Former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Jiggly Caliente has not only upgraded to becoming a full-time judge on Drag Race Philippines, but she is now on the second season of her very own talk show. Created by Jiggly herself, Translation also features Drag Race’s Peppermint, Carmen Carrera, and Kylie Sonique Love as her fabulous co-hosts.
Every episode features a central topic pertaining to the trans experience, from discussing pageantry and Miss Continental to their thoughts on what age someone should be allowed to physically transition. Not always in agreement, the talk show allows for multiple perspectives to be seen from the trans community about the trans community. New episodes of Translation Season 2 are releasing Tuesdays on OUTtv, and there are many more outstanding episodes to come within this season.
Pop Crave chatted with Jiggly Caliente about creating Translation, working with her fellow co-hosts on the series, and managing her duties as a full-time judge on Drag Race Philippines. Keep reading for the full interview!
What does it mean to you to be part of a show like Translation, and what initially drew you to joining it?
Well, Translation was created by me, Peppermint, and the girls. We actually created the show because we wanted to do a talk show, and it is our baby. I remember when I came up with the idea, and I was talking to Peppermint about it. Peppermint obviously said yes, and then I spoke to Carmen. I was kind of worried because I didn’t know how Carmen would feel about joining something that has something to do with Drag Race, but not necessarily. I was like, “It’s not Drag Race, but the only thing that connects us is because we were all on Drag Race, and we’re all trans girls on the show.” Carmen was like, “Okay, I’m game,” and then we were looking for the fourth person. The only other person I could think of was my sister, Kylie, and at the time, Kylie was very shy. I was like, “I don’t know if Kylie would want to do this,” and Kylie was very game. Come to realize while we were birthing the show, the four of us are very different: four different voices, four different personalities, and obviously four different ethnic backgrounds on top of that, so it was kind of just like the perfect way to do it. Everybody gelled, the chemistry was right, everybody wanted to work, and everybody was just in such good spirits for it. The first season – as good as it was, because it was very plain Jane – the little table, we wanted our little The View moment. Thankfully, Season 2 came, and we were granted a set. Thankfully, it looks so much better!
For both Season 1 and Season 2 of Translation, which episode had your favorite topic you got to discuss?
For me, it was pageantry, because I’m obsessed with Miss Universe! It was the one episode that I was like, “We have to, have to, have to do it!” I didn’t even realize, coming out on top of that, how kismet was it that when the announcement of the new owner of the Miss Universe franchise is a trans woman? Bitch! And it came out the week the episode aired; we didn’t even know if that was happening! To me, that is the world working its magic. I was like, “Yes, thank you!”
The panel of women on this show is so spectacular. How has Season 2 expanded upon your relationship with your co-hosts, and what has it been like being able to share and receive each other’s experiences with one another?
Okay, so in the first season, I think we were very… I don’t want to say treading lightly around each other, because we didn’t know – I mean, we all have relationships with each other; not as a group, but like, individually. I don’t think we knew how to navigate around talking to each other in a setting like this, but I think in Season 2, we didn’t agree with each other [laughs]. We let each other know, “No, I don’t agree with that!” I think it’s also the way we just grew up. A lot has happened within the year we filmed the first season of Translation to Season 2. If I’m not mistaken, we just finished filming All Stars. Me and Kylie just finished filming All Stars when we did Season 1 of Translation. We were exhausted. I mean, she was really exhausted; I was only there for a second, but like, we just finished that. Carmen was doing something else, too, and Peppermint was just finishing Call Me Mother. We were all in different areas. Season 2 came, and we have all had other experiences. Like, now I’m a judge on [Drag Race] Philippines, so we were all at a different place in life. It was very different. I think that our growth shows in Season 2, because even in our opinions, they were a lot more… very, very, very opinionated! But the thing is that I don’t think we cut each other off, we let each other speak, and we wanted to hear our voices and let our platforms be raised without stepping over another woman.
You have such important words of wisdom on the show. As someone who is continuously trying to get better at public speaking myself, how would you say you first got comfortable with public speaking and being able to share your opinion with the world?
Actually, I think… My brother calls it code switching, but I don’t think I’m code switching. I feel like when I’m at a space where I have to present myself and speak from the heart, it’s completely different than when I’m with my own girls. So, I just want people to understand that when you speak, you have to have poise, and you have to have substance. I just know the importance of my voice and my platform, even more so now than before. That’s where people are like, “Oh, there’s so much growth from you since Season 4!” I’m like, “Yeah,” ‘cause Season 4, I didn’t know that being on television, you ended up with a platform, you ended up with your own little soapbox. I didn’t know that. I never stepped into this world and this industry wanting to be an activist or anything like that. Peppermint has that hands down. She is the one for that. I just feel like when it comes to me, if I’m passionate about something, I will speak on it. I will do my research. I mean, that’s the kind of person I am, and I think that most people should do that. Like, if you’re very passionate about something, public speaking or not, and if you want to use your voice, you have to let it be heard – but it has to be heard with substance. You just gotta tweak things around and learn how to speak to people.
Something you said in one of your confessionals for Season 2 Episode 1 of Translation when asked about sex work was, “Realistically, sex work is the oldest occupation in the world!” I love that quote so much. Do you think the conversation around sex work has become increasingly destigmatized over the years, or do you think there is still a lot more to be done regarding the narrative of sex work in the media?
