Aside from a few Halloween costumes, the winner of 2015′s season of “So You Think You Can Drag” amazingly had no prior drag experience. Now with a fun one-night-only showcase at New World Stages this week, Juicy Liu is back to remind us how life-giving her talent is! Thotyssey takes a big gulp from the Cup of Juicy.
Thotyssey: Hey Juicy, how are you?
Juicy Liu: Hi! I’m doing well.
I did! Blackie wasn’t feeling well, so Jasmine called me up. It was a super fun night.
Have you ever shared the stage with Jasmine before?
By the way, do you own an actual Take Out Box dress as is shown in your poster, or is that a special effect?
Oh, it’s real! Actually, I made it a few years ago out of cardboard and posterboard. My boyfriend had given me the drag name “Sharon Noodles” and I had to create a look that fit that name for Halloween. And that’s what I came up with.
Aw, that’s cute! Was Sharon your first drag persona?
It was just for that one Halloween. Before I started performing in drag, there were a few Halloweens where my boyfriend would come up with a name and I had figure out the look. Names such as Ho Chi Minnie and Cone Crawford [laughs].
He’s certainly creative!
That he is! He’s really punny.
Okay Juicy, so… are you a native New Yorker?
I’m not, I’m originally from LA.
What was life like growing up there for you?
Oh… It was fine. I lived in a quiet suburb by the ocean. A little boring at times. So I had to find creative ways of having fun.
Make little movies with my cousins, create theme park rides with a dark hallway and an office chair on wheels. Once, I tried to recreate a portion of the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot tour in my backyard – the flash flood part. I filled up a water cooler container with water and propped it up top of a pile of bricks and pushed it over, sending the water down while I used a hose to simulate rain. My parents weren’t happy about that. Also, I recreated that flood a few times, which raised our water bill!
That must’ve been fun, though!
Oh, it was.
How long have you been a dancer?
I’m actually not really a trained dancer… I would say I’m more of a mover. I did a few musicals in middle school and high school and danced a little there. Also, I did a few “movement” pieces in college.
I think there was one show in high school where the cast was separated by the kids who could dance and those who really didn’t. I was in the latter group.
Oh my God, what asshole teacher who would do that?
I think the steps were really complicated for this show. But it was probably for the best, I was scared of the choreographer!
So, when did you move to NYC (and why)?
I moved to New York (muffled) years ago for school. I was a theatre major at NYU.
What sort of theatre were you interested in, Musical or Serious Non-Singing stuff?
Just straight theatre, but I did do one musical in college though… Goonies: The Musical! One guess who I played.
Hmmm, I wonder! Were you ever dismayed by the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of well-known Asian American actors on stage?
Oh sure, yes. There are so many amazing Asian actors out there that I’ve seen do fantastic work, who should be working on Broadway on a regular basis.
Well, there’s still time for you to break the mold! So, aside from Sharon Noodles and her Halloween sisters, is it true that you never attempted drag prior to “So You Think You Can Drag?”
Not really! Maybe a few plays where I played a guy who gets in bad drag… But the first night of SYTYCD was the first time I had ever gotten in front of an audience and lip synced a song.
How did you know about the existence of SYTYCD?
Actually, because of Alexis Michelle. I had done a show with her a few years back… as boys. I knew she did drag, but had never seen her perform. So when I saw her posting about SYTYCD, I was like, I have to go! And I went almost every week!
What made you decide to enter the contest with no prior drag experience?
Well, it just looked like a lot of fun! And it was something I wanted to try. And watching Holly Box-Springs, a newbie during her season, be so amazing was an inspiration for me to just go for it.
How did you you even really know what to do week by week? What was your bar for success when you were planning the numbers?
When you get in, you are told what the themes are. I think before the competition I knew what songs/ideas I wanted to do the first few weeks, but after that I was figuring it out from week to week. For each theme, I aimed to tell some kind of story. I bounced my ideas off of my friend Ken, who also help shape my numbers during the competition. When we pow-wowed about the numbers, if a song transition or a sound effect made us laugh, we kept it. Sometimes it felt like crafting a comedy sketch.
Where do you know all these cute dancing boys from, that did the contest with you and that are going to appear in your upcoming showcase?
[Laughs] They are super cute. During SYTYCD, all my dancers were friends of mine. Quincy and Dan were my main boys during the competition, and they really were the reason why I was dancing so much. They were teaching me things I didn’t think my body could do. They’re doing my upcoming show, and brought some of their dancer buddies along, too.
Did you find the SYTYCD experience, overall, wonderful or grueling? I mean, it runs for so many weeks and really pushes you to the edges of your talent… and sanity, I’m guessing!
