BehindTheScenes.png
 
 

my dad had a heart attacK watching sarah silverman. 

My parents are great role models for me because they're everything I'm not. They're very conservative, Republicans, who raised me to be a proper well behaved Catholic boy. And that didn't turn out the way the thought it would. 

But they love me, they were accepting, and they kept me safe.  Which is all a parent can do: make sure their child is taken care of and happy.  They never once got in the way of my happiness. Whenever I was weird or rebelled, they found acceptance and took the higher plane and decided to step in to keep me safe. As long as I wasn't hurting anybody or hurting myself -- they didn't care what I did.

Were they thrilled that I became a drag queen? Absolutely not. Would they rather I had been a football star? I'm pretty sure.  But this is what made their kid happy.  They've been nothing but loving and supportive since. My mom is actually my biggest fan.  She knows more about Ru Paul's Drag Race than I do I think. She'll constantly badger me with trivia about the show. And I'm like, mom I don't remember, I have no clue what you're talking about.  

My dad was very silent but loving. He wasn't the type who go out of his way to show affection.  But you always knew that he cared about you. He had moments where he would let the wall down and let you you in.  When I got hit by a car, that's where I really saw a genuine raw emotion in my father's eyes. It really shook him and it was a breaking moment for him. I knew I wouldn't have to worry about ever wanting or needing to find validation and love from him. Because I knew he loved me.

There was a moment when I was sitting on the couch and didn't realize my father was having a heart attack. He as just kind of sitting there.  

I was sitting there watching Jesus is Magic, while my father is having a heart attack and wondering why he's not laughing. I still think to this day it was Sarah Silverman's fault

He had it when I was in high school, and that was a rush of mortality I wasn't wanting to deal with in my life. 

It didn't really register with me.  I was in a state of shock.  I just sat there processing before I scream and freak out.  That was a really dark time for me.  

Everyone in my immediate family smoked -- dad, mom, sisters.  My mom quit first, after she had me. 

My father quit after he had his heard attack, under the guise of this Doctors.  They told him he had to quit. 

When I was growing up, I was totally a DARE kid. I believed the Truth ads.  I was scared shitless by the guy with no lung on TV.  They scared me straight.  I was too afraid to try any of that stuff.  

When I was 12, me and a girl from my neighborhood who had a bad reputation stole a cigarette she found under her couch.  We went to a back alley and she lit it up. I took one puff and knew no way I didn't want to do that ever again.  

She's sitting there puffing it saying "it's not so bad".  But I never saw the point of it, never saw the glamour in it, never saw how it helped with any stress.  There are many other ways to channel that then puffing on a poisonous stick.  

There are much better things you can do with your time.  You can do so much more than waste your time with that.

Not to mention the damage you're doing to your body, like.  First off, you're going to have terrible teeth, it's going to screw up your skin, you get bad nails.  These are all thing you're going to have to keep repairing over time because of this stupid habit. 

I perform in bars.  Some of the straight bars still had smoking in them, they weren't supposed but people still smoked in them.  It sucks if you have to be in an area where smoking is allowed.  It hurts your eyes.  It makes your stuff stink.  If you have to do live singing, you're screwed. that smoke is going to screw you up. It distracts you from your performance when people are always stealing away to smoke.  

I've been going to Pridefest since 2012.  It was like a magical experience. I loved every minute of it as just a little gay boy going to experience these gay things for the first time. Being around other gay people.

As a performer who goes there year and years to perform, it's a stressful time for me.  I have so much to do and so little time to prepare for it.  But the minute you get there, man, like you're there and you're on.  You remember why you loved it. You get that little kid feeling.  This is why you show up every year.  This is why I'm so happy to be out here being day-- being THIS gay.  Walking past those protestors "Yeah I'm here, and I'll be here next year"

It's that feeling of acceptance you might not be getting where you come from. That is a very overwhelming and happy feeling.  I love Pridefest for that. What started out as a little festival in a park here in Milwaukee has blossomed into a bueatiful, huge, sprawling festival that's on the fairgroudns.  Lots of people come from around the state to see it.  That's a marvel and it's one of the things that makes Milwaukee great. 

This is a great festival that was built from the ground up.  The fact that we have this place where people can come from all over the place to feel this great acceptance, I love that. I feel like it's a feeling everyone should experience. 

After it's all over, after Drag Race has folded, will always have bars. We'll always find a place to go. If they're selling liquor there's going to be a drag queen performing.  Our spaces bring us together. 

 

Places like DIX and LaCage and This Is It, they are places we go to feel safe. Places us gay people do to have a sense of home. We go there to escape our every day lives where we may not be treated the way we want to be treated.  You should feel like it's your space, it's your place to go. This is your safe place.  The only person who should be harken down on you for anything is the drag queen asking for a tip.  And that's the way it should be.

The minute outsiders come in and invade yourself, it's a problem. Like cigarette companies coming into space now to advertise to gay people exclusively.  It's not the fifties anymore, we can tell when someone is trying to sell you something. 

I don't see the point of coming into our spaces and invade them.  

Walking through Pridefest, even in drag where I'm trying to mingle with people and create an experience, you get accosted by somebody handing you a flier telling you try this stuff. 

Honey, I don't want it.  Back off. 

I'm not taking your flier, because then basically I'm advertising it, I'm your walking advertisement for smoking.  Why would I want to be a mascot for something I don't believe in?

 

It makes you never want to touch one, you know. 

 

 

I was printing out It was constantly on my brain. 

Are you nervous for the premiere?

