Call Her J

Photo by Tanner Abel
Photo by Tanner Abel

The Brooklyn drag scene is on fire right now and one of those queens, the fabulous J has been turning sickening look after sickening look of late! I’m very excited to talk with this rising young star of the New York drag scene!


Chiffon Dior: Well I’m very excited about about this interview tonight because for once I don’t have to worry about spelling the interviewee’s name wrong. How are you doing this evening J?

J: I’m glad I can provide the easiest drag name in the history of drag names! Even though it’s just a letter you would be very surprised by the amount of people that still get it wrong. And I’m doing great this evening, just laying around watching Netflix really! I nanny for a couple of families and have just spent most of my day with a few kids that thankfully passed out quite early tonight.

CD: So you’re a modern day Fran Fine? God, please be old enough to get that reference!

J: I guess you can say that, with a slightly less nasally voice and a much cheaper wardrobe! *Laughs* And I’m not sure if I am old enough or not to get it but I spent my summers growing up with my grandmother and most nights ended with marathons of either the Nanny or Golden Girls, so she really helped set me up with the go to gay boy TV shows.

CD: It sounds like someone was raised properly!

J: I wouldn’t go THAT far but growing up in the 90’s with that plus an older sister obsessed with the Spice Girls, Christina, and Britney Spears gave me all the references I’ll ever need.

CD: Well, let’s flash ALL the way back to the 1990’s then shall we? Where are you from originally?

J: The 90’s are supposedly back so why not! *Laughs* I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio and was born and raised in and around the city.

CD: What was life like for you growing up in Cleveland?

J: It was okay, we moved around a lot and didn’t have a lot of money but when you’re young you don’t really pay attention to things like that. For the most part it was just my mom with my siblings and I making it work. My sister is 5 years older than me and my brother is one year younger (one year and four days younger to be exact) so growing up my brother was my best friend and we were always together, as I’ve grown up I’ve become a lot closer to my sister and her kids.

Photo by Tanner Abel
Photo by Tanner Abel

CD: Growing up, what was your first exposure the world of drag that you can remember?

J: The first time I was ever really exposed to drag I was already grown to be honest. I didn’t come out until the very end of my senior year of high school and the following summer and grew up pretty involved in church so it wasn’t something I was around ever.

I remember I would watch reruns of Drag Race (season 2 I believe?) on Vh1 or something before coming out but didn’t follow it really. And then as soon as I turned 18 a couple coworkers took me out to the local gay bar Bounce in Cleveland and was mesmerized watching my first drag show. I went to college in Toledo, Ohio for a little bit and I saw a lot of drag shows there too and that’s when I decided it was something I wanted to do.

CD: What is the drag scene in Ohio like?

J: It really REALLY depends on where in Ohio you are. When I was in Toledo I wasn’t too aware of what a drag scene even was but it seemed to be pretty busy with a handful of really great queens, a favorite of mine was Deja D Dellataro, and it was right on the border of Michigan so a lot of them would travel back and forth between Toledo and to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Cleveland is lacking in a strong drag scene, there’s a couple queens that are really sweet and stand out but over all it’s very dated and struggling. I’m not as familiar with Columbus/southern Ohio but I’ve been to a few shows in Columbus and Nina West alone is an amazing enough queen to carry all of Ohio on her back. I also love and am friends with Discord and Gidget Addams and they’ve been all over Ohio, to Chicago, to Florida, to LA, have filmed with WOW Presents. So I guess overall it’s decent but there’s for sure a few stand outs.

CD: When did you know you wanted to move to New York?

J: Well New York was never really the goal. For the longest time I was planning on one day moving to Chicago! I visited a couple times before I started doing drag and fell in love with the city, and since I’ve started doing drag have been back to perform at Berlin and work at Smart Bar and the drag scene there is just unlike anywhere else and I can’t wait to get back into it. New York happened because I was living with my best friend back in Cleveland and he is involved in the fashion industry and I wanted to get into a bigger drag scene and work more on makeup artistry, and we already had a friend living here in NYC so we decided to pack up and move here together. So this opportunity just kind of opened up first, I love New York and the time I’ve been here so far but definitely plan on living in Chicago soon sometime in the not too distant future as well.

