Jackie Cox is dreaming big and taking us all along for the ride

Jackie Cox is dreaming big and taking us all along for the ride

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Jackie Cox

Darius Rose is better known to drag lovers as Jackie Cox. He found fame in 2020 on the 12th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. He came in fourth place. 

Like so many other contestants, he’s since appeared nationwide on tours and at drag conventions. However, the last 12 months have really seen him challenge himself. Following a holiday tour that he undertook with fellow queen Jan Sport, Rose took on a one-person, 90-minute show in New York in February, demonstrating his acting abilities in a unique role. 

Rose played real-life figure Kenneth/Kate Marlowe.  

Marlowe was a former U.S. Army soldier in the mid-20th century. Marlowe’s career after the army was diverse. They became a hairdresser to the stars, the madam of a notorious gay prostitution ring in Hollywood, an author, a hustler, a female impersonator, an escort, a Christian missionary, a mortuary cosmetologist, and a newspaper columnist. 

Later in life, they transitioned to Kate (but continued to publish work under the name Kenneth Marlowe). They were the inspiration for the Mrs. Madrigal character in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.

Marlowe’s life was documented in the book Make Me Gorgeous: The True Story of Kenneth “Mr. Madam” Marlowe. Rose took on the role in the show Make Me Gorgeous for a four-week run at Playhouse 46. 

“We as queer people are raised in our history”

Talking to Queerty in January, Rose said playing Marlowe was a beautiful opportunity for him.

“Kate dealt with all the foundations of queer trauma that we talk about and was able to use art—as a drag queen, author, hairdresser–to push through all the traumas.”

For Rose, it was a privilege to shine a spotlight on a forgotten figure from LGBTQ+ history.

“We as queer people are raised in our history. Some people think drag began with Paris is Burning, and that’s just not true. As much as it’s informed the drag culture of today, there was drag before that in places small and big. Having now been to some of those places with the privilege I have as a Drag Race queen and create a story that speaks to their history is important to me. And another thing is to have fun!”

Early life

Rose was born on April 10, 1985, in Nova Scotia to a Canadian father and an Iranian mother. He discovered a love for the theater early in life. He studied at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. After graduating, he relocated to New York to pursue his stage dreams. 

He fell into drag by accident when asked to perform at the inaugural So You Think You Can Drag in 2010. 

“A promoter basically forced me to do it. They knew I had done Hedwig in California. They said, ‘Come do drag.’ I’d never done drag for myself. That night, Jackie was born and it was wild, it was mesmerizing. It started me on this path.”

He later revealed where the name came from. He and a friend in high school wanted to talk about a girl they disliked. Her initials were JC. They dubbed her Jackie Cox so they could talk about her without anyone realizing who they were really commenting on. 

Rose honed his drag skills in New York over the next decade. He says his comic skills were influenced by a love of Lucille Ball, Tina Fey and Mary Poppins. It was a winning persona that won him legions of fans when he appeared on Drag Race in 2020. 

Rose also stood out for honoring his Iranian heritage (he was raised mainly by his mom as a child). He was the first Drag Race contestant to wear a hijab, as part of a stars-and-stripes-inspired outfit. 

Gender expansive

Away from the stage, Rose describes himself as “gender expansive” and uses he/they pronouns. 

“I see myself as a gay man plus. I use he and they pronouns out of drag. I’m open to the expansion of gender to include both the masculine and feminine. I see myself not so much as anywhere on the spectrum, but pushing to an even bigger version of the spectrum than we even think about. We’re all trapped in our idea of binary, which is how our culture is, so anything we can do to open our minds interests me.”

In April, Rose celebrated his 39th birthday. He posted an adorable throwback photo of him as a child and reflected on his journey so far. 

“When I was a child I was often very lonely, and wasn’t allowed to have many playdates or friends, so instead I created these fantasy lives in my head of being a princess, or a witch, or Webby from DuckTales. But I don’t think I could have imagined then what a journey my real life would take, which makes me realize there’s so many more wonderful things in the future I can’t even fathom yet. Here’s to you little Dari, keep dreaming big dreams. 🫶🏼”

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