Former Queen GLASS and Lafayette socialite Khatrina Jackson (who goes by his given name Samuel in everyday life) lives in southern Louisiana. Khatrina performs annually at ULL, but most of her performance days are behind her. Samuel is now focusing more on his own life and less on his drag persona.
You can find Khatrina Jackson on Facebook
Transcription of the above micro-podcast:
Interviewer: In the interview Samuel shares an interesting view about how our society rejects any missteps today when it comes to minority communities, and he talks about how he feels about the whole situation.
Khatrina Jackson: Any little amount of pain or slight can be so inflammatory, right? And it’ll get to the point where they attack people who mean very well but they just don’t know what to do or they don’t know what better words to say, you know. And I know as ignorant as I admit that I was, if I would’ve been heavily reprimanded for my ignorance the way that people are now, I would have not become an ally, out of simple, just not wanting to, how can I say it, I would have just wanted to be contrarian because I’m like I’m over here trying to help you. Of course, I’m on my pedestal and on my high horse with this type of attitude, right? “I’m over here trying to help you and I don’t have to, and you want to for come me and I’m trying to be an ally, fuck y’all.” You know that’s essentially how I would I felt and what I would have thought at that time. But since no one ever hit me with a heavy hand when it came to educating me and helping me understand, I’m able to not only be an ally but understand the thinking of people who aren’t there yet and know how to reach out to them and know what not to do because you can turn a friend into an enemy
To cite this interview please use the following:
Audio available at http://www.ezratemko.com/drag/khatrina-jackson/
Interviewer: When did you first hear about drag and what was your initial reaction to it?
Khatrina Jackson: The first time I heard about drag I was in high school. I want to say it was my sophomore year and it was not too long after I came out and my mom was trying to be supportive by pointing out other people were like black and LGBT plus. And she told me about RuPaul and suggested that I look him up and research him. And that was my first understanding of drag as far as like the way I look at it now and I was amazed I was like “What?” You know a black man is able to make more than just a living by doing exactly what they say that black men shouldn’t or couldn’t do? I couldn’t believe it.
Interviewer: Definitely an interesting story. So, your first experience with it was through RuPaul then?
Khatrina Jackson: Yep.
Interviewer: So, when did you start performing as a drag artist and why did you start performing?
Khatrina Jackson: It was in the spring of 2010. It was my freshman year. I was a member of our local gay straight alliance at UL Lafayette. It was called GLASS, Giving Love, no, no at the time it was the Gay, Lesbian, And Straight Society is what GLASS stood for and the president at the time, Hailey Reed, and I think a few other people, they had the idea of having the very first drag show at UL ever. And UL was a very different place, what, ten years ago now. And as it was getting closer and closer to the drag show people were dropping out. And it was getting to the point that Hailey was getting worried she was getting nervous and I decided to step up and a role as a performer, so my first time ever doing drag like performance-wise is out of necessity. I was volunteering as tribute. There was another time that I had did drag but it wasn’t, it was like that Halloween drag that’s usually like the gateway for a whole bunch of people. Oh my God, no pads, no real makeup like, none of that stuff. But really the first experience that comes to mind was for the very first drag show at UL, which has become a huge annual tradition since then.
Interviewer: Oh wow. So, you helped start something new there.
Khatrina Jackson: Exactly. I even eventually became the president and was in charge of the drag show and stuff. It is a legacy.
Interviewer: Oh wow. How did your family, friends, and other loved ones receive you becoming a drag queen?