CD: So you like a third rate city like Chicago over New York? This interview is over! *storms out dramatically*

J: SHADEEE. I know a few queens that are gonna come for you now girl those Chicago girls don’t play! *inserts “BITCH IM FROM CHICAGO” gif*

CD: I’m sorry! I just get so upset. It has to do with that casserole/soup combo that they have the nerve to call pizza in Chicago. I take pizza very seriously, as you can tell from my figure.

J: When it comes to pizza I’ll take it any way someone wants to throw it at me. Although with the amount of dollar pizza slices I’ve eaten in the past year I think I would be fine never seeing another pizza again.

CD: I am going to ignore that bit of pizza blasphemy and move on to the next question. How did you get started in drag?

J: WELL I was sitting at home one day when I still lived in my mom’s house and had a large amount of extra money, I think my tax return just came in or something, and I watched a Miss Fame makeup tutorial and bought everything that she used in it. I later found out that I spent WAY more than I needed to because Miss Fame is a lush when it comes to her products but at least what I had was nice! I started playing around painting my face a few times and then after three or four times I decided to do an amateur performing night at Bounce that I then returned to every Thursday pretty much until I left Cleveland.

CD: Where did J come from? I mean I stressed and went through several names. I had no idea I could just pick a letter!

J: It actually stemmed from a joke! When I was trying to decide what I wanted to use my friend and I were tossing things around and we thought of just going by J as a way to poke fun at everyone trying to have those edgy one word drag names. Like you guys could all try to get the coolest one word but I have one letter so I win!! *Laughs* Plus I was already getting called J just as a shortened version of my boy name (Jordan) so it was an easy transition over. Over time I really have grown to love just going by J and think it really fits my drag aesthetic, it’s clean, sleek, striking. All the things I like to pretend I am!

CD: How was J’s shift from the Ohio drag scene to New York City? Was it a culture shock for you?

J: It actually wasn’t as much as you would think. I had been following the scene on social media for so long I already knew which parties I wanted to go to and who I wanted to meet, so when it all happened it seemed like I already knew what was going on. Thankfully too with having had so many mutual follows and friends online I was able to jump right in and already have friends in the scene which made going out here a lot easier to adjust to.

CD: You kids today have it so easy! By the way, get off my lawn and turn down that loud rock and roll music too!

J: Girl I haven’t even seen a lawn in so long I wouldn’t know what one looked like if I was on it. But no it really was a very convenient advantage haha

CD: So how does a girl from Cleveland wind up on the cover of Italian Vogue with the legendary Susanne Bartsch?

J: Just putting yourself out there and talking to the right people does wonders! I had been going to Susanne Bartsch‘s party “On Top” that she has every Tuesday night on the roof of the Le Bain hotel and would just show up in whatever look I spent that week making. She’s very observant and pays attention to people that really put a lot into the looks for her parties so whenever I would go she would get me a drink and chat for a minute. Well one day I got a text saying “This is Susanne Barsch can you call me” which I was already freaking out about because it’s SUSANNE BARTSCH telling me to call her. So as soon as I got out of work I gave her a call and she said she wanted to ask if I would work her Halloween party at MOMA which I agreed to, and then said “but what I really wanted to ask you was if you would be interested in being in a shoot shot by Steven Klein for Italian vogue?” I was trying to remain calm about it but like how do you just pop a question like that! And who would say no to that?!? After agreeing she asked me to email her my favorite looks I’ve done and after looking them over with Steven contacted me saying “Steven loves the picture with your cat. You have to bring it with you” and the rest is what you see in the magazine! Me and my cat in the middle of a picture surrounded by legends like Susanne Bartsch, Duo Raw, Violet Chachki, etc. I would call it a dream come true but it’s so far beyond what I could have even dreamed about at the time that that wouldn’t do it justice.

vogue

CD: So in light of that text message, can you describe what dying and then coming back to life is like?

