Jennifer Lynn at Columbus Pride 2018.
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DRAG TALK: Drag Queens Across The State

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BY JEFF SKINNER (a.k.a. Jennifer Lynn Ali)

Here are interviews with different drag queens from across the state — celebrating the different styles, approaches and motivations found in the art of drag.

Scarlett Moon.

First up is the beautiful Scarlett Moon, from Dayton!

Jennifer Lynn: How did you come up with your drag name?
Scarlett: When I was little, I loved the color scarlet in the crayon box and decided to add the extra ‘t’ to keep it classy! And my last name comes from me loving the night life and the moon!

How long have you been performing?
I have been doing drag since July 25, 2016.

What is the first song you performed to?
The first song I ever performed to was “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse, in a long black dress that I got online and a long blonde wig.

Is there any bar that you want to perform at that you haven’t yet?
I would love to perform at Axis in Columbus and Micky’s in California.

What is your favorite memory in drag?
My favorite memory was when I did the Grinch this past December. Everyone in the bar was watching me and screaming their heads off!

Do you have any advice for someone starting drag?
My advice for someone starting drag is that you will not be polished off the bat. It takes trial and error. You will have to push yourself to grow and ask others for help. Be true to yourself, and don’t be like everyone else.

Deja D. Dellataro.

The next queen is fierce and funny. Deja D. Dellataro is known for being a competitive queen. She’s competed in pageants like Entertainer of the Year, Miss Ohio America and so many more. She is known for her impersonations of Missy Elliot, Madea and Janet Jackson. Deja is from Toledo.

Jennifer Lynn: How did you come up with your drag name?
Deja: Actually, my original drag name is “Deja Danger” because I wanted to be a “Bond Girl.” Sadly, that path didn’t work out. So, I was adopted and became the ICON known as Deja D. Dellataro.

How long have you been performing?
This is year 14.

What is the first song you performed to?
Britney Spears’ “Slave 4 U.”

Is there any bar that you want to perform at that you haven’t yet?
I would love to perform at any club in New York or Florida.

What is your favorite memory in drag?
I was a “back-up” dancer for Todrick Hall at four of his tour dates, in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago and West Lafayette (Indiana). I will remember that forever. Such a humbling and blessed moment of my career.

Do you have any advice for someone starting drag?
Always stay true to yourself. Although you may be influenced by TV shows and other performers, being authentic is key.

Krystal Something-Something.

This next queen is the incredible Krystal Something-Something from Columbus!

Jennifer Lynn: How did you come up with your drag name?
Krystal: I was a little stoned at the time, and I said to my friend, “I want my name to be Krystal… something… something.” They laughed; my face lit up. I said it again, and it stuck.

How long have you been performing?
13 years, 2 months, 4 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes (and counting).

What is the first song you performed to?
“Stick It To The Pimp” by Peaches.

Is there any bar that you want to perform at that you haven’t yet?
The salad bar at Kroger.

What is your favorite memory in drag?
Either performing at Roseland Ballroom in NYC, or getting tossed around and eaten out by two beefy dudes during a performance at the Brooklyn Nightlife Awards.

Do you have any advice for someone starting drag?
Ask everyone for advice, then ignore it.

Jasmyn LaBasha.

This lady is a traveling queen! She performs all over the state of Ohio (from Athens to Akron). This is the Jasmyn LaBasha from Mansfield!

Jennifer Lynn: How did you come up with your drag name?
Jasmyn: It’s crazy how I got my drag name. I moved to NYC in ’94 right out of high school to start my transition. The vogue scene there was huge and the movie Paris is Burning was all the rage. I wanted so bad to be in a “house,” but you had to be sought after or brought into a house by the matriarch. I met Pepper LaBeija and was in awe. Since I couldn’t get in the house of LaBeija, I decided to take the last name and make it my own… hence Jasmyn LaBasha.

How long have you been performing?
I have been performing going on 25 years this November. I did take periodic breaks but am still going strong.

What is the first song you performed to?
The first song I performed to was “100% Pure Love” by Crystal Waters.

Is there any bar that you want to perform at that you haven’t yet?
I want to perform at PLAY in Louisville, Kentucky.

What is your favorite memory in drag?
There are so many great memories! I think doing a duet with Danyel Vasquez at Sami’s in Mansfield as we hosted an AIDS benefit together would be my favorite.

Do you have any advice for someone starting drag?
My advice that I tell all my drag kids is to MARKET, MARKET, MARKET. Make yourself a brand and make them want you! Sell yourself ‘cause no one else is going to.

Mirelle Jane Devine.

This next fabulous queen lives in Cincinnati and her name is Mirelle Jane Devine!

Jennifer Lynn: How did you come up with your drag name?
Mirelle: My drag name is a combination of a number of things. First, Mirelle is actually my best friend’s middle name. She’s been at my side for over 15 years, and I contribute a great deal of the strength that it took to make it through some of the hardest times of my life to her; I chose her name to honor that. Jane is my drag family name, so I had to fit it in there somewhere. And Divine comes from Glenn Milstead’s performance as Divine. I was studying Queer Theory and performance as activism in college around the time I started drag, and I chose Divine to pay homage to that.

How long have you been performing?
10 years exactly as of last month.

What is the first song you performed to?
“If You Can Afford Me” by Katy Perry.

Is there any bar that you want to perform at that you haven’t yet?
The Baton in Chicago, Micky’s WeHo in West Hollywood and Parliament House in Florida. Or any bar that will have me, really — I love to travel.

What is your favorite memory in drag?
A long time ago, my drag mother moved to L.A., decided to get married and asked two of my sisters and myself to be a part of the ceremony. Being young and dumb, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get up in the gigs and terrorize the city. Of course, going out in Hollywood we couldn’t just do ordinary drag; she decided to wear a Satan getup and I dressed like a slutty nun. After a long night of shenanigans, I ended up separated from the group in West Hollywood, and had to walk Santa Monica Boulevard asking people if they had seen the devil run by. After about 20 minutes of startling large groups of pedestrians, taking dozens of pictures, passing out educational literature about safe sex and eating a free hot dog, I managed to reunite with my friends.

Do you have any advice for someone starting drag?
When starting drag, you have to be three things: be fearless, be humble and be visible. While you don’t necessarily have to be fearless to start in this industry, you have to be fearless to persist. You can’t be afraid of trying new things, of change, and most importantly, you can’t be afraid of failure. In drag, you have to be able to get knocked down nine times and get up ten. Starting in drag, you need to be humble — nobody wants to work with someone who is absolutely intolerable to be around. Starting out, you’ll receive a lot of different advice from a lot of different directions; take it all in stride and acknowledge the fact that someone cares enough about your art to provide something constructive (hopefully). Remember, you can always hone your craft.

And last, be visible. This doesn’t mean just post a ton on Facebook and Instagram. Actually be visible out and about at events, at bars, at open stages. Everywhere. As an entertainer, you need to build a following; being pretty or a good dancer or having incredible costumes will only get you so far, but having that in-person connection with a patron will form a bond that will keep them coming to see you for years. In addition, showing up in face to a bar (that you’re not performing at) is a great way to break the ice with the entertainment staff/show director, and let them know that you’re interested enough in performing to come out and sell your brand directly.

Thank you to all the entertainers that took time to answer my questions. I would like to say, just like people in the community, in the drag scene there are all shades, all shapes, all styles and all sizes. There is no right or wrong in drag. All drag is valid and all of us start somewhere. The more time and energy we put toward our craft, the better it becomes.

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