April 06 2018

Hot Tea with Jaymes Mansfield

New York-The Standard Interview
Life isn’t always flowers and champagne, but when Jaymes Mansfield is around, everything feels fresh and bubbly. The Milwaukee-based queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 served as the guest hostess with the most-ess for this week’s Miss Girl, our Thursday night RPDR screening and drag extravaganza at narcbar at The Standard, East Village, and it was absolutely delicious.

Incredibly sweet, but not too sugary, Ms. Mansfield curled up with us to spill some hot tea (or actually, a Coca Cola with lemon that I almost knocked over) about the first-eliminateds club of RPDR, the fellow season 9 queen she called the wrong name for a week, and the oddly specific body odor of Lady Gaga.
Read all of our "Hot Tea" interviews here.
The Standard

THE STANDARD: As you’re fresh off the plane from Milwaukee, tell us about the Wisconsin drag scene.
JAYMES MANSFIELD: We have a very underground art scene that is budding with drag, especially after Trixie Mattel and myself got on the show. It’s getting more daring with more open styles of drag.
 
What is your history with Trixie?
We met each other about three years ago. She started her career before me but we had similar stories, as we were the weirdo queens who didn’t get booked anywhere in Milwaukee because we did strange mixes and comedy songs. So when it came down it, we had to fight and claw for any gigs, but when she got on the show local people started opening their minds.
 
How has your career evolved since the show?
The show has opened up my opportunities immensely. I’ve gone from one-off nights and small cabarets and burlesque to doing a full season in Provincetown for the summer. I’ve gone all the way from the bottom of the barrel to a real top tier! (As far as drag is concerned.)
 
Congratulations! That is so exciting. Provincetown is the best.
I’ve only been in the winter, so I haven’t seen anything as far as summer goes, but it’s a cute little fishing village that’s teaming with seamen, so I’m excited to see what’s in store!
 
Season 10 is barreling ahead at full speed. What are your thoughts so far?
Watching it, I am really disappointed there’s not a lot of New York representation! Just half the cast, right? [Laughs.] They’re a fun group of girls. I do love The Vixen, as I came up [in the drag scene] with her. She’s a firecracker—she’s got opinions and people just need to understand that and that people argue. The queens often project what they want the world to see, and it’s very rare and refreshing to see a girl say exactly what’s on her mind. Plus, it makes for better television.
 
How does that compare to your mindset going into season 9?
I went into it with the mindset that I wanted to win. But when I got there, I was introduced to different styles of drag that I had ever seen. To remind you, I am from Milwaukee and I was a very big fish in a little pond there and seemed very unique at the time. But then I saw girls like Aja and Charlie Hides, who’ve been performing for 700 years, I got a little gobsmacked. I was like, “These girls are so great, but, oh, I have to compete with them.”
 
Is there a lead-up to filming that gives to a chance to get to know the other contestants?
You’re so caught up with yourself when you’re there, and so isolated. I didn’t learn Alexis Michelle’s name until like my fifth day there. I got the full on finger in my face from her, like, “It’s Alexis.” I was calling her Alexa.
The Standard

Ha! I mean, close enough. Speaking of, who were you very close with during the show?
I was very close with Charlie Hides, Eureka (she’s just the sweetest), and Nina Bo’Nina Brown—she’s who I talk to the most outside the show.
 
Nina got a lot of tough criticism for being too negative and in her head. How did you respond to that as her good friend?
She had every right to feel a certain way, and if she felt that so strongly, maybe people should have listened to her. People are very quick to jump on someone but don’t understand they’re isolated in a space alone with a bunch of people they’ve never met. You don’t know what it’s like until you’ve been there. 
 
Was there anyone you didn’t get along with?
As funny as it is, I had that small tiff with Alexis Michelle, but the next day we were talking and carrying on. I don’t take any of that stuff too seriously. It’s only drag, we’re all just men in dresses, so I didn’t think too much about it and I’ve never gotten my feelings hurt by a drag queen.
 
You’re tough then!
Well, you have to be tough to do this. We’re up until 5am most days. You have to have tough skin in order to handle yourself in this business.
 
And to go home first, too, I imagine. But after your elimination, didn’t Tempest DuJour tweet you a sweet little message?
Yes, she tweeted me after to welcome me to the elite club of “first-eliminateds.” And I say it’s kind of like the 27 Club, only with better hair and less death.
 
