Short Fuse Podcast #63: Jasmine Rice Labeija, From Juilliard to Performing as a Drag Queen

By Elizabeth Howard



Episode Summary

Jasmine Rice Labeija, “the International Godmother of the House of LaBeija,” is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where she majored in opera before becoming an acclaimed drag queen. In a provocative (and amusing) conversation with Elizabeth Howard, LaBeija talks about what it means to perform in drag and why she has forsaken the opera stage. And, given that drag has become so enmeshed in American culture, LaBeija questions why many lawmakers want to pass legislation to prohibit it.

For anyone who is not familiar with drag, we are performers. We like to be on stage. We want to express ourselves. We’re not here to cause any harm. I don’t understand how you think wearing pounds of makeup, giant lashes that reach my eyebrows, and wrapped in yards and yards of fabric, while balancing under a 10 pound wig, somehow equates to something sexual?

— Jasmine Rice Labeija, the International Godmother of the House of Labeija

Episode Notes

Jasmine Rice Labeija. Photo: courtesy of the artist

Jasmine Rice Labeija is an iconic entertainer. In 2017, she was one of the leading cast members in the Fusion Network documentary series Shade, Queens of New York City. She has been a host of Dragged, which won a Shorty Award in Diversity and Inclusion, and she was the face of New York City’s 2020 Pride celebrations. LaBeija is a graduate of the Juilliard School and made her opera debut at the Shell with the San Diego Symphony as a special guest soloist with Megan Hilty, Rob Fisher conducting. This year she was invited back to the Guggenheim Museum for a solo recital and she appeared at Lincoln Center.

Works & Process is described by the New York Times as “an exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process.” This is a renowned performing arts series at the Guggenheim — for the past 35 years it has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers.

The Short Fuse Podcast is hosted and produced by Elizabeth Howard. Learn more at Elizabeth Howard.

The Arts Fuse was established in June 2007 as a curated, independent online arts magazine dedicated to publishing in-depth criticism, along with high quality previews, interviews, and commentaries. The publication’s over 60 freelance critics (many of them with decades of experience) cover dance, film, food, literature, music, television, theater, video games, and visual arts. Our core belief: that there is a robust readership for arts coverage that believes that culture matters.

Alex Waters is the technical producer, audio editor, and engineer for The Short Fuse Podcast. He is a music producer and a student at Berklee College of Music. He has written and produced music and edited for podcasts including The Faith, Chai Podcast, and Con Confianza. He writes, produces, and records music for independent artists, including The Living. He lives in Brooklyn and can be reached at with inquiries.

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