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Meet Jessica L’Whor, Denver’s Top Cannabis Drag Queen

Emily Mullins

by Emily Mullins

June 28, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 11 Minutes
Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho

Denver’s drag scene is alive and thriving, particularly during Pride Month. While some drag queens travel in from far and wide for performances, others grew up here and continue to contribute to the Colorado culture throughout adulthood. 

One such queen is the iconic local drag performer Jessica L’Whor. After spending more than a decade in the scene, she’s a staple of Denver’s culture and can be found performing drag bingo, trivia, podcasts, shows, and more on a nightly basis. Her accolades include wins as “Best New Queen on the Scene” and “Colorado’s Drag Entertainer of the Year,” and her brand, which also consists of the PG version of her persona “Miss Jessica,” has become a powerhouse of inclusivity, body positivity, and LGBTQ+ representation. 

Her reach doesn’t stop there, though – Jessica L’Whor is also a cannabis enthusiast who strives to promote safe, responsible, and educated use in her drag, even incorporating weed-themed outfits and partnerships into her work regularly. 

To celebrate Pride Month, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with Jessica and learn about her drag persona, cannabis background, and much more. 

jessica l'whor

Emily Mullins (EM): Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as a drag queen. How did you get into performing and the drag space? 

Jessica L’Whor (JL): I’ve been in the game for 11 years, so [let’s] go back – I was a very closeted and confused queer child. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be or how I wanted to act or how I wanted to identify, but drag was really interesting because when I first saw it on TV, I got disgusted by it. I called it “gross” and asked my friends to turn it off, and a lot of that was internalized [fear] of being different. I started getting into drag when I had a boyfriend bring me to a show, and I fell in love with this queen – she did a ballad, and I was mind blown. “I want to do that!” 

We went to Walmart afterward and I got a bra and some makeup. [My boyfriend] had an extra wig, and I put it on my face, did my makeup to the best of my ability, and we both looked at each other. “You are an ugly woman,” he said, “You should never do drag again.” And I was like, “Damn, I actually kind of liked this transformation!” 

Because I was closeted, I would do drag in my dorm room, or I would leave my parent’s house with my drag in my car, do my makeup in my car, go into the club, and then take it all off and go back into the house. 

I went to Colorado State University, and they have a university drag show. It’s one of the most accepting environments that any drag artist could be involved in for the first time. My first show was on that stage – because of that show, a local queen said, “Hey, why don’t you come do a show in town? We’ll pay you to do it.” I went and was terrified, but that turned from one show to once a month to once a week to a couple times a week to now a full-time experience. 

jessica l'whor

EM: I love that! Can you also give us a look at your history with cannabis? Did you start using it before you got into drag, or is it intertwined? 

JL: It really does intertwine in the sense that I looked at weed very negatively. A lot of it was not understanding it and not understanding the positive effects of it or why people would do it. I didn’t want anything to do with it, but then I got to a place of being okay if other people wanted to do it, but I didn’t want to partake. 

I remember the first time I smoked weed. They didn’t tell me I was smoking weed – they told me it was just hookah. I didn’t know what that feeling was, and it was just wild. 

Significantly later, I was around a lot of drag queens that smoke weed – cannabis queens. I tried some edibles and found out I really enjoyed the effects of it. I found motivated, creative people who were able to functionally live their life and accomplish things while also smoking, and my perception changed entirely after I met more people who were driven and able to function. It helped with their anxiety or calmed them down. That’s what encouraged me, and [weed] helped me in the same ways. 

EM: At what point did you start integrating weed more into your drag persona? 

JL: That was probably COVID. I used to smoke weed, but I wouldn’t tell people – there was still a little bit of residual shame. But in 2020, when everybody was dealing with their own things, I was more vocal online. I would take videos on my story of me smoking weed, and I let everybody know. It’s my life and I can do what I want. If I’m able to accomplish everything that I am, why do you care what I do with my body? 

jessica l'whor glamour shot

EM: So you say that you used to view weed and drag in the same way – you looked at it with disgust. What would you say to someone who still has those views today? 

JL: You know, I’m never going to pressure anybody to do anything they don’t want to do. If it’s not for you, you’ll find out it’s not for you very quickly. You can disagree with something and that’s completely fine, but going to the extreme of calling something or someone disgusting – I don’t think that’s appropriate. Leave your mind open to what makes sense for people, what works for people, what makes people happy, how people want to function. Let them live their lives just the same way that you want people to let you live your own life. 

But also, I think opening yourself up to trying it with some people you feel safe trying it with – it might change your mind. 

