Last week’s episode of RuPaul’s All Stars was a veritable pearl-clutcher. Team Rujubee went wig-to-wig with Team Shad on the basketball court and emerged victorious. But it was Team Shad that won the main challenge, creating a superhero and villain that soared above their competitors. As a result, Raven and Jujubee were forced to lip-sync against one another, an emotional scene that persuaded RuPaul to say, “Chantay, you both stay.” The Advocate spoke with Jujubee about the dramatic lip-sync, dominating on the court, and the (super)power of drag.
The Advocate: How did you spend your Thanksgiving?
Jujubee: I went over to [boyfriend] Chris’s parents. We’ve been doing it for years, so it’s kind of a tradition now.
How long have you and Chris been dating?
It’s going to be seven years, this year. That’s a really long time, right? I’ve been with him since I was 21.
What was it like to get a surprise semi-marriage proposal on television?
I always thought it was coming anyway. It doesn’t bother me whether or not I’m married to him because I know I’m going to be with him forever. But I’m totally excited about this ring. I can’t wait to get it!
Have you made any plans? Is marriage definitely happening?
We’ve been talking a little more about it. I definitely think it will be happen in the future, but it’s not a priority of mine. And it’s not a priority of his either. But it would totally be really cool.
How did it feel to get a second chance at Drag Race?
In my head, I was like, when I go back there I’m going to have to pack this and this… Raven is amazing. If I lose to anybody, Raven’s the one where I would be, alright, I get it. But I’m in the company of Shannel, Raven, and Chad. That’s amazing on its own. I see them as idols. I see them as amazing performers and really honest, great people.
How did you prepare? Did you prepare differently from season 2?
[Before being accepted for season 2], I was ready to stop doing drag. It got really old for me at that point. There was nothing that was interesting for me anymore. And now, with RuPaul kicking drag into the scene again, I think it’s amazing that so many people know about it. So the preparation for the second competition was about the same. I thought I knew what to expect, but when we got there, it was crazier than ever.
How did you react when they changed the rules, and instituted the partners system?
We didn’t know it was coming at all. But I knew that, if I had anything to do with the choosing, I would choose Raven. But what I was worried about was that they would be the ones choosing, that RuPaul and the judges would be like, ‘OK, we’re going to pair you guys up.’ That was the biggest concern for me.
So it was destiny that you and Raven were linked together. What was it like working with a close friend?
It was really fun. We are very close, but we live on either side of the U.S., so we never get to see each other, unless we’re working together like that, or in a nightclub setting. Being on set with him and working with him and shooting ideas — it was really, really fun. It felt just like hanging out… I look at every single drag job as a challenge. RuPaul has trained my mind to think like that. Anything can come up, and anything can happen. Always be prepared… It was really frickin’ fun.
More than the other teams, you seem like you were having a blast. You really seem like partners.
The way I look at it is, if you’re partnered up with somebody — they’re relying on you, and you’re relying on them. You guys need to work twice as hard because you have two people to carry. We’re like brothers. But he’s older.
What was it like to lip-sync against him?
It was pretty intense. I’m over lip-syncing. I feel that in Drag Race history, I’m the one that lip-syncs the most. And it doesn’t like good on paper.
That’s its own Hall of Fame, right?
[laughs] Gosh, I get a C- for that I guess. But I know how Raven performs, and I know how I perform. We try and tell a story. I knew he wasn’t going to try and do backflips or jumps or whatever, because that’s not the kind of drag queen he is. We really want to convey the story.
So you were confident he wouldn’t pick you up and throw you off the stage?
Yes. It didn’t feel like we were competing against each other. It felt like we were performing with each other. And I thought that was the beauty in that lip-sync, and I think that was why Ru couldn’t decide.
How did you react when RuPaul announced you both would stay?
I was so excited. It was a big relief — for the both of us.
For the mini challenge this week, you guys competed on the basketball court and won. Congratulations! Do you have much experience shooting hoops, or any other sports?
I like to watch. I like watching hockey. But I’d rather be there then watch it on television. It’s so much more intense. I like the idea of basketball, but that’s a lot of cardio that I’m not interested in, as you can tell. My FUPA was there. But that’s OK. We had to be the ones in tube tops [laughs].
Last week, the challenge was to create a storyline of a superhero and villain. What was the inspiration behind your Solaris storyline?
