind of go to the next level and just do it and RuPaul helped me out! SL: How long had you been performing before the show? Juju: Ummm…I started performing at 18. I’ve been doing it for 8 years now (it was 7 years before I got on the show.) I’ve had some experience (laughs).SL: How did you react when you got the call to Drag U?Juju: You know what, I just wanted to work with the girls and I wanted to work with Ru again, and my experience with Drag Race was so amazing that I just wanted to keep on going with it. I knew nothing about the show when I walked in – I was like “What are we going to do?” We were so confused, but we were here together and we’re going to do an amazing job and when I found out the reason, I was like, “Oh wow, this is awesome, it’s amazing.”SL: I loved the transformations on the first episode.Juju: Wasn’t it sickening? SL: I couldn’t believe what you were able to do. Juju: We couldn’t believe it either!SL: Who was your most memorable student on Drag U?Juju: You know, to be honest, all my students I adored and I loved but Reyna from the premiere episode was somebody who just…I dug into her and I got to know her, and I felt this odd connection with her – we still text each other back and forth and I call her now and then. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, and then when I saw the tattoo on her arm – she lost her father – it was that connection between the two of us and from there I just helped her out. She was afraid of being feminine because she didn’t feel safe as a woman. So I was like “ok girl”…this is obviously not a makeover show, it’s a complete transformation show because that’s what it is, we’re not making these woman prettier by just putting makeup on them, were making them prettier because we’re making them feel like they’re prettier and were bringing out the inner diva that they’ve already lost you know, depending on whatever happened. But, I mean, she was one of my faves, Miss Reyna.SL: She looked great!Juju: Wasn’t she like a little doll, with the balls? (Laughs) I wanted to put her in my pocket!SL: I wanted to ask you about what I’ve dubbed “Wig-gate”, the incident between you and Raven with the wigs on the premiere. There’s no animosity between you and Raven, is there? Juju: Oh gosh, Raven and I are probably the closest out of the second season. We’re like “the two”. From the first day, I was like “Whoa, this is going to be my new best friend” and the episodes didn’t really show it until towards the end but we’re so close. We’re gonna fight, of course – and she took my wig, so I’m gonna fight her! SL: The women on the show had these incredible transformations. Have you had a “transformation moment” of your own? Juju: Oh yeah, totally! I think at one point you come to the realization that it’s ok to be who you are or it’s ok to feel a specific way, and Reyna just needed somebody to let her know that I just kind of…you know, from making mistakes and from doing drag even and just from being a stage performer I just would make the mistakes there and that would kind of trickle into my regular life and I would just not care anymore. I was just like I’m going to be me and I’m just going to do what I like to do and if people don’t accept it, they just don’t accept it but there’s an appreciation to me just wanting to what I want to do. And I think that’s what she learned from me. SL: Ru has all of the students make positive affirmations. Do you have one? Juju: You know what, I say to myself…well, when I wake up in the morning, I always say “Oh my God, I’m alive”. You know what I mean, you never know when you’re gonna go, so that’s one positive thing already. And then when you start your day, you just say, “I can do it. There’s nobody here to stop me.” I can, I can…that’s how I affirm myself. I’m going to do what I want to do – and I never say “I can’t”, I’ll say “I won’t”. SL: If you weren’t doing drag, what would you be doing? Juju: I’d probably be like an astronaut…just kidding! You know, honestly, I’d still be doing something in the arts. I used to play instruments when I was little, I’d probably be like a pianist or something. I couldn’t imagine myself without the arts. SL: Did you feel less pressure on Drag U, was it a more fun experience? Juju: I had a complete blast on both competitions. The first competition I was actually in, the second one I was helping somebody else in. So, there was a completely different kind of pressure. It was like, “Oh my gosh, if my girl doesn’t win, then I did something wrong.” And then you kind of figure out, “Well, you know, it’s really not all about winning, because everybody’s there and they’ve already won.” SL: It’s slightly off-subject, but I need to know – how many wigs do you have?Juju: Oh girl…you know, I’d say a lot. More than a hundred. My boyfriend goes crazy! He’s like, “Uh, why do you have all these wigs and you never wear them?” He’s always asking me that – and I’m like a drag queen hoarder and I say “I’m probably going to need that one like, next year…on Valentine’s Day or something…(Laughs)SL: Do you ever repurpose the wigs?Juju: Yes, of course! I think that’s the whole point of drag is to just find things and figure it out. You know, figure out how to use it and figure out what to do with it and I think that’s the fun in it at the same time. SL: Did Kimora Lee ever see your impersonation of her (on Drag Race) or ever say anything about it? Juju: You know, I feel that she is probably upset with me or hates me, I don’t know. I’ve tweeted her a few times, but I haven’t gotten