During your season’s reunion, you had some really quippy one-liners. One of the best was when you said, “I had a really good read for Valentina, but I can’t remember the words!” What did you think of that infamous lip sync...or lack thereof?
Oh my gosh, so rude! I think it’s hysterical. She got a memorable moment. She can take that to the bank. It’s gone down in history, so kudos to her for making a moment.
 
What would you say was your memorable moment?
My cheerleading challenge. Even though I myself was not memorable, I had one of the most memorable memes to come out of it—me spinning through space as a cheerleader.

I hope we see that in your show in Provincetown this summer. What can you tell us about it?
What I can say right now is it’ll be called Drag Herstory, based off my YouTube series Drag Herstory, which is a mix of my own history and queens of the past.
 
Gotta know your herstory. How has your YouTube channel been a platform for sharing these stories?
My channel is a variety channel for people with very low attention spans. You can learn anything as far as drag education is concerned, from hair styling to sewing to crafts to making purses.

And then with my shows Drag Herstory and Idol Worship, I teach people about past drag queens and gay icons. I started the series as a way of keeping their names alive. I heard that story about Craig Russell who said, “The minute people talking about me I’m going to disappear.” I thought about how messed up that was because these people are so special and they should be talked about forever. So I created a starting point for younger kids to look up to and see those people that came before them and fought those battles. And the with Idol Worship I get to talk about icons like Liza Minelli, Eartha Kitt, and Judy Garland, because I’m so tired of seeing people on snatch game do Liza and 11-year-olds not know who that is. It hurts my heart, and I’m not even that old!
 
On your premiere episode you got to work with one of the biggest contemporary gay icons. Jaymes, tell us about Gaga.
It was surreal. She was much tinier in person than I expected. So small. And she smelled like hot glue. She was very down to earth and gives terrible advice. She’s just a person. I mean like, here’s the thing, Christina Aguilera sat down for 30 minutes and kikied about herself, Gaga sat down for a good hour and a half shooting the shit with all of us, giving us all advice, telling us how we should handle our characters.
 
Oh my Gaga! What did she tell you?
She said I shouldn’t always go for the joke and show judges who I am. It was beautiful advice that I took to heart and went home with the next episode. It was beautiful advice, but when they cast me as the kooky comedy character and they didn’t see it…. I was like, “OK, thank you, hun.”
The Standard
The Standard
Your audition video is talked about as one of the funniest in the show’s history. What did you do?
I was just myself, unfiltered. I modified the assignments to make them my own. Also, I watched all Nina Bo’Nina’s audition videos she previously posted online, and I took notes on what not to do because she wasn’t getting cast! And lo and behold, she comes up on the show the season after I’m eliminated.
 
Who are your top four predictions for season 10?
I wouldn’t say predictions as much as who I want to see. I’d love to see my baby Vixen and Eureka. Miz Cracker is hysterical, and then I’d say there’s tie between Monique Heart and Monet X Change—they are both hysterical. They all bring something completely different. Drag Race never fails to impress me with casting, ranging from girls with very big followings to girls you’ve never even heard of, like me. It’s like old Hollywood, molding these girls into huge stars. I came from a small town and had a meager YouTube following and now I’m a Ru Girl! 
 
Amazing. As the show continues to grow and grow, do you think it’ll reach a breaking point?
I think the magic of Drag Race is the fans and how passionate they are. They can be a little much at times, but they truly care about the show and root for it every year. It’s different from something like Project Runway where you don’t get as invested in the cast. Drag Race explores our lives and pulls back that curtain. I never thought some 11-year-old girl from Idaho would idolize me, yet here we are.
 
All these kids are running rampant on the social media! But you recently got verified on Twitter, so that’s something to celebrate, right?
I did! And you know the beautiful thing about that? My fans nominated me to be verified and asking and requesting, I had nothing to do with it. They cared that much for me to have the little check mark next to my name. Isn’t that sweet?
 
Very! And just an offshoot thought to wrap up here, because it is so majestic and I keep looking at it, have you always been a breastplate queen?
Not until I got money! Now I make all my costumes around it. But you know how celebrities have a different look or thing each year? This is my breastplate moment. And I am a celebrity.
 
 
 
 
 
Photographer
Morgan T. Stuart
Writer
Cameron Keady