Khatrina Jackson: Well it was odd, because when it comes to me just coming out as gay, my sister was very supportive, she says she was waiting on me to do it, and my mom had a really, really, hard time and was just blind-sided and to this day I’m like “Really?” But all right. So, things started out that way. But when I started doing drag my mom, because between me coming out in high school and me doing drag in college, she was committed to educating herself and understanding me and the gay aspect of me more. So, you know she would actually help me buy wigs and all that type of stuff like she was supportive whereas my sister even though she came to one of the shows, she flipped on me. It was really weird like how my mom became the supportive one and then my sister no longer was, and she actually had an inkling of something that was going on that I didn’t realize until, really, as of late. That through drag I was channeling some repressed parts of my personality which were actually really good parts of my personality. Such as my magnetism, my ability to perform, my ability to be sexy. She was able to see all of that on stage and she had never seen it before and she was blown away and felt cheated because I hid those parts of myself for so long because I grew up in a town where it would have been dangerous to be myself 100 percent so via my drag performance Khatrina Jackson, my drag persona, excuse me, I was able to breathe life into those aspects of myself that I had closed off. So, when at the time I looked at it as a betrayal, you know, when she turned on me after seeing me performing and all of that. Now I can see it as you know he’s been hiding all of this from me all this time because what I ended up realizing is that Khatrina Jackson isn’t a separate part of my identity it was just a disowned part of my identity. And I’ve actually been going through the process of integrating that. I’m sure that was a lot more than what you asked for.
Interviewer: No, that’s fine, the more you say the better. That’s an interesting view that I didn’t really think about before. So, you said your drag name is Christina Jackson?
Khatrina: Khatrina Jackson!
Khatrina Jackson: Yep! K-H-A-T-R-I-N-A Jackson.
Interviewer: Where does your drag name come from?
Khatrina Jackson: Well my sister’s name is very close to Khatrina and Janet Jackson is favorite pop star and I was like “Who are my two favorite women in the world?” And at the time with my sister Janet Jackson and I combined them. I wanted my sister’s attitude and I wanted Janet’s like edge and performance ability.
Interviewer: Wow, that’s a really good answer.
Khatrina Jackson: Thank you!
Interviewer: There are a lot of terms for types and styles of drag from drag queen and drag the king to glamour queen, female impersonator, comedy queen, beauty queen, queer artist, bioqueen, camp queen, among many others, so are there particular labels you used to characterize your drag?
Khatrina Jackson: Not any that are pre-established that work as very clear-cut categories such as like you know, “Oh I’m a camp queen or I’m a I’m a pageant queen.” Really, and this is this is where it gets a little bit interesting. I never felt like when I was in drag I was any different than when I was not in drag. I always felt I was the same, but people observing me would say that I gave off a different air, that I came off as more confident. I was a little scarier because I was fierce. You know all of that type of stuff. And I’m like but it’s just me and it turns out that it really was just a different aspect of myself that I didn’t integrate into the larger personality that I have. But if I had to describe. Khatrina, Khatrina is commanding, Khatrina is sexy, Khatrina is dark but not in alignment like good and evil kind of way but in a mysterious kind of way. Yet at the same time considering all of that she’s still very friendly. But as far as putting her to like a specific performance category that are very common is hard for me to do. It will probably take someone from the outside looking in to be able to do that for me.
Interviewer: Do you feel like you get a different reaction because your style is pretty much yourself instead of a particular kind?