anything back from her. But, at the same time, she’s a super-duper mega-star, so she probably hasn’t even seen it. I hope that if she does see it, I hope she doesn’t hate me for it because it was all in good fun, ’cause I ‘ve got those neck lines too, I just emphasized mine. (Laughs)SL: That episode of Drag Race, with the “Snatch Game” was so great to see you all showing off your sense of humor…Juju: It was fun! I wish I knew Kimora a little bit more to play more of her but I really…I just heard I looked similar to her, so I decided just to do her – but after research, I was like “Whoa, this bitch is fierce!” SL: You did look so much like her!Juju: Thank you…I wish I had her bank account. You know that bitch and her jet go everywhere! SL: How do you feel about having so many straight female fans? Juju: I love it. I think that as a drag queen, we’re really here to honor what women are and how strong women could be and I think that finally, straight girls are noticing it and seeing that this is what these guys are doing, they’re basically taking what femininity is and amplifying it and making it impossible to knock down. And I think that’s the cool part – that straight girls are actually watching. It’s cool. Was that a good answer for you, my dear? SL: That’s a great answer! Now, out of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, what’s the most important to you? Juju: Ummm…charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent…you know, I don’t know if I can pick one. Because I feel like they all…I kind of need all of them to be me, and I think all of the other girls need all of them too because they’re all so different from each other, but at the same time they all connect and work really well with each other…and it makes a great acronym! (Laughs)SL: What was your favorite moment on Drag U?Juju: I didn’t have one exactly, I just know that every time I saw the girls come out in the reveals and seeing the audience react, that was the moment that all of the professors waited for, that’s what I waited for – just to see them come out and shine. Many of them weren’t even performers, they’d never been on the stage, they come out and they’d just do their thing, and they’re feeling the moment and they’re being divas. And that’s what I loved about it because it was like, ok, now you finally feel comfortable being in your own skin but you’re dressed up as this glorified diva. SL: What was it like working with Dawn Wells (Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island), Charlene Tilton (Lucy from Dallas) and Erin Murphy (Tabitha from Bewitched) on the series finale? Juju: Oh my God, I was so…see, I didn’t want to get into “super fan” mode, but I was so like “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Because, they’re all divas already, it’s like, how are you going to teach these divas how to be divas? And then, about five minutes passed by, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, these are normal women with stories, and they’ve had things that have happened to them and they feel like they need our help and they’re here at Drag U for that and we just went into it like that – we went in like “We’re going to help these girls and we’re going to make them fierce divas again and we’re going to bring the legendary goddesses out of them again.” You know, because they already had it, they just kind of put it away. It was their come out story, that’s what they call it.SL: I know, because they are still gorgeous…Juju: Oh, I know, and they know what they’re doing. I was like “Are they here to mess around with us? Are they really here to school us, is that what they’re doing here?”SL: Did you learn anything from them?Juju: I learned a lot from everybody. You know, I learned…well, I thought I was always a patient person but I’ve learned patience even more and I learned that it takes time and it takes skills to learn new things…but the three ladies wanted to do more and more and more, they wanted to do even more than what the other students had done. So they were very open to everything and that’s what kind of excited me about everything. SL: Did you face any real challenges on Drag U?Juju: Ummm…just “Wig-gate”. That was probably the one…SL: It was quite a scandal…Juju: It was quite a scandal! And who knows? Maybe down the line in the other episodes, you might see me do something to her (Raven). You never know! You just have to wait and see, baby!SL: If you had one beauty secret to pass along, what would it be?Juju: You know what I’d say? Visit my website, Jujubeeonline.com and I’ll let you know there!SL: I will! One last thing, any plans to write Memoirs of a Gay-sha? I know I’d love to read it!Juju: You know, I’m still calling Merle (Ginsberg), I’m going to take her up on her offer! I would love to not even write a serious book, I would just like a coffee table book. Raven and I were talking about it. Just a book that you’d leave on a coffee table. Who knows if anybody will open it, but I want to sell 50 copies and I’ll be happy. SL: You should! Follow your dreams! Juju: Yeah! That’s what you have to do…just do it! Just dream big and then take it as it comes and one day, it will hit you in your face and you’re going be like “Oh my gosh, this is what I’ve been dreaming about, now I’ve gotta do it.” Take it and run!
Thanks to Jujubee (and Logo) for taking time to chat with us. To get all of the latest info from Juju, including upcoming performance dates, visit jujubeeonline.com, find Jujubee on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter!