We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeez Loueez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeez, what’s your definition for success?
As a lifelong artist it’s always been instilled in me to define my success by the gigs I book, by the amount of money I’m able to charge for my services, by the amount of workworkWORK I’m able to cram into my life. As a burlesque artist I began to believe my success was defined by awards, headlining opportunities, or voting list. It took a long time for me to realize that my success if defined by my impact. My success is defined by the lives I’ve been able to touch, by the memories I’ve burned into your mind. It’s defined by the respect and admiration I receive from my industry, my contemporaries, and my community. My success is defined by my influence.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a lifelong performer and artist who has found herself through dance, theater, comedy, and burlesque. I think what sets me apart is that because of my experience in various genres and legs of the entertainment industry I’ve been able to build a versatile and multifaceted career that expands beyond just one thing. I am a burlesque performer, yes. But I’m also an actor, and a teacher, and a comedian, and all of these other things that have allowed me exposure to different communities and audiences. What I’m most proud of are the spaces that I’ve been able to create and curate for Black and Queer performers and audiences. Jeezy’s Juke Joint: A Black Burly-Q Revue represents everything that I know burlesque is and can be. It’s a home for Black entertainers to share their stories and lived experiences with those who ‘get it’. It’s a space for the Black community to be exposed to the beauty and power of burlesque and drag.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Having just moved to New Orleans from Chicago shortly before the pandemic began I’ve had an interesting experience of having to navigate the city in a different way than I anticipated! So this will be a mix of pre and post pandemic activities. The first place I would bring my best friend would be The Allways Lounge Peepshow. The Allways Lounge is our home for cabaret, burlesque, and drag in New Orleans. and they’ve created an innovative and unique solution to socially distanced entertainment. Then we would head next door to Kajun’s for a few rounds of karaoke before we drive to Arabi to check out the new Fry & Pie location. Fry & Pie has the bessssst loaded fries and personal dessert pies on a rotating menu! Throughout the week I would make sure that we stopped for cocktails at Bar Tonique, a frozen Irish coffee at Molly’s, watch the sunset over Bayou St. John, get slices of doberge cake at Bakery Bar, roller skating by the wharf at Crescent Park, indulge in whatever magic Michael Dominici is cooking up at Dom’s Soul Kitchen, homemade snoballs from the front porch of Chance in Hell Snoballs, swimming and sunbathing at The Country Club, and back to The Allways Lounge for The Van Ella Bordella or Untitled Drag Show!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My story would not have been written without the contributions of MANY. But when I think about my journey and how I’ve been able to continue on the path I’m building for myself the person I think of the most is my grandmother Gloria (also known as Sugar). Sugar was a constant guiding light and force of love and tenacity. From the minute I was born we were connected at the hip. She instilled in me the confidence to always be myself, to always hold my head high, to always lead with love and compassion and empathy, and the ability to set boundaries. She was unwavering in her support and pride for anything and everything I was doing. She helped facilitate my first love of dance and did everything in her power to help me reach my goals and dreams. When I started doing burlesque I was scared of what she would think. She was a God-fearing Reverend and active pillar of her church community and how would she feel about this? She supported my burlesque career with everything she had. And when I came out as queer she loved my partners and queer community with as much ferocity as she loved me. And though she’s no longer here, every day I thank the universe that I was given the gift of her love , support, guidance, and wisdom for 33 years.