Drag Race icon Jimbo on trolls, TV drama and ‘representing all the weirdos’

Drag Race star Jimbo.

Being a clown takes a lot of work – twenty years of work, in fact, says RuPaul’s Drag Race fan-favourite Jimbo, as she speaks to PinkNews from her home in Canada.

She’s sitting in a room full of evidence, too: mannequins, wigs, hats and masks are scattered behind her. When we speak, she’s only been back home from a drag cruise across the Caribbean for a few hours. By the end of the week, she’ll be in the US on her next big tour.

This is a queen who has done a lot, but still has a lot to do.

“I don’t do much resting or reflecting. I probably should but I prefer to stay busy and keep going,” she tells PinkNews. “I’m constantly thinking: ‘What am I going to do next? How am I going to get out there and work?’”

It’s barely been four years since the world was introduced to Jimbo’s distinct style, in the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race. She walked into the werk room dressed as a sort of sexy Mickey Mouse meets Ronald McDonald mash-up, and proceeded to spin in circles. Her drag sisters looked bewildered, but viewers quickly fell in love with her kookiness. 

She came fourth, narrowly missing out on the final, but returned less than two years later for Drag Race UK vs the World. Again, she was unceremoniously booted off, this time by fellow competitor Pangina Heals. After the fandom had a furious meltdown over the elimination, RuPaul took note and invited her back for All Stars 8 last year. Third time lucky, as they say. She won – with ease. 

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Drag Race winner Jimbo
Drag Race star Jimbo won All Stars 8 in 2023. (Fernando Cysneiros)

“I went on Canada’s Drag Race as an unknown, mystery queen from the very west coast of Canada,” she says. For two decades before appearing on the show, Jimbo had worked in production design for theatre and film. The job influenced her drag, but she wasn’t really known as a performer – even among Victoria’s small queer community. 

“It was the audience and the world’s response that really encouraged me to say: ‘OK, I’m doing something people want to see’, and that encouraged me to dig in and go further,” she adds.

“I felt I had graduated in some way after Drag Race.”

What fans seem to enjoy about Jimbo is how she refuses to compromise on what her brand of drag is: disruptive, absurd, twisted. Most notably, on All Stars 8, she delivered a franchise-best routine in the Snatch Game, performing as an adult-sized Shirley Temple, tap dancing included.

Judge Michelle Visage called it “wrong, in all the best ways,” while RuPaul, behind the scenes, thanked Jimbo for making drag punk again.

“Ru said that he saw a lot of the artists and the history of New York – the Club Kids scene and the art scene he came up in – he saw a lot of that history in my art and the way I perform,” Jimbo says.

“He said I was an awesome, punk rock take on drag, and more about the artistry of it than about selling realness.”

In Drag Race UK vs the World’s first episode, Ru squealed with joy as Jimbo, dressed as a warped version of Casper the Friendly Ghost, excreted ham from a crotch pouch and launched it at the host.

When she was sent packing, she turned the situation around by making Ru howl with laughter at her final exit line, referring to Visage as Toto from The Wizard of Oz. Leaving the contest in seventh place was “devastating”, but as soon as the producers contacted her for All Stars 8, there was no doubt in her mind about making a return.

UK vs The World, that was shocking, but it was also an awesome story, and when you’re making TV shows, you want people to care. You want there to be big reactions. We want the drama,” she says.

“It’s a big story that I’m telling and having fun telling. I love Drag Race. I love competing. I love making TV.”

Making brilliant TV comes with some pretty sizeable rewards, too. In Jimbo’s case, that’s the $200,000 (£157,000) she picked up for winning All Stars. “The money has been locked away so I can’t spend it. I want to buy a piece of property somewhere,” she says.

Her Drag Race tenure also enabled her to create what she describes as her biggest project to date: Jimbo’s Drag Circus, which is touring the US and Canada until June.

It’s an all-singing, all-dancing show featuring her headline-grabbing drag characters, including Casper and Shirley, set against a “creepy old carnival” vibe. It’s a “spectacle”, and something she’s been working on since before All Stars 8 even aired.

“Had I not been working consistently and competing and putting myself out there on TV for the past three years, I wouldn’t have had that fan base, or the resources to make this happen,” she says.

Jimbo All Stars 8 look
Drag Race success allowed Jimbo to take her own “weird” show on the road. (Fernando Cysneiros)

“It’s a dream come true to be able to work at this level. I would never have been able to do that without Drag Race.”

Of course, there are some less-than-fabulous repercussions that come with being one of the most distinctive drag performers in the world. Some people simply don’t get Jimbo’s shtick: they think she’s too weird, too favoured by Drag Race producers, too bad at lip-syncing to win.

Some even think she’s mocking women: on All Stars 8, she entered the werk room in a nude bodysuit complete with watermelon-sized breasts, sparking a social media storm.

“People are gonna have their opinions, that’s just life,” she says. “Drag and art are subjective. At the end of the day, I’m gonna stay true to myself, I’m gonna do my art, I’m going to have a good time.

“People are going to make things up and they’re going to assign their own meaning to what you’re doing, [but] I know my own truths. I know my own intentions.”

For her part, she’s not focused on online negativity, but instead on those who show up and support her in person, and those who feel able to fly their freak flag a little higher thanks to her drag.

“People share that I encourage them to be a little bit weirder and a little bit more wild in their own way. I love representing all the weirdos and all those people on the fringe, or who feel ‘other’. That’s awesome.”

Tickets for Jimbo’s Drag Circus are available to buy now.

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