Drag queen Princess Jafar on celebrating herself every day, “loudly and proudly” | Pittsburgh City Paper

Drag queen Princess Jafar on celebrating herself every day, “loudly and proudly”

click to enlarge A woman wearing a large red wig poses for the camera in a magenta jacket with black trim, a yellow patterned scarf, purple gloves, and a yellow satin bag.
CP Photo: Tereneh Idia
Princess Jafar

Name: Princess Jafar
Pronouns: She/Her
Titles: Villain 4 Good, Royal Vizier, Wishgranter
Job/Work: Special Events Coordinator, City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety
Website: linktr.ee/princessjafar

How would you define your style?
Always dress for the position you want which is why I dress like a missionary. I would say my style is a news anchor in a sandstorm or a recently demoted CEO.

Who are your style inspirations?
Grimace, Ronald McDonald, and the Fry Kids.

When was your first independent style/fashion moment as a kid?
My preferred outfit in elementary school was zebra-striped Zumba pants, Dwayne Wayne’s flip glasses, and an oversized Donkey Kong T-shirt.

You are approximately 8 feet tall in drag. How do you find all your fabulous clothes? Do you have a favorite designer?
As someone who is 6’6” out of drag, I used to dread having to find clothes that fit me. Over the last decade, I have really embraced wearing what works for me instead of trying to figure out what works for everyone else. Now, I can commission unique pieces from local tailors, artists, and costume designers. My favorite designers can be found in the 1982 Sears or a 1998 International Male catalog.

As we were taking photographs, I was teasing you about becoming the next Allegheny County Executive but you do a lot of community work and support for folks. How did you begin this work, why is it important to you, and is there any way we can support your service?
That’s the next Allegheny County Executor. And the first item on my agenda will be to cut off the water and power to Fitzgerald’s home. Joking aside, I have been raising funds and distributing them directly to community members and local organizations here in Pittsburgh since 2014, and, so far, we have given out over $25,000 and are on our way to hitting $50,000 by 2025. If you want to help, you can send funds to $princessjafar and @princessjafar on Cash App and Venmo. You can also write letters and build a friendship with incarcerated individuals through Women in Prison or you can volunteer with PA United.

Tell me about what you’re wearing and your makeup and hair choices. I love the colors so much! The mix is bringing me joy.
My makeup’s not bad, it’s just drawn that way. You’ll have to ask the animators about my wardrobe. Special shoutout to the women in the Ink and Paint department. I am drawn to gem tones and gold and always want to hint at being a genie.

Do you have any gifts from someone that you are wearing now or wear often?
I wear my Teta’s [Lebanese for grandmother] rosaries every day. In my drag, I am channeling the strong women in my family, especially my Aunt Josie who always reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor or Jackée Harry.

Do you have a gift to yourself that you wear often or now?
I was never celebrated as a kid, always told to tone it down and suppress myself, so now, as an adult, I celebrate myself every day, loudly and proudly.

I appreciate how you challenge the white-washed drag scene in Pittsburgh. What can be done to make things more representative of the multicultural reality of Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is a hyper-segregated city and its art scenes reflect that. I manage performers, and I have diversity riders built into our contracts that demand shows reflect Pittsburgh’s diverse communities in terms of race, religion, gender expression, and ability.

As audience members, call and complain to management when you see all-white show flyers. As performers, I know it feels like you have to take every opportunity and cannot rock the boat, but it really is up to you to think outside of yourself and take note of who is not being represented and demand that they be. As show producers, start valuing and humanizing non-white, non-cis performers for a start.

Is there anything I left out that you would like to share?
People often ask me how I pull off bold outfits, but the only secret to pulling something off is by putting it on!