Meet Drag Queen Jazzanne Capri, the hostess of Senior Planet’s upcoming Pride Party!
Richard aka Jazzanne Capri: Empress XXVI of the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire*, the Millennium of the Crystal, the Purple Moon Goddess of the Rockies is a staple of the Colorado gay community. For decades, she’s used her drag shows to raise money for charity and spread a message of fun and self-acceptance.
In anticipation of Senior Planet’s upcoming virtual Pride Party, where Jazzanne will be performing, we talked with her about the positive impact drag can have on society and one’s own self-confidence.
How would you describe your drag?
I’m old school. I do glamour. And if it’s not about fun? I ain’t doing it.
“Don’t Ever Be Afraid to Say Hello!”
How did you get into doing drag?
I always wanted to be on the stage, even as a little kid. I pounded the pavement in NYC for a good 12 years before moving out to Denver. Then one year I did Liza Minelli for Halloween, and someone invited me to do their show. That was September 28, 1988 – I’ll always remember that date.
I don’t do Liza anymore, but I used to say, “Honey, Liza with a Z? Jazzanne with a Double Z.”
How did you get the title of Empress?
I had been in Denver for eight years and I was raising lots of money for charity with my shows at a bar called BJ’s. I got involved with the Court because someone put me on their line of succession, which was a big thing and meant I could help raise even more money.
As I got more involved in the Court, someone said I should run for Empress – the leader of the Court. And I thought, why not? I’ve done so much here already in eight years, I’ve made my name!
But the real reason I ran? I overheard another drag queen say: “Did you hear that girl from BJ’s is going to run for Empress? She’ll never make it.” Real catty, you know. But she clearly didn’t really know me, because I was standing right there. So, I said, “let me introduce myself. I’m Jazzanne Capri and I’m running for Empress. You can go **** yourself if you can’t believe I’ll make it.”
She was out of that bar in a minute. And guess what? I won. I was 38 when I ran, now I’m 61 and still involved.
How has drag evolved over the years you’ve been involved?
You just go with the times. In the 90s I was out here doing more showy stuff like Linda Eder. Dirges – slow songs – were in! In the 2000s everyone had to do a fast number because people get bored with the slow one. And now, anything goes! You’ll see a new drag queen bring up a song we did years ago and it goes great. Drag will always be there, it changes with the times.
It’s helped me a lot. I think that’s one of the best things about doing drag. I have so much more self-confidence than I did before.
What do you gain personally from doing drag?
There are people out there who love what drag queens do. They say, “I wish I could be you” and I say, “No, be yourself!” I used to be insecure, but Jazzanne made Richard secure in himself. It’s helped me a lot. I think that’s one of the best things about doing drag. I have so much more self-confidence than I did before.
And there is of course a family element to drag. There are three very special people who have touched my heart and always encouraged to me here in Denver. Empress 23 Sydney Andrews who gave me the chance involving me in the court on her line of succession and by the way is my best friend always till the end. Empress 21 Nicole Sommers who is always there if I need a touch up or great conversation and a great friend as well. And my Mother Empress 24 the Legendary Miss Nina Montaldo who I learned so much from – her techniques of “painting” are flawless. Love you Mom!
What would you say to someone who wants to go to a drag show, but is intimidated to go for the first time?
I’d say enjoy the show, be yourself and don’t ever be afraid to say hello.
What positive do you think the art of drag brings to society?
As much as we are dressed up – drag is real. And drag can make you or break you. If you’re on our side, then we’re fighting right there with you.
What does aging with attitude mean to you?
Make sure they know you’re there.
Want more of Jazzanne Capri in your life? Join us on June 30th 4pm EDT for our virtual Pride Party hosted by the Empress herself. Click here for more information!
*Established in 1973, The Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, or ICRME, is the oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered organization in the state of Colorado. They are committed to raising money for charitable organizations and helping those in their community who are in need of assistance. Here is the Court’s website: https://www.icrmedenver.org/about-us.html
Pam Hugi is Senior Planet’s Community and Advocacy Manager. Based in Brooklyn, she runs Senior Planet’s Supporter program in addition to being a contributing writer for this site. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.