Direct from New York City (by way of Connecticut), Jax tore up the RuPaul’s Drag Race main stage with a now-iconic hair jump rope number (that has already gotten numerous recreations). While they may have departed the show, Jax got to showcase a Mona Lisa impersonation during Snatch Game along with their stunning lip sync prowess during the Lip Sync LaLaPaRUza. I spoke with Jax post-elimination and we chatted about the lip sync against Anetra and how they are planning to reinvent their own drag post Drag Race.
Michael Cook: How do you look back on your RuPaul’s Drag Race experience as a whole right now?
Jax: Now that we have had the time to recollect and reflect, I am so thankful for the experience. Every single week, I was just getting critiques after critiques on how to heighten myself and really polish myself into a higher version of what I brought into the show. I have been having a disconnected experience because I am so different now from what I was presenting on television. We all stem from somewhere though; I am thankful to be able to look back on that and see how much I have grown in such a short amount of time, and get better from the experience.
MC: You bring up an interesting point, how do you feel you are different now?
J: Girl, I got a new face (laughs); I changed my makeup! The first thing that I did when I came home from the show was I went into my drag room and I threw everything out and I started from scratch. The whole year has been nothing but sewing and building and just becoming a new me.
MC: It’s almost like Jax has had a post RuPaul’s Drag Race rebirth….
J: Exactly. Like a phoenix rising from the flames.
MC: As an adopted kid myself, I think that there is something about being adopted that makes you feel that you are part of a special little club. How do you think being adopted plays into your drag, in the way that you were developing a new persona while still juggling the ones you had already?
J: I think that is also why some people, when they first look at me, they are a little confused. They see how I carry myself and how I dress, they think that I’ll be “banjee”or a black girl dancing to Beyonce’. I’m like “no no”. I grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut, I got my angsty teen on lock, you are going to see me doing some weird B-side stuff that you typically don’t expect from people like me. With my drag, I want to keep reminding people that there is not just one way to “be black”. I’m an athlete, I’m a dancer, but I am also just a huge nerd. I don’t really listen to rap music very often, I am more into the Willow Smith alternative realm. People are still saying “wow that exists”? Yes, it exists, black women can make rock-n -roll, never forget!
MC: New York City is known as an environment where performers are required to scratch and claw in a way, to make it in the Big Apple. To you think that making your drag career in that environment helped you on Drag Race?
J: I think so. I think it just made me a lot more resilient throughout the process. I am someone that, whenever someone gives me a critique or something, I just take it in stride and I think “okay how do I fix this”? Especially in New York, we just have so many girls that you can have a bad show one day and a bar can fire you without any rhyme or reason.
I never wanted that to happen, I am constantly going up to the bartenders and asking what worked and what didn’t, if a game was good or bad, did a certain number read with the crowd, etc. At the end of the day it is a job and we have to make sure that you can read to an audience.
MC: it is especially fantastic that someone like you got to not just lip sync for your life on the main stage, but you also got to participate in the Lip Sync LaLaPaRUza Smackdown, which truly showcased your talents. You seemed surprised in the final lip sync that Anitra chose you; were you truly that surprised?
J: I was surprised at the first hit, but at the end of the day, with me and Anitra, I could tell that she just wanted to battle. If you are going to do a lip sync battle in this kind of format, you want to have fun with it and you want to challenge yourself. Honestly, we were just having fun with it at that point. I had already done a few lip syncs that day so I was at the point where it was like, whatever happens happens, I am going to have fun and do what you know how do to.
MC: What do you think your rose and thorn are of your Drag Race experience?
J: My rose is definitely really just coming out there in the talent show and having a good time. As for my thorn, it is my first time doing anything on tv. That was just a weird mindset to get into, so I kind of felt that I was not showcasing my personality as I should have been. If I would go back in time and switch things up, I would make sure that in acting challenges and things, I had my personality come across. Instead of being so technical about what was being presented to me. I would have taken more liberty and really just had more fun with it.
MC: Your jumprope/hair high-energy performance is now that of legend. Have you seen anyone recreate it live as of yet?
J: Actually yes I have, I get tagged in a lot of videos. There have been some successes, and some not to successful, but they’re all great.
MC: In the acting challenge, you’re a very cerebral person and you interpreted the character a certain way. Do you think that mindset might have been how you approached Drag Race as a whole?
J: A little bit. You do not know what it feels like until you step into that door and you have to meet the other girls. Everything you thought you knew just flies out the window. It is definitely a starting over from scratch moment with that.
MC: With the Drag Race platform at your feet, what do you want to do now?
J: I want to keep performing and doing what I love to do, but be doing it on a bigger scale. I have a background in photography and cinema, I went to the School of Visual Arts. I’ve been working on some photo books and want to finally and properly combine everything together and do these big theatrical productions that I see my drag as. As much as I love being in bars and turning the party, I really want to bring my production aspect to my performance as pest as well, so continuing to heighten that.
Touring the world, seeing how different drag is everywhere. I have been to many cities to far, and how different everything is is fascinating to me, and just meeting everyone is amazing. Definitely sticking on that realm for a little bit but I always say that I like to call myself the Jax of all trades; I like to teach myself everything I don’t like to settle. I like to keep honing my craft and learning new things and adding that to my repertoire.
MC: If someone asks ‘Who is Jax?” what is the answer?
J: It changes every day. Jax in one word, is definitely complicated.
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