It is impossible not to fall in love with Jujubee. In fact, it’s actually illegal not to do so.
The 36-year-old “Drag Race” veteran returned to the All Stars stage for her third trip around the RuPaul sun and emerged better and funnier than ever, making a run to the finale.
Jujubee, who was born and raised in Boston, charmed fans old and new with her wit, charisma and elevated aesthetic. The dark horse of the season, she put a rubber stamp on her legacy with a consistently steady and hilarious All Stars journey.
Daniel Trainor and Sam Stone talked to Juju about her experience this season, the intensity of the final runway challenge, her iconic Eartha Kitt performance in Snatch Game and, duh, her Instagram famous cats.
Sam Stone: Jujubee! How are you?
Jujubee: [sings] Helloooooo! Sam and Daniel!
Daniel Trainor: I am personally very, very excited to talk to you.
Juju: Stop it! Aww.
DT: How do you manage to always stay above the drama and make everybody love you? Just asking for a friend.
Juju: I create the drama and then I run away!
DT: I see! So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong this entire time.
Juju: Do you know what I think it is? I try to step outside of whatever field it is that we’re in and I try to figure out ‘okay, this is why this person feels this way.’ Maybe there’s a misunderstanding. Or I’ll just twist it so that I understand it differently so it doesn’t affect me personally.
SS: I think the key there, too, is running away. Running away is the step I haven’t mastered.
Juju: It’s the only running I do!
SS: This was your third time on “Drag Race.” What was the season like for you and what were your expectations going in?
Juju: Gosh, I never have expectations because I never want to be let down. But I did expect there was going to be some All Stars 5 drama. I did know that was going to happen. Because listen, you go into a competition like this and there’s one crown. Everybody wants it. Everybody in All Stars is super talented, so you know there’s going to be some shit. But if you can handle it, you can get to the end!
DT: So many of the challenges this season were work intensive. You’re a self-described “non-dancer.” When you thought about what they might throw at you, did you think about working on any of those skills prior to filming All Stars?
Juju: Well, I started jogging! That helped me with my footwork. You know, I think I just trusted myself more. The only doubts I had were about the choreography. Todrick [Hall] is insane and talented and a great teacher.
SS: When eight men tipped you over 180 degrees, how was that for you spiritually?
Juju: Well, I need to tell you, I needed to have a stronger core because you have to be able to hold your abs really tight when they do that because otherwise it looks really sloppy. The whole time we were doing it, they were like ‘girl, you need to tighten up.’ So I had to let go because I was afraid that I was going to be dropped for some reason. Spiritually, I just had to trust everything that was going to happen. Girl, it felt so good. All these men holding me up like the queen that I am!
DT: Sometimes you just have to trust eight random men in their underwear. It’s the law.
Juju: Is it really that hard to trust them?
DT: Stop trying to psychoanalyze me, Juju! I do want to ask about Boston. What is the drag scene like there, a city that doesn’t exactly have the most savory reputation for embracing diversity?
Juju: Doing drag in Boston is pretty incredible and I’ll tell you why. There are so many students here that come to these amazing colleges that are just hungry. There’s always an ever-changing kind of drag. We have every kind of drag. And yeah, I’ll agree with you, the idea that we are diverse here can be kind of crazy, but Boston is also always changing. Because we have so many international students and so many people visiting, it does create a space for all of us. Come visit, girl!
DT: I want to! Here’s my ideal Boston trip: I want to see you perform and then I want to go to a game at Fenway Park.
Juju: Oh my gosh, I’ve been and they’re amazing. The energy is great.
DT: Am I an enigma because I can talk to you about drag and baseball? Yeah, maybe.
SS: The sound you’re hearing is a pat on the back. I really want to ask about your cats. How are they dealing with their fame?
Juju: Well, Mister is right here next to me because he thinks he’s getting a treat after this interview. And he is correct. Priss just woke up and she’s eyeballing my flowers. Same cats, different day. They’re doing the same shit they always do!
DT: Your performance as Eartha Kitt in Snatch Game was so transcendent. It was also a little risky because we’ve seen other queens give Ms. Kitt their best shot. Were you nervous about how it would be received?
Juju: I knew that Eartha Kitt was the moment I wanted. She has such a beautiful story and a history of going through really unsavory things in her life. I felt that, to portray somebody who could be funny and follow their dreams while fighting for people’s rights and still being a queen, was the best choice. I also wanted to have a conversation with Valentina as Eartha Kitt and, let me tell you, it happened two nights ago and it was amazing. She called me up and the first thing she said was ‘oh my lover!’ I was like ‘I love you!’
SS: Hopefully that was recorded so we can release it on HBO or something.
Juju: Maybe VH1 could pick it up, huh?
SS: Snatch Game is always difficult. Was there another challenge that was specifically challenging for you this season?
Juju: I gotta say, it was the first talent show. I know that everybody understands that I’m able to cry and show the most vulnerable parts of me, but music, to me, is very emotional. I feel a connection to things I work on and showing that side was really difficult. I just wanted to do a good job. It’s the talent show. You have to be talented to be on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
DT: I think you really cemented your legacy as one of the most entertaining queens in franchise history. A real fan favorite for the ages! It’s been such a pleasure chatting with you.
Juju: Thank you so much!
DT: I can’t wait to split a hot dog with you at a Red Sox game. Or do we just eat clam chowder in the stands? Am I just making stupid Boston jokes at this point?
Juju: No, you can have peanuts and chowder! We can make you into a chowder hound.
Daniel Trainor is writer, podcaster, son and friend from Los Angeles, California. Originally from Michigan, his love for all things pop culture started early, once using pancakes to bribe his way onto the Oscars red carpet bleachers with his mother. In addition to writing for AwardsWatch, he is an huge sports fan and hosts the LGBTQ sports podcast “Same Team.” One day, he hopes Jane Krakowski will win an Emmy.
Sam Stone is a writer and actor based in Brooklyn, New York. He writes humor, culture, and travel among other things, and spends his free time reading about all those things. You can find him on twitter @sam_the_stone or on Instagram @samstone000.