Khatrina Jackson: When compared to other queens in general I would say no. But what I will say is that when it comes to Khatrina. Absolutely beloved, even though I wouldn’t have even considered myself the best of the best. People just love me. As Khatrina, I have such star power and that actually led to complications later on because, especially when I had won Queen GLASS, while I was at UL, I was performing a lot for special events back to back. I was the most active queen like ever up to that point, and I was always doing stuff in the community on campus and off. And Khatrina was becoming very popular. Khatrina was the one that was receiving different opportunities and being treated well. Yet when I was Samuel it was like I was forgettable compared to Khatrina and I was becoming jealous of, what I thought was this fictional character that I created, that people were worshipping as this golden calf, when I’m the burning bush this entire time. And you know that is one of the seeds that were planted that caused me to step away from drag because I was like I can’t stand the fact that people are treating her as more important than me. But, of course, I need to reiterate the point that I’ve gone through, now some time has passed since then, I’ve gone through some things and I’ve grown a lot and what I saw was that Khatrina was me. That was me. It’s just that so many of my qualities were split off from me. In order for me to gain strength from them and to see what they feel like they became personified. In order for me to be able to animate them. And one of the reasons why I don’t do drag now is it doesn’t have anything to do with fear or any of that type of stuff anymore because I used to have all types of excuses but what it is at this point is that I don’t need it because I used to need drag to do my makeup or wear a color on my nails. The things that I’ve always wanted to do just as a boy you know to have longer hair because I didn’t know how I could integrate that because I’m like “Well I like having a male body” I don’t consider myself to be trans but I have a lot of feminine energy and I prefer being beautiful compared to handsome. But how do I merge those two things. But eventually I started seeing examples of people who are the way that I am such as Prince which I overlooked quite a bit. Grace Jones, Courtney Act, Alonzo Arnold and Tokyo Stylez on Instagram. These are people who appear to be one gender or the other, but they have no interest in like changing their physicality. It’s really interesting. So for me drag was the gateway or the portal for me to be able to recognize collect accept, and then reintegrate parts of myself that I had disowned and when I realized that, and I became conscious of the process that was going on there, I was just able to just accelerate the process and I ended up feeling so whole, so whole, when I realized I could just be who I want to be but drag was definitely the midwife to a more fully realized version of myself. As far as who I am today like if you look at my profile default on Facebook that’s not me in drag that’s just me looking how I want to look. But there was a point in time where I never, never would have done that, and I walk out of the house looking like that. We have something called art walk here in Lafayette where downtown all the museums and local vendors and stuff put out their art and not even two years ago I remember almost having a panic attack over just wearing a flower crown down to art walk, and now, I have nails painted and long hair and am living for it. So, I’m going to end that answer right there.
Interviewer: The next question I have is who or what does influence your drag. You’ve answered with a bunch of things already but is there anything more you wanted to add to that?
Khatrina Jackson: I can make it a lot more concise. If I had to come up with three major influences: Janet Jackson who is the best female performer ever. We have my sister who I just love how she’s just so herself. She is so herself and her essence is so strong. It’s like who she is, is perfume or cologne whereas other people are the body sprays from Bath and Body Works, you know. Her essence is just so here, and I appreciate that. And then the third component was just me having that drive to explore, to become bigger in some sort of way because I didn’t know what it would lead to, but I knew that it was the next necessary step. So, it was just me opening up to my development, me opening up to my destiny, me just following that inner urge to move in a particular direction that felt right even if it didn’t make sense logically to me at the time.
Interviewer: Do you consider your drag to be political?
Khatrina Jackson: I do, but not in a way that most people imagine political things to be. I would say it’s more like passively political in the sense that I am an openly gay black man living in south Louisiana. And I’m doing drag in a public space. How can that not be political? It is upsetting to people who have preconceived ideas of what a black man is supposed to be, what his responsibilities are, and what his limitations are as a result of that and I’m tearing that to shreds. So, people who are comfortable seeing black men one way inside the black community and outside the black community, it affects them, and it affects their perceptions and what they may or may not be comfortable with. So even though I may not be waving any flags, kissing any babies, or are making a very deliberate demonstration that’s like orchestrated and I’m trying to spin the eye on this point or I’m trying to push this or push that, it’s very political in the sense that I am existing in an unapologetic way, when a lot of people will say that I shouldn’t.
Interviewer: That’s definitely understandable. So, can you talk about what your life is like as a drag artist? Are you part of a drag family, house, or collective?
