Before she even sashayed onto the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, Coco Jumbo defined the word “iconic”. In 2017, the star memorably made headlines as one of three fierce Australian drag entertainers who embraced their inner Charlie’s Angels as they rescued a gay man from a violent homophobic attack. She was iconic then, and she’s still iconic now.
Although the Sydney-based performer left the series in eighth place, she made herstory as the first ever lip-sync assassin of Down Under when she (controversially) booted out “frontrunner” Art Simone and shook her groove thang in an epic smackdown against
Alexis Elektra Shock. (The latter was one of the best lip-syncs ever, facts are facts!)
Following her elimination, we spoke with Coco about her time on Drag Race Down Under, the “rift” between the queens of the Australian drag scene and, of course, the threatening note left by one of her fellow competitors. C’mon mystery!
First question for you Coco: have you kept in touch with… Alexis?
[Laughs] Yeah, here and there. We send each other random messages… Me and all the girls have a WhatsApp group chat. I did apologise to her! The funny thing is I kept calling her Alexis and that was the first time they brought it up on the show!
How did it feel watching your elimination back?
Fine. I would’ve been upset with myself if I did a bad lip-sync but all in all, the show was very entertaining. So many people have reached out to me saying, ‘You were robbed!’ or ‘You should’ve stayed and she should’ve left!’ I’m just glad that I got to perform with her and have a good time in front of the judges.
You’re officially Drag Race Down Under’s first ever lip-sync assassin…
I love performing and living in the moment!
And you don’t even need to pull out the flips, kicks and splits!
Exactly. In Sydney during the drag competitions, when someone does a death drop, a flip or jumps off the DJ booth into a split, it’s an act of desperation, almost. I’ve noticed that most of the queens that don’t know their words will do a little death drop! That’s usually the T in Sydney.
Watching the lip-sync, it was so even…
I’m just glad that I didn’t do a bad job. That’s all I care about! I’m just glad that my love for performing showed during the lip-sync for your life – my life!
What was going through your mind as you battled Elektra?
I honestly don’t remember. Just the emotions of the song, the lyrics, shaking my groove thing. Like, ‘What more can I shake?!’
Are you still buzzin’ over the fact that you kicked out Art Simone?
Absolutely, yes. There’s not really a rift, but I would say there’s a rift between the states of Australia. There’s the Sydney girls versus the Melbourne girls versus the Brisbane girls versus the Perth girls… Each to their own. But once everyone comes to Sydney for Mardi Gras, we’re all friends and kiki, but it’s always in the back of our heads!
Ooh tell me more about this, it sounds like another reality show waiting to happen!
[Laughs] Everyone wants to be the best. Art Simone is a social media queen and her looks are impeccable. We know that. It’s just her performances that aren’t… They’re more robotic, they’re not organic and fun.
When you booted her out, you said “soz bitch” – which has already become iconic. Those who are unaware of Australian humour thought it was a bit harsh, was it intended to be?
It was just a throwaway comment like, ‘Sorry babes! Soz bitch.’ I call everyone bitch and sis. It was camp. She knows I love her. It’s almost as good Maxi Shields walking off and not hugging me.
Wait, huh? Did I miss this?
She gave Elektra a hug, kiss and cuddle and then walked off. I was like, ‘Oh my god…’
I thought you two were really close?
Exactly! When I moved to Sydney, Maxi gave me my first job. She used to host the baby drag competition that I used to do every single week. She has been there from the very beginning of my career. When we were going into Drag Race, we had to fly to New Zealand and go through two weeks of quarantine. As soon as I got there, I video called my friends back home and showed them the room. After I got off the phone, I got a notification on Instagram and it’s me through a silhouette of a curtain waving my phone around. Maxi messaged me like, ‘Are you busting?’ Her room was directly across from me and I was like, ‘Oh my god, you’re here.’ It was amazing. We helped keep each other’s sanity in check.
During your quarantine period, did you have an inkling as to who was going to be on the show?
100%. As soon as the rumours started going around, the main people kept popping up in all of them. It was so fun because I had worked with most of the girls before and we’re all friends.
After you booted out Art, you recalled a moment when a club promoter said you’re nothing compared to her…
I was flown down to Julong where Art lives. It was a Christmas party, everyone was getting drunk and me and the owner’s wife went out for a cigarette together. She was like, ‘I just want you to know, you are nothing in comparison to Art Simone.’ I was like… ‘Okay, you’ve flown me here to Julong and now you wanna say I’m nothing compared to Art Simone?’ This was way before Drag Race was even a thing. Having her say that, I was like, ‘Why are you trying to pit us against each other? We’re sisters. Why you being a little bitch?’
How do you even respond to a nasty comment like that?
I don’t even remember, I was so drunk, but I’m pretty sure by the end of it she was crying.
Can we talk about that note…
Ugh! I have no idea who wrote it. They kicked me off before I even got to find out. It’s so annoying, that is the one question that everyone has asked me. I still don’t know.
Do you not have any idea at all?
[Laughs] Maxi! I didn’t even think to ask Maxi. After I got kicked off, the note was the last thing I thought of. Last Saturday, Maxi and I watched the episode together and I was like, ‘Oh bitch, I forgot about that note.’ I’ve always thought it was Art Simone. I could be wrong. I know Jojo Zaho wouldn’t write me that letter.
I wish I knew about the note last week so I could’ve grilled Art!
Totally! That shady bitch. Unless it actually was Kita Mean…
Why would anyone write a threatening note to Coco Jumbo, the queen who saved a gay from a homophobe?!
100%. Everybody knows not to fuck with me!
How are you coping with your newfound fame?
The thing is, I really suck at social media. It’s really full on. Kandy Muse reached out and said I was one of the prettiest girls to ever walk into the werkroom. Watching these people that I look up to that are like, ‘Hi, welcome to the family!’ I’m just like, ‘Is this even real life? What’s going on?’ It’s crazy! And my followers have tripled.
You’re officially part of the Drag Race dynasty now!
When I first started drag, I didn’t even think I would be one of the top girls in Oxford Street let alone on RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s really insane. I feel like I’m still dreaming.
What’s next for Coco Jumbo?
We’re going on tour. It was just released today that we’re doing a Drag Race Down Under tour and I’m so excited to be able to travel around, perform and do what I love most, meet people, get up on stage and give a great show.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under airs every Sunday on BBC Three.