Relatively new to the scene, stunner Lana Ja’rae is here to show the world that she’s a hell of a lot more than a gorgeous face on Instagram.
Thotyssey: Hey Lana! Thanks for chatting with us today! I know you partook in Bushwig this past weekend! How did it go… and was this your first?
Lana Ja’rae: I actually attended Bushwig for the first time ever [this past week], and had the opportunity to perform and share the stage with so many queer artists I look up to! It was such an amazing experience, and I hope everyone gets the opportunity to go to the Bushwig festival because it’s definitely one for the books.
What did you perform?
My number at Bushwig this year was basically about me reintroducing myself to all of these amazing artists. I had the pleasure of doing the Ultimate Diva pageant, hosted by Janelle No. 5 , where I did a number based off of being a superstar in my own world; this number was basically that, but elevated. I wanted to really hit the nail on the head, and show my brand — wearing lingerie — in my number. Because what’s more than Lana Ja’rae wearing lingerie?
This number was actually the first time I felt proud of my journey in drag. I used the high standards that were placed onto me by being a “social media” queen who has to be flawless all the time, mixed with the constant hate I receive, mixed with trying to just be known for being a great drag queen. I don’t want to be limited to just a pretty face, or someone with long legs — I want to be amazing at everything. Hopefully this number was able to show that, and just show Lana through and through.
I can only imagine how challenging it must be for a “social media queen” to be treated as a serious performer, but you certainly got the chops to prove the haters wrong!
Aw thank you! That’s really sweet of you to say!
Tell us a bit of your origin story if you will: where are you from, and how exactly did your drag journey begin… via social media, or otherwise?
I’m originally from Dallas, Texas, born and raised. However, Lana was actually born in Oklahoma. During when Covid hit, I was graduating high school and had plans to attend the university of Oklahoma, but due to a very unfortunate family emergency with my mom I wasn’t in the right mental state to go to college for four years. So instead, I just moved out and went on a self-discovery journey.
On that journey, I figured I’d try finally give drag a try! At that point I had been performing for seven years doing musicals all over Texas, and also being a huge fan of Drag Race. The college I was going to attend — but ultimately decided not to — was hosting a drag pageant, and I forced myself to do it. I prepared everything myself with the help of my brother, and I did it… and won! My very first post on Instagram is my very first time in drag, and it’s the photos we took from my talent number in the pageant.
So to answer your question: honestly a mixture of both [social media and live drag]! As soon as I started drag, I started posting on Instagram — it made me hold myself to a higher standard, because I was allowing my art to be judged by others online. I wanted to be shown in the best might possible.
So you mentioned earlier that your name is maybe a play on “lingerie,” but also Lana Del Rey comes to mind! Is she your cousin, lol?
Lol! Okay, I’m actually extremely happy you brought that up! Um, so funny story! My name Lana Ja’rae came from my actual middle name out of drag — my real name is Braylon Ja’rae — and one day in my high school theatre class, we were talking about me possibly doing drag. And after a thousand horrible names, my friend Landan said “wait, you should put ‘Lana’ in front of your middle name… it just sounds really pretty.” And ever since then, I’ve told myself if I ever did drag, it would be Lana Ja’rae because to me, drag is an extension of the exploration of my feminine side. I’m not being a character, I’m just being more Slay, lol.
But yes, Lana Ja’rae is supposed to be lingerie! But lotsssss of people, and I mean five out of seven people, think it came from Lana Del Rey! And I’ll tell you something, but you can’t tell anyone else — I only just started listening to Lana’s music, like, earlier this month. Before then, she was never a thought in my mind, lol! I hadn’t grown up listening to her style of music. I claim her as my cousin, because for those who think my name comes from Lana Del Rey can still be partially right! Everyone wins that way.
What was your Ultimate Diva competition experience like?
