Being a Jersey queen can be rough… even when you’re a fierce talent with pageant and ball scene pedigree. Princess Sequoia catches Thotyssey up on the challenges of New Jersey drag, and the amazing new showcase she has in store for us this weekend in Trenton!
Thotyssey: Princess Sequoia, thanks for chatting with us today! Are you enjoying this particularly Extra day of weather we’ve had?
Princess Sequoia: God no! I’m just glad it stopped raining early in the day.
i was supposed to, but unfortunately I had to pull out of the show due to a medical issue.
Oh sorry to hear that, I hope you are feeling better today!
I’m getting better day by day. I hope to be back at full health within the next few weeks.
Glad to hear it!
So Princess, where is your hometown?
I’m born and raised in Trenton, NJ.
And how were you introduced to the world of nightlife?
It was actually by accident! I met a guy, and we were talking, and one day he said to me the he thinks he could beat my face. And from there Sequoia X was born. I later changed my name to Princess Sequoia.
The House of X is a ball scene nightlife family based in New Jersey. How long were you associated with them?
Honestly, I was a part of it back in 2010. I work with them from time to time, but that’s about it. I left the House back in 2011.
Were you otherwise active in the ball scene, as part of different houses or just hanging out?
i have been the NJ mother of the Trenton-based House of Vuitton Walking Drags Realness. I’m a member of the drag House of LaMour.
As far as your own performing goes, what can we usually expect from a Princess Sequoia performance?
OMG! A flawless lip sync; beautiful hair, makeup and garments; flips, splits, old and new music, soulful ballads, great stage presence and personality.
What number that you perform these days gives you life?
My favorite songs to perform are “And I am Telling You” by Jennifer Hudson, the live version of “Take Time” by Ledisi, and “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner. I get every bit of life from those songs.
Tell us a little bit about being a Jersey queen. It seems like a huge challenge, given that venues are spread so far out all over the state–and outside of Asbury Park, there aren’t any fully queer spaces. Is it challenging to make your mark there?
[In Trenton] we used to have some of the best queens in the area, including Paris Dupree from Paris is Burning, God rest her soul. She’s actually my drag grandmother. But honestly, I’ve giving up on being a NJ queen. I bounce from Philly to Baltimore. I’m gonna do a few pageants here in the future though, just stay tuned. But I more so focus on pageants and designing and sewing.
Have you always designed and sewn?
Ever since I started drag, my gay mother Lady Cleo stressed how important it is to be able to make your own garments.
Isn’t it dumb how so many young queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race these days don’t seem to be able to know how to sew, even though there’s always a sewing / design challenge?
i wouldn’t say dumb… but it’s season 10. You know you will have to sing, act and sew at least once. It’s all a part of preparing your package. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready!
What were your thoughts on RuPaul’s comments about trans women not being eligible for the show, and her follow-up nasty Tweet about how trans drag queens were like athletes taking steroids?
Honestly, I didn’t see that. But I would agree to some extent if it were a beauty pageant… but beauty is one of the last things you’re judged by. But… there have been [trans contestants like] Monica Beverly Hillz and Peppermint on the show.
True, but Ru specifically said that if Peppermint had breasts before the season or was otherwise “visibly” trans, she would not have been allowed to compete. Yet some pageant systems like Miss Gay America have similar standards, right? It’s as much about the specific male-to-female transformation process as the end result.
I think that it’s about overall fairness. I guess with Drag Race, you can have every surgery except breast. It’s not much to ask, in my opinion. I think it’s just to create a more level playing-field. I’m not trans, so I guess it’s easier for me to see the side that Ru is coming from. I’m often mistaken for female and trans at shows, and I’ve gotten a lot of backlash for that over the years, too.
It seems a rarity at this point to be a drag queen in New Jersey who isn’t trans.
True indeed. I enjoy both [trans and cis drag aesthetics], but sadly it seems that when a lot of girls transition the quality of performance and costumes, etc., goes down the drain.
Meaning, they are relying too much on being pretty and exposing their bodies?
Well that depends on what a person considers “pretty.” I’ll give you an example: Empress Vizcaya, the queen of this area, is talented with clothes on and clothes off. More people need to aim for that level of drag, if you’re gonna be nude.
True that! Well, as far as Jersey drag goes, you haven’t given up on it altogether.. in fact, you and Davida Sky are bringing a new Divas Revue to the Mill Hill Saloon in Trenton this coming Saturday!
Well, when I say “given up on it,” I meant the current state of it. When you don’t believe in something, make your own lane to thrive in! We are having this show to bring life back to Trenton’s drag scene.
I understand that you’ve already been up against some sabotage with trying to do this show. Somebody phoned up the Saloon pretending to be either you or Davida and claimed that it was being cancelled! I’m glad you were all able to sort that out, but what a petty and spiteful thing for someone to do.
Yes, it’s so pathetic. I’m glad that I called to do a final confirmation.
What was the point of someone trying to do that… simply to spite you and Davida?
Pretty much. A lot of people are very cutthroat in this business.
Do you have any idea who it might’ve been?
i know exactly who it is, because they did this same thing before.
Well gurl, I’m glad you’re on top of your shit! So who’s gonna be performing at this?
It’s gonna be a great show. You’re staying true to the drag tradition of your hometown!
It will be an amazing show with great and talented performers, for a really good cause. We are teaming with the Hyacinth Foundation to bring awareness and talent and respect to the culture–three big things we all need–to one event. you can’t beat that!
Anything else coming up for you?
My second national pageant in July: Miss Northeast Royale.
Good luck! Okay, last question: Whats the best advice you can give to a new pageant queen?
Run away screaming, lol! No, I would say make sure you have the backup and resources. Make sure you research the system and promoter: what does the pageant stand for? And the overall best advice I can give is to Q.T.I.P. (Quit Taking It Personal) and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). A lot of people who lose pageants lose from overdoing it!
Thank you, Princess!