Well hello there Jackie Cox! This is a first for me. I’ve never done an interview on a train before. How are you doing today?
Hello Chiffon! Well you know I like to use my travel time wisely- It’s actually amazing what you can get done on a train! Just ask the three gentlemen I met in the bathroom at the end of the car- oh wait what were we talking about? I get so easily distracted. Oh yes- me! I’m doing just “dreamy” today!
I’m trying really hard not to make a running a train on a train comment. This is off to a good start already.
I have my Locomotive arm movements at the ready though if need be!
Don’t do that! My brain will turn that into the Locomotion and we’ll still be here until the sun goes down talking about Kylie! We have to shamelessly promote your show.
Oh yes- lets get to that part! I don’t want the Kylie fans to get confused and think I’m doing my own version of the Minogue Monologues.
Oh man! I totally want to see that show! But fine, let’s talk about your new show debuting this coming Thursday to the world famous Laurie Beechman Theatre! I believe it’s called “Jackie Cox: Contractually Free from Paige’s Shows Finally” right?
Ha! Not quite! I think I’m still quite contractually obligated to play the Veronica to her Betty for at least another umpteen years. But this IS my first big headlining show at the Beechman! It’s called “I Dream of Jackie”! And that’s an Archie Comics reference for your readers who may be wondering- its a pro-gay comic now!
That’s what I meant! How did this show come about?
Well, I’ve had the idea for quite a while- I wanted to do a show that was a take on my favorite 1960’s TV show: “I Dream of Jeannie“. As a young Middle Eastern kid growing up I loved watching a show where a Persian girl like me was the main character- granted Barbara Eden is actually from Arizona- but she actually speaks a little Farsi in the show which is the language I grew up speaking at home! So it was pretty amazing seeing someone so fabulous up there who was a positive role-model, keeping in mind the rest of American media wasn’t exactly pro-Middle East when I was growing up.
Well fortunately that all has changed and we have a thoughtful, tolerant administration in charge now.
Yes- and that so-called “administration” is part of the reason I wanted to do this show now more than ever. You have to fight back this constant negativity out there- around Middle Eastern people, brown and black folks, and of course our own LGBTQ Community. Its more important now than ever to throw on some harem pants, heels and glitter and show the world that we aren’t scared! So the show touches on all of that- but its also a really fun fantastical romp filled with a lot of song and laughs! Plus shirtless harem boys!
You really know how to promote a show! But before we talk more about that, let’s go back in time a bit, shall we? What was it like growing up as a future drag queen in a Middle Eastern household?
Well- it certainly wasn’t easy! I remember this constant confusion around me wanting to sing and dance instead of become a Doctor. Especially for my Mom- one of the first big fights we had was when she found a big sparkly boa hidden in my closet in high school. This was way before I even knew what drag was!! Luckily my father. who is Canadian. was a lot more supportive so at sixteen I ended up switching parents and moving out to Sunny Southern California!
Dare I ask why you had a big sparkly boa? What was your first exposure to drag?
Well by fifteen I already knew I was gay- and I convinced some of the older girls in school to drive me down to Chicago Market Days (I lived in Milwaukee at the time). It was like nothing i’d ever seen in my life! Rainbows and boys and girls and everything in between! I saw this big white sparkly boa that i thought would look amazing with my very very very tight white jeans so my friends convinced me to buy it! I remember seeing drag queens there also- big tall girls in huge heels dwarfing over me! It was like seeing unicorns! I was both in awe and terrified! I never in a million years thought I’d become one! Flash forward to a few years after college when I was still living in Southern California- I was convinced by a friend of mine to audition for this show he was putting on at his theater (The LGBT Theatre Out of Orange County, CA). It was this show I’d never even heard of called “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”– well, though I was terrified of it- I got the part and it changed my life forever. Some queens are Halloween queens- some are Pride queens- but I think I can pretty confidently say I’m a Hedwig queen!
So you basically put on some makeup, turned on the 8 track and the rest was history?
Pretty much! I had never performed in drag outside the context of a scripted show until I moved to NYC-and my upstairs neighbor at the time found out we both had an affinity for Hedwig. He’s the one who convinced me to compete and win the first-ever week of a little competition he was producing that you may have heard of here at WERRRK.com: So You Think You Can Drag.
