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The State Hornet

The student news site of Sacramento State University

The State Hornet

J.J. Jones stands outside of the University Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. Jones plays the lead character Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Sac State’s “The Rocky Horror Show” production that opens on Oct. 20, 2021.

J.J. Jones outside of university theatre on Wednesday, Oct.13, 2021. Jones plays the lead character Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Sac State’s “The Rocky Horror Show” production, opening on Oct. 20, 2021.

Sac State’s lead in “The Rocky Horror Show” shares experiences being Two-Spirit, drag artist

Sac State’s lead in “The Rocky Horror Show” shares experiences being Two-Spirit, drag artist

October 25, 2021

Copy editor’s note: The subject of the story goes by both she/her/hers and they/them/their/theirs and is referred to by both throughout the story. The use of either pronoun at a given time is intentional and kept in for accuracy.

Halloween is quickly approaching and so is the opening for Sacramento State’s theater production of “The Rocky Horror Show.”

Sac State’s production of Richard O’Brien’s musical-comedy is a horror show about a young couple whose car breaks down, leaving them to find shelter in the mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

The lead character of the show, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is being played by theater major J.J. Jones.

Jones said the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter typically goes to a tall, white and strong baritone male.

“I’m like the opposite of that,” she said. “When auditions were coming out, I was very hesitant.”

Jones said she faced hardships being multiracial and how it has come with “really interesting kinds of challenges in ways that only multiracial people can relate to.”

Jones said she’s Black, white, Mexican, Spanish, and Yaqui, Chumash, Blackfoot and Cherokee by descent and comes from two multiracial parents. Growing up she was not able to ask any questions about who she was.

It just wasn’t part of her reality, but as she got older, Jones said more doors were opened between her and her mom where she could.

“I’m like the opposite of that,” she said. “When auditions were coming out, I was very hesitant.”

Jones said she faced hardships being multiracial and how it has come with “really interesting kinds of challenges in ways that only multiracial people can relate to.”

Jones said she’s Black, white, Mexican, Spanish, and Yaqui, Chumash, Blackfoot and Cherokee by descent and comes from two multiracial parents.

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J.J. Jones, at 5 years old, with her mother, Holly. Jones said she had been a creative person since she was young. Photo courtesy of J.J. Jones.

Jones remembers the first time she ever had to take a test where you’re supposed to fill in the bubble for which race you are. She said she was confused because she didn’t know what to put.

“Being multiracial has led to some really interesting situations,” she said.

She continued with a story about when a police officer pulled her over. When asked by the officer what race she was, Jones did not know how to answer because she did not grow up with a specific culture.

Growing up she was not able to ask any questions about who she was. It just wasn’t part of her reality, but as she got older, Jones said more doors were opened between her and her mom where she could.

Jones remembers the first time she ever had to take a test where you’re supposed to fill in the bubble for which race you are. She said she was confused because she didn’t know what to put.

“Being multiracial has led to some really interesting situations,” she said.

She continued with a story about when a police officer pulled her over. When asked by the officer what race she was, Jones did not know how to answer because she did not grow up with a specific culture.

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Sitting in her car scared, the officer said she had to pick one.

White.

She picked white because that’s “safe,” Jones said.

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J.J. Jones rehearsing for “The Rocky Horror Show,” where they play the character Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Jones said their favorite part of the role is that it's an iconic and legendary role. Photo courtesy of J.J. Jones.

J.J. Jones rehearsing for “The Rocky Horror Show,” where they play the character Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Jones said their favorite part of the role is that it's an iconic and legendary role. Photo courtesy of J.J. Jones.

Despite the hesitation for the part in the play, Jones proceeded to send an email to the director of the show Michelle Felten because she said this was the first time there was a specific role that she really wanted.

“I got that email from J.J. saying ‘would you consider casting a woman in this part?’” Felten said.

Felten said she was open to casting whoever brought forth their best efforts during auditions.

“Dr. Frank-N-Furter is unapologetic and is just sexy and strong,” Jones said. “Seeing Dr. Frank-N-Furter be this charismatic, like everybody wants a piece magnet of a person, that was just very much [what] drew me in.”

Jones’ co-star Avery Hersek portrays Janet Weiss in the show, “J.J. truly is the heart and soul of the Rocky cast,” said Hersek via email. “They are so professional and respectful of [the] cast and crew while keeping the environment fun.”

Felten said Jones is supportive and appreciative when other people do a good job.
“For a director that's an added bonus to have somebody in a leading part that is leading in a positive way like that,” Felten said.