Raven came up with the storyline because he is obsessed with tanning. I just went with his crazy ass. I was like, "OK girl, you do your thing, we’ll make up some fierce names for it." And I saw what the other girls were doing , and I thought their storyline was hilarious because it was simple and easy to follow. As far as our storyline was, it was just too many things at once. I think we took it way too seriously. I swear to God, I thought I had superpowers.
Your hairdryer weapon was pretty intense.
I know, right? And who said it…s omebody said, “Girl, we know it’s a hairdryer,” and I spit my drink out. I thought it was the most hilarious thing. …My hair was looking a mess, too, so it didn’t make any sense.
Santino was throwin’ some shade. He said you looked more like a party girl than a superhero. What was your reaction to his comments?
I had never seen any party bitch look like that. That day was not good for any of us, and I took so many of his comments to heart. He’s there to help, and that’s what Santino is great with because when he compliments you, it’s amazing, and people are so happy. But when he tells you what he thinks, it really does dig deep. It’s scary, but it’s fun at the same time.
Is he the hardest judge to receive criticism from?
I think so. I think it’s his delivery. I know he means really, really well, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to be on Michelle Visage’s bad side. You always want to make Ms. Visage smile.
Looking back on the challenge, would you have done anything differently, in order to win?
I would have done more with the costume. I think they were completely right. I needed more. From watching it on screen, team Shad was amazing. Their makeup was gorgeous. They looked like superheroes. Team Rujubee looked like we were a different version. We could have worn a little bit more.
What superheroes inspire you, either in comic books or in real life?
This is going to be cliché for any Drag Race girl to say, but RuPaul is amazing. She is a deity. But of course, I was a big X-Men freak as a child, and Storm was my girl.
What first attracted you to drag?
It’s really the performance and the whole illusion in it. It is kind of confusing to think about it. It is a very interesting art, and it’s ever-changing. There isn’t a boundary to it, as with any kind of art. It showcases something. It tells a beautiful story, whether or not it’s true.
You studied acting in college, right?
I did, I studied theater.
Do you think your passion for theater and drag are linked?
Completely. It really is… Jujubee is a character, completely. It’s a character, but it’s a branch of who Airline is — of me. I couldn’t create something that was there, without myself in it.
So it’s like being a superhero, right? I think we saw that in the episode. These days, Clark Kent is running into the telephone booth to change into drag.
Totally. I think everybody plays a role of who they are. No one acts the same at work, or with friends. It’s whatever hat you put on for that moment. Mine just happen to be a wig.
If you weren’t doing drag right now, what would you be doing?
Makeup. I love makeup. I like making girls feel really pretty. It’s fun. I worked for a makeup counter, and it wasn’t even the makeup part the girls would come in for. They would come in to talk. And I feel like, hey, I can get paid to talk and put lipstick on you. And you can wash it off. That’s the cool part.
What projects are you working on? What’s next?
I have been saying this for the past three years, but I really want to work on music. I have been working on a couple of things, but I just don’t love it. I want to release one thing that I can be really proud of… I would [also] really love to do something with any of the Drag Race girls, especially Raven. Maybe we could do the drag queen Simple Life or something. She can do the manual labor.
Raven has been looking very toned this season.
He’s always had a great body. But now, he looks like a Greek god. And here I am, next to you…I’m just going to eat my fried chicken…
What’s the legacy you want to leave from your RuPaul’s Drag Race experience?
It really all boils down to: don’t take everything so seriously, and just have a great time… I’m going to tell you now: when I was a 5-year-old boy, I had no idea what I wanted to do, because I knew that there was something different about me. I knew I didn’t like girls. And this is a 5-year-old thinking. I’m like, what am I going to do for work? And look at where I am now. It’s crazy. Focus, and have fun.
Drag is your career now?
Girl, I ain’t doing nothing else. It’s a long process to get in, but it’s a long process to prepare for it, too. It’s non-stop drag because it’s crazy. I think I have more girl things than I have boy things. And that needs to change very soon.
Do you find that you’re in drag more than you’re out of drag?
People see more photos of me in drag than out of drag. When I’m out of drag, I’m just a homebody. It’s crazy how different it is. Everyone thinks I’m always out drinking or partying…
With Absolut vodka?
Always Absolut, darling. Always.
How do you define an All Star?
Anyone who stands up for what they think is right. And who is fabulous. With good hair.