Young rapper, drag queen, sex worker, hairdresser and brunch hostess AriaJae (aka ArrJay Robinson) is keeping the hustle alive… and winning tons of fans in the process.
AriaJae: Bitch, it was lit! Unfortunately Virginia wasn’t able to make it, but we had Aná Valbanana with us from Chicago and we turned the show out! Jessica and her both did the thing.
How amazing is it that live performance has fully returned, and that the city is almost completely reopened and thriving again?
It’s hot! This last year was real tough for a lot of people, so I’m so glad people are finally starting to have a place to be able to go and take their minds off of everything for a while, and just have a good time.
Besides drag, you also entertain the masses via the adult content of your OnlyFans site.
Yes, I’m a Jack of all trades; I’m all about a hustle! I’ve been doing OnlyFans stuff for a while now, but took a break during the pandemic because I prefer to film with another person. But now with the vaccines and things moving back to normal, I’m starting to film more content with some hot guys. I film a lot with other NYC content creators, and often when people visit from places like Miami or Atlanta we sometimes link up for some fun.
I really enjoy the world of sex work, because sex work is real work. It’s flattering to show a whole side of yourself and be appreciated for it, whether it’s my drag or my body or my music or my hair skills. I’m lucky enough to be pretty hung, so I figured I might as well take advantage of it. I’ve gotten to meet some amazing people through filming, and it’s given me a whole other platform to be able to branch out and speak with people… and has been amazingly sexually liberating as well.
Where are you from originally, and what were your interests growing up?
So I grew up in Trenton, New Jersey until I was, like, 13… and then me and my mom and granny moved to Texas where I lived for 7.5 years. After high school, I started cosmetology school and was a licensed hairdresser in Texas working for Toni&Guy salons. I loved doing hair; I still do it by appointment.
When I moved to NYC, I didn’t like doing hair in salons here… so I started serving in Hell’s Kitchen at an old gay restaurant called Vynl. I remember being new to the city, and one of my co-workers recommended that after my shift I go see Monét X Change at Therapy for her drag show–so I started going there weekly. We had drag in Texas, but nothing like what I saw here. In Texas, drag felt so based on the look, and just girls moving around. Here in NYC I felt such a connection with the girls hosting, and an electric energy in the room during shows.
We have the best queens in NYC! How When did you beginning performing in drag yourself?
I lowkey just fell into drag. I did it once for Halloween–like all the basic gays do–and it was cute and fun; but I was done with it. It wasn’t until I met my good friend and nightlife personality Issa Woman [that I revisited drag]; she kept inviting me out to parties, and asking me to come in drag after seeing pictures. I was at one of her parties called “Puteria,” and another performer named Jayse Vegas told me that if I ever wanted to start performing, he had a stage for me.
So before the lockdown happened, I was doing drag on Wednesday nights at a bar called Offside Tavern. But during the pandemic, I took the time to practice styling wigs and makeup and concepts and ideas, and really hone in on who I wanted AriaJae to be. Now that things are starting to open up, I’m just tryna get my heel on any stage I can. Whether it’s to lip sync or to rap live, I just really enjoy the act of being in front of an audience and performing.
Wow… you rap, too!?
I sure the fuck do! I try to rap at my gigs as often as possible. I have my own original music, and I have remix covers of popular rap songs like “WAP” with my own lyrics. I open my brunch every Sunday at John Doe Bar & Restaurant with an original number. And hopefully by 2022 I’ll have my first EP dropping, so that my music will be available for streaming. But as of now, if you wanna hear these bars you gotta pull up to the gigs!
Tell us more about that brunch show at John Doe.
I used to work with one of the bartenders there when [we both tended bar] at a Mexican spot named Mexicue. The owners of John Doe were talking about doing a drag brunch, and she put us in touch. I went in and met [part owner] Donna and [general manager] Louise, and it was a done deal. They told me they wanted me there every Sunday to turn out shows.
The show is every Sunday from 12 to 3. No cover! $22 bottomless mimosas! And my brunch is all about good vibes and Thicc thighs! I just try to create a space where everyone can have fun and turn up on a Sunday. I usually book two queens each week, and try and make sure that my crowd gets to see a lot of drag. If I book a Broadway girl, maybe I’ll book a quirky queen that week with her. If I book a real hood ass vanjie queen, I’ll also try and book a cute pop princess. There’s so many different avenues of drag, and I really appreciate them all… and I think my audience does, too.
Anything else coming up for you?
I’m doing a lot of guest spots and competing right now. Sometimes I compete out at a venue in Brooklyn named Aura Cocina on Tuesdays. I try to compete at the Ritz on Friday nights for “Open Call,” [hosted by] either Holly Dae or Chelsea Piers. I’ve been lucky enough to perform with some amazing queens like Rify Royalty, Digna, Islaya and Izzy Uncut, just to name a few. So hopefully in the future, I’ll just continue to be able to book and enjoy shows with some amazingly talented artists! I’m so lucky and honored and blessed to be given every single opportunity I’ve received, and I’m so incredibly thankful.
And this just in: you’ll also be back with Jayse Vegas and his co-star Robert Garcia at 3 Dollar Bill for “Oh Wow Wednesday” on July 16th. You be guest performing with a few other queens and recording artists!
So in closing, I can see you’re an astute Drag Race fan… whose team are you on for the upcoming All-Stars 6?
I’m always so excited to see All-Stars every time it comes around, to see how the queens have evolved. It’s so interesting to see–like, I know I’m not the same queen I was a year ago, or even two months ago. They already have an idea of what to expect now, and it’s just on a whole other level as far as a completion goes. The girls come back having something to prove.
Whenever I watch All-Stars, I try and throw out any preconceived notions I may have for any queens and look at it as a whole new season. Of course I remember them, but even if a queen did horrible in her season I’ll be rooting for her episode-by-episode based off what I see. Even if you’re my favorite queen and you turn a shitty look, ima call it a flop even if I love you. I try and not let my opinions of the queens sway what I may see them showcase on the season. So… let’s see who’s gonna turn it the fuck out this year.
Very fair! Thanks, Aria!