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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Jason Reid’s Cabaret Column: Remembering Miss Jason

Someone who brought joy everywhere they went. That’s how I’ll remember Miss Jason.

Over the years I interviewed Jason a fair few times, mostly about drag and performing but the most memorable interview was one that Jason requested — to speak about living with HIV for the first time publicly in order to help others and break down insidious stigma.

“I am not ashamed of my [HIV] status. It changed my life completely and I’m a better person from having gone through it all.” Jason explained to me. The impression I always got was that Jason instinctively cared about others which shone through continually.

Each time I attended a Miss Jason show I laughed like a drain and sang like a bird. Jason’s razor- sharp wit, natural warmth and uproarious rendition of Quando, Quando, Quando and various other high camp singalongs is what kept cabaret-goers coming back again and again. A queen who was born to perform.

Miss Jason wasn’t a drag queen who went through the motions, reeling off gags and belting out numbers. It was always apparent that Jason had a deep love for performing and a unique ability to connect with an audience through humour in a very down- to-earth way, which I believe was a major factor in Jason’s popularity. Jason was open-hearted on and off the stage, a kind of drag auntie, not the stereotypical daunting and scathing queen.

Quintessentially high camp; that was Miss Jason. And effortlessly so. Audiences felt safe and happy in Miss Jason’s presence. When something comes so naturally to someone it’simpossible not to be enamoured by them.

When the sad news broke that Miss Jason had died suddenly on Monday 22nd April, there was a wave of shock and disbelief on social media coupled with heartfelt tributes to a person who was loved by a great deal of people.

Mary Mac who has performed at the Two Brewers flagship Sunday cabaret party for a number of years alongside Miss Jason said: “Thank you for ALL the laughs! Backstage will be a lot quieter without you and the scene a lot less camp, dear! You did so much for so many people and not just only onstage. I’m so proud to call you my friend. A real huge loss but you will never be forgotten.”

Miss Jason’s longtime friend and fellow Brightonian drag artist Dave Lynn simply said: “heartbroken” and “I will miss you forever.”

Marsha Mallow is a younger artist who is proudly continuing the rich tradition of camp drag cabaret which Miss Jason was so well known for across the UK and beyond.

“Through all the years I have been in tights you have been a constant in my life, taught me so much, and as we’ve gotten closer over time you have said such profound things to me that have made me a better drag artist and a better human.”

“Thank you for our last Sunday together, thank you for our friendship, thank you for the advice, the laughs, the stories and thank you for the cheeky wink on Thursday night and mouthing I love you, because my darling I loved you very very much.” Marsha said.

Miss Jason was the brightest of cabaret stars who will never be forgotten and whose impact will reverberate for many years to come.

Rest in everlasting fabulousness, dear.

Give Jason a follow @jasonreiduk

Jason Reid

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