Catching Up With Jujubee
By Jay Schwartz
It's the end of another season of RuPaul's Drag Race, so what better time to catch up with one of the previous season's beloved queens? Jujubee is Boston’s premiere Thai and Laotian drag queen and has performed some of the very best lip syncs in Drag Race history, landing her in third place on both seasons in which she competed.
After the "un-tuck," Jujubee transforms back into Airline Inthyrath, 28, the calm, mellow gay man who lives with boyfriend Christopher Liporto, a Navy veteran who also functions as Jujubee’s bodyguard and manager.
“I wanted to trust a good person managing my life, and I’m lucky to have him because he’s my favorite person and favorite boyfriend… because I have about a billion of those,” Inthyrath says of Liporto. Still, the two try to keep work and love separate in their drag business. “We love each other and we never go to bed mad at each other."
Their unique relationship, however, is about to be taken to the next level. “Actually the other night we were looking up wedding bands,” Inthyrath admits. He imagines a small wedding—but it would still remain a drag show, except that he would definitely not be performing himself. “Of course I want the biggest [wedding ring]; it’s like an arm cuff! It’s literally a barrel on my wrist.”
Like many young gay men, Inthyrath also had a special bond with Out. “I used to sneak in to the Barnes & Noble and just flip through the pages of Out magazine and kind of wish that I would be comfortable enough buy one,” he explains. “I don’t know if anyone else has gone through that, but that was me as a little teenager. Everything was pretty obvious with me; I never tried to hide the fact that I am gay, but it was still a very hard thing.”
On top of performing around the country, Inthyrath has taken his Jujubee act overseas. Most recently Jujubee was performing in Cambodia (from April 29 to May 6) at a nationally televised Wildlife Alliance charity for an Asian elephant conservation center. When asked about Jujubee's advocacy, Inthyrath replies, “Who doesn’t love animals?”
Speaking prior to his trip to Asia, Inthyrath said he planned to visit Laos, the country of his heritage. “I’m going to try my best to at least touch the dirt there, “ he says, “That would be my Whitney Houston-going-to-Cape Town moment.”
Surprisingly Jujubee is one of very few drag queens native to Boston, a city where queer life is decidedly mainstream. “It’s very regional,” Inthyrath admits. “In North Florida, there is a very fun, huge costumes, very cha-cha drag, but then when you hit Miami and Hollywood, Florida, the best place on Earth, their drag is more glamorous and fishy. California is very fierce in that they all look like supermodels, and New York is fun because every kind of drag is there; it’s like the mecca of drag,“ Inthyrath explains. “I haven’t found a real drag family idea in Boston.”
What’s Jujubee’s next pursuit? Well it seems Jujubee’s fierce lip syncs will be taking the back burner. She’s just begun work on her first studio album.