Khatrina Jackson: I have never been a part of a drag family. And the reason why is because my last name was very important to me. When you join a family you kind of adopt that name, and I didn’t want that. I wanted my own identity and also, this is something else that I sensed, I didn’t want to get sucked into the drag world and lose myself. I was in drag to find myself. And you see some of those people, how you can tell drag is becoming like, even though they, how can I even say it? I’ll say it like this, it’s as if their drag persona is consuming them, because when they’re out of drag, they are pale, they don’t have no eyebrows no more. Their earlobes are all scabbed up from gluing earrings to them and then snatching them off. It’s as if who they are is only there to support their drag identity. And I can’t speak for them, but from the outside looking in and knowing what my journey is like, to me it seems like they’re losing themselves whereas with me I feel like I’m finding myself. But, that’s all I got to say about that.
Interviewer: You say that you go out and drag is more a part of you now, but how often do you perform, and where do you perform?
Khatrina Jackson: Oh my gosh. I keep telling myself and promising people that I’m going to perform, because people still remember and still love me as a performer. But at this point the only time I perform is pretty much annually whenever the UL drag show is happening again and they want guest performers or they want alumni I get preferential treatment because I used to be the president and I’m a former queen, so I’ll get myself together, you know, for that. My most recent performance was at UL in Angelle Hall. I want to say it was in October, but I do not perform regularly anymore outside annually.
Interviewer: What goes into getting ready for a performance?
Khatrina Jackson: Really the hardest part for me, at this point, is creating original choreography because I don’t consider myself to be a dancer the way that, I guess dancers, would consider themselves to be dancers or like people who are like oh that person can dance, you know. The good thing is that even though by the time I’m done it comes out looking so good. I have this one performance in mind that I did that is just my absolute favorite. I have to actually either write out all the lyrics or print them out and word for word and sometimes syllable by syllable, I’m actually writing down particular moves and choreography so it’s very intricate very detailed sometimes pretty tedious but whenever I’m able to link movements to the words that I’m memorizing it makes it easier for me to remember the choreography. So that’s the most involved part for me that I don’t hear anybody else do or talk about but aside from that I suppose that one of the hardest things would be getting everything together in time because I seem to always wait to the last minute to order my stuff because usually I have such wide spaces between the last time and the next time I do drag and me thinking “Oh, well there isn’t going to be another opportunity that comes up.” I end up giving and donating a lot of my things to other queens who are up and coming. You know they’re starting their drag journey and I want to help. And then I’m like oh well it looks like I’m about to perform after all, and I have to order thing all over again.
Interviewer: Would you consider getting ready for the performance the biggest challenge of doing drag and being a drag queen.
Khatrina Jackson: I would say yes, because even though it’s always scary for me to be out there and perform. It happens like that it’s over before I even know it. But the preparation, the more thorough my preparation and the better I feel about that, the less pressure and the less fear I feel about performing, and I actually get to enjoy the performance instead of hold my breath the entire way trying not to make any mistakes.
Interviewer: Is there anything unique to the drag scene where you live compared to other places in the country or the world?
Khatrina Jackson: One thing that I do find unique, that’s really cool, is that one of the main drag performers, there is a trio here in Lafayette called the Ladies of Bolt. There is one that I went to school with. He was a member of GLASS when I was like president of it and everything. He graduated and got his degrees, working and all that type of stuff. But he’s also turned drag into an entire career and it’s rare that I hear that people are in the drag scene but also educated at the same time. In like an I got this degree on paper type of the education and I think it’s cool that he has both. I think that’s really neat.
Interviewer: How do you identify in terms of your sex, gender identity, and gender expression out of drag?
Khatrina Jackson: I am still working that out because of recent developments, but this is what I know for sure. What I know for sure is that I consider myself to be a cisgender male but I think I count as nonbinary or gender fluid simply because of the way that I express myself visually.
Interviewer: Do you use different pronouns when you’re in drag versus when you’re out of drag?
