The second season of Queen of the Universe pits immensely talented singing queens from around the world against each other to snatch the coveted title won by Grag Queen last year.
On last week’s episode, the queens were split into teams and the competition’s two American representatives, Militia Scunt and Jazell Barbie Royale wowed the crowd with an original (and spicy) duet titled “Gagging for You.”
Hailing from Orlando, Florida, Jazell has been on the drag scene for almost two decades. She has won numerous pageant titles and has entertained crowds across the country. She used her platform as Miss International Queen 2019 to advocate for the use of PEP and PREP in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is a valued voice in the trans community. Jazell became a viral sensation when her performance of CeCe Peniston’s “He Luvs Me Too” blew up the internet.
With her impressive pipes, stunning looks and engaging personality, Jazell has what it takes to be our queen of the universe. If you don’t believe us, check out our exclusive interview.
Do you think your pageant background helped you during Queen of the Universe?
Absolutely. Pageantry helped me get through the competition because pageantry helps you become a polished individual, and I think you’ll be able to see the difference between individuals that don’t come from that background versus the ones that do.
What did you take away from your experience on the show?
To continue to believe in myself and the sky is the limit.
How did you get your start in drag?
Well, my first true drag performance was in my living room when I was about five years old. I would wrap my Halloween costumes around me and make dresses, and I would perform for my mother and grandmother, and I would do Tina Turner. And so that was really truly my origin and my beginning. And then when I turned 16, that was the first time that I went to an LGBTQIA+ club and I saw my first drag show and I was hooked from that point on. And then I began to do talent shows, and that was how I started doing actual drag.
When did you decide to sing live?
I’ve been singing live my entire life, since I was able to sing. I’m a self-taught singer. No one in my immediate family sings, so it’s not something that runs in the family. It was just a passion that I had, a love that I had. Music was and is my outlet to everything. When I’m angry, when I’m sad, when I’m mad, when I’m hurting, it is an outlet that helps to heal me. And I went through many things growing up as a child, feeling different, being different, and being picked on and bullied for being different. I was able to come home to music. And music always stayed the same. It never changed on me. It never talked about me. It never bullied me. It only excited me. So that was how I started to sing. And, when I was in school, my outlet was music. I joined the choir in elementary school and from elementary school all the way through high school I was in the school chorus and so that was just always an outlet for me. I would even, you know, skip class to go back to my chorus class because that was all that truly really interested me in school.
Who are your musical influences?
Number one, Whitney Houston. I love many singers, but Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand, Linda Eder, Tamar Braxton, Deborah Cox, Anita Baker, Cher, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, Avery Wilson, Duran Duran…oh my gosh, so many people. The Clark Sisters, LaShun Pace, the list goes on and on, but those are just a few of the people that I really like. Even Toni Braxton. So, those are the singers that I truly like a lot, but Whitney Houston definitely is number one.
What can people expect when they come to see one of your shows?
As cliché as this may sound, they can expect to be entertained. I am a true entertainer. Whether I’m singing live or if I’m lip syncing to a song, I am a true entertainer. I’m true to the art form. This is something that I have been doing now 20 years. Next year, I celebrate 20 years doing drag, and this is how I’ve been able to provide for myself so I take it very seriously.
What is it like to be such a vital sensation for the “He Luvs Me Too” performance?
Oh my gosh. That right there. Let me tell you, this is a testament to allowing yourself to patronize local drag. Sometimes you don’t have to always be on the stage to learn. And in this particular time, I was in Chicago and I went out to a nightclub and I went to go see a drag show. And an entertainer by the name of Bianca Chablis came out and she did that song. It was at Hydrate Nightclub in Chicago and she came out and she did that song. And I was like, what is this song? Oh my gosh. And even the way that she brought the song to life, I enjoyed it. And so, I hit her up on social media and I asked her, you know, what was the name of the song? And she gave it to me and I just completely fell in love with the song.
And so, when I did the song, I gave it my own spin. And the ironic thing was the first time that I ever performed it was the next time I came to Chicago to give up a pageant. That’s the performance that everyone sees. So, that song, that performance, it took on a life of its own because I performed that song in 2017, but the video actually went viral in 2019 during the pandemic.