It’s was literally amazing… easily one of the best moments of my life. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing on how it happened; like, everything was perfect. It gave me this amazing opportunity to showcase my art — something I find so personal — to so many people I dreamt of meeting. I mean… Janelle No. 5 being the host? And a judging lineup of Luxx Noir London, Olivia Lux, La Zavaleta, Horrorchata? It was insane. I put blood, sweat and tears into my entire package, and everything was so Me from head to toe.
If people can, I advise they do Janelle’s “Ultimate Diva” pageant. I may not have won the pageant in the end (the winner was oh-so-deserving) but was able to make so many wonderful meaningful connections and really introduce myself to the city of New York. I really made myself so proud too, and that’s everyone’s goal at the end of the day. Ugh, I love that pageant… it’s amazing. So, so grateful.
How might you describe your drag today, as far as numbers you like to do and looks you like to serve?
My drag today in this current moment can be described in one word: It. I look at my drag and I’m so proud that I’ve been able to create this super fashionable, sexy It Slay Human from nothing! Every time I step on the stage, I perform like it’s the last time… because it very well might be! Tomorrow is not promised, and that’s something I live by. It’s the very reason I started drag, actually.
I want my numbers and performances to be an experience — a full production. We love a slow fade into a mid-tempo song with a cute little moment to interact with the audience, and then ending with high tempo dance craziness! I want you to walk away and be in awe; I want people to see my passion and love in everything I do.
In terms of looks, I would say I like to serve anything that’s going to make me look the best I can. I love, love, love my body, and it took me a while to do that. So… anything that makes me feel and look like That Girl.
You’ve got some gigs coming up, all at C’mon Everybody in Brooklyn. This Wednesday brings us “Sister Sister,” care of hostesses Dev Doee and Cherry Jaymes. This edition will be a Virgo love fest!
Oh I am so, so, so excited! I absolutely adore Dev; she’s such a wonderful performer and human being. And fun fact: Cherry was actually one of the first people I met in nightlife when I moved to NYC. She’s an incredible soul, and I’m so honored she wanted me to be a part of her Sister Sister! Although I may be a Taurus, I am extremely excited to put on some Virgo grooves and shake my little butt to it, lol!
You’ll be back at C’mon in September for Rify Royalty and Janelle No. 5’s tribute to the “Celebrity Feud” of Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey! Whose side are you on?
Oh, definitely Team Nicki, lol! I’m for sure more of a Barb than a Lamb. I’m excited for that one, and honestly pretty scared! I’m doing Azealia, and I’ve always wanted to perform her songs… but have never gotten the chance to. One thing I do know, though, is that it’s going to be a night to remember!
Then on September 27th, it’s an ode to another diva: Britney, brought to us by Nicky O and Jo Disco’s “Discography!” Are we okay with Britney’s, um, developments post-conservatorship, lol?
Oh, I absolutely cannot wait for this one! I’ve been a huge fan of Britney’s music for a while now, and have never gotten the chance to perform her! Also I’m so excited to work with Nicky and Jo again… they have been so sweet to me since moving to NYC.
In terms of Britney… I honestly don’t think I’m in any position to speak on her and her life, lol! I’m still attempting to figure out what life is, and my own life. But she looks good! I love her little dances she posts on Instagram… they always make my day, lol!
What else is coming up for you?
I do have another gig on October 6th that I’m working on, but you’ll just have to stay tuned for that one! Other than that, just keep up with my Instagram; I post everything — and I mean everything — on my stories or highlights! I have a couple of pieces I’m working on, and can’t wait to share with everyone.
Last question: what’s something you learned about the art or the world of drag that’s surprised you the most since you started doing it?
Honestly the most surprising thing I’ve learned is that drag has taught me so much about myself as a person. Like, I missed out on the opportunity to go to college, but drag is a school of its own. I’ve been learning and working hard from the moment I started. I didn’t expect to learn so much from something that started out as a little hobby.
It’s also shown me that my social anxiety is way worse than I thought, lol! And that I also need to get contacts, because fun fact: I cannot see when I’m in drag!
As long as we can all see your gorgeousness, that’s all that matters! Thanks, Ja’rae!
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Lana Ja’rae’s upcoming appearances, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.