“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 16 has given us a split season premiere filled with stunning talent, and unfortunately that means one contestant has to depart first.
Hershii LiqCour-Jeté might have departed the competition, but not without providing the “Drag Race” galaxy with a stunning talent performance and providing herself with a signature move. I caught up with Hershii to dish about her “Drag Race” experience, how she and sister (and “Drag Race” alumni) Kornbread became family, and why she is manifesting a moment on the Las Vegas stage for herself!
Michael Cook: Not since Vanessa Vanjie Mateo has a contestant that was eliminated first from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” been so memorable and given fans a patented case of “whiplash”!
Hershii LiqCour-Jeté: It sounds really good; that makes me feel really good to hear. One of my biggest concerns was that people were going to forget about me and not want to book me anywhere, and it has been the complete opposite; I’m having a good time.
MC: How do you feel right now about your “Drag Race” experience all the way around?
HLJ: To be completely frank with you, I did not think that was getting on this season. I kinda threw my tape together, rushed it in and was just hoping for the best. When they started calling, I was like, “Uh oh, I might actually have to have some stuff put together for this,” (laughs)! I am very happy there are a lot of people that want this opportunity that don’t get it, especially when you are a regular-degular gal like me. I’m not downing myself, but you’ve seen a lot of my outfits that I was able to put together compared to some of the other girls that aren’t as big because I just had limited resources. To not only be able to compete, but to be appreciated and loved for what I did on the show while I was there, it feels really good.
MC: What is one outfit that you didn’t get to wear that you really wanted to show off on the main stage?
HJL: It was the lemon piece that was right in the middle of my Whatcha Packin’. I really wanted everybody to see that on my body, it looked so good on me.
MC: How did you enter the world of drag open up to you to begin with?
HLJ: I tell people that the very first drag queen that I ever saw was Tyler Perry, but drag in terms of professional, there was this place in St Louis called Novak’s; it’s not there anymore. They were giving $500 to any girl that could come out and win. I didn’t know the full extent of what it took to get me in drag, so I stole my sister’s prom dress and I got a dollar store pallet of eye shadow. I walked up there and walked in and saw what these girls were doing and freaked out and started crying like, “I don’t have any of the things these girls have, all I have is my eye shadow and my scruffy beard that I didn’t shave!”
Luckily, one of the older queens there saw me there and saw me crying and asked what was wrong. I explained it to her, and she brought me back to the dressing room with the other girls that were competing. She told them what happened and literally all of them, every contestant in the competition, gave me something to use. Somebody did my makeup, another girl gave me a wig, another girl gave me some jewelry, everybody was really nice. My introduction and everything that I have done in drag since has been family oriented and love coded. It’s just always felt like drag was supposed to be part of my life since I was open to it.
MC: When did the force of nature known as Kornbread The Snack Jeté become part of the fabric of your life?
HLJ: Our sister Kyra, me and her were at a competition together. I got to the final two and Kyra got to the final four and was eliminated. I had to go change my clothes and Kornbread happened to be walking past me. She yelled my name two or three times and I turned around and saw her. She asked if I needed help, and I said no (laughs)! I don’t know how she got my number, but a couple of weeks later there is this mix out here that I am known for, and I let someone use it, and she thought that someone had stolen it and was performing it on their own. She said, “Hey girl, I’m just letting you know that these people are out here stealing your mix.” She sent me the video and I explained to her what was going on, and she laughed and said, “Oh because I like you and wanted to make sure people weren’t doing you dirty out here.” We literally have talked every week if not every other week since then. We bonded during a really random moment in time.
What’s ironic, is that she started doing drag maybe a year after that. Ironically, she asked to borrow that same mix, and then I couldn’t do it anymore because she performed it all over the place (laughs)!
MC: Speaking of mixes, tell me about your head-turning talent! That lip talent performance, including the corresponding lip sync message, will go down in herstory!
HLJ: I tell everybody that I like doing drag because I want to be pretty and absolutely stupid. Kornbread and I were putting together the package and I needed something for the talent show. Something that everybody in LA says is that have the strongest neck in LA because I love jerking my neck real hard in a ridiculous fashion. We had to figure out a way to incorporate that into the mix, so we are sitting in the car the beat had already been made for Kornbread so we were listening to it. She said it first: “Oh, it’s just like whiplash!” It just kinda came then “Whiplash whiplash” and it snowballed from there and turned into a thing. I didn’t even think that anyone was going to like it. For me at that point, it was like, I have to come up with something. I am trying to get on this competition, so I have to come up with something. She assured me that if I say it enough times, people are going to fall in love with that.
MC: The season premiere of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was a split premiere, and then you all quickly got to know each other once you all come together. Who did you find yourself immediately gravitating towards?
HLJ: Plasma mostly, only because she came in after me. I am a little bit socially awkward, so because Plasma came after me, I kind of clung to her because technically I had known her the longest up until that point. Plane Jane actually became a random friendship that I didn’t expect because during my elimination, she was hyping me up backstage before we walked back out onto the main stage. She was like, “Girl I like you, you better go out there and kill this, we have some memories to make!” Up until that moment we had talked a little bit, but we hadn’t talked much. It just really made me feel good, I think she and Xunami (Muse) were really hyping me up to really try and stay. “We know how you feel, but we want you to stay!”
MC: What’s next for you in your post-Drag Race life?
HLJ: My whole goal here was to take care of my family and to increase my booking fee, which I have already done. I really want to continue working with WOW Presents Plus and the Drag Race franchise. I want to do other things, but I am not trying to immediately segue into other things. I love doing drag right now. Whatever other performances opportunities that I can gravitate to. I am desperately trying to get into the Vegas show, I tell everybody that will listen, “Put me in the Vegas show, who do I need to talk to?” I’ve been screaming that to every producer that can hear me (laughs)!
MC: You mentioned not being certain you would even get on the show when you made your audition tape, and now here we are. What advice do you have for others about making their own tape and the mindset that they might find themselves in?
HJL: Even though I did just sort of throw the tape together, the one thing that always had on my side was that I am myself. I didn’t try to be anything for tv. I try to give the world my heart, how I’m actually feeling, who I am, all of that. I am really happy that everybody grasped that for the two episodes that I was on and that is what I would tell anyone that is going to audition.
Ru said it himself when you’re trying to audition, don’t give us what you think we want for TV, give us who you are and let that be the selling point. Now afterwards, now that this is over, I don’t have to run around making up a personality or try to explain myself. Everybody has seen exactly who I was from my audition tape all the way to my elimination, so I think I am off on a really good foot. I would tell any girl really be yourself, give them who you are if you are actually trying to get on the show. That will sell you way faster than trying to be a personality.
Follow Hershii LiqCour-Jeté on Instagram @hershiiliqcour