The Interview: Jasmine Rice Labeija 1


Chiffon Dior: Hi there Jasmine! It was so nice to finally meet you last week at Industry for Queen. You and the other gurls really turned it out! How are you doing tonight?

Jasmine Rice: I am FABULOUS and FULL. Just had Korean fried chicken for dinner! *laughs*  How are you?

CD: I’m great, thank you for….WAIT! Korean fried chicken is a thing?

JR: You never had Korean fried chicken before? Its everything.

CD: If its half as good as Korean spare ribs, I may need to cut this interview short and go get some!

JR: Literally hungry again just thinking about it.  Koreans know how to make some GOOD food.  We even know how to cook dogs! *laughs*

CD: Let the record show that you went there and not me! So since we’re already sort of there, let’s talk about Korea a little, shall we? You were born there correct?

JR: No. I was actually born in Los Angeles but moved to Korea before I turned one and grew up there. I moved back to the states when I was 16.

CD: Well THAT fact checking mistake is going to get one of our interns fired! What was it like growing in Korea for you? Obviously you were young but how is the LGBT community treated there?

JR: I think its a lot better now with pop culture in Korea booming. It used to be very taboo. We don’t even really have laws for the LGBTQI community in Korea. There are no such things as a hate crime or discrimination. I believe they have Pride now and have been doing it for several years. I would love to go back and do Pride there as I am a Pride Queen, meaning I started drag for Pride in 2012 with my good Judy Monét X Change.


Photograph by Maddelynn Hatter

CD: So would I be wrong in assuming that you had no exposure to drag until you moved back to the States? What was the first time you remember seeing drag?

JR: I was never really exposed to Drag until I moved to the States. I’ve been a drag queen since I can remember, always playing with my Mom’s makeup and dresses.  I just didn’t know what to call it.  I remember when I was in 1st grade or something they asked the kids in class what your dream was and my answer was to be a “girl” *laughs*!

CD: I’m sure that went over really well!

JR: While I was growing up in Korea most people didn’t even think about LGBTQI community existing in the world. Like no such thing exists in Korea. Its a made up myth *laughs*. So they didn’t make a big deal of it. They just laughed about it and moved on.

CD: Sort of like intelligent Trump voters, mythical.

JR: *Laughs* Yes! I actually think Trump is very intelligent. Its just that the rest of the people who follow him are stupid. *Laugh*

CD: I don’t disagree. He’s got all these mouth breathers to support him without any tangible policies.

JR: Yup! He’s literally starring in his own reality TV show right now. To him, this isn’t about becoming the President. It is about making more money and becoming famous. Its just sad that people are stupid enough to believe him. The whole world is watching and laughing at the greatest nation in the world right now. Wow… got real serious for a second *Laughs* Lets not talk politics. I’m a quarter North Korean so things might get messy.

Photograph by Shann Treadwell

Photo by Shann Treadwell

CD: Yes, let’s talk about good weaves, not his bad one. So once you were able to put a name on it, did you know you wanted to be a drag queen?

JR: I wanted to perform and express myself. I don’t know if that means I wanted to be a drag queen.  I love being on stage, creating new things, and influencing people.

CD: You clearly had an affinity for performance since you went to Julliard! What did you study there and please don’t say Musical Theatre like every single other NYC queen I have interviewed if possible?

JR: *Laughs* No no I’m not a Musical Theater major. There is no such thing at Juilliard as a Musical Theater major. They have Drama majors which include some musical theater elements.  I majored in Vocal Performance (Opera). My father loved classical music.  I grew up with listening to the greats. Like most Korean children I started with piano and violin but soon I moved to singing as my piano teacher thought I had a good voice. I’ve been singing for almost 20 years now. I can’t imagine my life without singing. It is the greatest instrument on the planet. Come to think of it, I think my grand drag persona comes from a movie I watched when I was little.  Its called Farinelli and is one of my favorite movies of all time. The costumes in that movie is to die for. Its about a castrato, a male singer who has been castrated before puberty to maintain his female register voice.

CD: Castration? I’m feeling better about growing up on a steady diet of Disney films and ALF now by comparison!

JR: Oh I LOVED Disney movies, you know the ones that came in VHS! *laughs* My mother said when I was a baby, I would not stop crying if she didn’t play Mary Poppins.

CD: Yes, the VHS ones that would go back into the Disney vault if you didn’t buy them quickly enough! So when did you finally make your official drag debut?

JR: My official public outing and taking it seriously was 2012 Pride with my boo Monét X. Change. Monét and I met at a summer voice program.  We clicked and started to talk about doing drag. BOOM! That summer we walked pride in full Drag.

There is a first time for everyone!

There is a first time for everyone!

CD: And of course, just once was enough and you were totally satisfied and didn’t want to do it again right? I mean, there is no such thing as being bitten by the drag bug right?

JR: After that day we went out almost every night! The biggest bite EVER. *Laughs*

CD: Oh, I’m shocked! I totally didn’t see that coming! So what was your first performance?

JR: My first performance was actually at a pageant at the Ritz on Tuesday called Saliva with Thorgy Thor and Azrea as the hosts.

CD: I’ve noticed you’ve gone through more drag names than Elizabeth Taylor went through husbands and I go through bottle of Absolut.