And ever since then, the last four years, it resurfaces constantly and it goes viral every so often. It definitely has been life changing because people recognize that. They recognized my talent – even people like Pat McGrath, the famous makeup artist, she reached out to me and she sent me makeup and, and I also had opportunities to model for Garage Magazine. Because of that performance, people actually sent me donations because of that performance, and I was able to pay my bills during the pandemic because of that one performance. So yeah, it was definitely something that was life changing.
Trans visibility has gotten a little bit better in the media with shows like Legendary and Pose and Trans contestants competing on shows like Drag Race, but so much more needs to be done to increase understanding and acceptance. How do you feel we can make the world a better place for trans people?
If everybody would just mind their fucking business. (Laughs) That’s the bottom line. If everybody would just mind their fucking business and live and let live the world would be a better place.
How are you celebrating pride this year?
I will be all over the country. I will be in LA for Pride. I will be in Iowa City for Pride. I will be in Chicago for Pride. I will be in Houston for Pride. I will also be celebrating Juneteenth in Portland, Oregon. Those are the two holidays I will be celebrating.
I also will be celebrating Father’s Day for the first time in my entire life this month. I have rekindled a new relationship with my father, and this is the first time that I’m going to actually celebrate Father’s Day. So, it’s a lot of pride going on that month, you know. I’m proud to actually have a supportive father now. I’m proud to be a trans and a non-binary individual, and I’m proud to be black and free so I’ll be celebrating Juneteenth as well, so there’s a lot of pride going on this month.
Are you planning on recording your own music?
Absolutely I plan to, I will be releasing music. I have already started recording my first single and if there’s anyone out there that would like to collaborate with me, I am ready to make some music.
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me? Music, being able to be taken seriously as an artist, being able to put out music, certified music being considered for awards such as the Grammys. I want to be nominated and win a GLAAD award. I would love to perform at the GLAAD Awards next year. I would love to perform at the Grammys. I would love to go to the Met Gala, so I can shut the red carpet down and I’m going to audition for another drag show and see if I can be considered for that.
Jazell Barbie Royale Answers the Socialite Seven
Who, if anyone, what do you love to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Lil Nas X and, of course, number one, Beyoncé. I would love to collaborate with Lil Nas X. I would love to collaborate with Kim Petras. I would love to collaborate with Avery Wilson. I would love to collaborate with…oh, I can’t remember his last name. His name is Steve, but he’s a musical director. He’s a vocal coach for J-Lo. He was a vocal coach for Whitney Houston. [Ed. Note: Stevie Mackey] I want to collaborate with anyone that is in love with music the way that I’m in love with it, and that could help make some beautiful music that will last to the end of time.
What type of music or artist that you listen to frequently do you think your fans would be surprised to learn that you’re a fan of?
I’m a fan of Kasey Musgraves. I’m a fan of Linda Ronstadt and Faith Hill. I don’t know why they would think I wouldn’t listen to these people, but, who else do I listen to? I love Donna Summer. I love a lot of seventies music – a lot of people that you wouldn’t listen to. I like listening to Billie Holiday. Those are just to name a few people.
What are you hoping to achieve with your music?
I want to be able to have life stability. I want to be able to retire my mother. I want to be able to travel the world with my music. I want to be able to entertain my community as well as the heterosexual community so that they can see that trans people are talented individuals. And if you just give us opportunity, you’ll see that we meet the same standards that anyone else does. We don’t need to be handicapped, we just need our opportunity. We need a judgment free environment. I want to be able to take care of my entire family. That’s what I want to be able to do. I just want to be secure.
What are three things that you can’t live without?
I can’t live without God. That’s number one. I can’t live without my facial and skin products, and I can’t live without my friends and family.
Who would you want to play you in your biopic?
I haven’t met that bitch yet.
What superpower or talent would you love to wake up with tomorrow?
I wish that I could have the superpowers that you see in so many different action movies like Black Panther. I wish I could have the power to heal and give people everlasting life. There are so many people out there that have health issues or have been injured, or individuals that may have been born with deformities and I wish that I had the ability to be able to just touch people and be able to change that and give people a great quality of life.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You never know who’s going to have to hand you a glass of water, and that came from my great-grandmother, the late Gladys Jewel Kyle. If people don’t understand what that means, it means you never know who you’re going to need in this world. So be humble, be mindful of how you treat people because you don’t know who you’re going to need one day.