This fierce Jersey dancing queen wins at pretty much everything. February marks the end of both her reign as Miss Paradise 2016 and her weekly residency there. But many New York nightlifers have only just begun gagging over her, thanks to a recent appearance here and some collaborations with NYC queens. What will the future hold for the gorgeous Jolina Jasmine? Let’s find out!
Jolina Jasmine: OMG, it was so much fun! It was my first time there and I can’t wait to return!
As a popular Jersey queen, you don’t often come out to New York to perform. What made you think to come to Look Queen this time?
Well, I wanted to check out the scene up there a bit more. So a good friend of mine, DJ Steve Sidewalk, said Look Queen would be a great show for me to do. He gave me all the details, and I was super excited! So I decided to venture out there and check it out.
And we’re glad you did! I actually see that some New York queens have been guesting at your Paradise show in Asbury Park recently.
At my show, I really wanted to showcase new faces. And NY has some of, if not the, best drag around. So another good friend of mine–Michael Cook–mentioned a few of them to me, and I thought the crowd would love them! They were all such amazing acts. I’ve had Alexis Michelle, FiFi DuBois, Adriana Le Glam and a few more. And I’m super excited to work with Honey Davenport this Friday! I’ve stayed in contact with all of them since, and can’t wait to have them back, plus more!
You’re quite popular in New Jersey, and you’ve already had a busy month… aside from your weekly show, you appeared in Lady Marisa’s Christmas show at Georgies last week. Is she one of your close sisters?
Yes. I’m very close with Marisa. [Laughs] she’s known as the Fairy Drag Mother to most of the queens here in New Jersey. She’s so talented, polished and wise beyond her years. So, myself and all the other queens always go to her for advice, or if we need a costume in twenty minutes, etc. She’s amazing at her craft.
Sounds like a good queen to know! Okay, now let’s talk all about you and let’s start from the beginning. Where’s your hometown?
My hometown is Rumson, New Jersey.
Did you always study dance?
The funny thing is, I’ve never taken a dance lesson in my life! I guess you can say I taught myself how to dance. However, I did gymnastics for many years growing up. That’s where all the crazy stunts come from, I think.
What was growing up like for you?
Pretty easy. I have a very supportive family, which I wish I was able to say for most members of the LGBT community. My mom is like my best friend, and has always supported me in everything I do. Still, to this day, she comes to my shows and brings her friends. So that definitely helped!
That’s wonderful! Who were some of your favorite singers/ actresses/ divas?
My all time favorite singer is Aaliyah. She passed away in 2001, but she was like a God to me. I also idolize Angelina Jolie. That’s actually where I got my name from. It’s a mix of her last name “Jolie” and her first name “Angelina”…Jolina. Those two are my faves.
I got “Jasmine” from Princess Jasmine–who was my favorite Disney princess–and my whole drag persona is influenced by Middle Eastern culture.
What’s your actual heritage?
I am so many different things. My mother is European. Between her father and mother, she’s about six different things. My father, on the other hand, is Middle Eastern, Cherokee Indian and North African. Egyptian and Moroccan, to be more specific.
Wow! You are like the UN of drag!
[Laughs] the UN of drag. I’m going to use that from now on!
So, what first drew your attention to drag as something you might want to do?
In the beginning, I didn’t quite understand drag. I thought, “why are these men dressing as woman?” So on Halloween 2008, I tried drag as a dare. Typical right? [Laughs] I spent the whole week putting together an outfit, and when I went out for the first time, the attention I received was overwhelming.
It was a really fun and creative outlet for me, so I started pursuing it and coming out more frequently. I decided to start performing once I realized I could start taking it further. I’ve always been into designing, makeup, making mixes, being on stage….all the components that make up the perfect drag formula. I did my first show in September of 2011.
Where was that?
My first show was at a small bar called the Long Island Eagle. I figured I’d drive up there and perform in their newcomer contest, so that if I failed horribly nobody from this area would know about it [laughs]. I ended up winning.
And so the next night, I competed in another contest in New Jersey at the Den. I came in second. Then word started spreading that I was performing, and I’ve been hitting the stage ever since.
How about actual, formal pageants?
I’ve only ran for two pageants, and I’ve been lucky enough to win both. My first pageant was Miss Ikon. I ran for that in October of 2013 and won. My second pageant was Miss Paradise. I ran for that in February of last year, and was blessed to have won that one also. My reign for Paradise is over this upcoming February.
What a great run you had! And you’ve been hosting Flawless Fridays there at Paradise since you won.
Yes, I host the show every Friday night there at 11:30.
Will you continue there, or does the next pageant winner get the residency?
Come February 19th, the day of the pageant, I will crown the New Miss Paradise. Her debut is three weeks later, where she’ll take over hosting the Friday night show, and change the name of the night if she likes. It’s approaching so fast!
We better enjoy you out there while we can! But like we were talking about earlier, you have some great shows with awesome guests lined up for the rest of the month, and through February.
We have really awesome performers coming up, and I’m so thrilled to work with them! In the next few months we have more out-of-town talent. We’ve got some former Miss Paradises coming, as well as the girls who are in the running to be the next Miss Paradise.
How do you think you grew as a performer during this year of hosting?
I’ve always been deathly afraid of public speaking. Because I host the show, I have to speak on the mic every Friday night, sometimes at special events, etc. So being Miss Paradise definitely helped me become more comfortable on the mic, and really work an audience. Now the struggle is taking the mic away [laughs]!
Also, I was never satisfied with any of my performances. Looking back at my reign from being Miss Paradise has shown me that perhaps I judge myself too harshly, and that’s important for every performer not to do. I’ve taught myself to just have fun with it.
Good for you! That’s everything. In general, gigging in Jersey seems difficult for a queen, though. Venues are spread out pretty far, and sometimes they’re only LGBT-centric once a week. Is it a pain for you to get gigs there?
Unfortunately, as far as gay nightlife goes in NJ…it’s almost non-existent. The Den, NJ’s oldest gay club, sadly closed it’s doors. Right now, we have Cascada, Georgies, and Paradise, all within a five mile radius of each other in Asbury Park. There’s Feathers and Mandala, which are almost two hours north. And there’s Drag Attack at Sangria Lounge, and Vale Todo. That’s all I really know off the top of my head. I think there may be one gay club in Atlantic City, almost two hours south.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a pain, but I would definitely say I wish there were more places for our community to go. However, on the plus side, because everything is a bit sparse, it definitely formed the queens in NJ to have a closer knit because we all frequent the same places….and a sisterhood amongst drag queens is super important!
Absolutely! And I hope you keep up with the NY shows too! Anything planned yet for the future?
As of right now, I’m focusing on my give-up for Miss Paradise. No special performances coming up as of right now. I think I’m going to take a little bit of time off of drag (about a month or two, nothing crazy), and then get back into it. I think ti’s important to give people a chance to miss you.
However, perhaps you’ll see me more in the New York scene. NYC is a bit addicting once you get a taste. And I love the community out there!
We’re happy to have you! Okay, last question: what is your New Year’s Resolution?
New year, same me, because I’m perfect [laughs]! No! I’m totally kidding. My New Years resolution is to stop procrastinating. It’s really terrible. I even procrastinate my procrastination! So I definitely want to try and break that desire to relax and do something fun instead of working hard.
That should be my resolution too! Okay, thank you so much Jolina, it was a pleasure!
Jolina Jasmine hosts “Flawless Fridays” (11pm) at Paradise in Asbury Park through February. She will step down there as Miss Paradise for the 2017 pageant on February 19th. Jolina can be followed on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.