We sit down with queen of the UK drag scene, Jodie Harsh.
The first time I see Jodie Harsh in the flesh is at the launch party of the Wonderland Spring ’17 Issue. From afar, it’s clear to see that the star of drag and music has a magnetic presence and personality. Party-goers and celebrities alike seem to elevate towards her in an attempt to be part of her wild, happy-go-lucky world.
Her major social status is something that has been obtained through years of super hard work and a fierce dedication to her craft. Since her inception, she’s written and produced a series of bangers with the likes of Wonderland cover-girl Charli XCX, appeared in the formidable Absolutely Fabulous movie alongside super-babes Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and Lara Stone, hosted a plethora of major club nights and has unsurprisingly remained at the forefront of the UK drag scene for nearly a decade.
Amidst the madness of her hectic life and as she launches her latest club collaboration “Dollar Baby”, we grabbed a moment with Jodie to find our more about what goes on beneath the beehive.
So, you’ve been a DJ for a few years now…
Yeah it’s been a while…But I’m still very young of course! I don’t think I’d ever stop though, it’s so fun. My job is a mix of all the things I’m interested in – going out, making music, playing music, dressing up, hanging out with my mates and making new fun friends…so what’s not to love!? Playing music to a room full of people and making them dance and feeling that happy energy is like a drug, it gives me a buzz. It sounds a bit hippyish, but that connection through music on the dance floor is really fulfilling.
Your drag look is always consistent. Tell us a bit about why you choose to recreate the same iconic look.
Aha, I get asked that a lot. ‘Why do you always look the same?’ I pretty much have my one look, this blonde hairdo and my style of makeup. It’s for a few reasons – firstly it makes life really easy. I know exactly how long it takes me to get ready and I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do or try to outdo myself. I know people who always turn out completely different drag looks and it’s so impressive, but that just ain’t me, I’m not a look queen, I’m way to busy sorting tons of shit out to have to think of what I’m going to look like that night. Secondly I think it’s important sort of branding wise, ya know…You can draw me in five seconds, that silhouette with the hair and the lips… And obviously the way to be iconic, as you say, is to have your one look that you’re famous for! I realised that the people I’m a fan of, like Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour…they all look the same. I do like to mix it up for a photoshoot sometimes though, that’s why I loved what we did today with the gemstones.
Yes, tell us about the shoot today!
Phillipp Prokopiou is taking the pictures, I love his work. So far I’ve been in the makeup chair for eight hours! We’re covering me in thousands of crystals, I think it’s 4,000 approximately. Michelle Webb, the makeup artist, came up with the look, and she’s got three people helping out. I have a feeling it’s going to take a long time to get these off and I’ll be finding little gems in strange places for a good few weeks…
Shows like Drag Race have helped to bring drag into the mainstream. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it’s fucking great, I’m a fan of the show, I know a ton of people involved on it and a lot of the contestants and winners. It’s been an amazing platform for drag – it’s thrown a spotlight onto the art form and made celebrities out of the contestants…and very rich ones, at that. People can take it VERY seriously though, I think it’s important to remember it isn’t the all-encompassing encyclopedia of drag, just like the X Factor isn’t the all-encompassing encyclopedia of music. Some viewers think they know everything about drag culture through the show, but there’s SO much more. The club scenes, the Cockettes, Divine…you’ve got to know your shit before you debate the culture of drag on Reddit. I think it’s the best thing on TV though, hands down. RuPaul and the World of Wonder team have been so smart. Would I ever enter? Hell no, I’d personally never enter any kind of reality TV show – it’s not my story. But I will for sure be watching every single series for the rest of time!
Tell us about your new club night Dollar Baby. How is it different from other club nights?
It’s every Friday night at Metropolis, the strip club in east London. Me and my mate JJ Clark do the party together, we wanted to mix the fashion crowd and the club kids and queens together with the really hot gay guys because nowhere else really does that in this city – it’s more of a New York thing. There’s a pop room upstairs where the stripper poles are and a dirty house music in the basement where all the boys hang out. Lady Gaga did our opening night which was epic of course, that sort of put us on the map for Friday nights. My other favorite night in London, the disco party Savage, is at the venue on Saturdays, we’re sort of their younger naughty brother!
You recently appeared in the Absolutely Fabulous Movie. Can you tell us a bit about what that was like.
That was a huge tick on my bucket list. I mean, I’ve watched every episode since I was a kid, I know every line. When I got the call to do the film and told I had a little cameo with a couple of lines I practically threw up.
“Playing music to a room full of people and making them dance and feeling that happy energy is like a drug, it gives me a buzz. It sounds a bit hippyish, but that connection through music on the dance floor is really fulfilling.”
Do you plan on doing more movie/television acting in the future?
I’m not really an actor…I mean, if I was asked to do some cool role in a film then maybe, but it’s not something I would strive to do. I think there are other people much better than me who should do that! And it’s so fucking boring, sitting around on set all day. I mean, being on the Ab Fab set was mega because AB FAB!!!!!!!, but hanging around in a dressing room all day sounds so dull. TV, maybe…I’d had a few ideas for TV shows in the past. I don’t know, it’s not really where I’m at right now. I’ll focus on nightlife and music and see where that takes me…There are only so many hours in a day and I’m still struggling to juggle my shit now!
You write songs for people and produce music, how did that come about?
It’s sort of my main job now. I always wrote, and never did much about it. I could write and I knew a bunch of pop-stars, so that was a good place to start. I’ve written a few pop hits, some bits and bobs in the charts… It’s the main way I make a living and the first thing I’d write on my CV I think, ‘writer and producer’. It sounds better than ‘entrepreneur’ anyway – people that say things like that about themselves think they’re coming across as a boss but actually they sound like cunts.
You’ve remixed tracks by artists including Beyonce, Cher, Fergie. How do you select the tracks that you wish to remix?
I don’t really choose per se, I have management and they get track parts to me for whoever’s looking for a remix package, and if I’m into the original and have some ideas I’ll rock up to the studio with a massive flask of Starbucks and try to make something that I think is cool. It doesn’t always work though – I think as many remixes of mine have been declined as have been accepted – including some for popstars who are actual mates of mine. It’s a funny old world, remixing. The A&R’s at the labels have an agenda, they do a lot of box ticking – they need the trap remix, the big gay dance remix etc, and often you can do a really fucking cool piece of work and they’ll send a very short ‘We’re going to pass on this’ type email. After you’ve spent three days in the studio working on a remix, that kinda sucks…
How does DJing at a festival compare to DJing in a club?
Different experience completely. It’s amazing to play music to a sea of people outdoors at a festival, all high on drugs, but I prefer clubs I think because they don’t depend on the weather being good and I like the intimacy.
Looking back, what has been your career highlight so far?
God, there’s been a few. Ab Fab for sure…I was so excited walking down the pink carpet at the premier, dressed in this huge Moschino feathered outfit, with my best friend with me who’s also a huge fan of the show. Then maybe DJ’ing for Madonna, that was awesome. Hearing songs I’ve written being played on the radio… There’s been a lot. But I feel like I’m at the start of my career, there’s tons to do.
Looking ahead, what’s your long term goal?
To have fun and meet the man of my dreams and die looking hot still LOL.
Finally, what one piece of advice do you have for people that are new to the drag scene?