ThotLight On: HYPE at Hardware with Jax & Islaya

Thotyssey’s column “ThotLight” reviews and reports on the big events in NYC nightlife.

By Jeremy Grossman


What makes HYPE at Hardware different from any other drag show on a Tuesday night?

“Well, first of all, it’s two Black girls in Hell’s Kitchen,” says Jax.

“One of the only shows with two Black girls in Hell’s Kitchen,” adds Islaya. “Shockingly!”

Every Tuesday night at 8pm, Jax and Islaya take the stage for HYPE, named because both queens are known for their high energy performances. The show, which debuted in October 2021, also sheds a spotlight on both of their individual styles of drag: Jax, with her jaw-dropping stunts and choreography, and Islaya, with her theatrical background and hilarious storytelling.

“I always joke and call Islaya my auntie, while I’m kind of the young, rebellious, punky Black girl,” says Jax. “I love that about us because it’s going to remind you that there’s not one way to be Black.”

The two queens never worked together before HYPE, but quickly found that they had excellent chemistry – like the “Raja and Raven of Hell’s Kitchen,” as Jax describes it. 

“If we’re not building off the crowd, then we’re building off each other,” says Jax. “Tuesdays are always the show where I come in and it’s easy, because no matter what, I know I have someone that’s going to feed back the same energy I’m giving.”

And the audience felt that energy during their show on April 26, 2022: a night that, in addition to their incredible numbers, also included stories about their grossest Grindr hookups, tips for jumping the subway turnstile, and their hopes for who will win Drag Race’s All Winners season (the consensus: Hardware legend Monet X Change).

It was rainy outside – one of the grosser evenings tucked between several gorgeous NYC days. But those who came out to HYPE knew it was worth getting wet for these two queens.

“Baby, we’re just talented as fuck,” Islaya says. “You’re not going to find other queens that do what we do…and every time you come to the show, you’re going to see it. It’s just who we are. It’s in the name!”

All videos and photos by Jeremy Grossman.


Jeremy Grossman is a writer, content creator, drag fan, and a resident of Hell’s Kitchen. Follow Jeremy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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