Unless you have no access to the outside world, you have definitely already heard the full version of Jungle Kitty Bebe Zahara Benet‘s new song and video. Not only that, but we’re sure you’ve watched the new music video at least 100 times and then proceeded to share it with all your friends on all social media platforms.
However, in case you’ve done none of those things and didn’t know, the OG RuPaul’s Drag Race winner BeBe Zahara Benet has released a full length version of Jungle Kitty and put out an accompanying music video for the song.
And ooooooh hunty child, ferocious ain’t even good enough to describe it. The video is everything!
I was lucky enough to attend the OutWebFest hosted by Revry where BeBe was a panelist on the Music Meets Content Panel and the place where Jungle Kitty premiered to the world. BeBe was joined on the panel, moderated by Chris Jacobs and Davis Mallory of MTV’s The Real World, rapper/singer/songwriter Cazwell, Ricky Rebel, Swedish musician Ina, Vanderpump Rules‘ Jesse Montana, and music video director & producer Assad Yacoub.
During the panel BeBe and the other panelists offered insight on their music careers, advice for up and coming LGBTQ musicians and artists and their opinions on so many different things impacting the LGBTQ community. The icing on top of the cherry of OutWebFest was, of course, BeBe’s live performance of Jungle Kitty at the afterparty.
Not only did BeBe perform at the afterparty, but she also won the 2018 OutWebFest Award for music.
In between the screening and afterparty I had the opportunity to sit down with BeBe and get the inside scoop on Jungle Kitty, her music career and her thoughts on drag and the LGBTQ community in today’s day and age.
Read our interview below!
Javay Frye: What inspired this music video?
BeBe Zahara Benet: Being on RuPaul’s Drag Race and how it took off with the fans. I feel like the fans were able to relate to Jungle Kitty.
Who is Jungle Kitty to me? It’s a frame of mind, an attitude, claiming who you are and not apologizing for who you are are and being able to take away any negative energy. You’re care free, ferocious and unapologetic, owning your freedom, power, and attitude.
That is what inspired me to write the full song.
JF: What are your predictions for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10?
BZB: I hate talking about my predictions. I know it sounds like pageantry but I think all the girls are ferocious. All my sisters are ferocious. I am rooting for every single person in the top 4. If you are hand picked by mother to be in the top 4 that means you deserve being a winner. Whoever mother chooses as a winner I support.
It’s not about the crown, many sisters from the show have proven that you don’t need the crown to validate your art form. It’s what you make of the platform that creates your success and defines the kind of queen that you are.
JF: How have you seen drag change over the 10 years RuPaul’s Drag Race?
BZB: Because of RuPaul’s Drag Race and social media a lot of entertainers, young artists, and drag entertainers are daring enough to start very young as we’ve seen from the people that watch the show and come to RuPaul’s DragCon. Young kids are working on their art form.
We had to hide because we thought it was something that was wrong. They are starting at a young age, “I can be a drag entertainer, I can make money from this, this can actually be my legit career.” This is my career and I feel that is inspiring the young generation. As much as changes are happening I hope people go back to history and learn their roots and the legends and get the foundation, because it’s not about being an Instagram queen, and painting your face and becoming famous in like two weeks. You have to know the legends that have paved the way for us.
Don’t forget where the roots began.
JF: How do you feel drag in general is helping the LGBTQ community?
BZB: It’s bringing awareness. It’s taking away the mystique of the fantasy, making us be seen as human beings with feelings and emotions, faults and flaws, you get to see the human and you get to relate to our stories.
We all have different experiences that you can relate to. We bring other social matters that affect our community to the forefront. We are like the ambassadors. We use our platforms to speak on those things. I hope we can do it more because there is a lot that the fans need to get engaged in. Not just the glamour and the hair and the music and the fantasy and the ferociousness, a lot deeper stuff.
We need to use our platform to get more fans more engaged and it’s not just with drag race. When there is something wrong with the community there are a lot of drag queens, performers, entertainers leading the fight, like with Stonewall. They are out there fighting these battles. Being in the art form you have decided that you are going to celebrate your power, own your power. This is who we are and we are not going to apologize.
Bitch, I swear I should run for president, I’m very Oprah.
JF: What is your message for upcoming drag queens and musicians?
BZB: Love your art. Love what you do. Don’t be calculated in what your art form is. If it’s not yours then it’s not yours. Don’t do it. Your gift is your gift. If it happens that your gift is performance or music whatever that gift is. Make sure you take some time to love it because when you love it then that love is being transcended to those receiving.
My gift is not for me. It was given to me by the universe and it was given to me to gift to others. Drag and social media — the changes I have seen a lot, especially coming from RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. I want people to take some time and know that as entertainers we are still human beings and we still have feelings and emotions.
For some reason with Drag Race, even though people are loving it, there is this cult of negativity that is being formed. You get a lot of entertainers being bullied online, hate messages, death messages. Even the person you don’t like puts so much work and effort to entertain you. To take you out of the misery, to make you feel great about yourself. The show is created to entertain you, to take you out of whatever world you are in. That takes a lot — for us to do what we do, but we’re still human beings.
Even if you don’t love what you see it’s okay not to spread hate, because just imagine us without Drag Race, the reason you are going to all these tours, going to all these parties, imagine this world with no Drag Race. If there was no drag the bars that are staying open because of Drag Race and drag shows wouldn’t be open still.
As much as what performers put out make people feel great, to make them feel like they belong it is important that with social media, people are empowered and that you don’t bully the girls.
That’s why I did Jungle Kitty. Jungle Kitty is not only that state of mind and owning your ferociousness, the guy in the video represents the negative energy, the trolls, everything that comes to your world and wants to destroy your world for no reason.
Jungle Kitty isn’t just being ferocious and trying to beat up a bitch because she wants to beat up a bitch. She is like no, no, no, no, you’re not going to come into my world and turn this world around because this world that I have is perfect and I’m not letting no energy come through and anybody can relate to that.
JF: Is there anything we don’t know about your music? What inspires it, how you create it, was it always something you wanted to do?
BZB: Music has been a part of my life ever since I was a child. When I grew up in Cameroon, music was my outlet and way to express. I was in the church singing in the choir, when I became older I was the choir director. That goes into the kind of music I do, my grounded foundation of music, trying to implement that into all of my aesthetic.
If I was never doing drag I would still be doing music in some shape or form. If you come to my live shows the musicality is so different. I’m backed by some of the best musicians and that’s because of my musicality. I get inspired by so many facets of music.
Growing up I listened to Angélique Kidjo, Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and coming up now, Beyoncé. A bunch of different artists inspire me and I just try to find ways to use that inspiration and bring it into my work. What makes it more special is that I try to find the fusion with Afro, with my cultures, because I have two homes: Africa and America.
JF: How do you feel OutWebFest helps progress LGBTQ content?
BZB: It was an honor to be invited to be a part of it and the panel. It brings notoriety and awareness. If people do not know that this exist then nobody can be engaged. It brings artists together and not only showcases their work, but they get to talk about their work, they get to create exposure and awareness and go to their different places.
There aren’t many LGBTQ platforms so it’s amazing where our work can be celebrated, acknowledged and awareness created. I think it needs to get bigger, don’t just be part of the parties, but also part of the conversations. Why will you support mainstream artists but not do the same thing in your community. Your community has the same talent, the only difference is the platform.