James Majesty is a problematic queen and she's proud of it. The Seattle-based drag queen is combative online, she doesn't care which pronouns you use when referring to her (she jokes that she would prefer "your Majesty"), and there is countless nasty gossip surrounding her drag persona. Redditers vehemently spread the rumor that she fucked her porn star brother, and when it was announced that she would be on season 2 of the Boulet Brothers' drag competition, Dragula, she was referred to online as "the incest one." (The brother in question, porn star Taylor Reign, isn't actually her biological relative, and she says she doesn't fuck him.) Whether it's intentional or not, Majesty is a queen of controversy.
Getting a spot on Dragula was a new turn for the performer. The show—which is billed as a rowdy, filthy alternative to RuPaul's Drag Race—was a great fit for Majesty, whose Twitter account is a mix of gorgeous drag selfies and porn videos of buff men coming on twinks. (The mix is roughly 80/20, with the majority being cumshots.) Majesty was quickly the frontrunner in the competition, turning out stunning looks that matched the Boulet Brothers' aesthetic while enduring challenges that included requiring her to stand in an ice bucket for an hour, and punching other queens in a Thunderdome. Last night's finale should have been Majesty's shining moment, but her crowning as America's next "drag supermonster" never happened. Instead, the Brothers picked the dark horse contestant, Biqtch Puddin, to win the crown. Majesty appeared to come in a close second.
The Stranger sat down with Majesty right before filming Dragula to talk about Seattle, liberalism, and dame Judi Dench, and then briefly chatted with her before Dragula's finale about her experience on the show. Both interviews are below, condensed and edited for clarity.
Do you think Seattle has seen the real James Majesty?
Unless you’ve seen me perform at Kremwerk, you have not seen James Majesty. I put myself out there when I’m there or the Timbre Room. That’s where I’m being myself. They produce a place where you can be yourself. At Neighbours or R Place, I have to be a drag queen. I put tights on at Neighbours. At Kremwerk my dick is out on the stage, and that’s what I’m about.
What sort of queens do you idolize?
My idols are Judi Dench and Edie Sedgwick. I wanna be this powerful bitch who is just fucking crazy. Notes on a Scandal. Have you seen it? Oh my god—Judi Dench! Her and Cate Blanchet. She is a sociopathic lesbian lover. It's incredible.
I like old ladies. As a boy, when I’m James Barker, I wear big huge round prescription glasses on my face to idolize Iris. I have Andy Warhol tattooed on my arm. I like that old woman of power and artistic person.
You admire Judi Dench—that's great—but are there drag queens you admire?
Imp Queen in Chicago. I really admire her a lot. She is very outspoken about individuality and problems at hand. In Seattle, we are very focused on self-identity. I think she has a different type of focus on it. She’s focused on self-identity, but in a way that’s... her and I don’t give a fuck about it. Sure, focus on it. It’s important. Let it be what it is, but there are more important things in the world.
I like Imp Queen a lot, but besides her I really cannot think of anybody. My peers and I don’t get along very well—I’m not focused the way they are. You know, my age range of boys… in the gay community… I don’t hang out with people. I don’t hang out with boys. I hang out with my brother. I hang out with my roommate. And two of my best friends. That’s it. Because I don’t connect with my peers. I don’t know. I have no way of explaining it.
People have strong opinions on you.
When there are issues that I see that need attention, I help them in problematic ways.
Problematic? Do you think that's why you don't feel embraced by Seattle?
If I wanted to be embraced, I would have followed all the fucking rules. I could easily do that. The easiest thing to do is to be a part of the company. But to be a CEO of your own art? That’s a whole different level.
Do you think James Majesty would do better in a different political climate?
It’s a challenge. I wouldn’t be problematic if it wasn’t for here. Like, I’m a crazy liberal. But if this wasn’t so progressive, I wouldn’t have to fight so hard. When we get stuck in our bubbles where that’s OUR thing and that’s OUR sport and WE’RE winning, we forget that the other side has humans, too. You need to find the in-between. We don’t need to fight for our side. We need to fight for the understanding between both of us.
Did Dragula change the way you perform James Majesty?
I wouldn't say Dragula has changed the way I perform but it has allowed me to be more true to myself. I was stuck in a rut for so long working at a club that promoted normalcy and pop music that I was hindered from expressing myself the way I like to. Dragula helped me find myself again.
Are you still a Seattle queen?
I've never felt like a Seattle Queen, I've never fit in here. But because of Dragula I've realized fitting in isn't what I care about anymore. If I was in a city where I meshed perfectly my charter wouldn't be of any service to that community. So, sure I guess I'm a Seattle queen, but you won't see me doing regular shows here anytime soon.*
*Post-Dragula Majesty says she's working on finishing her music projects and working on a new touring show. You can—and should—follow her on Instagram.
An earlier version of this post listed Kyra Sedgwick when the correct name was Edie Sedgwick. We regret the error.