Interview: JIMBO of JIMBO'S DRAG CIRCUS WORLD TOUR! at house of blues

We clown around with DRAG RACE ALL-STAR WINNER JIMBO!

By: Feb. 15, 2024
Interview: JIMBO of JIMBO'S DRAG CIRCUS WORLD TOUR! at house of blues
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Interview: JIMBO of JIMBO'S DRAG CIRCUS WORLD TOUR! at house of blues RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE ALL STARS SEASON 8 winner Jimbo is coming to the House of Blues in Houston on March 20th! He will be doing a one-man show consisting of six characters. He is backed up by two dancers and an accompanist. Jimbo is the first International winner to take the crown on ALL-STARS. He began in Canada on CANADA'S DRAG RACE SEASON ONE. Writer Brett Cullum got to talk with Jimbo about his start, his run with RuPaul, and this show!  


Brett Cullum: First things first. I blame you for every Drag Queen I see now wearing these huge breastplates with humongous mammaries. You have instigated the boob wars of this decade. You have a lot to answer for. Where did that first come from? 

JIMBO: Ah… the doors I have opened… and got stuck in! I guess I'm a clown. So I like big, I like bold, and I like sexy! My mom, I grew up in the eighties, so my mom had big breasts, and there was just something. I love Baywatch. Pamela Anderson is an icon. Dolly Parton is an icon! So is Elvira! She’s someone that I absolutely loved, and I was mesmerized by her beauty and her sense of humor. I guess there are all kinds of big, powerful, large-breasted women who have inspired me throughout my life, and I think that's why it's a part of my persona.

Brett Cullum: Well, it's definitely a signature for Jimbo, and anybody that wears them now they get compared, everybody says, “Oh, look! There's the discount, Jimbo.” So you've branded it already. So there you go. Okay, unless your Wikipedia is completely made up, which it could be. You are from a family of Canadian scientists. And you have a biology degree. Is that right?

JIMBO: Yeah. So my dad was a scientist, and I also went to the University of Western Ontario for a degree in biology, which took me over to study in Uganda as well. And yeah, it's true!

Brett Cullum: So then, after the science degree, you went to Victoria in British Columbia, and you did a stint as a costume designer for theatre. And I saw this mention, too. You even did some clothes for Hallmark movies. Is that right?

JIMBO: Yeah. So I met this designer, and he basically brought me into the Hallmark world, and I started working. I got to work with Jewel, who I'm a really big fan of. I got to be her personal dresser, and I got exposed to working in film and television. And I got my start working in theatre and putting together what you can for whatever you can. And when I moved into film, I brought my theatre work ethic with me, and and they really appreciated that. And so I was able to move up quite quickly through film and get a lot of experience before I went on to be on CANADA’S DRAG RACE. It helped me be more comfortable on the set there.

 

Brett Cullum: So this means you can sew like a maniac?  

Jimbo: I love sewing! Sewing is something I, as an artist working in theatre, and I like to say, that when you're an artist, you try to say yes to everything. And the company I was working for was called Atomic Vaudeville. They asked me, Can I sew an Austrian curtain? And I said, “Oh, of course I can!” You know I had never sewn before. So yeah, I just had to learn how to do that, basically. And I did it. It's what they call the “gay audacity,” where you just say, of course, I can do that, and then you figure out how to do it.

Brett Cullum: You brought into the drag world this sense of clowning. Did you study that formally? Was that something that you took classes or got a mentor? 

JIMBO: Yeah, I worked with a clown teacher here in Victoria named Britt Small, who's a director as well and the founder of a company called Atomic Vaudeville, which is a sketch comedy troupe here in Victoria. So I was first working and was introduced to Atomic Vaudeville through my partner at the time and his music band. I would tour and participate as a backup dancer or as the human disco ball and kind of do these funny kinda side entrances. And then Atomic Vaudeville said, “Okay, well, Jim, but why don't you get on stage? Be a part of these shows and be a performer!” So that was my first step on the stage, and then clowning really was what allowed me to understand what I loved about performance, which is really about connecting through immediacy and through being a conduit for joy and feeling in the moment. And I don't necessarily love rehearsing or too much preparation ahead of time, and clowning is that perfect thing where you show up with an idea, with an intention, and you throw it all away and give over to what actually happens and what feels good and what your audience wants. So there's something just magical about clowning that I still try to weave into everything I do.

Brett Cullum: How long had you been doing drag when you hit Canada's drag race stage?