EM: I love that answer. You never know; you liked it! But moving on – how has weed influenced your creativity as a drag queen? 

JL: It’s been both negative and positive, and I’ll be honest about both. On the negative side, I’m a workaholic – I had to find certain times throughout the day that I could not smoke weed if I wanted to be productive and be on my A-game. On the other end, it would help me be inspired when I would watch TV shows or scroll on TikTok. I would be like, “Wow, I want to make a number to this.” I got really creative. In 2023, I saved every joint tube that I had – and I was smoking like 15 a week – and I want to make a fringe outfit out of the joint tubes. 

EM: I need to see that joint outfit! That sounds amazing. 

JL: It will be! I have all the tubes. I need more though – surprisingly. 

EM: Have you ever participated in any cannabis-themed drag events or dressed up in a way to promote weed? 

JL: I have a couple of weed-inspired outfits. I have a replicated Miley Cyrus outfit. I do a 4/20 classic “beach bum stoner” number where I smoke out of a penis bong, get the munchies, and ask people for money so I can go buy weed. I have a nurse weed outfit. I have a huge weed plant monster outfit, it’s kind of Bratz doll-y. Not every number calls for it, but if it makes sense. 

EM: I know you’ve been doing this for years now, but did you ever use weed to deal with pre-show anxiety? 

JL: Oh yeah. There’s a roller coaster weed would take me on – and I’m not the only performer who talks about this – where you’d go get really high, and you’d almost go through a sense of anxiousness. I’m about to perform, they’re about to call my name, I feel sick in the stomach – what do I do with this energy? And then they call your name, and you go out and give the best performance of your life. You get offstage, and it’s like, “I SLAYED that!” A lot of that is that extra energy; it’s really wild. 

EM: Have you ever used cannabis for its medicinal benefits? 

JL: I’ve never been like, diagnosed in a sense that it would medically help me – I’ve just made observations about my own situation. I have pretty heavy anxiety and the inability to shut my mind off. Even when I’m physically and mentally and emotionally drained, I can’t get my mind to shut off and calm down. Weed would help me just relax for a little bit. 

That’s why it would really be my end of the weekend reward, because I’m exuding so much energy for so many other people throughout the week. I’m giving so much of myself to everybody else, and [weed] would allow me to just sit and almost be numb for a little bit. Not in a bad way, but it let me shut off for an hour or two. It helped me sleep better and recharge faster to go do the next show. It really does change me specifically and help me so much. 

EM: Have you noticed any changes in how the queer community uses or perceives cannabis over the years? 

JL: I think people are more on board. More people are switching from feeling the need to drink or consume alcohol to smoking pot. I know so many people who said they’d never smoke who smoke every day now. I wish there were more weed-safe spaces than alcohol spaces. 

EM: That makes sense. A lot of safe spaces for queer people over the decades have historically been bars, so it’s nice that there’s now more options. 

What are some of your favorite stories from performing as a drag queen? Bonus points if any of them involve cannabis. 

JL: Usually when you smoke weed at a show during a number, it has to be a prop. But at the Marijuana Mansion, you can smoke indoors. I got to do their first drag show ever, and I got to do my Miley Cyrus number and smoke the entire bowl, which was really cool. 

I love joints, but I cannot roll them to save my life. And I went to a 4/20 event where everyone got oregano and rolling papers, and we had to roll a joint. Obviously, I’m terrible at this, so I pulled a joint out of my bag and just said I rolled it. Everybody praised me because it was the best joint ever, and then they realized that it was not oregano – it was just weed. So they caught me. 

There was one time I was really really high at a show, and I was really tired – it was the end of the weekend. And I went around feeding people – I love feeding people in general, but when I’m high, I want to like, feed the world. Like the body of Christ. So I went around and kept body-of-Christing people with chips. 

jessica l'whor

EM: I love the joint story, that’s hilarious. So, [to finish], do you have any advice for young drag queens or queer cannabis enthusiasts? 

JL: In terms of drag, I would say if you’ve ever considered doing drag, you should just do it. If you’re like, “Well, I want to be perfect,” you’re wasting time. Stop thinking about doing it and just do it – grab some makeup, grab a bra from Walmart, a wig, have someone tell you you’re ugly, and keep doing it. 

For young cannabis users, I would say that it’s a personal journey. Just as much as you should not shame somebody for enjoying weed all the time, no one should be shamed for not enjoying it whatsoever. If it is meant to be part of your life, be open-minded to it. If it’s not for you, it doesn’t have to be for you. Peer pressure is not fun in any way, shape, or form. 

But, it may change your life and your world for the better. 

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