Jones explains that it’s easier for them to connect and be more relatable to others because they’re Two-Spirit.

Two-Spirit as an identity is for Native people that is beyond “the colonized gender binary.” Traditionally, Two-Spirit people are seen as healers for tribal communities because they embody, embrace and transmute both feminine and masculine energy, according to Jones.

“I think being Two-Spirit has been a huge plus in my life,” Jones said.

She said it was her therapist, who is also Native, who first introduced to her what Two-Spirit was and what it meant.

“When I finally figured [it out], put a label on it, it was so helpful,” they said.

Jones’ pronouns are she/her/hers, he/him/his and they/them/theirs but says their he/him/his pronouns are usually addressed only when they’re in drag.

Born and raised in Sacramento, Jones has been a creative person since she was young.

With her self-described “crazy home life,” her mom and grandma put her in a performing arts elementary school.

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J.J. Jones’ drag persona is called Mudd. This cosplay look is inspired by fictional character Princess 'Kida' Kidagakash from the Disney movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.” Photo courtesy of J.J. Jones.

“[Theater] was something that was a bit of an escape,” Jones said. “It was the oportunity to release some of my own emotions and put them into a character.”

She has done many shows such as the production of “Hidden: A Gender” performed at the Brickhouse Art Gallery at Oak Park in 2018 and a virtual Zoom production “We Are Proud to Present” with Sac State’s theatre department in 2020.

But, Jones said she is not limited to just performing and has done musically scored shows, been a part of the technical side and built sets behind the scenes.

“[Theater has] always just been kind of something that I have really appreciated and loved,” she said.

Before returning to school to pursue theater, they went from American River College to Sacramento City College to become a cosmetologist.

“[Theater] was something that was a bit of an escape,” Jones said. “It was the opportunity to release some of my own emotions and put them into a character.”

She has done many shows such as the production of “Hidden: A Gender” performed at the Brickhouse Art Gallery at Oak Park in 2018 and a virtual Zoom production “We Are Proud to Present” with Sac State’s theatre department in 2020.

But, Jones said she is not limited to just performing and has done musically scored shows, been a part of the technical side and built sets behind the scenes.

“[Theater has] always just been kind of something that I have really appreciated and loved,” she said.

Before returning to school to pursue theater, they went from American River College to Sacramento City College to become a cosmetologist.

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At the time of their college graduation in 2014, Jones was the first in their family to go to college.

Jones knew they wanted to come back to school to get a bachelor’s in theater and felt confident knowing they have a career as a licensed cosmetologist to help them financially.

After completing their last few requirements at ARC, Jones transferred to Sac State in fall 2020. Next, she’ll get her teaching credentials, followed by potentially getting a master’s in literature and one day she said she would like to teach high school theater.

“For me in high school, the thing that kind of kept me floating above water was the arts and being a part of that kind of expressive space,” Jones said. “It was just super helpful for me growing up, and so if I had the opportunity to just give that back to one other kid, I could die happy.”

In previous plays Jones has played male roles and said that's where being a drag artist sort of started. As a drag artist, more specifically as a drag king, Jones said their goal is to “re-motivate people to reconsider what drag means and what opportunities can actually be opened up for more performers.”

While drag kings have been around just as long as drag queens have been, there are far fewer opportunities and awareness for drag kings, according to Jones. She said drag queens are frequently cisgender men and drag kings are frequently, but not limited to, cisgender women.

Some consider themselves to be neither a king or queen but rather drag artists.

Jones’ drag persona is called Mudd.

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“Drag queens, in the most simplest sense that I could put it, [are] a male-dominated industry,” Jones said.

They go on to explain that males performing as drag kings or drag queens get booked more often than women.

“You have to kind of prove yourself [and] I think in my case, because I come from a theatrical background and because I am Two-Spirit, it makes me more relatable to more people,” Jones said.

When asked if there is anything else they would like their viewers to know, Jones paused for a moment.

They said they wanted to remind everyone that anyone can do anything they wish to do.

“It can be something that people agree with or don’t like,” Jones said. “Whatever it is, you have every right to do it, and it’s probably very valid. You can do anything you want and need to do to nourish your well-being.”

Page design by Mercy Sosa.

Photo of Nicque McMullen
Nicque McMullen, staff writer
Nicque McMullen is a staff writer on the general assignment desk for The State Hornet. She is a senior and joined The State Hornet in fall 2021. Previously, Nicque wrote for Roundhouse News & Reviews at Sierra College. There she won second place in Webcast/Broadcast News from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges.