Austin author and motivational speaker Jackie Huba is the first woman to give a TED Talk as a female drag queen, appearing as her drag persona, Lady Trinity. She’s set to perform at the Austin Pride Festival on Aug. 27 alongside Bob the Drag Queen, Kelly Kline and Vegas Van Cartier. Her book, “Fiercely You,” written with therapist Shelly Stewart Kronbergs, encourages drag-queen-like confidence for just about everybody.
We asked her a few questions.
American-Statesman: What does it mean to be a female drag queen in 2016?
Jackie Huba: There have been women doing drag as a female characters for decades but mostly under the mainstream radar. Because of the success of the reality competition television show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has been on for eight seasons and is broadcast around the world, more and more women have been exposed to drag and are inspired to emulate the queens they see on the show. That’s how I got started. I saw how these drag performers on the show creating confident and bold female characters and a few years ago, I was in a place where I really needed some confidence. I decided to explore creating a drag alter ego, aka Lady Trinity, and actually perform as her. Then I could channel that bold character in my everyday life when I needed her. But I bow down to female drag queens, Crimson Kitty from New York City, and Fauxnique and Holy McGrail from San Francisco, and others who are veterans in this category.
Do you encounter resistance to your inclusion in that category today?
I’ve not had that experience, though I do write in the book about some female drag queens in London who have been the victims of misogyny. Personally I’ve found the drag community itself to be extremely accepting of women who do drag. They’ve told me they love seeing anyone love the art form as much as they do. My drag mother and Kelly Kline, a 25-year veteran drag performer here in Austin, has been my biggest mentor and cheerleader. My drag sisters in Austin and San Antonio have also been extremely supportive, offering tips on costuming, wig styling, etc. And I’m so honored to have the support of RuPaul, the queen of queens, who so kindly endorsed my new book, “Fiercely You: Be Fabulous and Confident by Thinking Like a Drag Queen,” with quote for the cover.
At times, some women feel insulted by the exaggerated performances of female identity among drag queens. Do you ever run across that?
I haven’t run across this. Drag is not about mocking women; it’s about mocking the cultural concept of identity. I think people who don’t get irony, don’t get drag. Most of the women I’ve encountered love drag queens for their ability to be to unapologetically fierce and fabulous, no matter what criticism they might receive.
What kind of woman should try on this kind of drag?
Every woman! But I’m not just talking about what one wears that can be empowering. In “Fiercely You,” we outline the “Five Keys to Fierce,” which are lessons lessons I have learned doing drag as well as from interviewing the top drag queens in the country. They are: Create Your Drag Persona. Consciously create the person you’ve always wanted to be. Always Look Sickening in Everyday Drag. Dress for power. Strike a Pose and Embody Your Power. Use power posing and physicality to instill inner confidence. Tell Your Critics to Sashay Away. Quiet both inner and outer critics. You Better Werk! Take small risks to propel yourself to taking even bigger ones.
Actually, these lessons can apply to anyone of any age. In the book, we profile an eighty-seven year old great-grandmother who built a badass persona for herself, called Baddie Winkle, that saved her from depression. And we also feature a sixteen year old boy who because a viral YouTube star and subsequent LGBTQ activist who shares how he feels as fierce as a drag queen everyday.
Your book is about empowerment through fierceness. Boil that down for us.
We all want to be confident and self-assured. But too often we let fear and self-doubt derail us from pursuing our passions and accomplishing our biggest goals. With Fiercely You, we want our readers to work through those fears by getting fierce, as fierce as a drag queen. Our Five Keys to Fierce are lessons from drag queens but translated into everyday life activities. The Keys are all rooted in psychological principles. I collaborated with a licensed therapist, Shelly Stewart Kronbergs, who breaks down the psychological research into layman’s terms in the book, and explains how the Keys really work. In each Key, we give our readers specific tasks to accomplish to help them get outside their comfort zone and take more risks; no wigs and stilettos are required, but they are highly encouraged!