I'm most worried about how will I be perceived. You hear some horror stories about girls getting bad edits.  I'm scared shitless, but at least everyone else on the show is too. Honey, you just have to go in and be yourself.  And hopefully they find your self interesting.  Because the whole crux of the show is showing who you really are. And the drag actually plays a very small portion of it. You see that at the very end.  

What was it like the first time you did drag? 

My first time going on stage performing in drag would've been 2012, a Christmas show at the LGBT Center.  About 4 days to prepare, I had a puppet and made a costume to match that puppet.  And I sang a song called "Global Warming" by Vermillion Lies to a mostly packed audience.  I had a pit in my stomach almost like you had to take a huge shit.  

As I walk up and hear my music play it's like "OK It's now or never, honey".  I just jumped out there and it's sort of like you black out.  You just go with whatever you rehears and hope it sticks. And I got applause so I'm pretty sure I did go.  That's always a feeling that comes back to me every time I perform -- that little bit of nervousness-- and I like that because it keeps you human.  It means that you're still excited about this when you get that feeling. Even doing huge things like Drag Race, I still get that pit in my stomach.  It still gives me a rush -- a good rush that doesn't hurt you. 

I love the feeling when I see someone laugh at one of my jokes. It sustains me, I love it.  It's the bigger drug I could ever do. That's my addiction. I'm addicted to making people laugh. I'm addicted to entertaining people.

 

I go through withdrawls when I'm not doing drag.  It's all I think about it, it's my obsession. Everytime I was at work, before my life changed, I was usually printing out receipt paper so I could sketch a costume behind my bosses back. It's my obsession, my focus, and I just want to get better. 

Who is Jaymes Mansfield?

I like to think about Jaymes Mansfield as a likable villian.  She has the idea that she could dominate the world, but doesn't have the tools and probably never will.

I love things that are on the surface very perfect and very pretty, but have a seedy underbelly to them.  It's probably from watching Disney and cartoons growing up.  You're always taught not to trust the most pretty people.  And I've always been obsessed with villans.  Villians always get the best parts.    

I like just like that campiness, the cheesiness of it all. Especially Pee-Wee Herman and Elvira. Elvira especially, there is a darkness to her but she never loses that layer of cheese.  Dark humor is my favorite kind of humor.  Innuendo that goes over people's heads.  Anything that makes you think.  

I was very inspired by Sandra Bernhart who tells long weird stories with metaphors and monologues. Maria Bamford is a huge influence of mine.  I like women comedians who have a different take on comedy, that don't go the traditional route. 

What is a Jaymes Mansfield performance like? 

I like to be unpredictable, funny, and show someone something they've never seen.  For my last performance, I created a giant puppet.  The entire night before I went on stage, I walked around as the puppet so no one knew it was me inside.  When my song hit and I sprang out of it, everyone had a huge because I sold that puppet the entire night. I dedicate myself to my numbers because I really want people to be invested in them.  

How did you learn you were cast on Drag Race?

I was working at Clinique for half a year before Drag Race called. Then I came back and had to be in civilian mode for months until the show got announced.  

How would you describe Jaymes' makeup? 

Girls dodge me for my makeup all the time, it makes me laugh.  My makeup is It's a little softer. I was really inspired by those 90 drag queens where there makeup was based on their features they were born with.  They just exaggerated it.  My makeup is sort of a throwback to that era.  It just works for me, I don't like to go with fads.  You can spot certain trends that people are doing.  When I tried to do my makeup the other way, I wasn't very happy.  Do what makes you happy.

I actually learned how to do makeup through YouTube.  I'm one of those new age queens.  It wasn't until I started working makeup counters like Sephora and Clinique that I learned about different face shapes.  You can't contour a basic shape onto someone's face and expected it to do something. You have to learn bone structure, how certain body shapes work.  

YouTube is a godsend because it gives people those tools where they don't have to pay for them.  All you need to do is want to learn. I love that. That's why I got into doing on education on Youtube.  

Even if my face isn't the most beautiful, isn't the one you like the most, you'll learn something because I'm going the techniques right -- I was taught how to use them.  Just adapt them to what works for you.

How was it growing up?

I came out as a Junior in high school, our school was very sports oriented. My and my friend Donte were the only gay kids.  I got bullied a lot. I had stuff thrown at me when I got off the bus.  At one point I was going to drop out of school, I didn't see the point of it.  Eventually I decided "Fuck This" and changed schools.  I never looked back, and my new school was a safe place.  

As far as being a gay student, being safe is the most important thing to us. We want to feel we can go somewhere and not have to worry about our well being.  Even growing up, I was always sort of an outcast.  I was too weird, too gay, not good enough.

What do hear from your followers? 

As far as drag goes, I know on the surface it's really like "big deal", but I get so much feedback telling me they learn from my videos.  They're finally confident in trying to something.  As cheesy as it sounds, it makes my day when I hear somebody say "I learned something from you." It warms my heart, I love it, and I'm going to keep doing it.  for a while I felt like I was shouting in the the dark, just hoping somebody wodl respond back.  Now that I'm on this elevated platorm, a lot of people are . 

YouTube

I was doing YouTube that was more comedy oriented. My boyfriend sat me down and said "you do these things well, you should share that with people." Drag queens, we can be very territorial, even at insignificant things like how we do our makeup or hair.  I had to let go that. The support you get back is great, people really appreciate it.  

If drag queens in their town aren't supportive, they look to YouTube for support. I understand that now.  And I think it's a really beautiful thing.  

 

Watch Jaymes perform on Ru Paul's Drag Race Season 9 every Friday at 8pm on VH1