We’re quite familiar with SYTYCD here at WERRRK. Now when you won, were you aware that it would require you to be Paige’s Ed McMahon in perpetuity? Also for all you drag fetuses out there who don’t know who that is, Google is your friend. I’m not explaining it.
Well- to be honest although I won two of the six or so weeks, the eventual season 1 crown went to the amazing Honey Davenport. I was the runner up of Season 1- or as I like to call myself, the Justin Guarini of SYTYCD. Paige and I did become great friends out of the whole thing though so I guess being the Chewy to her Chelsea Handler was my consolation prize…. or my punishment- I still haven’t quite figured that one out.
So as much as I make sidekick jokes, you’re one of my favorite comedic performers to watch only because of how willing you are to sacrifice for a gag. When you all went to LA last year, one of the things I told my drag daughter who went to the show to do was to watch all the little things you do to set up Paige for a bigger joke. Where does your comedic timing come from?
You know comedy is one of those things that I think just goes hand-in-hand with drag. Yes there are serious queens, and spooky queens, and dramatic queens- but the fact is, I just love to make people laugh! And my favorite “serious” queens are the kind who can still poke fun at themselves from time-to-time. Paige and I have always had great chemistry and I actually love being able to play off her energy onstage. We kind of fell into this rapport in our shows where our characters drive each other crazy, but when all is said and done, you know we are friends and I think that gives the audience permission to laugh with us. Plus at the end of the day I’m just a big old ham and one of my favorite things to do is bludgeon a big ole slice of pork until at least SOMEONE is laughing. I’ll take the groaner laughs with the hearty ones just the same!
Now does that much pork and ham affect ticket sales with Kosher audiences?
Apparently not! Same with Halal audiences too! See- look at me segue-waying back subtly to my show.
I was weaving our way back there! I’m a storyteller dammit! So you’ve done several shows at the Beechman in the past as part of an ensemble. Does the lead up to your own show (This Thursday, And next Thursday. And the Thursday after that. Get your tickets here!) feel any different to you?
So, in some ways it feels very much the same as the past couple shows with Paige I’ve helped on the writing and especially helping to coordinate our wardrobes so that we look cohesive. On that front I actually felt great going into the show, I had the show pretty much written and done before we even started working for Pride and I think I’ve practically cleaned out the Belly Dancing/Harem section of Amazon Prime. But I will say headlining my own show at the Beechman has been a much bigger task than I anticipated and I have a new found respect for Paige and Sutton and all the other girls who do shows there! Suddenly all the decision are mine and the pressure is very real! But luckily I’ve brought in my dear friend- the incredibly talented Blake McIver to Direct and Choreograph the show! It always helps to have another set of eyes you trust on everything!
What kind of experience has he brought to your preparations?
So Blake has been in show business practically his whole life- some of your readers may remember him as the villainous Waldo in The Little Rascals film as well as Michelle Tanner’s singing and dancing best friend Derek on Full House, not to mention starring in the US Premiere of Ragtime: The Musical. Since then he’s spread out into writing his own music, directing, and starring on the Bravo TV Show, The People’s Couch. We ended up at college together and became fast friends, in fact he came up with the name Jackie Cox! So I claim Blake as my Drag Father! This past year I saw the show he put together for Post Modern Jukebox’s up-and-coming star Ariana Savalas and it was incredibly thoughtful, funny and sexy! And I thought, oh this is a no brainer! Plus while he’s in town from LA, he will be bringing his own one-man-show “Blake Sings Barbra” to the Laurie Beechman which opens the night after IDOJ closes.
So what you are saying is that people should dig into their pockets and double down on tickets…
Oh most CERTAINLY yes. I mean I would dig past all the old expired condoms and lint-covered Ricolas to go see it if I was you! In my show you’ll get a taste of his talent but in his show you will really hear his voice Soar on all your favorite Barbra Streisand songs. Though I will say, seeing him in very sheer harem pants and no shirt is a pretty good reason to see him in IDOJ as well. You put him next to my other incredibly talented and handsome Harem Boy, Drew Bloom, and I don’t think anyone will even notice that my mustache has grown back by the end of the show!
That is a perfect segue because I mustache you my lightning round questions if that okay?
