A true Jersey showgirl in every sense, fierce and fab dancer Slaylani is living up to her name and slaying the whole game.
Thotyssey: Hello, Slaylani! Thank you for chatting with us on this beautiful day! How is April treating you so far?
Slaylani: Amazing, actually: booked, busy, and blessed, lol!
That beautiful trio of B’s! You’ve been doing a lot of socially distant performing in Jersey City this past year, but have also been serving us some virtual numbers as well. How did you enjoy digital performing?
It was definitely an adjustment. However, I dance around my apartment on a regular day–I just dolled myself up and performed in front of my camera. At least at home, I didn’t have to wear heels!
Work! Are you a New Jersey native, by the way?
Yes! Jersey City is my hometown. But I’m not from the new and shiny side of Jersey City; I’m from “the other side of town,” as they call it, lol!
The best place to be! What was it like for you to grow up as a young trans woman, if I may ask?
I am grateful that I have an amazingly positive and supportive family. Both my parents and stepparents have always made me feel respected, loved, and appreciated in my Transition. Home has always been my safe place.
Have you always been a dancer or a performer of some kind?
OMG, absolutely! My mother was my first dance teacher–she taught me everything she knew when she realized, “I had dance in my veins. ” In high school, I cheered and I was captain of the dance team. By 16 I started in my first music video, and had already been competing Tri-state. By this time in my life, I’ve done I think… five music videos? It really is a blessing to be able to showcase something I love to the world and share it with people.
Wow! Whose videos have you appeared in?
Keisza, Charlie Vox, MariahLynn (from Love and Hip Hop) and Barbara Tucker.
Awesome! When did you begin performing as Slaylani… and do you recall your first performance in nightlife?
“Slaylani” is fairly new. That’s my been my stage name since 2019. I used to be “Andrea Oz.” Facebook just reminded me of my first performance from ten years ago! It was, ummm… interesting, lol! I wore sequin leggings and a bustier that didn’t fit, and I could barely walk in my heels… let alone dance. Thankfully, practice makes perfect!
Ha! As Slaylani you identify as a “showgirl,” as opposed to a drag queen. Many trans women who perform in nightlife do the same… is that distinction very important to you?
Absolutely! Especially when the world wants to put labels on everything. I always tell people I am a showgirl. Show business is a brood spectrum; although we all have different names and types, we’re all entertainers, baby!
In recent times, newer venues in Jersey City like Six26 and Headroom Lounge have fostered a crop of young performers that are slaying the game–such as yourself, Kimmy Sumony, Stella Luna, Lady Celestina and Vanity Ray.
Ugh, my sisters; I love them dearly!
Do you think JC might be the next Cool Queer Hub, if it isn’t already?
Jersey City has always had a large LGTBQ+ community, so it’s so cool that people can see that and have places for us to enjoy and feel safe at the same time. I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction to be!
The brand new Headroom in particular kinda slayed the game in 2020 and this year, thanks in part to their ability to accommodate safe social distance protocol… as well as having an eye and ear for strong entertainment.
I know management has done an exceptional job of making sure everyone is safe, from performers to patrons! I can relate it to being like a gay Cheers–you want to go where “everybody knows your name!” It feels like home. Not to mention, have you seen that stage? Every performers dream!
You’ll be back there a few times this weekend, starting with the Late Show on Friday night (11:30pm) as a guest of the lovely Twiggy Malone! Isn’t she fab?
She’s my drag aunt, and also a very dear friend! She’d give you the shirt of her back–love her to pieces. This week, we’re switching it up and giving it a more sultry, “red light special” kind of vibe. So totally excited for that!
And Saturday, you’ll be back at Headroom for another late show (11:30pm): DJ Skittlez’s birthday showcase! That venue’s drag den mom Anida Tension will be part of the show as well, alongside yourself, Kimmy and Octavia Anyae!
Drag den mother and also my drag aunt. This is going to be a powerhouse weekend! I just did a gig with Octavia and Kimmy last week, and they killed it per usual. So always a good time with the dolls.
And Skittlez is a JC institution!
Skittlez is a legend, but also a sweetheart and so kind.
You also have a monthly brunch elsewhere in Jersey.
Yes–it’s the first thing that’s mine, lol! Kimmy Sumony and I co-host our monthly “Babes Who Brunch” at Monroe’s in Hoboken, this beautiful restaurant with great drinks and delicious food! Not to mention, it is the only drag brunch in Hoboken (for now)! Our brunch is the first Sunday of every month, and we have two seatings!
Excellent! To conclude… what’s been your favorite number to perform lately?
At the moment, it’s actually this Bring It On cheer dance mix that DJ Skittlez made me… complete with an authentic cheerleading uniform with my name on it–embellished with stones and all!
Thank you, Slaylani!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Slaylani’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram.