Meet Joey Jay, the first contestant from Phoenix on Rupaul's Drag Race

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Posted at 5:02 AM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 07:12:18-05

Joey Jay is going where no one else in the Valley has ever gone -- right onto the main stage of Rupaul's Drag Race!

"It's very validating," explains Joey. "And it's not a lot of pressure to me because regardless of how far you go in the show, it's a huge platform and Phoenix deserves the spotlight."

After 13 seasons and 19 Emmys, Rupaul has helped the world fall in love with drag. Each week, contestants compete in challenges, "lip sync for their lives," and show off their "eleganza" on the runway, duking it out for a $100,000 prize and the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar."

It's not the easiest thing to pull off when you're in the middle of a global pandemic. Joey says, before filming started, he had to quarantine in his hotel for 12 days over the summer.

"Filming a reality show during a pandemic is not easy! It was one of the most stressful, hardest things I've ever done in my entire life."

Joey says the protocol on set was strict to ensure safety, complete with face masks, face shields, and working with a "bubble" or isolated group to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

"Let me tell you, when you're trying to corset 13 queens at once and you only have four people that can touch you at once and you only have 20 minutes, it gets a little crazy!"

It is a competition, after all. But Joey says every single moment was worth it, especially when he realizes what kind of influence he and the rest of the cast have on the show's younger viewers.

During a candid conversation with ABC15's Nick Ciletti, Joey said, "Maybe they come out of the closet? Maybe they're trans? They know it's OK. It's a safe space. The community isn't as secretive as it used to be."

Nick responded, "I think if we can all live our lives more open, me included, that's going to help so many more people."

You can cheer Joey on every Friday night at 8 p.m. when Rupaul's Drag Race airs!

Find him on Instagram and Twitter: @JoeyJayIsGay