J: Well first everything goes black and there’s a faint smell of burnt popcorn. Haha but in all seriousness I was on the train riding home after the phone call trying not to cry because of how crazy everything was!

CD: In all seriousness though, as a queen who prides herself on her ability to turn a look, how would you describe that experience? Was it a vindication of what you do?

J: I would say so, yes. Especially because up until that point I had been going to all of Susanne’s parties but I wasn’t booked for any of them, so I was putting my time and money into these looks just because I enjoyed making them with my roommate and was being able to document our work well thanks to my friend Tanner Abel who is an AMAZING photographer. So having this phone call not only booking me to work her GIANT Halloween party where I ended up swinging on a big swing over the hundreds and hundreds of people at the party as well as dancing in the middle of the dome on a raised platform, but also getting this once in a lifetime experience of being in vogue was so beyond overwhelming. Especially when it comes to someone that’s already overly emotional like me.
CD: Here at WERRRK.com, we’re in the middle of hosting an online bio queen pageant, Miss Bio-WERRRK. One of our competitors is a fashion designer who has pumped out look after memorable look. In the question and answer, we asked her what she thought of the dismissive attitude some people have toward so-called “look queens”. What would you say about that?

J: I’ve been keeping up with the pageant actually and I know this question was for Pierretta Viktori, who I have been voting for through out this whole competition by the way. Hah I would say I agree with what she said actually if I remember correctly. I think everyone has different passions, talents, and reasons why they do and love drag. The look is my main focus when it comes to my drag. I love fashion, clothing construction, makeup artistry, and fashion photography and the fact that I’m able to combine all of these using my own talent and the help of some of my extremely talented friends in the form of drag makes me so happy. To me there is nothing that makes me feel better than spending a month working on a look and planning the makeup and the hair, and then being able to photograph that and document the work we have all done and have that imagine that culminates all of it. But I also know that many queens love drag because they love the feeling of being on stage, or have gone to school and are trained dancers or comedians or singers and that’s where they’re really able to shine and there’s nothing wrong with how any of us decide to approach it because if there wasn’t all of us doing all these different diverse things drag would be boring as hell.

Photo by Tanner Abel
Photo by Tanner Abel

CD: Well said. Ten points to Gryffindor!

J: I’m not brave and dashing enough to be a Gryffindor! And as much as I would like to say I would be a Slytherin I would probably be like Ravenclaw. *Laughs*

CD: I’m pretty sure I’d be a Hufflepuff. They’re the ones who sit around eating snacks and watching TV right?

J: If so than I would actually be that too. I’ve literally been sitting here mad at myself that I didn’t pick up snacks for myself earlier in the day hah

CD: I’d offer to share just so I could fatten you up but that would mean less Doritos for me. So moving on to something a little less exciting than being on a magazine cover but still pretty fab, you’re going to be a part of Bushwig! Can you tell those of us not in the hipster capital of America what will be going on in Brooklyn soon?

J: Yes of course!! Well as much as I can, this is actually my first Bushwig so if anyone has questions about it that I don’t answer don’t hesitate to head on over to bushwig.com for info and tickets and all of that. But pretty much what it is is a giant two day festival with over 150 performers, DJ’s, vendors, with one of them being me! They have a great large venue this year and amazing headliners like Latrice Royale, Thorgy Thor, the Boulet Brothers, and the queen of Bushwig miss Horrorchata herself. But on top of Drag Race girls practically every queen in New York is going to be there, plus Imp Queen and Bon Bon from Chicago, Meth from London, BibleGirl from Instagram, like literally everyone is going to be there. SO YOU ALL SHOULD BE THERE TOO!

CD:You really got that plug for the website in there like a true professional. Bravo!

J: Thank you! I really just want to make sure all the bases are covered and as many people as possible get tickets and come out because it’s really going to be an AMAZING weekend. Plus I have a pretty interesting look planned myself and you obviously don’t want to miss that.

Photo by Tanner Abel
Photo by Tanner Abel

CD: Obviously! So looking ahead to the future, what goals would you like to accomplish in your drag career, aside from moving to *shudder* Chicago that is?

