To mark LGBT History Month, 2013, Polari asked its contributors to recall a song that had an impact on their own stories.
‘Jealous of my Boogie’ – RuPaul
by Rubyyy Jones
Late last summer, I was coming out of a dark chapter in my twenty-something life; I found myself with no place to live, after being homeless for several months already, and having to perform at a festival, in a valley, on the rainiest weekend of 2012 … It was a bright but miserable time. That weekend, I fell in love with two drag queens and one gave me a place to live, a space to finally start healing a very weary heart. The elegant and mysterious Mr Mistress, known also by her Christian name, Meth, gave me a bed to sleep in and a little sparkle every day that made me feel stronger and more sparkly in myself; she was my saviour and soon became my sister. I also fell in love with the electric Miss Cairo, a young and wild thing, who inspired me with her fierceness but also her tenderness and openness.
I convalesced as best I could – launching a shop in Camden, a one-woman show and all my other duties didn’t make it easy – but one day, after sun, stage lights and sleep had brought me back to life a bit, I told Mr Mistress of a vision I had, of a drag troupe; a group of multi talented, hyper creative, über glam creatures that could make all our not-so-solo and/or not-so-burlesque ideas possible. Meth had introduced me to her drag sister, an incredible performer named Lady Tena, a scene queen, perhaps the tallest drag queen in London and a gentle and glamorous soul who I instantly fell in love with too … I wanted to share the stage with them, I wanted to create amazing, satisfying work with them and I wanted to bring joy into lives, admittedly, my own too.
But then I was faced with the challenge … of becoming a drag queen myself. Now, some would argue I already was one! And I would laugh and bow a “thank you” as I’ve always respected and been inspired by the industry, even as a very younger dancer doing my own make-up for dance competitions, I would reference Rocky Horror, To Wong Foo, Priscilla and other drag films I’d absorbed in childhood – “if it makes a man look like a woman, it’s bound to make me look like one!” thought fifteen year old me – so the makings were always there. Soon, I began to ask myself my important artist practice questions of: why am I doing this? What is my expression in this? Where is my sexuality in this? What am I learning and teaching?
Over the last few months our troupe has been blossoming and buzzing all over London – we’re called “&?!” (pronounced And What?!) – and I have found myself blossoming in that time too. I’m still understanding my intention with this new avenue but what I’m loving most, personally, is the fun I can have within my femininity and my female image. I’ve always loved playing with image, challenging with image and the drag is no different; I am a hyper femme, sometimes grotesque, usually gaudy, all woman, un-woman drag performer with fabulous tits.
Sharing the stage with three very fierce and fabulous queens isn’t always easy, we’ve got a lot of ideas, energy and body-awdy to fit on one stage but it has been so fascinating for me to learn more about “becoming a woman” from three beautiful men and three beautiful queens; the ways they have honed their make up, their character, their everything – it’s so admirable, so brave, so stunning. The jeers we get in Soho is more aggressive than anything I’ve experienced as a “woman” on the streets (pretty much…) and it has also been curious to find a new bravery, being inspired by the thick and soft skin of these creatures.
I have chosen ‘Jealous of my Boogie’ as this is the track for our most loved group act and a marker for me on my journey of healing, of exploration and of sisterhood; contrary to the choreographed onstage cat fight ending, we love each other. I share a stage with three goddesses who look up to me and also build me up, I am creating magic and theatre with my sisters and each time we perform, I learn a little more about becoming my own woman in life and my own female creation onstage … And What?!