Khatrina Jackson: When I’m in drag any pronoun works because some people get confused and I understand that you know I get that and it’s kind of like how RuPaul would say “Call me he, she, Regis or Kathie Lee, as long as you call me,” and I guess to update that for 2019 is like well, with me you can call me, this is when I’m in drag, he, she, Offset, or Cardi B as long as you call me. What I have noticed is that when I’m not in drag and I’m just living my day to day life, even when I’m made up, when people call me, she or when people call me girl, it bothers me. It really does bother me. I prefer to be called he, him, his, I prefer those pronouns. I don’t know if there’s a part of me that’s still trying to hold on to the security that came with how I used to present and who I used to be or if that really is just a preference that I have regardless of how I look. If I’m not in drag, if I ain’t got no titties or hips on, I’m a he. I’m just a very beautiful one. Like for example there are like guys who’ve wanted to meet me and all that type of stuff because they saw me online. And then I realized in the middle of communication that they believe that I’m a trans woman and I’m like I never thought in my entire life that I would be disappointing somebody by not being trans. And I’m not saying that being trans is a disappointment it’s just that because of the mythology that’s built around it and some of the negative characteristics that are unfairly placed on trans people like “Oh, you know, you’re trying to pretend to be a woman you’re out here tricking men,” when that’s not the case. What I’m saying builds off of that mythology which is; I’m over here doing the opposite. I’m hurting people’s feelings because I’m not trans.
Interviewer: Would you say that drag has influenced your sex and gender identity?
Khatrina Jackson: That’s a fair word, but there is a word that I like to use whereas the connotation is more accurate because influence, it has a really good denotation, but the connotation isn’t right. So, I would say that drag has facilitated. It’s helped facilitate the things that you’ve mentioned because it really was more of a process. And that’s the connotation that I get with facilitation. Whereas when it comes to influence it feels like it’s more of a here and there type of thing, it’s an in and out type of thing. So, I would say that drag has facilitated my evolution as a person.
Interviewer: Do you think it has facilitated how you think about gender in general then?
Khatrina Jackson: Oh yes, of course, because being in drag and being around other people who do drag and consequently- Lord, I’m over here sounding like I don’t have a degree. Consequently, being close to people who are also trans, you know, and what that does is that that causes me to have the opportunity to see and have conversations about gender and sex that I never would have before because back when I was first starting drag, all of this stuff about pronouns and the trans movement that’s taking place, all that hadn’t happened yet. The only way I would really know anything is by being around the people who actually lived that life and those who knew them. So, if I wasn’t doing drag at that point in time, I would be so closed minded due to just the sheer ignorance that I had and the things that I just didn’t even know existed, and the ways of life and ways of thinking that I didn’t even know existed. I remember when there was a very famous drag performer who was also trans that lived here in Lafayette, she was locally famous I should say, I was talking to her and she had expressed that she was having some difficulties in her life and I knew that she was a trans woman and I told her in response, I was like, “But you’re so pretty, you’re so beautiful, you know, inferring that she looks like a “real woman.” And the fact that she’s beautiful should be enough to just cure anything that is bothering her in her life because she passes. And, I’m like, the fact that she didn’t read me, was very gracious and understanding, she knew that I didn’t know, because where I am now. Looking back on that I’m like “Oh my god.” Drag gave me the opportunity to first start having interactions and conversations like that, where I could make my mistakes early, so that now I’m in a world that is more advanced and fast paced when it comes to trans rights and when it comes to trans people being people. they’re people just like everybody else but with their own unique challenges which don’t cancel each other out. The fact that I can look back and be like “I made that mistake and I had that perspective,” and the fact that nobody jumped all over me, I was able to naturally develop into an ally and that’s something else that’s really important because, kind of like the black community, the trans community has experienced so so so much that any little amount of pain or slight can be so inflammatory, right? And it’ll get to the point where they attack people who mean very well but they just don’t know what to do or they don’t know what better words to say, you know. And I know as ignorant as I admit that I was, if I would’ve been heavily reprimanded for my ignorance the way that people are now, I would have not become an ally, out of simple, just not wanting to, how can I say it, I would have just wanted to be contrarian because I’m like I’m over here trying to help you. Of course, I’m on my pedestal and on my high horse with this type of attitude, right? “I’m over here trying to help you and I don’t have to, and you want to for come me and I’m trying to be an ally, fuck y’all.” You know that’s essentially how I would I felt and what I would have thought at that time. But since no one ever hit me with a heavy hand when it came to educating me and helping me understand, I’m able to not only be an ally but understand the thinking of people who aren’t there yet and know how to reach out to them and know what not to do because you can turn a friend into an enemy because of how you correct them.
