A self-love promoter, event producer, draglesque darling and current digital diva, the Brooklyn-based Juniper Juicy is wearing a lot of fabulous hats in 2020!
Thotyssey: Hi Juniper! How is your quarantine treating you?
Juniper Juicy: Greetings! Thanks so much for talking to us! Quarantine has def been a rollercoaster, but I’m thankful to have access to the resources I do. Really, this has illuminated the strength in my community and my own mental growth. Every day is different, but I’m aiming to stay focused on shaping a thriving future.
What do you think might be the first thing you’ll do when quarantine is “over?”
Oh my gosh! I feel like that so much depends on when that is. I’m currently longing to sink my toes into some sand, but I don’t think summer will be happening in any way. Honestly, I’m most looking forward to the moment I get to perform for a live audience again! I miss that energy exchange so so much, and applause! Ah, I feel like Tinkerbell withering away without anyone clapping for us.
You’ve got our applause! So, you’re an interesting person on the scene because you you’re all over the place, on and off stage and across the genres!
We aim to be ever changeable and transformative, so that’s sweet to hear.
How would you describe what you do / are to the uninitiated?
We are Juniper Juicy: the Self-Love Slut of NYC, a troll fae-come-human [here] to inspire all to embrace and celebrate their whole self. We’ve been sharing our Self-Love practice via drag, and now in this new virtual world we’re connecting through our Self-Love stream “In2 the Sluttery.” There we share tips, encouragements, tutorials and meditations. So I guess in shorter terms, we’re a Drag Creature and Self-Love Educator.
Self-love is important of course, especially at these times when we’re all fat, broke, and full of angst!
Def! Honestly, what a blessing to be fat! You can afford food!
So let’s get to your origin story. Where are you from originally, and what were your earliest forays into art and performance?
This vessel was born and raised in Southern California (refer to us missing the beach). We loved dance from the start; as a little one, we used to put on our Disney CDs and have full blown dance competitions in our living room. But growing up we couldn’t afford dance classes and I was incredibly shy, so performance actually came by accident.
In fourth grade I ended up in the after school plays chorus to get out of math class, and then this lil’ bitch Ashley asked if I was going to audition for the play, Into the Woods Jr. I said no, to which she replied “Oh too bad, I’m going to be Cinderella and you could totally be one of my ugly stepsisters.” Obviously I couldn’t let her get away with such shade, so I auditioned. I got Cinderella, and she got nothing. After the gloating moment of that was over, I was terrified to have such a big solo role, but I loved it.
I was a theatre kid through and through after that–joined community theatre and everything. Ended up at Cornish College–but we did drop out though, haha!
Eh, who needs it?
So what brought you to NYC, and to the beginnings of Juniper?
Growing up a theatre kid, NYC was kinda always the far-off dream. We were also extremely depressed and suicidal as a teen, and at a young age we were diagnosed with a chronic illness that has a life expectancy of 15… so we didn’t actually ever plan out a future. So when it came to us realizing we were gonna keep living in our early 20s, NYC held that promise of somewhere we could come to be our self and learn how to swim, in a way. NYC is very sink or swim.
Our first years here we were part of a performance art duo that performed in the streets and subways a lot. I felt the move was to start getting more into nightlife, and as that partnership fell apart I came across my first queer burlesque/drag show: Compost Bin by Brass Burlesque. I literally left that show knowing it was time to birth Juniper Juicy. Juniper has always been buzzing around us, but it took seeing other queer drag to spark the fire.
How would you describe a Mx. Juicy show today? What is it you’re trying to explore / convey?
JJ’s shows are emotional, playful, and sensual! Often we are exploring transmuting the feeling of toxic love into self-love, and always hope to reflect our audiences’ inner light back to them. We want you to feel so good you wanna touch yourself. We’re also constantly questioning gender binaries, simply via how we exist and present in this vessel as a trans-nonbinary being; we are showing the world that there are more than two ways to be.
What have been some of your favorite performing experiences here in New York?
Oof! Hard to pick a favorite–every performance has been special for its own reasons. It was very special when we won our qualifying round of DRAGnet in 2019. We were still pretty fresh in the scene, and felt amazing to be seen and appreciated by such iconic performers like Untitled Queen and Merrie Cherry.
Oh, and there was the time we pissed into a bucket and drank it for Hardcore Burlesque; that was great. And pretty much every single In Living Color show has taken our breath away.
Hold up… what did your pee taste like?
Basically just water, ’cause I chugged a ton beforehand to ensure even if I got pee shy I’d be bursting. Salty hot water, basically.
Yum! “In Living Color” Is Junior Mint’s show that you co-produce and perform in. Junior is an amazing and important performer… tell us more about what that show is like!
It’s a honor to be part of the ILC team, and we’re lucky to be close with Junior! ILC was at The Gradient for eight months, and just before quarantine started we had moved to a new home at Macri Park.
In Living Color is a QTPOC-centric drag and variety show brought into the world via Junior Mint’s brilliance. We celebrated a year in May (virtually), and in that time got to appreciate the loving, nourishing community that we’ve been able to create. ILC provides a space for QTPOC–especially black and trans–performers that often get overlooked in the more mainstream drag spaces, to come and be seen and celebrated. ILC is always striving to be a safe accessible space for all, and we’re lucky to share space with such incredibly talented, innovate performers that are always pushing the boundaries of what drag is/can be.
The city at large isn’t always super welcoming to performers who don’t fit a very specific mold. But Brooklyn is always better when it comes to variety and representation on stage, right?
Yes, most def! Brooklyn is definitely where the weird and queer thrive. We rarely performed in Manhattan, but it was always a gag when we did. The Manhattan scene is much more cis and mainstream.
And now it’s time for digital drag! You’ve done a few shows online already–first with your Judy J’royce Jata, and now your own weekly “In2 The Sluttery” (Wednesdays on your Instagram). I love that it’s start time is 3:33pm!
Well, some believe seeing triple numbers is a sign from the universe and your guides, and 333 represents aid (your guardians are near and listening) and encouragement that you’re on the right path / in the right space. This really aligns with being The Self-Love Slut, doling out advice about growing love of self. And also, having the show in the afternoon means we have time to create more content after the fact! Gotta make the most of each beat in quarantine!
“In2 The Sluttery” is our chance to expand our message and connect more with our supporters! Every week, we talk about the readings / practices that inspire our self-love, give tips / challenges, share stretches and twerk tutorials, lead meditations, pull oracle cards, and of course give shows! It’s been great to be able to have a space to exchange with our supporters, and to explore what else we can offer outside of drag. Before quarantine, we were moving towards leading self -love workshops, so the show has been a great modification of that.
Werk! Anything else coming up for you?
Well, as stated, In2 the Sluttery is every Wednesday. On June 5th, we’ll be in “Cirque Du So Naked” (a virtual clown strip club! So lots of silly sexiness). And In Living Color has our next show coming up June 13th!
Yay! And in closing… what’s your best advice for an out-of-the-box draglesquer who wants to make their mark on this city?
Keep being inspired by others… but always live your truth the loudest! There will always be doubters and haters, but keep believing in your vibe and you will find your crowd! Don’t wait for permission, listen to your gut and do It!