Queerty Exclusive

Juanita MORE! On Her Pride Party, San Francisco’s Drag Scene, And Asparagus Bread Pudding

Imagining San Francisco Queer scene without Juanita MORE! is like imagining straight culture without Tupperware. Drag impressario, design maven, party promoter, and celebrity chef, it seems everything she touches turns into a party–a party with a cause.

Her annual pride celebration is certainly that. The afternoon and evening of San Franciso’s huge parade parade, it is now the party ticket to get your sweaty little hands on. This year’s cause is outLoud Radio, the gay youth podcast headquartered in the city.

On the eve of her big shindig, Queerty checked in with Ms. MORE!.

Your pride party has become the season’s “it” party.

I can’t take all of the credit for making the party a hit. I mean sure, I started this mess, but I have the love and support of a community that is hell-bent on following me over the rainbow to have a good time. They bring it. They make the magic happen.

Why did you move it from the Phoenix Hotel to 620 Jones this year?

This party has such a faithful following. Jones feels vibrant and new. A lot of good times were had at the Phoenix, but I decided to move the event to Jones simply because we outgrew the old space. Last year, I split the party between the two venues and when the roof blew off of Jones, it was decided that it would be THE venue for this party.

It’s become a major fundraising event.

Deciding on the beneficiary for this event is a big decision, a decision that I am proud to consult with my close friends about. I’ve always considered myself an outsider, so my search starts there. I love shining light on an organization that is doing great things but that is somehow not receiving the recognition it rightly deserves. The voices of the queer youth at outLoud Radio need to be heard by the world.

With the supreme court about to rule yay or nay on marriage equality, this could be a particularly celebratory pride. Do politics affect the mood of pride? We’ve had some great prides in dark years, too.

Politics effect everyone’s mood. There is so much in our community to be proud of, to reflect upon and to hope for in our future. Yay or nay shouldn’t sway anyone from seeing the beauty within our queer family here in SF. We are growing and changes are happening. I feel there is a need to celebrate our rich history and keep the diversity of our community alive for the next generation.

What’s your favorite (and not so favorite) part of the drag scene in SF? 

San Francisco has an amazingly rich and diverse drag scene. I’d say my favorite part is just how hard it is to peg down. On any given night you can find someone just itching to entertain you. I love high and low drag, from Aunt Charlie’s to Harry Denton’s Starlight Room. Personally, I’ve been performing at venues throughout the city such as Club Some Thing and Trannyshack for close to 20 years. My performance style tends to blend high fashion, comedy, and raunch, though I have great respect and admiration for anyone who dares to wear a pair of heels.

What’s the key to getting the most out of pride?

San Francisco has already started buzzing with pride-inspired events. There are some really special only in SF things that I like to suggest to visiting guests.

  • The Thursday before pride, the Academy of Sciences turns queer with Pride Nightlife. The entire building celebrates in high-style with DJ’s, dancing, performances and entrance to all of the exhibits.
  • Our Trans community is out and stronger than ever, and supporting the annual Trans March is a really wonderful thing.
  • Some Thing at The Stud is one of the cities most entertaining drag shows each Friday with a cast of characters you could only dream up.
  • The New Cockettes musical “Tinsel Tarts In A Hot Coma” is a must-see. This full-length, restored version of the original 1971 musical extravaganza has been extended to play through all of June.
  • Frameline enters its 37th year with this week’s worth of queer cinema. Popcorn for days.

You have some pretty cool merch for your party featuring a portrait of you yourself. How did that come about?

Serge Gay Jr. and I met at my weekly party Booty Call Wednesdays. With this year’s artwork, Serge adds me to a list of collaborations which includes Ceelo Greene, Snoop Dogg, and De La Soul, to name a few. I am so in awe of his work and aesthetic, it was a total no-brainer. He really created a beautiful piece of art. And I’m not just saying that because I’m on it! My annual collaboration with Rickshaw Bagworks and the current artist has produced the Juanita MORE! Market Tote, which is the perfect eco-friendly shopping accessory. We’ve also produced a stunning limited edition silk chiffon scarf bearing Serge’s artwork. It’s 48″x42″ – plenty of gorgeous silk to wrap around your beautiful face.

If you had to chose one thing you love about SF, what would it be? The one thing you hate?

I’m not a hater. I’m a lover. And someone that finds beauty in everything I see. It’s just too difficult for me to name one thing that I love about San Francisco. I love standing on top of Nob Hill and watching the fog roll in. I love walking through Union Square. I love shopping at the Ferry Building’s Farmers Market. I love eating oysters at Zuni Cafe. I love taking my dog Jackson to Chrissy Field. I love cooking dinner in my apartment for friends. I love falling in love. Love, love, love.

Most people don’t know you are a gourmet chef. What’s cookin in your kitchen these days?

After the video of me making the recipe for asparagus bread pudding went live, that’s all everyone seems to want!

What about a pride cocktail?

I am a whiskey gal at heart. But when it’s warm I like to drink Gin & Tonic. Lately I’ve been loving a splash of Bevanda Al Balsamico in it!