JIMBO: I had been sort of toying around with drag for maybe three or four years prior to that. I had always been interested in drag. My brother and I had drag hidden in our basement as children, and we would go down, and we would get dressed up, and we would play and make up and play in my mom and my grandma's clothes, and then that was really seen as a bad negative thing. And so something we were really embarrassed by, obviously through our teens.

I sort of experimented in high school, being a little sexy cheerleader. And then again, I sort of dabbled again later, when I came out, but clowning really was my first entrance, and then I started weaving drag into my clown, and then, after some time doing that, I decided to try being beautiful and to stop being crazy looking, or ugly, and attempt to do a glamor, a beauty look so that was only sort of right around that start Canada's Drag Race where you kind of see I'm still pretty crunchy bunchy, trying to look pretty.

Brett Cullum: Now, Drag Race fans know that Rupaul doesn't host Canada; that's Brooke Lynn Hytes. But you did two seasons with Rupaul at the end of that runway. So what was it like going down there and thinking, oh, my gosh, I'm gonna be doing this for Rupaul! Was that intimidating?

JIMBO: It's really intimidating! It's also when you love fashion and when I realized that Ru wants a fashion show. And so Ru wants you to take the brief and to take the idea, and to put your own spin and gravy on it simultaneously, but also to do it through the lens of fashion. That's a fine line between fashion and costume. And, of course, these are all costumes we're showing, but I think if you try to elevate it and add that layer of famous supermodel, then that's when you really grab her attention.

 

I'm a fashion designer as well. I really loved that moment to collaborate with other artists, to conceive of these looks and costumes prior to going and using all these really elevated materials, and then to be able to present them to Mamma Ru, and to go in so excited with what I knew I had. I was really proud of what I was gonna show her.

It was magical. And a little bit stressful. But it's mostly exciting.

Brett Cullum: Did you have any inspirations in drag? Did you ever Look at certain drag queens and go, “Gosh, this is what I want to be.”

JIMBO: I was inspired first by Rupaul, seeing Rupaul as the most out-there Drag Queen in the world. Later, when I started watching John Waters movies, I was inspired by Divine and just how crazy and insane boundary-pushing that stuff was! 

Brett Cullum: Let's talk about this big tour! What can we expect from JIMBO’S DRAG CIRCUS coming to the Houston House of Blues on March Twentieth?

JIMBO: Yes, I'm so excited. I've been working my butt off. I'm at home in Victoria. I've been touring around the world and filming and working, and I took the past two months off, and I've been here working with my partner Brady, and my community here, my clown, teacher and director, Britt Small, and my friend, who's a set designer. And so it was cool to come back home and to be in my create and operate at a whole next level. We've got a really big show planned. We've got a cool set. We have an amazing light design. We have all kinds of cool costumes. I've got backup dancers and my friend Andrew, who I wrote music with over the past eight years he's come on as my musical accompanist and sort of sidekick foil in the show. So it's a one Queen show, but it's actually four of us in the show, counting two dancers, Me. And my friend Andrew and we've written all the music, and I sing all the music and wrote all the lyrics with Andrew. I perform six characters, and there are all kinds of dancing and choreo, and it's been amazing. It's a dream come true. We've been putting everything into it, so I can't wait to get it out on the road and to be touring around. We're going to fifty-six cities, and I can't wait to come to Houston. It's always fun in Houston.

Brett Cullum: It's interesting. We get a lot of pageant queens. So we're gonna be very excited to have somebody that's more of a performance-oriented type thing. How long does this show run in length, or, in other words, how big is it?

JIMBO: It's a 90-minute show, and then there's a 20-minute intermission in the middle, and so it runs about each half at 35 minutes or so. It's kind of got the vibe of an old circus, and kind of gets derailed in a funny way. 

Brett Cullum: Where can we find you, Jimbo?

JIMBO: You can find me at www.houseofjimbo.com. You can find me on Instagram, Jimbo, the drag clown, and you can find tickets to my new live show. Jimbo's Drag Circus at LiveNation or TicketMaster.  

Brett Cullum: Jimbo, you are my queen of queens. I have loved you since moment one when you walked into the workroom and said, “Wow!” that is like all I could ever say to you is that every time you come out I'm like, “Wow!” So, from RuPaul's drag race to conquering the world. We love you. We will definitely see you at House of Blues on March Twentieth. Thank you for being a queer voice out there, for raising the bar and drag and performance art, and for scaring TSA agents all around the country!




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