Originally from Ohio, Shirley U. Jest left her job teaching and moved to New York in pursuit of her true love, performing. I met Shirley as a contestant in Marti Gould Cummings’ Drag Suicide, but after winning New York’s Next Top Drag Queen she’s now host to her own nights in addition to working events throughout the big apple. Her latest project is a sparkly web series with Toronto’s The Reading Salon about the making of a New York City drag queen.

“There is still so much that people don’t see when it comes to the process. Successful drag is more than makeup and a dress; it’s an art form that can transform a person inside and out. I hope that the people watching will gain a better appreciation for drag artists and what we do. At the same time, I want to give others the tools necessary to do drag themselves” said Shirley in an interview with theBuzz.

The first season explores the transformation of her friend Michael into his alto ego, Miss Cherry Poppins. “It makes me happy to watch people grow and transform through drag, seeing her take off, ready to turn heads.” Which is exactly what they did during the filming. “Drag already makes you the loudest person in the room so you might as well say something. Never has the phrase been more applicable than filming that episode. Lots of people were curious, and others were selectively blind, which is always amusing to me and lots of people were surprisingly helpful.”

Behind The Seams premiers this fall on theBuzz and Werrrk.com with the final episode culminating in the reveal of Miss Cherry Poppins during Star Search hosted by Tina Burner at Barracuda Lounge in Chelsea, NYC. Produced by The Reading Salon in association with theBuzz and Werrrk.comFilmed in New York, made (with love) in Canada. 


About the Author

Raymond Helkio is an author, director filmmaker, and graduate of Ontario College of Art & Design. He currently lives in both Toronto and New York. His most recent play, LEDUC, is now available in paperback. www.raymondhelkio.com