Developed it as herself or as her dynamic drag alter ego "Lady Dynamite", Jackie Huba is changing the face of drag and making people think of drag as in a completely different way. Her TED Talk that ended with a spectacular drag performance drew massive attention, and her new book "Fiercely You-How To Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen" is the bible for anyone looking to channel their inner Bianca Del Rio. Jackie and I had a chance to talk about her inspiring TED talk, why it is crucial to get in touch with your inner drag queen, and how feminism goes hand in hand with drag.
You gave a TED Talk, "Unleash The Power of Your Inner Drag Queen" and it was insanely inspiring, especially the ending!
I've been doing speaking for fifteen years, but I have to say, the TED talk is the most nervous I was in my entire life to pull that one off!
For me I know that this statement is true, but it seems like it is for you; drag queens simply make the world go round.
You know, my last book "Monster Loyalty-How Lady Gaga Turns Followers Into Fanatics" was on Lady Gaga, and I think my fascination and obsession with her totally lead into drag queens. I've known about RuPaul since the 90's, but since the show, that's when I really started to learn what the art form was and this amazing idea that people can create personas for the stage. They do for the stage, why can't we do it every day? I think drag queens have so much to teach us all and everyone needs to know about them.
Who are some of your favorite queens that you've gotten to meet from this phase of your career?
You know, it's a funny coincidence, when we launched "Monster Loyalty" the book about Lady Gaga back in 2012, I was speaking at a marketing conference and coincidentally, a couple of us were in Vegas and I was brainstorming and someone said that it would be a great idea for me to have a Lady Gaga impersonator be part of my keynote. It turns out the impersonator I got was Derrick Barry, who was on Season 8 of "RuPaul's Drag Race". I met him and he was fantastic, so we booked him and his backup dancers to be a part of my talk. So i have known him for a long time. We talk about him in the book, and I love his whole philopsohy; if there is a risk in front of you, take it; show up! That has gotten him to where he is today. I love him and he is just amazing.
I was sad about how he came off on the show because he genuinely is one of the nicest people i have ever met. His boyfriends, the same thing; they are so sweet and caring. They have been so supportive of me since day one and I think they are great.
Your book is "Fiercely You-How To Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen". How do you think like a drag queen?
My whole message with this book is that drag queens are amazing at what they do in terms of creating persona, but there are so many other things that they can do. We have a persona at work, with our kids, with our friends, all different personas. If we could build a persona that is powerful and confident and fierce like these drag queens do, we could use that persona in our lives. Like we have something in the book called "WWDQD". Like for example, you're thinking whether or not you should move to that new city or should I take that new job, you say to yourself "Bitch what would a drag queen do"?
For earlier generations, RuPaul was writing his books that many of that generation found as their bibles of sorts. Your book could very well be the same kind of book for this generation.
I've taken so many weird risks doing this and doing drag in crazy places, I just feel so liberated. I wish people could feel this liberated to do the things they want to do and not be afraid. I have some exercises in the book that aren't that hard, and some others that are like "put on a wig and go out on the town and see what happens"!. Go out to be someone else and see how it feels. My co-author Shelly Stewart Kronbergs is a therapist, and she writes about when you have that anonymity, and people not recognize you, you can get out there and do anything.
Austin Pride featured you with some pretty big name drag queens, How did that feel to be the first female drag queen on that stage?
It was such an honor to be asked. No one can remember any other female drag queen being asked to do it, so it looks like I'm the first one.
There is a tone of feminism throughout "Fiercely You. Do you think that's a fair assessment and that feminism and drag kind of go hand in hand sometimes?
You know what's interesting about that? A lot of people in the world don't realize that women doing drag, be it as a female or a male character, that is a very valid form of drag. They think that it's just guys in wigs and its' not. Women have been doing drag for a long time. There are some people who get offended by that. They think that women are appropriating the culture. I have a story in the book about London drag queens who got a lot of hate and misogyny directed at them, some from the LGBT community. It almost feels like as women, we need to stand up and reclaim it and say that it's female impersonation. We're females. Why can't we also do this, what is the issue? I feel like we have to fight for women's rights when it's actually dressing up as a woman.
Have you felt any of that pushback yourself?
For me, I have felt nothing but acceptance from the gay community. Most of my friends are part of the LGBT community. When I moved here, my first friends were part of the community ,and I fell in with their friends, and all these years later, here we are. I love it. Now with the drag angle, I have trans friends and friends I would not have had before. Their have been a very small handful of people that I have heard behind the scenes thinking what I am doing is not drag, but no one will say it to my face (laughs).
I think it's close minded to think that way. Why would we close off things? This community has had to fight for so much. Like marriage equality, you know, why shouldn't everyone be able to get married or do drag? I go to the drag shows and see young women get a little drunk and rowdy and i am a little embarrassed. I see the backlash from that.
What does pride mean to you?
I think pride is being able to celebrate who you are in all spaces and the acceptance of that in our bigger community. I think its weird for a straight cisgender woman to answer that. What I have found that I love about the LGBT community is the idea of loving who we are. Even if you are not part of the LGBT community, we all struggle to live as who we are as humans. I just feel like the commonality and just to be who we are and accept each other really translates over into humans and everyone else. That's what pride means to me.
Whats next for you?
I am working on a book tour right now. I am also a keynote speaker and work on workshops and conferences. We just did a talk at a corporate conference of event planners. I wanted people to learn how to do this thing I am doing, creating persona. We did a one hour break out session where we took 200 people where they developed their drag persona and they went backstage with a drag queen, they did a mini makeover and they had to come out and sashay down a runway as their drag persona. It brought the house down. One of the women had never been in drag before, and she was scared to death, She owned it though! It's all about creating another persona to help you do what you need to do.