Jerry Nunn: Start from the beginning. When did you first realize you wanted to do drag?
Jade Sotomayor: I was coming to scene before I even came out of the closet. I saw my first drag show and, tell you the truth, I was really scared. When I found out you get tips and get paid to do it, I was really excited and said, “Book me next weekend.”
JN: I wanted to ask you about your dance background, now that you mentioned it. Did you go to school for dance?
JS: Yeah, I first went to school at a non-profit organization with a folkloric dance troupe in Humboldt Park. They had a yearly concert and I won a scholarship with the School of Homer Bryant at the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center. I trained there for about two years. From there I started dancing professional Salsa and got my big break touring around the world with the Los Generos de Swing dance team.
JN: How did you wind up auditioning for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
JS: Well, the first step was to submit a picture and bio of myself. I had one of my friends post it on the Web site. From there I got a lot of love from Chicago. For a week straight I was number one. The producers wanted a video from me so I did that and they really like it, which got me to stage three. I made the top 25 and I signed a contract. When I go the call that I made it, I had to leave three days later. Everything was real fast.
JN: I interviewed RuPaul recently and she described you as a “beautiful,” “talented,” and “a lovely soul.” How does that make you feel?
JS: That’s awesome. Coming from Ru, who is such an established artist and who takes the time to do something like this for people who are at her position when she started, just proves that she is a genuine person to come back and remember where she came from.
JN: Who was your biggest competition on the show?
JS: Flat out, when I arrived I felt that Shannel was. She is gorgeous and has been in the business for so many years.
JN: What did you learn from doing RuPaul’s Drag Race?
JS: That’s one thing that people do not get to see on the show. We went on there and people thought we would be fighting and biting each other’s faces off. Nope, everyone was helpful and borrowing each other’s things instead. We asked each other for tips. It was like a family and we were sister.
JN: Were you born in Puerto Rico?
JS: I was born in Chicago and moved to Puerto Rico from 1993 through 1998. Then I came back with an accent.
JN: You perform at Hydrate and Sangria, but last night you performed at Club Babalu. How is it different performing for a variety of communities?
JS: I don’t want to just do straight events or gay events. I want no separation. I won the Miss Paseo Baricua pageant. Through my reign they finally gave, for the first time ever in Chicago, a stage to perform in the festivals. I was able to show that it’s not all about show and glitter. This is a lifestyle and I am just like everyone else.