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Get Into the Ring with Jimbo’s Drag Circus

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From the moment Jimbo was introduced on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race, it was evident that a star was born. She went on to compete on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs the World and snatched the crown as the winner of the eighth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. This multi-talented artist has quickly reached drag icon status, garnering international recognition. In addition to her unforgettable takes on Joan Rivers and Shirley Temple, her runway looks and eccentric talent show performances made her a standout in the Drag Race family.

Hailing from Victoria, British Columbia, Jimbo is a designer known for show-stopping looks and creating a spectacle that leaves the audience screaming for more. And now, Jimbo is delivering what fans have been craving and is taking her artistry and talent on the road with the Jimbo’s Drag Circus Tour. The world tour will begin with 37 US cities starting in Royal Oak, Michigan, on February 29, followed by 20 Canadian cities starting May 17 in Peterborough, Ontario.

We had a chance to chat with Jimbo about what fans can expect from her new “One Queen Show”, her inspirations, music, and so much more in our exclusive interview.  

Can you tell me a little bit about the Jimbo’s Drag Circus Tour? 
It’s a dream come true. I have been working my little butt off, and I’ve been rehearsing. I came back here to Victoria where I live and work. I’ve got a really great community here. I’ve worked with my clown coach and a director, Britt Small from Atomic Vaudeville, which is a really cool local community theater that has produced some really amazing work that tours nationally and I also brought in my friend Marshall, who’s a really cool set designer from Vancouver.

I’ve collaborated with an artist, Cat Dirty, who I love to work with, on my merch. He’s got a really, really cool perspective. We’ve got a really beautiful, amazing set that is so mind-blowing. I’m so excited to show everybody and we’ve got a really cool light show. We’ve got two sexy dancers and I’ve been working on my choreo and brushing up on my dancing. I also have written music with my friend, Andrew who is a musical collaborator of mine. We’ve worked together making music for about eight years and we wrote all the music for the show, all the lyrics, and I sing and perform it.

I get to do characters, I play six characters, and I wrote the music, and I made the story, and did a little bit of the direction, and I’m performing in it, so it’s really exciting that I get to show all the things I love about what I do.

Do you enjoy touring? 
I do. I love chaos. I love travel. I love having a new kind of day every day in a new place, waking up in a new city. And I love being on the road. It’s been so much fun. I’ve been basically on tour for the past three years. When I haven’t been filming a show, I’ve been touring around doing shows and meeting people and performing. I love live performance and I love connecting with my fans so it’s a dream.  

I’m sure you’ve had this question a million times, but how did you get your start in drag?
Drag is something I’ve always been curious as a little queer boy growing up. I’ve always gravitated to things at that time that I wasn’t really supposed to like. I wasn’t supposed to like the color pink, and I wasn’t supposed to like dresses, and I wasn’t supposed to like all those shiny, fancy things that my grandma had, and that my mom had, like makeup.

I grew up in the 80s, which was a lot of big hair and big breasts and there’s something about that time and era that really spoke to me. There’s something about glamour and power and femininity and also about just being open to those sides of ourselves that are just naturally there where people naturally gravitate to things that are not necessarily what they’ve always been told are for them. So, drag is a perfect way to kind of explore all those things that you like. And even if it’s not, you know, socially normal, it’s not a social expectation, it’s still fun to be subversive and be an artist and push boundaries and try things on and I love drag for that reason.

You kind of strike me as more of a performance artist than a drag artist. You said you’re playing six characters on the tour; how do you develop those characters?
I think it’s really about just being open to trying different things and not getting too stuck in any particular one way. I love play and I love doing different voices. I’m really curious about people and other point of views and perspectives. And so, there’s something really fun about trying other physicalities and trying other voices and there’s also that little trickster side of me, there’s something about illusion and taking on other forms, kind of being a chameleon that’s also really interesting to me. I think that character work is all about that. It’s about being curious. It’s about being open and it’s about kind of channeling energy and that’s what I love about it.  

You’ve developed some very interesting characters, very memorable characters during your time on Drag Race. Do you have a favorite? 
I really love doing my Joan Rivers impersonation, and I love doing my Shirley Temple impersonation. I love just being totally whacked. You know, with Joan Rivers, I can be really kind of loud and really funny and kind of say whatever I want. And, with Shirley Temple, I can be really sort of spastic and unpredictable and tap dance around like crazy all around the bar and whip my hair all around. At the end of the day, I just really like making people laugh and both of those do one through physicality and one through jokes.

