Jamie: Finding Family in the Drag World

“Drag is my alter ego,” she said, “It gives me confidence. It’s what I want to be.”

Jamie, now 21, has been performing drag for the past two years. For our interview, she sits in her bedroom in full drag attire – a black choker, thigh-high stockings, platinum blonde hair. 

She left Japan in 2016. “I was like a misfit,” she recalled. “I was so different. In Japanese tradition everyone had to be the same, and I just– I didn’t want that.” 

Jamie grew up as a shy Filipino boy named Shota who loved dancing. Since the age of 18, she would watch in awe as many different drag performers went on stage night after night. One night, Jamie saw a drag group performance of the Pussycat Dolls here in Melbourne – they later became her drag family. 

It gave her four drag sisters, and a beloved drag mother, Gigi. “In this house, we are all people of colour,” she explained. “It’s unique, and there’s more diversity.” 

Drag mother Gigi became a doting figure. “She would call me, ask if I’d like to come over, offer me Filipino food…” Gigi also helped Jamie book performing gigs. In one of their shows in St. Kilda last year, Jamie’s mother from Japan had come to visit and watch. 

“My mom’s always been supportive,” Jamie said, even when raising the shy boy Jamie once was. “She’s really fun, she loves people.” On that shownight, she was introduced to Gigi.

The two women clicked from the very beginning.  “They were like besties,” Jamie told me. They shared a language, went out to lunch, had their own jokes. “It was like they [had known] each other for a long time.”

Jamie’s mother still lives in Japan, in full support of Jamie’s career. When I asked what she thought of the show, Jamie answered, “She always knew I loved dancing.”

The drag family stays in touch, including Gigi, who now runs a business from her home. “People accept you no matter what,” Jamie added. “So be who you want to be.”