Janelle No. 5 creates her own fantasy world through drag performance

Janelle No. 5 (@janelle.no.5) is a Brooklyn-born, NYC-based drag queen with an impressive body of work who sees drag “as a creative release” that’s “like entering a fantasy world.” A self-described businesswoman and all-around boss, Janelle No. 5 is a compelling performer who does all the “hiring and the firing.” Strongly inspired by empowered and successful individuals in her life, Janelle directs that dynamism into her fierce and fiery drag performances. 

Jose Rodriguez, otherwise known as Janelle No. 5, describes being an “artsy kid” growing up in Brooklyn. “My interests were always like makeup, beauty, all this junk reality TV growing up, like Drag Race,” Jose tells In The Know, illustrating that their queer identity “was very apparent from an early age.”

Jose recalls becoming “obsessed,” after watching the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. They credit the groundbreaking franchise for defining who they are today, “which is a trash person,” according to Jose. Janelle’s origins also stem from various confident and unapologetic people Jose encountered growing up, who they wanted to emulate.

As a dedicated performer, Jose eats, sleeps, and breathes all things drag. “My life is drag 24/7,” Jose tells In The Know. “Every day, I’m in drag or planning stuff. Performing is like an adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like hearing an audience live for you. It’s all about the attention you feel. It’s fab. It’s everything.” 

When it comes to performing, Janelle refuses to hold back. “I don’t limit myself,” Jose tells In The Know, before expressing that even people who aren’t drag performers “prohibit themselves from really just being who they want to be.”

From winning Entertainer Of The Year at the Glam Awards to being featured in stylish publications such as Cosmopolitan, Paper, and Vogue, Janelle’s high-flying performances have earned her a long list of accolades, but it didn’t come easy. “The thing about this lifestyle is that you really don’t get a chance to stop and smell the roses,” Jose tells In The Know. “I feel like a lot of queens don’t talk about how physically demanding drag is.” 

Between the heavy makeup, wigs, and costumes, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. “Nothing about drag is comfortable,” Jose tells In The Know. “People think it’s so glamorous, but like no, we’re tired. If you see a drag queen, tip [her] because she is tired and she is in pain most likely,” Jose jokes. 

Jose’s ultimate goal is for “people to walk out happier than when they walked in,” when performing as Janelle No. 5. Their passion for drag is what drives their work ethic and performances. “I really feel like I’m an example of if you really put in the work, you can get there. A lot of girls can look at my journey and be like, ‘If she can do it, I can do it as well.’” 

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