‘Drag Race’s Joey Jay: “Drag Is A River, The Pandemic Was Just A Rock”

From the moment Joey Jay lost his first lip sync to Kandy Muse on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, both the fans and Joey Jay knew one thing; he had more to give. As he made his way though the competition, we saw a competitor who was able to change up looks consistently and was comfortable standing out. Of course, being considered the “thirst trap” of Season 13 doesn’t hurt! I sat down to catch up with Joey Jay post-elimination and we talked about his Drag Race experience, the attention he is getting from the fans, and how even during a pandemic, the art of drag is the river that is simply never going to stop

 

Michael Cook: As the unofficial “Thirst Trap” of Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, what does it feel like to be getting this kind of attention?

Joey Jay: I’ll take it; I disagree, but I’ll take it! It’s crazy because you know if you look at the definition of “trade”, I am definitely not that. The LGBTQ community is usually notorious for putting hyper-masculine and hyper-muscular gym gays on a pedestal and having that be considered “attractive; I am not that. I think it is so cool that we are taking a really feminine gay boy that does drag and putting that on a pedestal. I think it is great progression; I am so happy that I am being embraced like that.

MC: Your final runway had you and Carson Kressley not seeming to gel when it came to your themed runway look. What do you remember from that moment?

JJ: I do remember that moment. The assignment was that we had to come up with an outfit that had the word “bag” in it, and I thought I would use “IV bag” and for IV, I could have fun with the plant and my IV pole. When Carson asked why I didn’t do “poison IV pole” I said “well that doesn’t exist”. I am hoping it came across on the runway.

MC: Challenges like that can be tough, especially when you have to use material that isn’t typically used for garments, like bags. is that fair to say?

JJ: Yes! I can sew, like a bodysuit and a leotard, basic stuff. With time and budget through. I ended up making a lot of the stuff that I brought to the show, including that outfit. I know that they said it looked a “little crafty” but I had the idea to do it with the long red nails and the wet hair with syringes, I am so proud of it.

MC: The experience was so different this year, because we got a much longer opportunity to get to know all of you since you entered the workroom in such a unique way. What was the whole experience filming like? Filming a competition like this during a pandemic is truly something most people don’t go through.

JJ: I hope it’s a season like we will never see again, I never want to see the girls have to film during a pandemic again. I do love the structure of the show though, I want to see more of that. I love that even the first to go have four full episodes, everyone has sound bytes and you get to know everyone’s story. I think that regardless of where you place, everyone gets a beautiful platform.

MC: When you walked into the newly minted PorkChop Lounge after your first elimination, did you have any idea what was going on?

JJ: When things are not in my control, it’s a lot easier for me to handle things. I am only really down on myself when I know that I messed up. I think I gave a really good lip sync and I don’t think I could have given any more with the situation that was presented. It was like “tomorrow is a new day, I am not going to die, I made it this far, I am just going to keep going”. Then I leave the stage and there is not trophy, no Untucked, and I am not getting in a van; something must be up. Then I walk in and there is the face of every eliminated girl and I thought,”okay maybe I am the first one eliminated and PorkChop is going to do my Whatcha Packin’”. Maybe we’re just gonna look at the bin because we haven’t unpacked yet! Then when Denali walked in, I was like “okay, let’s play a game now, I know what’s up”.

MC: This was your third time auditioning for RuPaul’s Drag Race right?

JJ: It was. I don’t like to consider the first one, I made my tape a month after I started doing my makeup. I knew that one day I wanted to get onto the show, so I figured why wait?; I would just start doing it. That way I could just know what the process was so when I was ready, I have already done it once or twice.

MC: What do you think was different this time when you tried out that truly made it your year?

JJ: I think that I was truly the most…delusional (laughs). What I mean by that is, how can you sell yourself if you don’t believe in yourself? When I was making this tape, I knew that I was getting on Season 13. I knew before I even auditioned. It was like “this is going to be it, it’s going to be this year”. I have a vision board, I am looking at it right now, it says RuPaul’s Drag Race, the number 13 is on there and I leave it on there just to tell myself “you did that’”. I was making the tape and it was just like it was a prerequisite; you know this is meant to be, I know that it is meant to happen. I am something that they have never had on the show before, it is the perfect time.

MC: You have your own take on drag and have truly embraced wearing your own hair frequently. When did that become a decision that you would go with and as it turns, be known for?

JJ. You know, I do drag to make myself feel good not to make others feel good. I do gag for that, but it is secondary. I am my own person and I am the only person that I have at the end of the day, I pay my bills and I cook my meals. I am going to take care of myself. I really like the androgynous, lipstick lesbian, bad ass superhero female lead in an action movie; I really like that vibe. The first time I didn’t wear a wig, I performed Pink and I said “this feels really right”. I would only perform Pink in the beginning when I wouldn’t wear a wig and then I noticed the crowd was really eating it up. Then I thought that I would try it and do Lady Gaga, I will do something so obscure or an artist known for being weirder, and I slowly brought it in. People would try to tell me that “that is not how you do drag” and that is the one thing that you don’t want to tell me-because I will do that and at the end of the day, you will purchase it.

Look at Trixie Mattels’s makeup ,she has lost Drag Race and would be read because her makeup is “weird”. Now because of that quality that made her so different, she is one of the most successful queens on the planet. She is just doing what she likes and what makes her feel good and I am trying to do the same thing and inspire other people.

MC: So what is next for Joey Jay? Are we getting Joey Jay looks served to us weekly now?

JJ: Oh you will. I was not meant to go home when I did and you are going to see why. I have such “the bug” now, I am having a blast with Drag Race, a blast watching myself on tv, it is so competitive, I want to go back on tv, whether it is Drag Race, whether it is another television show, whether it judging something, dancing, performances, hosting something, an award show, I belong on the screen, That is definitely what I want to pursue.

MC: How have you stayed creatively inspired and infused when we have had to step away from the stage and perform live?

J: I’ll be honest, when pandemic hit I stopped doing shows and took a break from doing drag; I had already auditioned for the show. What I started doing was to purchase some new wigs and walk-around costumes and invested in that. I started just stepping back and observing other entertainers. I have never done a lot of virtual shows compared to other people, and some people are turning out backdrops, makeup, and really producing at home. I am going to take a step back and see what the kids are doing right now because we can all keep learning and I thought it was just so cool to see. Drag is like a river and the pandemic was only just a rock; the river kept going. Even if there were enough rocks, the river would only get steered, but it would never stop.

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