I’m filing today’s story a little worried what my editor will think. I asked her if I could profile a drag queen, and SF Oasis happily found me one on short notice: Nicki Jizz.
If the name is a lot, best stop now, Nicki does not ease you into it: She wore “jizz” earrings onstage during a performance I caught on a recent Sunday, and a server at Oasis sported a shirt with it, too. As our interaction unfolded, I slowly caught other on-brand details— Nicki’s email signature with gender pronouns “She/Her/Hoe” and an image of her in what looks like black lingerie and thigh-high boots, straddling an enema as it traversed the galaxy.
I’m laughing just now because I wanted to spin the narrative into something more politically correct, but the show and ensuing interview were just as extra. Nicki strut onstage in a head-to-toe ruffled coat made by drag grandmother Mr. David Glamamore, quickly flinging it off for a reveal in a skintight black leotard, bending over and doing dead drops for a socially-distanced audience on the roof of Oasis.
“Here’s to you, here’s to me,” she said before taking her second shot of Jameson. “Here’s to not getting gonorrhea.”
“She’s powerful, outspoken and hilarious,” Oasis owner D’Arcy Drollinger told me. “You literally never know what’s going to happen next.”
The bold identity has a backstory, but less elaborate than I expected. “Nicki” is a play on her offstage name, Nick Marshall, and “Jizz” was something a coworker thought up in 2014, when he’d volunteered to give lap dances to audience members at a Peaches Christ show who’d bought a large popcorn.
“I’ve always been a sex positive kind of person. Even in drag, even as my drag persona, it’s something I relay with my stage presence,” Nicki told me.
She makes waves in other ways. Nicki has been an outspoken advocate for Black drag performers, who have received heightened attention as conversations around Black Lives Matter proliferate our national dialogue.
“I’ve seen a lot of systemic racism in queer nightlife here,” she said. “People don’t think they’re being racist, but they are.”
She spoke about it during a livestream in July hosted by the Bay Area Queer Nightlife Coalition, a new group that asked local LGBTQ members to rate Castro and SoMA bars on inclusivity and safety on a scale from 0 to 4. Several bars did not score well, and their owners and managers who showed up to the livestream had a very bright spotlight put on them.
“That was a crazy moment,” Nicki said. “It was nice to see the community come together and see people of color, and what they face when they’re in the bars and the nightlife scene.”
Nicki talked to me about event bookers asking her to always perform Beyonce numbers.
“When it’s a group number, I always have to be Lil’ Kim from Lady Marmalade. It is the best part anyway, but we’re being typecast,” she said.
Asked what she’d rather perform, Nicki added: “I’m down for everything, I want to do it all. I want to be typecast as a great performer who comes and delivers.”
“My niece Nicki Jizz is on fire right now. A self-proclaimed hoe with vision, no boundaries, and not a shit-to-give,” drag queen Juanita More told me. “From the moment I met her, I could see she was watching, learning, and figuring out her space in this little SF drag world. And, she’s found it.”
Nicki is part of the More drag family, which is a social structure I’m still learning about despite many years as a card-carrying, out-and-proud gay man. I thought the big thing was drag mothers, or the queens that first do your makeup. Apparently there are grandparents like Mr. David and aunts like Juanita. You can also have your own house—like Nicki’s “House of Hoes”—while being part of a larger family.
“She has come so far in such a very short amount of time,” said Nicki’s drag mother, Rahni NothingMore. “She’s fearless and smart, but still has the grace of true queen. I couldn’t be more proud to be her drag mom.”
Nicki came to the Bay Area about 11 years ago from Los Angeles with dreams to perform since childhood. Her first time in drag was in 2015 at a company party, of all places. She hosted one night an annual shindig at Amoeba Music—a record store in Haight—performing an eight-minute Beyonce medley.
“I thought I was the prettiest girl in the world,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t shave, and I barely had any makeup on.”
Since then, she’s performed around the Bay Area and even traveled a bit, she said. Her recent projects the past several years include working with Bay Area drag festival Oaklash and “Mother,” Heklina’s long-running show that recently called it quits.
Juanita More noted Nicki’s recent project, “Reparations,” an online show in its sixth month that features all Black performers. It’s every third Friday on “The Stud SF” Twitch stream: “The moment her virtual all Black-queer drag show ‘Reparations’ opens, she shouts the question, ‘Are you suffering from bouts of white guilt?’ In other words, her heart is as big as her mouth. She’s the real deal,” More said.
Nicki said a show like this was “missing from the Bay Area, with an all-Black cast and amplifying Black talent. I book performers from the Bay Area and beyond, be it burlesque or other Black creators, I will book you.”
She said performing online “has its ups and downs.”
“I’m so used to being a performer onstage and seeing people’s faces. It’s part of why I love drag so much, the human interaction of performing for people. Now you’re in a chatroom and you see people’s emojis,” she said. “It’s definitely rougher and harder. We’ve gone from drag queens doing our own makeup and sewing our outfits, to now being video editors, directors and lighting crew.”
On a positive note, she added: “An idea you’ve always had can come to life with a green screen. It does open up a world of imagination.” A special event on Black Friday featured indigenous people on The Stud’s Twitch.
This typically being a cocktail column, I asked Nicki what her preferred drink was— Jameson and Coke, with an extra shot of Jameson.
“It’s not a fancy drink, but you don’t need a fancy drink when you have a fancy girl,” she said.
Saul Sugarman is a San Francisco-based writer, event producer and apparel designer. Read more of his content and buy his wares at saulsugarman.com. He is a guest columnist and his opinions are not necessarily that of the Examiner.