Yeah, there really isn’t a lot of time to say “I can’t”. You just have to do it. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I definitely enjoyed it. I was getting to perform every week! It’s a amazing creative outlet.
What was your favorite number that you did that season?
Ohhhhh. Hmmm. I think it was my 70’s week number where I was Jan Brady doing Donna Summer’s” Hot Stuff”! It was fun giving awkward Jan a sexy moment.
I saw when your name was announced as the winner. It was adorable, because you really looked completely shocked. Do you remember what was going through your head at that moment?
I’d never really won anything before, so actually winning something was crazy. I was thinking a combination of “What?!?” and “I don’t know how to do a pageant wave, but I’m going to try.”
It was perfection! SYTYCD draws global recognition from drag fans online. Have you felt that love and attention?
Oh, sure. I’ve made friends with queens and people in other cities now, which is pretty cool.
What’s your day job and boy life like, by the way?
I work in public relations for a luxury company, which I happened upon through a temp agency. I was only supposed to be there a day and that turned into 6 years. They are flexible with my schedule, so I can audition and leave early to drag up.
So you still audition?
I do still audition a bit, mostly for commercials. Actually, I did recently get to marry two of my passions – Shakespeare and drag – in a Shakespeare pub crawl.
Oh wow! Who did you play, and how did that go?
It was so much fun! I got to do a scene as Kate from Taming of the Shrew and one as Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The audience is all around you and they really get into it.
Okay, let’s talk about Freshly Squeezed, your one-night only showcase that goes up at the New World Stages 9pm on July 26th! First of all, congratulations, what an incredible venue for your own show!
Is this part of your winnings package from SYTYCD?
Yes, it was part of the prize. I’m really excited. It’s an amazing opportunity to get to do a big show in that space. So I wanted to go balls to the wall with it.
How long have you been rehearsing for this?
We’ve been rehearsing for the last three weeks and have been doing 2 or 3 rehearsals a week. There are some new numbers and some from a competition. We’ve been working hard, but it’s been fun. The boys are making me dance even more. Also, we’ve got Heidi Haux and Strawberry Fields from SYTYCD, and my drag mom, Miz Cracker, doing the show, and they’ve been hilarious in rehearsals.
Oh, I didn’t know Miz was your Mom!
When did she take you in?
She took under her wing last year. She was hosting a Drag Race viewing party at Industry, and I showed up in drag the first week and she brought me up on stage. And I went every week after that. Then, I asked to help me out with makeup, and then she offered to adopt me. Of course, I said yes!
Cool. I see that there’s going to be dialog in Freshly Squeezed. Who wrote this show, and who’s directing it?
Yup, there’s a little bit of dialog in the show. I wrote the script/story with some pointers from my friend Phil Mutz, but we are keeping it a little loose. If something funny happens in rehearsal, we’ll throw it in. And directing the show is Ken Urso, who worked with me during SYTYCD.
So, there’s a plot! What’s it about?
It’s basically a mini-musical of a day in the life of Juicy [laughs]! It’s definitely going be really silly, but a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it.
So, I guess you’ll be back to pass down the crown for Season 7 of SYTYCD in… September, right?
I think it’s going to be.
But this time, Paige Turner is probably not going to be hosting! Who do you think should fill her shoes?I
Oh, I didn’t know that… If Paige isn’t doing it, then I would think Sutton Lee Seymour! She’s got such an amazing energy and is always a joy to watch. Plus she’s part of the SYTYCD family, being a previous winner herself. She would be great!
Cool. Paige wasn’t sure about whether or not she would do it, but if not you’re right about Sutton. Do you have your eyes on any upcoming pageants or big drag contests?
Honestly, I haven’t thought that far! Right now I’m just focusing on the show. I did just go to the Miss Hell’s Kitchen pageant, which looks like a lot fun. Maybe I’ll try for it next year.
I keep wanting to work in a mention about Lucy Liu in this interview, but I’ve got nothing.
I want her to come to the show!
There you go! So, who should win All Stars Season 2?
Final question: If you were ever crowned Empress of All Things Drag in NYC, what would be your first royal decree?
This is really deep. But last night this hot Brazilian boy… not boy, Man… picked me up and carried me in his arms (cuz I asked him to). It was heaven. I think I would like to always be carried by strong men from my apartment to gigs, cuz walking in heels is hard!
So shall it be done! Okay, thank you so much, Juicy!
Juicy Liu’s showcase “Freshly Squeezed” will play at the New World Stages on Tuesday, July 26th (9pm, and she should return to the NWS in Septemeber for the 2016 season of “So You Think You Can Drag?” to pass down her crown to the new winner.. She can be followed on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.