(Spoiler alert: It’s NOT me!)
That’s right, hunties: Miss Jaye threw her fabulously bejeweled hat into the ring for RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6. And though she is not currently on track to becoming America’s Next Drag Superstar, we thought it would be fun to share this video with you to watch and enjoy, as well as provide some of that “Behind the Scenes” stuff that people just love!
First, here is the video. There were a lot of specifications about what you should talk about, show, etc. as well as a couple of performances. The video is about 17 minutes in total length and was directed by Tim O’Neal, who did a fantastic job!
To set the stage, people have been telling me for years that I should audition for Drag Race, but I was hesitant for three reasons. First, I’m not very good with technology, and shooting and editing a video seemed outside of my skill set. Second, with my work schedule, I didn’t feel I had time to really focus on creating a good quality video. Third, and perhaps most important, I wasn’t totally sure how I felt about the show itself (I’m still undecided). I’m sure there’s a whole blog post waiting to happen to detail my feelings about Drag Race, but suffice it to say that I’m not sure I am a huge fan of how it portrays the art of drag and drag performers. More on that later…
So with all of my objections, I was decided against auditioning when I saw a video call in late March. But the Universe had other plans. My objection about time was answered when I was laid of from my job just before the end of March. Suddenly I had all the time I could need to create a video before the early April deadline. My objection about technological skill was answered by the fact that my friend Tim and I had been talking about the possibility of a documentary; I already had a one-man film crew following me around, and he is a masterful editor. My objection about the show itself? That one was a little tougher, but I was feeling cut loose and adrift, and I was ready to try something crazy and spontaneous. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. After all, what was the worst that could happen? I wouldn’t get selected, and I’d wait a few months and write this post to share this labor of love with all of you! Enjoy!
Now for that “Behind the Scenes” stuff I promised you:
– Most of the footage was shot at the Firehall Theatre (thanks to Kathy C-K for letting us use the space!), including the “music video” for the RuPaul song “Live Forever”
– The introductory footage was shot at the old 12 Houses/Electric Ganesh location on South Washington. The painting in the background is my own work, transported in for the shooting. It’s just a fun mix of colors with a Florence and the Machine quote on it.
– Many people know that in my “civilian” life, I’ve been bringing brooches back *yeah* for some time now. I decided to wear my spiderweb brooch for the video because I felt a little like I was wandering into scary new territory!
– In the scene at the show where I’m wearing the short black butterfly dress and the ‘fro and I take off my panties – I never did get those panties back, dammit!
– We did all of drag looks in one looooooooooong day – there were supposed to be 10, but one of them didn’t make the cut! It was a fun time, but it was a lot of work to create different makeup looks after every couple of outfits and we were there prepping and shooting for more than 12 hours total!
– If you’ve never met my friend Tim, he makes a brief cameo as well – when we’re filming in the makeup room at the theatre talking about all of my makeup, he accidentally caught himself in the mirror a couple of times!
– The gown I’m wearing for the red-carpet-slash-Bond-girl look is a Morgan Wells. Gawd, I love her work! Another Morgan Wells creation makes a cameo in the basement scene: the green and gold bodysuit on the dress form is one I ordered from her that is in the process of becoming a fierce Poison Ivy costume!
– I love the “Girl on Fire” dress, but Tim forgot to pan down and get the handkerchief hem that I created using yellow, orange, and red fabrics to give it a flowy, fiery feel…that and to conceal the fact that the dress was too short and threatened to show off my business!
– For the “Dreamgirls 2013” look, I did all my own singing. True story.
– The Snatch Game impersonation was the toughest part, as there aren’t a lot of large and lovely divas to emulate. Anna Nicole is the easy, obvious pick, but she’s dead and she died skinny so that didn’t seem like a great life choice. At the last minute, we thought it might be fun to do Adele, but we weren’t sure exactly how to make her funny. Since she’s (sort of) a big girl, we went with a pretty obvious joke about bangers being sausages. That scene was at the end of a long day of shooting as well, and you will notice that I confused my British slang with Australian (I was supposed to say “blimey” instead of “crikey”) and Adele became a crocodile hunter for just a moment.
– You might also have noticed during the Snatch Game segment that the footage we used was the second take: if you look closely, you can see that I’m holding the sausage to try to cover up the fact that it already has a huge bite taken out of it, and my lipstick is almost gone from chowing down on the sausage in the first take!
– Missy Elliott’s “Gossip Folks” is one of my signature numbers. People sometimes ask me how I can do Missy when I’m not black. But I’m not a woman either! That’s what drag is all about – creating a space to be something you aren’t and interpret yourself through music and costume. I love doing Missy and Lil Kim, even if I am a pasty white girl!
– The “Live Forever” video is shot on the stage at the Firehall. They were in between productions (Don’t Hug Me had just closed and the late night comedy show, Snapshots From Armageddon was in rehearsals) and the stage was sort of a crazy mess! In my mind, the song inspired this idea about why we performers do what we do: it’s about “living forever” on the stage, being truly alive in front of an audience and creating something lasting. I’m not sure how well it translated into the video – it sort of looks like I’m dancing in an abandoned building!
– Firehall veteran Jared Kinney makes a cameo in the “Live Forever” video as…some guy reading a script. I told you, I’m not sure how well my vision in my head translated! The script he’s reading? A copy of Womanspeak we found behind the front counter at the theatre!
– Part of the video was supposed to be showing off your runway walk, and we decided to do that at the very end of “Live Forever.” However, I think Tim forgot that it was coming or didn’t realize how fast I would be coming at him, and that’s why that camera ended up right in my tatas!
I hope you enjoyed the video and all of the little “extras.” Even though I didn’t make it into the cast of Drag Race for season 6, I had a great time shooting the video and thinking about who I am and what I want to do as a performer. It was a great experience and it helped me feel confident and accomplished at a difficult time. And that’s more important to me than any title or contest. Though that cash prize would have been nice…
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the “lost” 10th look, here it is:
I love this crazy neon yellow gown, and I had a wig that was a perfect match. My original intent had been to do a whole yellow makeup look, very light and bright, to really embody the color yellow. But as the day wore on, I was running out of time and couldn’t redo my face for the look. I already had a dark eye look that featured a lot of yellow, so we went the other way with a dark purple lip. I like the menacing face with the lightness of the costume, but it just didn’t feel right and the footage looked awkward, so we left it out!
Tags: 12 Houses, Adele, Anna Nicole, Anna Nicole Smith, Designing Women, Don't Hug Me, Drag Race, Drag Race Auditions, Drag U, Electric Ganesh, Fire Hall Theater, Fire Hall Theatre, Firehall Theater, Firehall Theatre, Florence and the Machine, Gossip Folks, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Jared Kinney, Live Forever, Miss Jaye, Missy Elliott, Morgan Wells, rupaul, RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag U, Snapshots from Armageddon, The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, The Snatch Game, Tim O'Neal, Womanspeak