‘Drag Race’ finalist Jujubee heads to Lone Star State for Dallas Southern Pride

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Airline Inthyrath had been performing in drag “off and on” for about eight years. But, he said, he wasn’t “really 100 percent” into it.

“I really didn’t feel appreciated by some of the audiences. And it was expensive. I’d go shopping, and then I would think,

‘Do I really want to spend all this money on this wig?’”

But then along came “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and all that changed. Inthyrath slipped into character as “Jujubee” and hit the big time.

“I just auditioned because I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’ And then I got there and I realized, whoa! This is really serious. I was competing with the best drag queens in America!”

Jujubee — who will be in Dallas this weekend to perform at the Dallas Southern

Pride’s Masquerade Ball Saturday at The Warehouse — went on to finish third in the second season of Logo’s hit reality show/drag competition, behind winner Tyra Sanchez and second-place finisher Raven. But even though she didn’t take home the top prize, Jujubee did win a legion of fans with her energetic performances and bubbly personality.

She was so popular, in fact, that she was called back this year to be a “drag professor” on the first season of “RuPaul’s Drag U,” another show in which drag queens give “real girls” a drag makeover.

Which show did Jujubee enjoy more? “Oh, I can’t choose between them,” she said. “They were two entirely different concepts, and I really loved both.”

She is quick to note, though, that “Drag U” is not your mother’s makeover show: “We weren’t trying to make them over to be ‘beautiful women.’ We were there to take these biological women and train them to be divas. That’s different,” Jujubee said.

“We made them into extravagant, couture, high-fashion divas — a woman wearing too much make-up, or a drag queen with not enough make-up,” she added. “I mean, if we were trying to make them beautiful, why would we put so much make-up on them? But all that make-up, all that hair, those costumes — they felt like different women when we were done. They felt glamorous.

“We helped them create these glamorous characters for themselves. I mean, Jujubee is just a character I created, and that’s what we trained them to do. We showed them that if you believe you are beautiful, you are beautiful,” Jujubee said. “It’s all mind over matter. You have to believe in yourself.”

In fact, believing in herself was part of the lesson Jujubee said she learned competing in “Drag Race.”

“Being in that competition changed so much for me as far as what I thought I could do. I have always wanted to be in the arts in some way, and I have always wanted to do something I liked doing,” she said. “’Drag Race’ let me believe — and it let a lot of my friends and other people who watched the show believe — that you really can do anything if you try. It’s a huge new step in this revolution we are all going through. And it teaches people not to take things so seriously all the time.”

Just like it was the drag queens that threw the first brick and started the gay rights revolution at Stonewall in 1969, Jujubee said she believes the drag queens of “Drag Race” are helping lead the way in the new LGBT rights revolution.

“When I travel now and perform in different places, I love hearing people’s stories, hearing them say how we have helped them be more comfortable with themselves, helped them come out to their families. They can sit down with their sisters and watch the show together, and it makes them more comfortable in talking about who they are.

“The show is bringing families together. It really is, and as someone in the spotlight in our gay world, I take it as the biggest honor out there that there are people who are looking up to us, especially young people who are looking for role models,” she said. “I think that we are doing something that can change people’s futures. I think we can make that happen.”

Jujubee also believes that she and the other “Drag Race” alumni are helping promote drag as a legitimate form of entertainment.

“If I were to have a mission, I would say it would be going out there and showing people that being a drag queen is a real career, a real job. I mean, this is something we choose to do. We are not just little gay boys dressing up in Mommy’s outfits, and it’s not something we do because we can’t do anything else,” she said.

“I choose to do this. It’s a career. It’s art,” Jujubee added. “We do this because we love it, not because we have to. And we need to be out there in the mainstream media. Don’t get me wrong; I love Logo. But I think drag needs to be on the regular channels, too, and not just the gay channel. Hey, I want to be on the cover of Star magazine!”

Jujubee said being invited to attend and perform at Pride festivals is one of the greatest things about having been on “Drag Race” and “Drag U.”

“Pride is a time for us to come together as a community and celebrate life, celebrate our history and how far we’ve come.

I’ve seen whole families come out together for Pride,” she said. “It’s so fierce, and I enjoy it so much. And I am excited to be coming to Dallas for Southern Pride.”

But, she admits, she is also “a little nervous.”

“My hair is never really that huge! I know everything is bigger in Texas, so I have been researching huge hair. I’m going to have to go out and get seven or eight wigs and put them all together. I want to walk in there and look like an ornament!”

For more information on Dallas Southern Pride go online to DallasSouthernPride.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.