After a star-making turn on Drag Race Holland, longtime RuPaul’s Drag Race fans were thrilled to see Janey Jacké walk onto the stage in the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs The World. Janey proved herself quickly to be worthy competition against this dynamic group of All-Stars, outlasting numerous queens, and getting to showcase her own distinct style and perspective of drag. I caught up with Janey post-elimination and we chatted about her UK vs The World journey, seeing her presence in the Drag Race world blossom, and what she has planned next (her single “Turned Heads” is extraordinary)!
Michael Cook: What did it feel like to be plucked out of the ultra-talented cast of Drag Race Holland and brought to a global completion like UK vs The World?
Janey Jacké: It felt very correct, I can’t say anything else (laughs). Especially being the runner-up, it gets you so close and makes you so hungry. I think at a certain point in my season, we did know that (Drag Race Holland Season 1) winner Envy (Peru) was going to win, but I did make it hard for that bitch to get there, I did give her a little bit of a struggle. I think I am so used to doing my shows in English, that people notice as well. Going into the season, it felt very natural for me to be doing it in English and going to a broader audience.
MC You were part of a groundbreaking series within the Drag Race franchise, but you got to compete against people like Mo Heart & Jujubee, who are literally, Drag Race legends, So simultaneously, you were competing against people that you were meeting and had potentially look up to for years.
JJ: It was a little intimidating and definitely a little bit surreal at first. Especially when you see the first episode, you notice it. The mood just changed; it was like, these bitches know how to fight for $100,000 they are going to be cutthroat and going in. It was a little intimidating; it didn’t shake me off, but I was a little wary. I look up to these girls, but I am going to have to compete against them. Especially in Episode 1, I wasn’t the strongest, I was a little shaken. By Episode 2 though, I realized that even though I’ve looked up to these girls for ten years and I am so fresh and young within this franchise, I am an All-Star. I am strong competition, a good drag queen, and on the same level as these girls are in a competition. I can beat them, and yes I am bringing home a RuPeter badge. It is very validating and it is a good feeling.
MC: Coming in and competing against these girls is one thing, but All-Star rules truly add another layer to the competition totally. Since Drag Race Holland didn’t have rules like that, it was definitely a culture shock, is that fair to say?
JJ: it is definitely a culture shock but at the same time you expect something to happen. I was still expecting another twist, which ended up being that if you’re not in the top you’re in the bottom, regardless of how many girls are left over. You know what you sign up for, but the hard part is what an emotional roller coaster it is. Happiness really goes hand in hand with the struggle and the realization of responsibility. It makes it a lot harder, but hey it is the game.
MC: So much of the world got to really fall in love with you on this season of UK vs The World. When did you though, fall in love with drag?
JJ: The first time I ever got into a wig and a dress and barely any makeup, I was sixteen. I have always loved it, when I was younger it was like “imagine if I could make lip syncing a job” and then I saw RuPaul’s videos and realized that people are doing this; it was his music, but obviously it was his job. I fell in love with it at a young age, and obviously we grow up in a society where we dont think that it is possible, especially at that time twelve years ago. I found a way to push myself there; I wasn’t happy in school, I don’t like being part of that model where everybody does the same thing, I very much believe in everyone being individual people and I didn’t like working for a boss. It was like, one and one is two and it was just time. I quit my job, I quit school, and I went into drag. I met my drag mother and started going out and when I was twenty one I founded my company and said I was going to make it a serious thing. Nine years later, here we are.
MC: As one of the newer faces to many viewers on UK vs The World, your DM’s must be blowing up with fans, as many considered you one of the thirst traps of the season. Have your DM’s been blowing up?
JJ: (Laughs) thanks that is very sweet. It is a constant ongoing thing, I try to answer a a few, then I get more. It has been ongoing, but it is a lot of compliments and a lot of love, so I am going to take my time responding to them all. I taught myself that I have to limit the amount of hours that I put into social media every day.
MC: Speaking of social media, the RuPaul’s Drag Race fandom is extremely passionate. While Drag Race Holland got some attention, what was the fandom like on UK vs The World?
JJ: I haven’t really experience the hate that some of my other cast members have been experiencing, like Pangina (Heals) who was getting crazy messages; thank God I have not been getting things like that. If people send me weird things, I just delete it. It shows their self-respect if they go online and just try to push all of this hate. There have been this controversy around my James Charles performance, which is valid, fine, and their opinion. I do have to say, there are times that I I look at my following and I say “people are sleeping on me, what’s going on”? I didn’t get all of the goals that I set for myself following-wise leaving the competition at that point, but I am having a great time. I am focusing on all of my other things, I just released a single “Turned Heads”, I am doing tours, I am booked, I am blessed, and I am busy. I am getting to meet all of these people in real life, which to me is more important than the online business.
MC: You performed as James Charles for ‘Snatch Game’, as you mentioned. Historically, performing as a male character can be a big risk, but can offer the greatest rewards if done properly. How do you feel about your experience?
JJ: ‘Snatch Game’ is not my challenge in general. I was frustrated going into it, I knew it was coming and I was trying to prepare. Ru get in your head though, and he tries to give you the advice that you need. If it doesn’t click it doesn’t click though, and that is what happened to me; it didn’t click. I looked the part, I had a couple moments where it did click, but I was so in my head that I didn’t take it to that place. It’s fine though, we’re not great at everything. I’ve said to other people that ‘Snatch Game’ is literally 0.01% of your career. Maybe you’ll do it on another tv show if you’re really great at it and they invite you on, but there are so few people that do it for a living, and those that do are amazing. It is part of the show and I thank God I survived it, but let’s not roll the footage (laughs)!
MC: What does your drag reveal about you?
JJ: I think that my own personality and my drag personality are so intertwined and that is the case for so many girls. We don’t play a certain character with different hobbies, I say. What I feel is my persistence, my realness, dealing with situations as they come, and how I always truly believe in myself and my inner voice, and how I project that to other people. I always respect other people and that is so close to my own personality; it just becomes larger in Janie. Janie has this extra side to her where when I step on stage, no one can touch me. I literally own it and the way that I do a show and intrigue people to allow me to entertain them and they forget all of their troubles from the outside world, that is such a beautiful moment. One that I look back on and say “yes, that is inspiring” and that is what I love about me.
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