Interviewer: You said you’re a cisgender male, so do you think that has influenced your drag at all?
Khatrina Jackson: I am gonna say no. And the reason why I say no- well it’s a no and a yes. The reason why I’m saying no is because so many drag performers are cisgender males. It’s kind of like, the standard, and for some people that’s what makes drag, drag. That’s why there’s so much controversy around by bioqueens and stuff because it’s like “If you ain’t no cisgender male, if there is no real transformation what’s the point of us watching,” right? So, I think no, it wasn’t an influence because it’s so normal, it’s so standard, it’s so regular. But then also yes, it’s an influence just because of how that set things up for me to learn about myself later on. Cause if I wasn’t cisgender male and I’m learning all of this stuff about gender and myself and the way that I express myself, I would have been in a different place, would’ve been in a different place. So, there are so many variables that it’s difficult to predict how things would have turned out, but the most catch all, stable answer that I can say is, is that being a cisgender male who does drag is the standard. So it’s kind of like “Does it influence the way that I do drag?” is almost like well does being white in America influence the way that- hell you- I can’t even get at it because being white in America is so normal, it is so normal that there is a lot of things you don’t have to think about. So being a cisgender male, in drag, in the drag world there’s so much you don’t have to think about because that’s normal. Whereas if I were a transgender male maybe I would have some sort of complex about presenting as a female because I used to be one. And what’s happening? Am I going backwards? Is my newfound manhood as far as it being presented on the outside going to be a challenge or compromise because I’m doing drag after I just transitioned? I don’t have to deal with all of that.
Interviewer: Would you say that doing drag has impacted your confidence as a person when you’re out of drag?
Khatrina Jackson: It has impacted the awareness of my confidence because I didn’t find that I was any more confident out of drag, but I did notice that I noticed that I wasn’t more confident outside of drag, so it really helped when it came to my awareness.
Interviewer: If you could go back in time as Khatrina Jackson, what advice would Khatrina give to your younger self?
Khatrina Jackson: It would be, that it is ok for you to be the type of boy that you are. You don’t have to divide yourself into pieces in order to feel normal, in order to feel accepted, in order to feel like there is a place for you in the world. Because quiet as it’s kept, there isn’t one. You’re not supposed to be normal and there’s not a path that you are gonna be walking on that’s paved, well lit, with the map. You’re here to create a blueprint. You’re here to blaze a new trail, or to go through one that has been very, very lightly walked. Don’t expect so many of the answers to come from other people. You’re going to have to get a lot of those answers from yourself, and you’re going to need as many pieces of yourself together at the same time to understand what it is that you truly feel and what it is that you truly think. The more well integrated and whole you become as a person, the less you need the outside voices to tell you what to do.
Interviewer: That’s a really good thing to tell your younger self. How do you define drag?
Khatrina Jackson: I define drag- it’s like I can get all textbook and dictionary.com but I think what would be a lot more valuable for you is if I just tell you what drag means for me. You can’t get that online. So as far as what drag means for me, I would say that drag is the opportunity for me to become someone that otherwise I would not allow myself to become. Drag is the medium that allows me to access parts of myself that I forgot were even there. Drag is- how can I say it? Drag is the- it’s like the pot it’s the cauldron in which I’m able to throw all the pieces of myself together and mix it up and see how it comes out. And then I get to decide to alter the recipe afterwards, but at least I get to try it first. Before drag, I didn’t have the space I didn’t have the container, I didn’t have the appropriate boundaries that I could set up so that I can even pour myself into something so I could see how it would turn out. You know, so drag was that platform that allowed me to show up in a different way so I could see those other parts of myself and decide what to do from then on.