JR: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I’ve gone through three major drag name changes. My main name has always been Kimchichi until this other queen from Chicago got on TV and Facebook also got me saying it wasn’t my government name. SO I decided to change my name to Leontyne Rice after the legendary singer Leontyne Price. However, most people couldn’t pronounce her/my name so I changed my name to Jasmine Rice. #allthecarbs #allthestartch

CD: You had me at carbs! So officially on the record now, can you promise this is the last name change?

JR: Yes. *Laughs*

CD: You heard it here first folks! That is basically legally binding!

JR: You know the funny thing is some people don’t know that Jasmine Rice is actually a type of Rice. I’ve gotten asked where my name comes from several times and they are always surprised that there is such thing as Jasmine Rice. *Laughs*

CD: Well, I know my rice….and my potatoes…basically any starchy side that tastes good and isn’t that good for you.

JR: Thats ME!

CD: So you mentioned you first number ever was during a pageant but since then you have had amazing success in pageant, including being the current Miss New Jersey Continental Plus 2015 as well as Miss Barracuda 2014, Miss Industry 2015, Miss GetOut Magazine 2016 and Miss Monster 2016. How did you become involved in the pageant scene since New York City isn’t as renowned for drag pageants as much as other parts of the country are?

JR: Well the funny thing about that is My title has changed to Miss Allstar Continental Plus 2016.  The pageant promoter quit (Big Drama!) so I had to find a different promoter to go with. So at nationals in Chicago I represented Allstar Continental Plus 2016. I got into drag pageants because of my drag mother Kizha Carr and my drag grandmother Bebe Adams.  Bebe is an amazing pageant queen from Oklahoma and Kizha loves pageants as well.  So we get together sometimes to watch pageant DVDs.  Someone saw me from doing Entertainer of the Year in Miss Fire Island and recommended me to enter Miss Continental Plus and I said Why not?  I can’t WAIT to go back next year!

Photo by Shann Treadwell

Photo by Shann Treadwell

CD: What was your experience at Nationals like?

JR: It was INCREDIBLE. I loved every single moment of it, except the final night. I was sick and had to miss rehearsal because of it. I got major points deducted and was so scared I wasn’t going to make it to the final 12. I also LOVE Chicago, such an amazing city. I’ve made so many new sisters there. Hopefully I’ll be back next year.

CD: What do you think is the biggest difference between pageant drag and the drag in New York City?

JR: think people have a wrong idea of what pageant drag is. There are pageant queens who are incredible performers, such as Nina West. Her winning EOY gown from 2009 was where Sia got her inspiration from for her opening outfit for her concert this year. I’m a NYC queen yet I do pageants as well.  It doesn’t matter where you are from or what type of queen you are as long as you are good and dedicated to what you do. You can’t tell me that Brenda Dharling doesn’t turn you OUT when she performs.  She is an incredible entertainer, pageant queen, and a NYC drag queen.

CD: I heard she’s an okay dancer too.

JR: *Laughs* I live for Brenda Dharling.  One of the nicest queens in NYC.

CD: Absolutely! So aside from making it back to nationals next year for Miss Continental Plus, do you have any other goals on your proverbial drag bucket list?

JR: I would love to get on Drag Race.  I think I’ll be very entertaining. People have no idea how CRAZY annoying yet lovable I am! *Laughs*  Thats why I am scared to drink or do any kind of drugs, because I am naturally insane. If I did any of those things I’ll probability jump out the window or something! *Laughs*. I also would like to have a BIG production show here in NYC. I think the closest thing to it is Queen at Industry bar but I want something bigger and specifically designed for Drag. NYC nightlife have changed so much. They are very Bar oriented. There are only two clubs that I know of, XL and Monster. I want a HUGE space where I can put on GRAND shows and huge parties.

Photograph by Davide Laffe

Photograph by Davide Laffe

CD: In the meantime, where can people see you each week and come stuff dollar bills in your panties?

JR: They can see me at Rush Hour Thursdays at Pieces with my partner in crime Blacque Onasty and Skinny Brunch on Sundays at Hardware with my anything but pure gal pal Brita Filter. Well… anyone can come stuff me if they have dollar bills! *Laughs*

CD: Well if they want to make that arrangement with you, where can they find you on assorted social medias?

JR: They can fined me on social media as JasmineRiceNYC (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Or

CD: What about Farmers Only?

JR: That’s only on the DL! *Laughs*

CD: I thought your Craigslist ad was the one on the DL?

JR: No thats very public!

CD: Gurl, I can’t keep track!

JR: *Laughs*

CD: Well Jasmine we have just about reached the end here but before we wrap up and you take me out for some Korean friend chicken, I just want to wish you a very happy birthday and thank you for making the time to talk with me tonight. Do you have any final words of wisdom for our readers before we go?

J R: Wisdom…. Hmmm…   I will say if you are a Drag Race fan or “drag” fan yet you’ve never gone out to see a live drag performance in your city.  DO IT NOW. You never know who will be on Drag Race next.  Those girls were all local queens before they were on TV.  Most shows in NYC are free… so Tip a HOE.  Trust me they work hard for the money. And the pleasure is all MINE Chiffon and thank you so much for all your hard work for getting our girls name out there!

Photograph by Magnus Hastings

Photograph by Magnus Hastings