J: Oddly enough I’ve never really set long term goals for my drag career, I just tend to work on things one project at a time and really enjoy what I’m doing in the moment and if bigger things happen to fall into place than so be it! Currently I’m working with a couple friends and a stylist on planning out a few full editorial spreads that if everything goes according to plan will be published in some magazines through out the next year. A lot of the work we’ve done together has been very much focused on individual images so planning out looks and locations and everything for a full editorial spread is a new challenge that’s been a lot of fun figuring out how to tackle. Outside of that maybe actually making money from doing drag but in the meantime just looking great will suffice

CD: Wait, its possible to MAKE money from doing drag instead of hemorrhaging it?

J: That’s what I’ve heard but I have yet to actually see it so I guess there’s only one way to find out!! That one way is getting on TV by the way.

CD: But alas, you haven’t vanished with some lame cover story recently, only to be debunked hours later by 14 year old fangirls hours later.

J: I have not! I was rumored on Reddit for a good like twelve hours because I hadn’t posted online in two days, but I think they’ve figured out I’m not on by the amount of jokes I’ve made about being rumored on Reddit.

CD: What is your opinion of Drag Race?

J: I love it! It’s my favorite TV show hands down and I get so caught up in it, which is proving to be more difficult and stressful as these seasons keep coming and friends are starting to get on. So many queens have this attitude like their above it but it’s so entertaining and dramatic and campy I can’t help but love it. I understand that a lot of people say it’s ruined local drag scenes and stuff which I can see in some places, but I think overall it has done a lot of good for drag and has made so many people really come to accept things like drag and gender identities. I also personally live for so many people doing drag recently because I love seeing so many people playing with gender boundaries and exploring themselves through it.

CD: Would you mind a few short answer questions?

J: Of course!

CD: Must have makeup item?

J: Pale Kryolan paint sticks and Kat Von D liquid lipstick in shade “Nosferatu”.

CD: Drag role model?

J: Milk.

CD: 4am post drag food craving?

J: Pizza or a fried chicken sandwich from the place open late across the street.

CD: Best part of drag

J:The feeling of being in drag. You really unlock another part of yourself when you have on two inches of makeup on

CD:Worst part of drag?

J: Washing it off. Not because being in drag is so enjoyable I don’t want it to stop, but because it’s literally is SO annoying having to scrub it all off!

CD: Most surprising thing about you people might not know?

A lot of people don’t realize how tall I am before meeting me, but as a boy I’m 6’3″ so I’m a TALL queen!

CD: Favorite Drag Racer?

J: Before the show it was Kim Chi, during the show it was Sharon, and post show its Milk.

CD: Person you most want to work with?

J: Lady Gaga! I’m proud of myself for not mentioning Gaga in my interview until now.

CD: If not for drag, what would you be doing?

J: I was previously going to school for nursing and never finished, so I would probably still be living in Cleveland finishing that up.

CD: Guilty pleasure?

J: I could eat chips and salsa for every meal every single day.

CD: Last one, most embarrassing song on your phone?

J: Demi Lovato’s whole last album.

CD: That’s not that embarrassing! I have WAY worse stuff on mine. So where can people see you in case the want to stuff singles in your panties? 

J: Have you listened to that album though? It’s pretty embarrassing. *Laughs* And a lot of the shows I do are random so the best way to keep track of where I’m going to be is on my Instagram, or on my Facebook which is under my boy name Jordan Loeffler! Also if you want to see my pretty average day to day life you can add me on snapchat at jordanloeffler

CD: Thank you so much for your time tonight J! It was fabulous getting to talk with you. Tall gurls need to stick together! Do you have any final words of wisdom for the WERRRK.com universe?

J: Thank you! And I guess just thank you all for not only reading this but for the continual support I get from so many of you online. I just recently hit 10k followers on Instagram and plan on doing a little give away soon for that so keep an eye out!! I love what I do and so many queens do to so make sure you’re giving attention to queens putting in work and doing what they do for the right reasons. Thank you again!!

About Chiffon Dior 454 Articles
Despite being a drag journalist for over five years, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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