Interviewer: What do you think the purpose of drag is?
Khatrina Jackson: The purpose of drag for me, to revisit something that I said earlier, was to facilitate me becoming whole. Like it was to facilitate me integrating the parts of myself that I disowned and eventually forgot about. Cause for a long time, there was this sense about myself where I felt like I was kind of like the gum that had all of the flavor chewed out I was like there’s something missing. Something isn’t quite right. And it was because I went as far as I could go with the parts of myself that I was holding onto. Like, I needed all of me in order to be able to go further, in order to become stronger, in order to understand things better. I needed all those other parts of myself. And if it weren’t for drag, I would not have had a means in which I could get in touch with those parts of myself that I forgot about and disowned. Which would be my feminine energy. Which would be- and feminine energy by the way is very magnetic. Like masculine energy is projective. You go out and get it when it comes to masculine energy. Whereas with feminine energy you draw things into you, you pool things in. It’s more about receiving than it is about giving. So, when you look at masculine energy versus feminine energy, and I was using so much masculine energy in my life, and I didn’t have too much of that feminine energy to balance it out, my life became very exhausting, because it was about ripping and running. It was about giving without receiving. It was about going out and getting, but not having very much come to me. Very, very, very exhausting. So, you know, when it comes to masculine and feminine principles, I say that because it’s important to look past just boy or girl. No, like when it comes to the spiritual meanings behind masculine and feminine. That magnetic aspect of who I was, was split off, and it was unconscious and inaccessible to me until I started doing drag. So, it was big. Big, big stuff.
Interviewer: Do you think drag is sexual?
Khatrina Jackson: Yes, but not in the way that people try to pigeonhole it to make it immoral. I think that drag is sexual because some people are sexual. The thing is that there’s drag that is very funny. There is drag this very fashion-forward and edgy. There is drag that is very political. And then there is also drag that’s sexual. And it’s so interesting because sex is a part of so many other things, so many other things. But when it’s like well “Is drag sex, is it sexy,” you know? “Can the children come, and can drag queens read to children when they’re nothing but walking sex?” It’s not like- it doesn’t have to be. It’s an option, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s kind of like how boobs can be sexual, but it’s also food. So, it’s like yes, you know drag is sexual, but not all the time, and it doesn’t have to be.
Interviewer: How do you feel about RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Khatrina Jackson: Oh, I love RuPaul’s drag race. Even with all the criticism it gets, because I’m a real fan because I read the reddit. Even with all the valid critiques that the show gets, and even RuPaul himself gets, I still love RuPaul’s Drag Race because what it’s doing- even though some people were like “Oh it’s making drag too mainstream blah blah blah.” Well I look at it as; it is an international peephole where people can get exposed to drag queens and the people behind those drag personas to the point that is almost like exposure therapy. Part of the reason why people are so afraid of drag, and gay, and trans, and all that type of stuff is because they really don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. They just know what people tell them, and those people who are telling them things don’t know what they’re talking about. So, the fact that RuPaul’s drag race is a very open source, it is source material where people who would otherwise be lied to about people like us get to see us talk about ourselves is very valuable. So, I don’t care what type of criticism RuPaul’s Drag Race gets about being overly commercialized, or mainstream, or even manipulative when it comes to certain storylines about queens. At the end of the day it is giving us the opportunity to tell our own stories and be accepted by people on our terms but then also on the terms of the people understanding that’s coming from an open place and an open mind, instead of just the rumors and the mysteries, and all that type of stuff. So that’s how I feel about RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Interviewer: If you could change one thing about drag, the drag scene, or the drag community, what would it be?
