Gainesville's Jade Jolie a finalist on 'RuPaul's Drag Race'
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.
When Josh Green was 10 years old, he idolized the Spice Girls for different reasons than most adolescent boys.
Sixteen years later, by day Green is a homebody — he crawls out of bed at 3 p.m., savors cheddar cheese grits and dominates friends in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
Yet by night, he relives his childhood days of recreating the British pop group’s music videos when he heads to Gainesville’s main gay bar, University Club.
But regulars at the bar don’t know Josh Green.
They know Jade Jolie, the 5-foot-10 Lady Gaga look-alike and bubbly female impersonator who has performed at the club for the past five years.
Just before midnight, Jolie hides behind the emerald green velvet curtains, checking herself to make sure she’s “all tucked in.” But once the ’80s anthem, Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, starts blasting through the speakers, she struts into the spotlight and begins to hypnotize fans clad in her knee-high, black leather boots, vacuum-sealed lycra pants, mermaid-like platinum blonde hair and magenta glittered lips.
She pirouettes in front of the crowd, swinging her hips to the pulse of the music, high-kicks her leg to her perfectly contoured face, shimmies in front of gawking fans and then collects enough dollar bills to make cash pom-poms.
Yet Jolie is taking her talents to a bigger stage than the spilled-drink-covered floors of UC. Starting Monday, she will entertain millions on the fifth season of Logo TV’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
While last year the Gainesville local tried out and didn’t get selected for the fourth season, this year she was one of 14 finalists picked to compete. Jolie was one of thousands who auditioned in hopes of winning the grand prize of $100,000, the crown and the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar.
She describes the show as a mixture of America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway and Dynasty, but “20 times more fabulous.” The show features drag queens who compete in a series of challenges including photo shoots, costume creating and celebrity impersonations.
Chastity Rose, the UC door manager and longtime friend of Jolie, said the challenges are similar to those on Project Runway, but “on crack.”
“On the show, they are like we’re going to the dollar store and we’ll give you 50 cents,” she said. “You have to go beg for money on the street like a homeless person so you can buy your fabric, and then you only have 20 minutes to put your outfit together.”
Despite the difficulty, Rose believes Jolie’s creativity and resourcefulness will make her a strong competitor.
“You could give Jade a cotton ball, two paper clips and a Band-Aid and she would make an outfit out of that which someone could rock down the runway,” she said.
Rose calls Jolie’s ability to put together outfits “bloody genius.” She said Jolie is known in the drag community for having the most eye-catching and intricate costumes on stage.
“I’m a huge fan of Lisa Frank, so if you could imagine that mixed with drag, that’s what I’m all about,” Jolie said.
In particular, the queen has a “trash outfit,” which is made of hundreds of pieces of quirky junk in every color of the rainbow. Aqua teal studs, a family of Hello Kitty cat faces, hundreds of rhinestones in every color of the spectrum, reflective stars and worn-down crayons cover her bustier. She dons a light pink and blue wig topped off with a police cop hat and handcuffs hanging from her booty shorts to complete the outfit.
“Making costumes takes so much time,” Rose said. “I can imagine her on her bedroom floor for hours on hours with a glue gun and a pack of a thousand adhesives gluing them to her outfit.”
While many drag queens are over the top with their attire and makeup, Rose and others believe Jade is totally “fish” — a term in the gay world for a performer who is very natural and could pass as a woman “when just walking into Walmart.”
“We’ve had straight males who come out to the club and ask me if that seriously is a dude,” Rose said. “They don’t believe me.”
Rose said the “fish” look is hard to obtain, which will make Jolie stand out amongst the other impersonators. The show features all genres of drag, including other styles such as “Old School” drag, which features music from performers such as Gladys Knight, and androgynous drag, where impersonators don’t look specifically male or female.
However, Jolie says her beauty routine is anything but natural — and anything but easy. It also takes her many hours to complete and costs hundreds of dollars.
She begins the process by “painting her face,” where she contours her cheekbones and applies light bronze powder and eye shadow. The queen adds many layers of padding on her hips to create her “Kim Kardashian” posterior and then additional layers of costuming. She then preps and puts on her wig and finally applies her seemingly mile-long false eyelashes.
“For me, doing my makeup is about adding more and more,” she said. “You could probably peel off my face like Mrs. Doubtfire. So I say when in doubt, add more.”
However, beneath the makeup, costume and padding, Jolie has a fiery passion and drive for what she does. The queen said she is usually lazy, but drag is the one thing she has always stuck with and worked hard at.
“I believe you always have to be having fun, or else you shouldn’t be doing drag,” she said. “Always try to outdo yourself and never settle, because you can always learn something new from drag.”
Lady Pearl, the University Club show director, has known Jolie from the first day she started working at the club. While Pearl is known for her “tough love,” she stressed how proud she was of Jolie for developing into the accomplished impersonator she is today.
“She is really fabulous at what she does,” Pearl said. “She listens and takes advice, which is the main thing about Jade. She doesn’t have a big head or think she knows everything, which is rare today because every girl who comes out with a wig and a little lipstick on and thinks they know everything.”
Yet the star said she couldn’t do it without her support from the Gainesville community and UC, both of which she has called family for the past five years.
She hopes her experience on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will allow her to take her talents worldwide.
“My dream performance would obviously be for my idols, the Spice Girls,” Jolie said. “That way I could perform all five of them at once.”