Yesterday, OnMilwaukee reported on all the deets of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's 19th Annual Drag Show, including that Jazz Nance – aka Lady J when she’s on stage – will emcee the popular event that takes place tonight.
We recently chatted with Nance about Lady J and found out a bit more about her and what’s in store for the sure-to-be-fabuloso show.
Can we talk about the not-on-stage you for a minute first?
Sure. I moved to Milwaukee from Miami - where I was active in the drag community and performed often. I went to UWM, received a degree in social work and do not perform very often anymore, but I always say yes to UWM. It’s my alma mater.
You created Lady J’s character, she is obviously based on who you are, but who exactly is she in her own right?
Lady J is an eclectic woman and an African goddess. Originally, she was created out of Halloween costumes I put together back in Miami. Lady J’s passion is empowering women. She’s also a tribute to my grandmother, who was the biggest influence in my life, as well as strong female icons like Janet Jackson, the poet Nikki Giovanni and Madonna.
Most of all, Lady J is classy. She is always a Lady.
How does Lady J dress?
She is very couture. Currently, her appearance is the art of Kelvin Hayden, my drag daddy and dear friend, who listens to my visions and then interprets them very well. This year, we’re going a lot more risqué then we have in the past – I’m gonna show off a lot more leg because I have the gams to do it – but still, in a very classy way.
We are focusing on my face more, rather than my hair. I usually wear a lot of wigs, but now I am focusing on my talents and the natural beauty of my face rather than my hair. I’m even going with a ‘bald look.’
Does Lady J do her own makeup?
She enjoys doing it and has done her own makeup, but she usually uses that time to relax her nerves and prepare for the show so I have a "Glam Squad" that takes care of makeup and hair. Kelvin is doing the makeup for this show because, as I mentioned, Lady J is focusing on her face and doesn’t need a (hair) stylist for this show.
What does Lady J like about being on stage?
She loves – and I love – the love she gets from the audience. Lady J loves to celebrate love, diversity and inclusion and she feels this from the audience and gives it back. After the shows, when she gets to meet and greet the audience, she feels so blessed to know that people were reached and given an experience that’s different from other performances they’ve seen.
How is Jazz and Lady J different from each other?
Lady J is much more outgoing. I’m pretty introverted in my day-to-day life and focus on my professional life as a social worker. It’s extremely important to me.
What does Lady J like to do when she’s not performing?
She loves shopping. She loves creating her next look. And she loves nurturing new talents. Lady J is very observant. She is very approachable. If you need advice she’s there for you.
How is Milwaukee's drag scene compared to Miami’s?
It’s different from what I’m used to, but it’s also a different generation now. I’m very inspired by what I see, but hopefully it is still blossoming.
Did you feel welcomed by the Milwaukee drag scene when you moved here?
For the most part. I think that I don't put myself out there as much because I am a more seasoned queen and have my own standards and values and choose not to put myself out there. But any time UWM calls me, I’m there. I love giving back to my university.
Tickets to tonight's show are first come, first serve and for sale at the Miller High Life Theater starting at 5 p.m. For more information, visit the UWM Drag Show's Facebook event page or official site.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.