How did you get into music?
Each song that I’ve written with Andrew has kind of stemmed from a character or from a story we’re trying to tell. But all of the music I’ve put out has been sort of written or developed or made over different periods of time and it’s kind of shifted. I kind of love that about music, as it represents a certain feeling or a certain time and that’s what I’m really excited about with my new show, Jimbo’s Drag Circus, because I was able to work with Andrew and we’re really good at writing together.

We were able to write, I think, maybe seven or eight new songs for this show. It’s fun just being inspired and going with the flow. There’s so many different genres and types of music that we love, and in the show we tried to explore that and try to channel different genres of music. So, it kind of goes all over the place, but all within a certain cohesion set within a circus kind of feel.

I loved your cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Are there other songs that you would want to cover? 
I love music videos and I love big productions and I love the artistry in music videos. I love set design. Prior to Drag Race, I was a set designer in film and theater, so I love music videos because they’re that perfect combination of performance, set design, and music and it kind of brings everything together. So, I would definitely love to cover some Prince music videos. He was always so extra and so glamorous and I love the energy of that time.

What has been the best thing that’s happened to you since winning All Stars?  
I would say the best thing that’s happened to me is this tour. It’s a dream of my life to tour around to that many cities and that do many shows and for it to be sold at the level that it has. The way it has been received is absolutely so exciting. A lot of the shows are really full and some are even sold out. It’s really exciting to see not only in my sort of achieving my dreams and doing it at a level I’m so proud of. It’s being received so well by so many people. So, I’m just so grateful. 

I loved your series It’s My Special Show. Are you planning to do more television?
I love doing It’s My Special Show. I love interviewing people. Like I said, I love meeting people, connecting with people. I think there’s something so important about listening and about sharing stories. I am a storyteller at heart. That’s what it all draws back to is telling stories and hearing stories.

And, um, it’s my special show was kind of similar to what I want to do with my own show, House of Jimbo, in that I really want to do a show that kind of mixes sketch comedy, uh, and with this sort of interview style portion. So hopefully I’ll get to do it again. Yeah, I would love to.

Do you think that drag performers now are being recognized more as artists?
Yeah. I think people are able to look past what was considered to be a taboo at some time. And they’re able to see, okay, these are artists that have great points of view and incredible work ethics. Artists really try to make do with what they can and try to live beyond their means and, and try to express beyond their means.

And I think that that’s what is so magical for people to watch is, you know, seeing people live out their fantasies and, and live out their best selves, but also trying to do it at this level that typically we see for rock stars or actresses and that’s what sort of ball culture and drag is all about – sort of taking these things that are seemingly inaccessible and making them accessible and trying them on and feeling that fantasy.

Now, you’ve done so many things already. You’ve done music; you’re doing this tour. Is there anything that you would still like to do that you haven’t tried yet?  
I’ve done reality television, and I would really love to do scripted television. I’d love to be in a sitcom. I have my own ideas for movies or series, so I would really love to just continue to work as a storyteller and create opportunities for people. I think that’s really important.  

As far as storytelling, any interest in writing an autobiography or a memoir or something like that?
Yeah, that’s something – my story and the story with my family and my parents – my journey has been quite crazy. And whenever I kind of go into it with people, they’re always kind of like, holy shit, you need to write a book about that and so that’s definitely something that I plan on doing. I feel like it’s important to laugh and to look at your life even when things were difficult – I like to say I was burnished in the flames of hell – it makes you realize you have to choose joy and you have to really work to make joy happen in your life. It’s important to do. So I would love to tell that story and tell a biography of some kind.

Out of everything that you’ve done, what are you the most proud of? 
I would definitely say I’m most proud of my ability to just stay true to who I am and to connect with so many people for that reason. That’s how I ended up winning Drag Race. I really did have my own point of view and take on what I was presenting, and people really appreciated that. They appreciated me sticking to who I was and sharing that. So, I think that my biggest success so far is winning this crown and being able to have a platform that is celebrated and supported. It’s just a dream. 

For more information and tickets for Jimbo’s Drag Circus visit www.dragfans.com. Follow Jimbo on Instagram and https://houseofjimbo.com/


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