Eight seasons in (counting Allstars), the juggernaut that is RuPaul’s Drag Race is more powerful than ever. Last season’s finale seemed to be an inescapable pop culture moment — winner Bianca Del Rio was everywhere, with the other girls not that far behind. Here in Toronto, bruises are still healing from the riot that broke out when Sharon Needles performed at Fly, and every time a RPDR alumni shows up in Toronto, people freak out. Well, be prepared to flip every wig you have when RuPaul’s Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons rolls into the city for the second time. Pretty much every queen worth noting will be there, including one of our own dark horse favorites: the vivacious and curvy Jiggly Caliente. Season 4 of the show saw her make it seven episodes in before getting chopped, but she has maintained her popularity and fan base.
She’s particularly excited to bring the Battle to Toronto for two reasons, both of which start with the letter “F”: fans and family. “I have an aunt and a gay cousin in Toronto. I have to bring up my level because this is going to be the first time my family is gonna get to see me perform outside of just looking at it on YouTube! My shows are usually at clubs, and staying up late after midnight is a bit much for my aunt.”
As for the fans? They’re the entire reason she loves being on tour. “I love touring because it’s the only way we actually get to meet our fans from everywhere. Granted, it can get grueling when it’s back to back to back-to-back shows . . . but you know what? Suck it up! I signed up for this. This is our job. You don’t see Beyoncé complaining about her tour schedule, so neither should we. I love this job.” Even when fandom goes a little bit too far, she still finds it rewarding. “In Australia, a fan dressed up as my baked potato couture. Another had my costume from the zombie challenge, with the leg and everything. And she didn’t even make it the way I did . . . and it didn’t look that good, but she just rocked that into the street and took public transportation in that outfit — so kudos to her. It just goes to show how much people really do love the show.”
Before landing on the fourth season, Jiggly herself was one of those who adored RPDR, and like many fans, she still watches the show religiously. “Of course I’m watching the new season! I was a fan of the show before I got on it, so it’s always fun to see what the girls are like. We all make the judgements of them while we’re watching it, like, ‘Oh I could have done that better, I would have done it like this.’ Even I’m guilty of it! It’s like gay football for us.” Anyone who’s ever been near a film or TV set knows that a production schedule is rarely fun and not particularly glamorous, but four seasons later, she does miss the bonding with her fellow cast mates. “I didn’t have a bad experience. I was with a good group of girls, what I call the season of ‘funners.’ There was a lot of fun while we were filming.”
Friendship can be a rarity in showbiz — even more so in the notoriously catty and dramatic world of drag queens — but for Jiggly, she and her cast mates “have a bond that’s lasted. Only we can understand and relate to what we went through for that amount of weeks. They are the only ones who can understand and feel my pain when we’re shooting for eight hours in high heels and your feet are basically numbed to death, but you still have to smile and make the best of it.” Jiggly’s positive and fun personality extends to queens off the show as well, and it turns out she’s a huge fan of one of Toronto’s own local legends: “Right now, an entertainer that I’m completely obsessed with is a Canadian: Brooke Lynn Hytes. I thought Alyssa Edwards had legs for days, but this bitch has legs. For days. I’m just totally obsessed with her.”
Unlike many visiting performers, she actually knows her stuff when it comes to the city. “I love Toronto. It’s kind of like mini-New York, but your city’s cleaner. Way cleaner. Canadians are very, very friendly, so what’s not to love? Every time — and I mean every time — I go to Canada, I have to have poutine. It is my absolute favorite go-to. Every time I hit in Toronto, I say to my aunt, ‘Hi! Um, poutine.’” Eager as she is get here and chow down, she’s also eager to remind us that health comes first for her these days. “I had a health scare two years ago and I ended up in the hospital, so ever since then my eating has changed. Now I love mashed potatoes, but I don’t necessarily eat them with fried chicken all the time anymore, you know? It came to a point where I said, ‘I’m not the skinny, gorgeous girl. I’m the big gorgeous girl. Get it!’ There’s a role for everybody and my role is the big, sexy girl.”
Although she didn’t emerge from RuPaul’s Drag Race a winner, she’s a winner to us: talented, kind, funny, gorgeous and a killer dancer. At the big show on Friday, she’s the one we’ll be cheering for loudest . . . and maybe we’ll run into her at Smoke’s Poutinerie afterward.