Khatrina Jackson: Oh God, if I could change one thing, I would remove the drugs. That is another thing that pushed me out of it, especially because I’m so straight laced. I can’t stand drug culture, and because drag has so much space for people who are in pain because these are usually gay and trans people. People who are on the margins of society. People who are misunderstood. People who are a mystery, you know all that type of stuff. And when you are having that type of experience, when you don’t have people, you don’t have love, you turn to drugs. And since so much of the population that does drag are these types of people, the drugs have a, they have a place. They have a place and you’re not gonna be forced, you don’t have to do them, but it’s accepted. It is tolerated, and I just wish it weren’t present. But it’s very similar to the music industry when it comes to the presence of drugs there because a lot of musicians are very sensitive people who have a difficult time handling life because on stage their life is wonderful. But off stage and behind the scenes, things are falling apart and the only way they manage it is via substances like that. It’s very similar to people who are sensitive and very, very, hurt and having a difficult time managing life and the LGBT plus community. And I just wish that, even though we understand the pain, that we will be less tolerant of particular methods of managing that pain such as the drugs and alcohol.
Interviewer: What do you think are misconceptions people have about drag?
Khatrina Jackson: That drag is just all about sex. You know, that drag is just one big old- or, or, or that it doesn’t have class to it because it can. Cause when people think of drag what they think about are men dressing in women’s clothing because it turns them on- or at least the ignorant people. Or they think about “oh it’s a man in a wig with smeared lipstick on. He’s not taking this seriously,” is so funny. Ho ho ho. Ha ha ha. He he he. Girl, drag is a sport. It’s a performance art. It takes a lot of talent, skill, dedication, and hours to hone that craft, because that’s what it is, and as fun as it is, I also feel like it’s something that’s worth taking seriously because it does require dedication, and it does require a person’s time and skill. So, when it comes to misconceptions, drag, here is one way I can put it in a nutshell. Drag is so much more than the least common denominator that ignorant people ascribe it to It’s more than the least common denominator. Just like any other activity, any other passion, is more than the worst aspects about it.
Interviewer: Where do you think these misconceptions come from?
Khatrina Jackson: These misconceptions come from people not having real conversations with the ones that they’re talking about. Just like any other misconception, like you just take the words of other people, who aren’t the people that you’re talking about as true like how you just gonna believe what other people have to say about someone else. You know, when there is- let me, let me rephrase that because I’m human, like I understand why and how. I’ve done it I’ve been on all ends of it. It’s just that it- the misconceptions come from people being too afraid to speak to the people who are doing or living exactly what it is that they want to know about. Like, if I wanted to know about what it’s like to be a surgeon and what that life is like and what they think and what they feel and what they go through, I’m not about to go and ask NeNe Leakes. I’m sure she has plenty to say about it. I’m sure she has an opinion. She’d be very vocal about it but she’s not that, so why am I going to ask her? But when it comes to drag, when it comes to the gay community, when it comes to trans people, a lot of people go and ask NeNe Leakes, if we’re going to continue with that metaphor. As opposed to actually going and asking them. They’ll ask people who are very vocal, boisterous, and loud and opinionated, and they take that confidence and that sincerity as its credibility when it is not. It’s just confidence and sincerity. Just because you’re confident and just because you’re sincere about what you say and what you do, it doesn’t mean it is correct. It just means that you mean it.
Interviewer: If you chose one thing you want people to know about or learn about drag, what would it be?
Khatrina Jackson: It would be the process. The process that it takes to get to that polished look. The process that it takes to achieve the transformation. Now, between when I first got started and now, the window has gotten much larger as far as seeing what that looks like. But, just the time, the work, the skill, and the talent it takes to take let’s say a cisgender male into a, hell, even passable cisgender looking woman. Like it’s amazing the talent that it takes. And it’s also not just amazing in the sense of wow. It’s intellectually stimulating because of the strategy it takes to be able to do that.
Interviewer: That concludes the interview, thank you so much for participating.