Must have makeup item?
Sugar Pill Blue Eyeshadow- its my signature color!
Drag role model?
Besides Paige- the queen I admire and respect the most for her incredible talent is Jinkx Monsoon!
4am post drag food craving?
Cheerios- the plain variety with skim milk! I know it kinda tastes like Cardboard- but I love it!
Best part of Drag?
Making the audience laugh!
Worst part of Drag?
The HEAT. GOD WHY IS IT SO HOT TO BE IN DRAG?
Most surprising thing about you people might not know?
We actually alluded to it in the Pride show this year- but I’m a HUGE Star Trek fan! Quick story: A Trekkie with a group of Star Trek tattoos came to the show and I was able to name each Starship she had on her- the first person she had met who could do that- she was floored! I’m just waiting to convince someone to let me do a one-woman show as Deanna Troi from The Next Generation… but that’s another story for another time!
Death row last meal?
Persian Koobideh Kebob!
Wasn’t he in Star Wars?
Yes- but HAN SHOT FIRST.
Duh……and dating yourself!
*Laughs* Its the oily olive skin- I’m older than I appear!
Netflix binge recommendation?
Does Hulu count? I’m obsesssssed with The Handmaids Tale. If not I’ll go classic: Gilmore Girls!
Best pizza in the city?
B Squared on 9th Ave- the Killer Bee pizza is DELICIOUS.
Favorite Disney Princess?
OH GOD THIS IS THE HARDEST ONE! Since my main gal Mary Poppins is technically not eligible I’ll have to go with Cinderella, specifically Ilene Woods‘ voice. If I go to heaven I imagine Ilene Woods singing to me as I enter the pearly gates.
Last one, most embarrassing song on your phone?
I have the entire High School Musical songbook- Ashley Tisdale is my guilty pleasure!
This is my not surprised face Jackie.
Amazing! I’m like free botox!
I answered a Craigslist ad for that once. Totally not on the up and up.
I also answered a Craigslist ad once… It wasn’t for botox. And by once, I mean thats how I spent every night from 2003 until Grindr was invented.
This is a family website Jackie!
Oh whoops! sorry. my bad! I’ll remember to be nicer to your uncle when I see his profile come online.
You go on Farmer’s Only too?
Close, New Jersey’s Most Wanted. I like a man with a record… Been trying to complete my Barbra LP collection.
Barbra please! Okay so if by some chance, people can’t make it to one of these shows, where else can they see you?
Well I don’t have any regular bar shows- disrupts my beauty sleep- but you can catch me guesting with my gal pals Paige Turner and Sutton Lee Seymour at their shows at Hardware bar, and lately I’ve been filling in every so often for Alexis Michelle at Therapy on Thursdays while she is off touring the world for their weekly game show: Head Game! Best way to stay updated is follow me on Instagram @jackiecoxnyc! And as a quick shout out, my Instagram has been looking better than ever as of late thanks to the Photographic Talents of James Michael Avance, Preston Burford, and Michael Kushner, as well as some beautiful makeups from my drag sister Chelsea Piers!
Now you’re not really known as a pageant queen but you were recently crowned with a title even more prestigious than the Sarah Rose Cosmetics American Teen Princess Pageant. Care to share that experience with the WERRRK universe?
Oh goodness! It was a couple months ago, but yes, I am still the current reigning Watch What Happens Live “Real Queen of Beverly Hills” for my portrayal of Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills’ Lisa Rinna. It was such a blast and Andy Cohen is a total mensch as is the entire staff over there! Plus actually making Lisa Rinna lose her mind cracking up on live national television wasn’t bad either! After the show Lisa couldn’t have been more gracious- and now I know my first choice for the Snatch Game!
Well my dear, I think we have just about reached the end of journey here and it’s time to put you back in the bottle until your show Thursday. Considering how incredibly talented you are, I’m sure it’s going to be fabulous and I can’t wait to see. And the bag of tomatoes I’m bringing are totally not to throw at you. Do you have any final words of wisdom for the WERRRK.com Universe?
Yes- take the tomatoes with the cheers, either way you’ve made an impression! PLUS tomatoes have Lycopene. And if you don’t like-a-peen…. you’re not doing drag.
My work here is done.