As the first queen eliminated from the inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, Jojo Zaho is now firmly planted in the Drag Race history books. Even before she entered the workroom, this queen is part of a legendary Aussie drag family and proudly wore the colors of the Aboriginal Australian flag in her entrance look. I sat down to chat with Zaho about her now-legendary Drag Race run, what she thought as she was about to start that epic lip sync, and how she plans to potentially deal with the Drag Race fandom.
Michael Cook: You came in in a truly one of a kind look; what was it like seeing a now global sensation like RuPaul’s Drag Race finally come to Australia and look around that workroom, realizing that you now truly are a Ru Girl?
JoJo Zahou: Even still hearing it, it is like “Oh My God I am a Ru Girl”. It was exciting, it was a whole mix of emotions, but it was like “holy crap, am I actually here, is this actually happening? This is real-all right let’s do this”. It was so surreal; I explain the whole experience like watching it through a VR headset. I mean I know I was there, It was so surreal that I could not believe that it was happening.
My aesthetic is usually very housewife-esque, but I wanted to give a sixties housewife/’Stepford Wife’ silhouette. I wanted to have it transparent to show that I might be a Housewife, but I am also a rough and tumble ho underneath! (laughs)!
Michael Cook: You had some shady reads as some of the other girls came in, and reads like that are one of the backbones of drag. There is no malice, it is just good old fashioned reading.
JZ: I always say, there is no prejudice in cheekiness. I never say anything behind someone’s back that I don’t say to their face.
MC: You read Elektra Shock for having a “thirsty wig” and then ended up lip syncing against her at the conclusion of the first episode. Was that irony not lost on you either?
JZ: The initial thought that went though my head was “great this is karma for making fun of her wig” (laughs)
MC: The main challenge was massive this season, truly reflecting who you were, especially as the first Aboriginal/Australian queen to compete on Drag Race. Does your drag consistently have a message threaded through it?
JZ: I like to. I consider my drag a mixture of camp and comedy, standup and that kind of stuff is where I most comfortable. What I try to often do is incorporate some sort of message through my drag to express culture or political things that are going on around the world politically. In my mind, drag is such a platform to make such a change and have an affect on our community. That is the thing about Aussie drag; there is a focus on comedy, but very much on storytelling.
MC: How you ever gotten to experience in other countries like the United States? How different do you think your drag is from other countries drag?
JZ: Unfortunately, I have not gotten the chance to see drag around the world in different venues or anything like that, apart from what I have seen online, instagram or on Drag Race itself. I think what sets both myself and Aussie drag apart is the camp, the comedy, and the “global buffoonery”. There are no set rules, no one likes to gatekeep and it is all about having fun; at the end of the day, we are men in dresses (laughs)
MC: Who is the first drag queen that you ever met that inspired you to perhaps try drag yourself?
JZ: The first drag queen that I ever met was actually Coco Jumbo (laughs). She was the first queen I ever met; I remember we got a selfie together and since we both are darker skinned, we took about five minutes trying to find the perfect lighting for a proper photo.
MC: You have a very prominent platform in front of you, and the craziness and the love from the Drag Race fandom will ensue. How have you chosen to deal with the fandom?
JZ: Definitely dive in. There are trolls everywhere, I just ignore them, I really don’t have the energy to deal with them. I am going to dive in and interact, I try to answer as many messages as I can, trying to do maybe one or two a day. I an definitely diving in; as for the trolls, bugger em!
MC: Your Drag Race journey will continue, as you hopefully showcase your looks online throughout the season. What do you think is next for you post Drag Race?
JZ: I would love to travel. I want to do drag in the U.K., the States, and I would also love to cameo on as many Aussie tv shows as I can.
MC: What do you think the one lesson that you are taking away from Drag Race that you did not have before?
JZ: Definitely not to put too much pressure on myself. But also, to pay attention to such fine details that might generally be overlooked.
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