Her Drag Race journey might have ended, but the splash that June Jambalaya made on Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race will not soon be forgotten. This overly-sartorial stunner leads with her fashion, and was able to show off her spectacular lip sync prowess before leaving the competition. I sat down to talk to June about her fashion and Drag Race influences, what it was like entering Drag Race with less than three years of drag under her studded belt, and why appearing on The Real is at the top of her vision board!
Michael Cook: Condragulations on a fantastic season! Even though your run was short, we got to see your really showcase so much of what your drag is about. How do you feel now looking back on the experience?
June Jambalaya: I feel great. I’ve only been doing drag for two and a half years, I’m going into my third year; this is something that I did part time. I cannot complain to be in the “Olympics of Drag” with only two and a half years experience! Yes it is bittersweet, I wanted to go further and showcase and do so much more but I was in the room; I am part of the fandom that is Drag Race.
MC: You mentioned that you had only been doing drag for two and a half years. When you walked in and saw so many girls who had been doing drag for so much longer, were pageant competitors, or were extremely seasoned, was it intimidating to you?
JJ: Oh I was terrified. Mostly because if I had been going into a dance competition, I would have felt like “I know I’m going in to dance, I got this”. But these pageant girls, these showgirls, these comedy queens; they know what they bringing it and they have been doing it for so long. It’s stifling for the ego sometimes, but just I took it as, “let me get inspired and learn from these people”. These are things that I need to take for my own career.
MC: What do you think is one facet of the Drag Race experience that you are able to take away and utilize in your drag career going forward?
JJ: I think one thing that I will be taking from this experience is the power of fashion editing and the power of trying everything on and not just having the idea of getting dressed and showing up. Remembering that this is going to be televised and they are going to be seeing me from multiple different angles and utilizing that knowledge. Seeing what other queens were wearing and what served them and was show-stopping ready for this platform.
MC: When you walked into the workroom and you saw people like Kornbread that you knew already, was it a comfort to have a familiar face there or did you know that it would be real competition?
JJ: Both. We went to college together and I know what she gives and I have seen her perform. I knew that if anyone was going to give me a run for my money for the crown, it was going to be her because I knew her. Kornbread is such a light with every room that she steps in. She could be in the room making a face and you are just captivated by her..
MC: You got to lip sync for your life twice, and we truly got to see what June Jambalaya can do on stage! Your lip sync to Lizzo’s “Water Me” is going to go down in herstory as spectacular, especially since it was in front of Lizzo herself! What is it like lip syncing so early in the competition?
JJ: Thank you! The first time I don’t think I ever really recovered from the first one, being in the bottom in a talent show really struck a nerve with me. You give your all and you perform, but I don’t want to end anyone else’s dream at the expense of my own. At the same time, I knew that there were some wardrobe issues, but I consider myself talented and I have a degree in this; I consider myself talented. It was hard for me to hear that this was the second worse of the seven (contestants).
MC: Having you all finally come together in the third episode and then you subsequently leaving must make it a bit harder also; I spoke to Daya Betty last week and she mentioned her adoration for you and how you helped her with a light bulb of all things!
JJ: I am in love with Daya Betty; in my mind, she is my husband (laughs). Now that I have gotten to see the second episode and see them outside and how captivating they are… Gorgeous is like a Victoria’s Secret model, how crazy Jasmine (Kennedie) is with her acrobatics, how demanding Angeira (Paris Van Michaels) is, and how soulful Maddy (Morphosis) was; it was just so much. I realized that this was truly a talented and stocked up cast.
MC: After doing drag for just two and a half years, you are one of the queens who Drag Race most likely had a significant influence on you. What Drag Race queen in herstory truly influenced you the most do you think?
JJ: I think watching Drag Race I was just always captivated by Roxxy Andrews. The a-ha moment for me though, was Gigi Goode. I am obsessed with ready-to wear and anyone who knows I am obsessed with designers like Pucci and Christopher John Rogers, I wear a lot of ready to wear. Yes Gigi is sample size and it is fitted perfectly, but there is something that is still such a feminine and Housewife-esque aspect for me. It is drag, but it is fashion first. I was like, I think I can do this, but in my size. Could I be glamourous in a size 16?
MC: Who do you love designer-wise nowadays?
JJ: Christopher John Rogers has a special place in my heart, that man makes absolute magic. I used to work for Carolina Hererra and I think that those gowns are just astounding. I love Halston, I used to work for Ted Baker, so I love colors and prints. I just posted my original intro look which was a Dsquared2 dress, love that. Before Drag Race, I was working for Louis Vuitton, that was a huge inspiration. Their ready to wear really has a ready to wear, streetwear fashion ability, which I am really enjoying right now. Streetwear is not going anywhere anytime soon.
MC: Five years from now, where does June Jambalaya fit in and where do you want your career to be?
JJ: I would have liked to have done a residency, I feel like I would have had the capability to do so. I would love to be a fashion correspondent sitting on E! News talking about who wore it best. Having a segment on The Real talking about fashion, that would be everything to me…it is on my vision board (laughs)!
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