On Saturday, June 8th any fan of drag not in Edmonton’s Starlite Room will surely be burning with envy. Pure Pride 2013 was lucky to land blossoming star and busy globe trotter Jujubee amidst her stops in Paris, France, throughout the United States and onto Amsterdam.
Of Laotian descent but born in Boston, Massachusetts, the striking Jujubee received world attention when she was selected among the most talented queens in America to compete as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2 at the age of 25.
"It was an amazing experience," she says. "I can’t say I have that many experiences in films, but RuPaul’s Drag Race has opened up many doors for me."
Doors to an unthinkable amount of nightclubs, Pride fests, cabarets and shows worldwide. Since June of last year Jujubee has averaged roughly three performances per week at various venues. Though the travel has to be wearing, she says she is happy to be doing what she loves.
"My international experiences include Cape Town, South Africa; Dublin, Ireland; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Vancouver and soon I’ll be seeing the beautiful faces of Edmonton! I can’t wait!"
Jujubee says it was clear from a very young age that she was destined to be a performer, despite the economic struggles faced by her family.
"I knew since I was a child that performing would be my life," she says. "It was my way of leaving reality and creating a new world for me and my sisters."
Like many eccentric souls, growing up in Fresno, California, she never really felt she fit in. Jujubee was created by Airline, who always had a passion for musicals and theatre and auditioned wherever he could.
"It’s really funny thinking back, because I’m not sure there was really anything to fit into," she says. "I struggled with being different, but my family was poor so that was always first on my mind."
Her first experience performing drag occurred unexpectedly when she was 16.
"It wasn’t a planned situation, but it definitely opened my eyes to the art," she describes.
Airline attended the University of Massachusetts Amherts, studying Theatre Arts.
The name Jujubee was selected for him by his drag mom, Karisma Geneva Jackson Tea. Though the name didn’t catch straightaway, Jujubee kept it because of its significance to Karisma.
Jujubee is the eldest of a tight female clan she says is full of dramatics – great training for a diva.
"My youngest sister just moved in so there’s glitter everywhere!" she exclaims. "My friends and family have always been supportive. I couldn’t be happier having them in my life!"
The ladies share an abode in Boston with Jujubee’s doting fiancé of 7.5 years, Chris.
"...and if you count the cats (Mister and Priss), we already have a family," she says.
Though Jujubee does not name dance as one of her talents (it is said – however – that she is a great cook), she certainly possesses an electric grace that the camera has no problems capturing. The drag queen stars with co Drag Race contestants Raven and Tyra Sanchez in RuPaul’s humourous and colourful music video, Don’t be Jealous of my Boogie, what some are hailing RuPaul’s best track yet.
"Being in one of RuPaul’s music videos is surreal," Jujubee describes. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen."
"The making of the video was so fun and again, Tyra, Raven and I had the chance to grow together as drag queens."
Jujubee says she got on well with everyone on the show and still does.
"Raven and I became friends quickly and I’m sure we’ll be friends for a very long time; Tyra and I always have a great time when we see each other," she says. "The three of us definitely shared many moments together that will forever be remembered."
Fans definitely pick up on the charm and charisma that the star radiates. Jujubee achieved second runner up during her season of Drag Race, and received a 2010 nomination for the NewNowNext Award for "Most Addictive Reality Star".
Her style and demeanour come completely naturally.
"As far as fashion goes, I just wear what I like," she says. "I’m not one who knows much about who’s who and what’s in, but I do know fashion is what you make of it."
Despite being relatively new to performance, Jujubee’s confidence landed her a role as professor on RuPaul’s Drag U Season 2 and Season 3, got her to The Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2011 runway for Richie Rich, made her a model for LOGO’s The Arrangement, and scored her a spot in her first commercial ad – for Absolut Vodka.
"Wear it, own it and be yourself," she states.
Life in the limelight does not prevent her from giving back to the community. Jujubee is an activist and voice for gay rights, human rights and animal rights, and donates her time to a variety of charities.
The starlet says she doesn’t like to plan much, and takes things as they come. That said, she promises future projects are brewing, so keep your feelers out.
"One of my dreams is to write and sing," she says.
To pick up tickets to Pure Pride 2013 with Jujubee, Seth Knight, Nick Bertossi and more, visit http://ticketfly.com.
PURE Pride 2013