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Article written by Alexander Rodriguez, host of On the Rocks with Alexander
Laganja Estranja is not only fun to say, but she’s also fun to listen to and her catchphrases were credited by Bianca Del Rio as being the root of every memorable quote to come soon after. She’s over the top, dramatic, and an emotional roller coaster…and she made the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race worth it. She comes from a family of Drag Race royalty, including Alyssa Edwards, Shangela, and Plastique Tiara, and got her start at West Hollywood’s Mickys almost ten years ago. Besides the bigger than life drag persona, this Texan born performer has an extensive education and career in dance choreography.
Laganja, also known by her boy name Jay Jackson, is a U.S. Presidential Scholar in The Arts and went to a performing arts school in Texas and later graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California School of the Arts. Her choreography credits include Germany's Next Top Model, NYC Cosmetics FACE Awards, and for commercial artists such as Miley Cyrus and Brooke Candy. Her passion project, Laganja's Dance School, has literally traveled the globe teaching attendees confidence building dance practices…in heels.
Musically, she can be heard on several RuPaul inspired projects, including a bevy of her own singles with more music on the horizon. We can’t wait. And, for all you smokers out there, she has been an instrumental advocate for marijuana legalization and has spoken out about the latent homophobia in the cannabis industry.
We chatted with Laganja about naughty times on the road, pot, and who she would kill on Drag Race. Check it out:
Your one-liners and catchphrases have become iconic and set the bar high for comedy in drag. Where does your unique sense of humor come from?
I think my unique sense of humor comes from growing up in Musical Theatre. I was surrounded by adults at a very young age, and that exposed me to more mature, oddball humor.
What was being raised in Dallas as a gay boy like?
Growing up in Texas was not as bad as you might think. Of course, I got made fun of for being a feminine boy and having interests different than my peers, but overall it is a very liberal city. I was also fortunate enough to attend an arts magnet high school, and so I was surrounded by like-minded people.
You studied dance professionally in school. What did you learn most from your studies that you wish other, current day performers would learn?
I am so thankful I went to college. With both my parents being high school counselors for 30+ years, it wasn’t like I had an option. But I truly discovered myself as an artist during this time. I also learned about art history, which I think has been very useful in this industry and as a performer.
You have toured internationally with your drag. What’s the naughtiest on the road story you can share?
It’s truly hard to share my naughtiest moments on the road, not because I’m embarrassed but because, quite honestly, I don’t remember them. Laganja is a wild child for sure. Trust and believe, I’ve had plenty of fun on my travels.
Have you ever hooked up with a fan? Give us the details.
Of course, I have hooked up with one of my # buds. Probably the most fun I ever had landed me a two hundred dollar fine for smoking in my hotel room.
What was it like working with Miley?
Working with Miley was a dream come true. To be celebrated by an artist with her platform was incredible. But, truly, my most cherished moment with her was when she sang for me, my dear friend, and manager at the time (Kristen Lovell), and Justin Johnson on the piano. It was our own, little private concert and such a special moment but I’ll never forget.
How has Drag Race changed the most, in your opinion, since your season?
I believe Drag Race over the last couple of years has become more focused on the drama and less on the individual’s stories/growth. I also think because the challenges have not really changed, the show's format is quite predictable.
Do you have any more singles coming our way? We need more music!
Yes. I actually just completed a trip to Atlanta, where I work with my music producers BSE. My new single, “Daddy,” will be dropping November 30, 2020.
You have talked openly about homophobia in the cannabis industry. Is this getting better?
I do believe homophobia in the cannabis industry is getting better each and every day. But I am a true believer that slow and steady wins the race. We would not have cannabis here in California if it wasn’t for the fight that my LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters went through. It is our duty to continue to create safe spaces for one another in this industry, and I know personally I will not stop until that happens.
Laganja’s Dance School has literally traveled the globe. What can the US learn from other students abroad?
I truly encourage world travel. It has changed my life greatly by allowing me to see how others operate. I think there are many things we can learn from students who live in other countries, but one of the greatest things I’ve learned in my travels is humility. I think America is very selfish, and I have definitely realized on my travels to other countries how much I truly have to be grateful for.
Your favorite part about choreographing? Least favorite part?
My favorite part about choreographing is being with dancers in a space that makes us most comfortable. It is truly a freeing feeling to be creating movement on the spot with others who know how to move exactly like you. My least favorite part is the rigorous stamina that rehearsals require you to have. Doing the same movements over and over, specifically when they involve partnering, can be quite hard on the body.
You have a huge social media following. What kind of DMs to get? Anything fun?
Unfortunately, my DMs are pretty clean. Mostly 13 to 14-year-old girls who feel like they do not belong and are looking for inspiration and encouragement. But this is still fun for me! If my voice can help another soul, then I am happy.
If you were to design a pair of Andrew Christian underwear, what would they look like?
Most likely my underwear would be inspired by the 1990s Missy Elliott aesthetic. Bold choices, great neon pops of color, or obviously green and displaying my love for miss Mary Jane and on-brand with everything Laganja Estranja is about!
Drag Race Queen who could use a few more dance lessons:
Kiss Marry Kill: Ross Mathews, Carson Kressley, RuPaul
Kiss Ross, Kill Carson, Marry Rupaul
Worst onstage mishap:
Most undrag thing you do in real life:
The first body part you notice in a guy:
You can follow Laganja on Instagram @LaganjaEstranja and check out her website with all her info: https://laganjaestranja.com/Previous Next
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