Drag Race royalty Jujubee is grateful people got ‘to see her suck’ on UK vs The World
The public first met Jujubee on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2010, and her light has not stopped shining since.
At 37, the drag performer, singer, songwriter and reading challenge assassin just added actress to her impressive resume. Jujubee is performing the role of Summer Raines in Death Drop, the hilarious drag murder mystery play written by Holly Stars which is currently on its third West End Run. Previously, the role has been played by Monét X Change, Latrice Royale and Ra’Jah O’Hara.
Jujubee’s West End turn comes after she made the final of Drag Race UK vs The World – one of the most controversial editions of the franchise to date. From the comfort of her dressing room in London’s Criterion Theatre, she spilled all the tea on the series, her fledgling acting career, and whether there’s another All Stars run in her future.
PinkNews: Congratulations on this new play! For the first time, you are not performing as Jujubee but as Summer Raines. How was it for you as a drag queen to work with a script?
Jujubee: I’m still pinching myself over it. I can’t believe that the little boy who always wanted to perform on a huge stage is now here. The fact that Holly Stars [who wrote Death Drop] is in the play as a performer is magic to me. Certain words and phrasing from Summer would not be appropriate for an American to say. So I’ll talk to them and they’ll help me with that. Every performance we just keep growing and that’s the magic of theatre.
Will we see a little bit of Jujubee within Summer Raines?
I’m Airline, the creator of Jujubee, but Juju has helped Airline the human evolve, not just as a drag queen but as an artist all around. I feel like Juju and Summer might be one and the same except they just do different jobs. Summer is really bad juju and Jujubee is good juju.
Kitty Scott-Claus and yourself are leading the play, did you know her before?
I was doing a tour last year with Club Kids all around the UK and Kitty was one of the queens who worked with us, before Drag Race UK season three. That’s when I got to know her. Now we sit in the same dressing room and we get ready together.
Kitty is hilarious, gracious and to act with her on stage is such a beautiful momentum of give and take. I say that about all the players in this play actually, we just learned how to give space to each other as performers. Sometimes maybe we’ll forget a cue and they’ll pick it up and it’s really sweet when that happens. It is live theatre, you’ll never get the same exact thing twice.
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We have to say a few words about Drag Race UK vs The World. There’s so much drama to talk about.
The drama was me – but not because of my personality, it was because of my runways (laughs).
Speaking of runways. You set the bar so high on All Stars 5 that it literally looked like you ran out of budget for this season and bought garments off the rack. What happened?
When I go compete I want to be the best version of myself. We have to recognise that I did amazing on All Stars 5, and I went in with such a great head on my shoulders. Prior to that, I was in the best state of mind, I was working on another project called Dragnificent, so I had the funds that I was gonna allow myself to spend.
But this time around, I had come out of just living by myself with my two cats with no contact with humans for a year and a half. As an alcoholic and addict in recovery, the opposite of addiction for us is connection with humans. I did not have that for that long.
I immediately said yes [to Drag Race UK vs The World] because I knew I was gonna see my sisters, but with that said, I only allowed myself a really small amount of money to spend because we were all in a pandemic with no work.
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You also confessed that you were not in the best state of mind before the show started.
My mental health was not the same as it was on AS5. There’s an expectation for us to go in this linear upward. But I want people to understand that as humans, it’s peaks and valleys and those things give us depth and character and make us stronger. I’m really grateful that people got to see me suck, because babe it’s just another facet of my shine. That’s all that it is. I will probably wear my dots look to Drag Con, just saying.
You collaborated with Pangina on your new album, I have to ask, was her elimination that dramatic or did they edit it to make it worse?
If there was any editing done, it was actually edited down. I know seeing on the internet people assumed that they added that crying sound over the main stage but they did not. They actually shortened it. That’s the truth.
But if you’re following Pangina now, she is a superstar. She is so cordial, graceful, just to hear her speak when she talks to people is magic. All she has is love. Pangina heals. That’s exactly what it is, she heals, she brings love. And of course there’s a sisterhood between us because I’m Laotian and she is Thai. We share a very similar language, we can talk shit in the same language and we love in multiple languages.
During the finale, Blu Hydrangea joked that we might see you on All Stars again. Would you say yes if they call you one more time?
If they call me back for another season, I would say yes if I did not have to compete. I would prefer to help the queens with the challenges. I feel like I had so many chances to compete, I’ve been able to show all the different facets of Jujubee and Airline in the same breath.
I would love to see another queen shine and been given the same opportunities that I’ve gotten. That’s not to say I’ll never do it again. If there’s a huge sale at Primark, H&M or Fashion Nova, count me in.
Death Drop is at the Criterion Theatre, London. Jujubee performs as Summer Raines until 10 April, with Latrice Royale taking over the role from 13 April.