Jahlove Serrano had to overcome some serious obstacles to become the queen she is today… but what a queen she is! From musical theater to ferocious dancing drag diva, it’s your newly crowned Miss Project Achieve / Columbia Research Unit, Jahlisa Allure Ross!
Thotyssey: Jahlisa, hello! Thanks for talking to us! So, DragCon is over… did you partake at all?
Jahlisa A.Ross: I sure did! To be honest, I was bored.
Really? Not enough to see or do there?
I don’t know… there was a lot of lines, too much of the same type of vendors, etc.
I didn’t wait on any line because I knew most of the gurls there, but I did get to network and show off my new sash and crown.
Werk! We’ll get to those incredible accessories in a bit. And who knows, maybe next year you’ll have your own booth at the Con, and there will be lines to see you! Well in other news, you just did a two hour show at Boots & Saddle the other night… how did that go?
It went amazing! A lot of my friends and family members came out, and the audience was really entertained by me.
You certainly know how to turn an amazing show! Janet Jackson seems to be a big influence on you… is she your Queen?
Janet Jackson has a major influence on me as a dancer. I’ve always loved her. Yesterday, half of my show was dedicated to her and her new look, and her new tour. She is definitely my queen and mother!
Can you believe Mamma just had a baby?
I can’t believe she just had a baby, and I can’t believe she got all that money from that divorce, lol!
Makes me wanna scream! So okay, let’s get to you… first of all, where’s your hometown?
I was born and raised in the Bronx, but right now I currently reside in Staten Island. Both of my parents are from Guatemala, Central America.
Did you study dance in school?
No I didn’t study dance, but I have taken some dance classes. I started out in the musical theater world, then worked my way to a dancer. Now I’m an overall Entertainer.
When did you discover drag?
Years ago… I can’t pinpoint the time. I started out as a background dancer for a lot of showgirls and drag queens, and I started doing drag around 2006.
Do you have someone who’s considered your drag mother?
I do: her name is Tyra A. Ross.
And what have been some drag performing highlights for you, meaning favorite venues or events?
HK Playhaus Brunch, Boots & Saddle, Mamajuana’s Cafe and Pride events… because I’m a queen for the people!
Congratulations on winning the Miss Project Achieve / Columbia Research Unit Pageant, held at Therapy this past Thursday! You did an extraordinary Janet number, your Q & A session was sincere and your looks were amazing. I loved that gold and black armor/gown, who made that?
Thank so much! This was my first pageant ever, and the dress was made by Abraham D. Levy.
Gorgeous. The pagenat host Stella D’oro mentioned that you have been doing stuff with Project: Outreach for a long time.
I was a recruiter for the HIV trials.
You’ve been very honest and sincere about coming to terms with your own HIV positive status over time.
I had to come terms with it, mentally.
Do you have any advice for anyone who might be going through the same situation?
I sure do: I would say that it’s okay not to be okay. But everything will get better once you understand what’s happening to your body, and start engaging in your care. And that knowing is half the battle.
Beautifully said! Okay, anything else?
I would like to mention that I’m also a part of the HIV Stops With Me campaign, which is a New York City-sponsored campaign about HIV positive people who are living above and beyond their HIV diagnosis, showcased around New York city and state.
That’s wonderful! And I’m sure you’re gonna be making appearances and turning numbers everywhere. Looking way ahead to November 4th, I see Prada G. Major has recruited you for her always-amazing annual Multiple Sclerosis benefit show at Boots.
Oh yes, I will be there!
Okay, last question: if you could be in a Broadway musical right now, what role would you play?
Oh, that’s an easy question I will play Elphalba in Wicked, because her story was so amazing. What you see on the surface… it’s not really who she is in the inside.
Just because I’m HIV-positive and living with HIV doesn’t mean that’s all of me. I’m a dancer, I’m a drag queen, I’m an androgynous model, I’m a health educator, public speaker, advocate and activist. There are so many things to me, but sometimes people can’t see past my HIV status.
There are so many wonderful things about you, indeed! Thank you Jahlisa, and congratulations again!