Many cities host drag queens who are detrimental to their gay bar scene, but in Albany, NY this queen is practically running the whole damn town. The fiercely intelligent, mulit-talented and divine Miss London Jae Precise tells us how she came to this kingdom, and how she’s now conquering the realm of digital drag. [Cover photo: CI/LI Photography]
Thotyssey: Hello London! So, you made a pair of digital appearances yesterday… how did they go?
London Jae Precise: The shows are off to a great start. I’m pretty busy on a weekly basis with virtual shows and pop up appearances; but now we are in Pride season, so I have a little extra pep in my step. Yesterday was an amazing experience, as we’re now getting viewers from all cities and even some countries.
How do you find the digital drag experience? Is it weird to perform in a vacuum?
I thinks it’s a bit of both a challenge and a reward. It’s tough to not connect with the audience and get that much needed vibe or feedback that most entertainers work off of. However, it’s amazing how many different people you [can reach] that may not be able to get to the clubs / bars, as well as those who aren’t in your city or country. It’s a great feeling to hear how people are touched by your energy, even virtually.
That’s one good thing to come out of this dark period. The whole world is going through it right now, between the quarantine and emotional protests for Black Live Matter. You’re in Albany, New York State’s capital… from what you’re seeing and hearing, how are people dealing with both situations there?
It’s been chaotic. I’m from Brooklyn; I spend a lot of time both upstate and NYC. There is definitely a stale feel in the air upstate. Some people are completely on board with the necessary changes that need to take place, but are afraid… even questioning what moves are appropriate. Others refuse to accept the reality of the world we live in, and continue to place blame without ever being interested in a solution. I’ve seen a lot of humbling moments exchanged in these recent months; I’ve also seen a lot of negativity sort of creep up. People are walking around with their thinking caps on, and that’s not a bad thing.
So, you’re a native Brooklynite!
Brooklyn will always be my home. I have had some of the best and most eye-opening moments living in Sheepshead, hanging out in Crown Heights.
What were you into while growing up there, as far as art, performing, etc?
From an early age, I always thought I would be a model and designer. My mother was a full-time model; she was consumed by that lifestyle. The more I went to shows, the deeper my desire became. I even did summer sessions at FIT. I got introduced to the ballroom scene very young, and became a member of the House of Chanel.
Unfortunately due to many family issues, I was always back and forth to Albany; there was no consistency in my life. My aunt owns the only African-American nonprofit for youth in the Albany area, and that became my drive. I quickly grew a desire to save underprivileged youth in our local areas. I ran summer camps and performing arts camps from the age of 11 to 22.
Between the engagements with the house of Chanel and running these programs, I’ve always had a desire to create an organization of my own… which brought about the House of Precise.
Tell us a bit about your House… what does it mean to be a Precise?
Like most houses, House of Precise started as a small group of like-minded individuals. We made a huge impact on the community through outreach and a strong family bond, especially for those who had no family. We also put our footprint in the upstate club scene. We used to go to the clubs and tear up the dance floors, and check in with the young people to make sure they were healthy and safe. Along the way our mission became more serious, focused on homeless underprivileged youth and young adults–specifically the LGBTQIA community, however open to all.
Founded in 2007 with four members, we grew quickly and to date have 40 members in several different cities and states. Being a Precise comes with responsibility. We strive to meet the needs of all individuals alike, focusing on education, health and work ethic. We were responsible for opening the door for trans students at Job Corps to further their education in a respectful, comfortable environment. Job Corps was not set up to house Trans students; after we met with them and provided education for the staff, they now welcome trans students as they are better equipped to do so.
We are known for a specific vibe and clear execution. Currently we’re accepting donations to build our first shelter care in Albany, and working tirelessly to reduce the percentage of homeless / displaced members of our communities.
How would you describe the current state of queer nightlife in Albany?
Albany is small; with only three gay clubs, there’s always a fight for a spot, lol! I’ve had a standing show now for eight years, and what makes me most happy is sharing that platform with up and coming artist and queens. I produce 70% of the drag shows and nightlife parties here. One thing I can say is, Albany knows how to party. The vibe is always there; people come out to have fun and enjoy the art of life.
For a while, you had a recurring show at Rebar Chelsea here in NYC–and you frequently make guest appearances and do pop-up shows in Manhattan. Do you sense a big difference between New York and Albany as far as how audiences behave?
Yes… I think NYC is an easier place to get a cooperative audience, already prepared for the excitement of a show or a themed party. In Albany, sometimes it’s difficult to get that same energy. Although both cities have their rewards.
Many queens of color, especially during this very raw time, are revealing that they do not have the same opportunities available to them that white queens do in many cases.
I agree with those queens. There are no other queens of color who run shows like I do; it makes me sad, always has.
Does your huge presence in Albany, where you are creating and producing so many events, stem from that need to create your own opportunities?
I think that my assertive personality and professional approach have landed me the gigs and opportunities that I have now. It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t. There are times I question myself, knowing that certain venues or companies I’m working with are not necessarily coming from a genuine place of support, but profit. I am grateful to have complete control of everything I have my hands on, therefore opening the door and extending the invitation to all queens and entertainers alike–especially those of color.
We are not quite ready to fully re-open yet in New York–who knows when that will happen exactly? But, what might be coming up for you in the future, digitally or otherwise?
I host “Dragged Wednesdays” every week on Facebook Live; this is a variety show I started eight years ago. I’m exited to be able to have my NYC friends as guest every week, due to the virtual broadcast.
Also, this month I am hosting several Virtual Pride events! The one I’m most excited about is Digi-Pride, a collaboration between my company (Precise Nation) and In Our Own Voices, a local Black and Latino organization that hosts Pride here in the capital region. The broadcast has several different dates, and includes local entertainment as well as a few Hollywood faces… and even a couple of Drag Race girls.
And most of the time, I’m working with local leaders and legislators on ways to enhance our communities from the inside out. Plus, I’m working on an EP to be released by end of summer.
Oh wow, you write and record music?
I do! I don’t think I’m good enough sometimes, so I’ve been slacking on releasing things I’ve already done. But I have a great team, and I think I’m more comfortable with my message and arrangements now than I ever have been.
Can’t wait to hear it! Okay, lastly: who do you think should win All-Stars?
Shea didn’t come to play, lol!
She sure didn’t! Thanks, London!