I feel like there’s still a lot that needs to be done, because I think it’s still very stigmatized. I wish people would understand that sometimes survival sex work isn’t… it’s not for everyone. It isn’t for everyone, it is not an easy job, and it is not for the faint of heart. Don’t let television fool you on what it looks like, because that is not what it is. It is super glamorized on television. In real life, that’s not what they look like. Lord, it is not what they look like! But I want people to realize that people do things to survive, and you cannot fault people for how they choose to survive, mainly when opportunities aren’t given to them. Opportunities don’t always come to everyone. You do what you have to do to survive in this world, and you cannot fault people for how they choose to survive in this world. To be honest, I don’t think anyone should judge anyone for how they choose to survive. The opportunities you have aren’t the same opportunities given to me, and vice versa.
Either funny or serious, what is a favorite memory or moment from filming this new season of Translation that has stuck with you the most?
I know Kylie’s story of her boob going down to her [laughs]… and then the fact that she said exactly what pageant it was! She even said the year! Like, Kylie, you just gave everybody basically 80% of the story! But I think that was really, really funny. I don’t think there was any drama, no, but we were very opinionated when it came to transitioning and at what age we should transition. We all had very different ideas. The crazy part is, we all had a point. That’s the main issue that we also did talk about is that there is no studies on transitioning, because everybody transitions and everybody has an epiphany of their truth in different stages in life. Some people take longer to figure out who they are, some people knew from the very beginning, so you just don’t know.
What is one topic you haven’t covered yet that you would like to see covered for a potential third season?
I think relationships, how trans people navigate in relationships, and how I feel like certain… I don’t know if I’m wrong, and I hope I’m wrong. I hope that I’m wrong that trans men have it easier than trans women when it comes to dating. But yeah, I just feel like dating and relationships of trans people is very difficult because of the stigma and all the… whatever else is going on in the world.
Who is someone you’d maybe like to see join the Translation panel as a special guest in the future?
I would love for Kerri [Colby]! Actually, any of my sisters! Mainly the Season 14 girls, because I think the Season 14 girls have a very distinct and different way of how they transitioned. People assume that it’s so much easier now. No, it’s not. I think the girls just had an opportunity, and they were able to express who they are on the show differently than any of the other girls that came before them. I would love to have Monica [Beverly Hillz] come on the show, because she was also one of the pioneers in the trans movement that is Drag Race. The pioneers of the trans movement and Drag Race, because Monica came out on the show. She let the world know, on the show, who she is. So did Peppermint. I feel like those are the important voices that need to be heard, that haven’t been given the opportunity to. Lashauwn [Beyond], I would love Lashauwn to get her moment, mainly because we had such a crazy moment on Drag Race. I feel like it would be perfect to have Lashauwn on this show. Kenya [Michaels] is also one because she comes from Puerto Rico, and I would love to know more about the trans community in Puerto Rico, how they deal with things, and what they’re going through out there with all the political issues that are going on in Puerto Rico itself. There’s so many different queens that I would love to come. I would love all my sisters to come and join, have a seat, and be a guest on the show. They all have things to say, and they all have opinions that need to be said.
A new challenge that’s beginning to make a recurrence on Drag Race, such as on your newest competing season of All Stars 6, is the Pink Table Talk. It’s personally a favorite challenge of mine and reminds me a lot of the Translation show in its structure. Is this a challenge you’d like to see the franchise utilize more often?
Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! When I saw that, we were already birthing the situation. Kylie, that’s why Kylie was like, “Oh, I’m down! I’ll do it, I’ll do it!” Because she already did it! I didn’t even know that they did that on Drag Race, obviously because I didn’t make it that far, but it was nice to see that. Drag Race is always, you know, “Let’s do funny,” but it’s nice for them to touch on some things that are sometimes serious, because these are things that are also happening in mainstream media where we need to have our voices to be heard. It’s not always about humor. Sometimes we need to take things seriously and have a real, serious conversation that’s happening in our community. It was nice to see that Drag Race did that, and I would love to see more of it. I mean, what did Kylie say? “Don’t let the hurt child make decisions for the grown up you”? What?!
I literally put that quote up on my wall! It was so good.
It was so good! And we find out things about all of our other sisters, too. What I found out about A’keria [C. Davenport], that she used to be transitioning and then she stopped because she realized… I would love to actually have a real conversation with A’keria and interview her about that, because I think that’s important too. That’s why I think when [discussing] transitioning as a child or whatever, this is exactly why I think Carmen’s point made sense. We all had different points of views that actually made sense. We could expand more than on a 30-minute talk show.
Aside from Translation, you, Sonique, and Peppermint also recently had a beautiful photoshoot for VH1’s LGBTQ+ History Month alongside some other trans Drag Race legends. What was that experience for the three of you like?
It was so much fun! It was also very, very crazy. I literally just flew in the day before from the Philippines because of the [Drag Race Philippines] premiere. I flew in, I’m super jet lagged, and I’m just like, “Oh, God!” Like, I do not know how I made it through. I don’t know. But the energy in the room was so good. The dressing room kiki was insane! Gigi [Goode], Aja, Mik, everyone! It was just so much fun. Like, the energy was amazing. It was super supportive, just all the love, and it was great! I felt bad for Ganja [Estranja] because everything was going wrong for Ganja that day. I don’t know what happened, but she couldn’t check into her hotel yet. Her room wasn’t ready, so she had to come straight to photoshoot. Poor girl!
This question is from a fan. How hard was the transition from being a contestant on Drag Race to then becoming a full-on judge on Drag Race Philippines?
Very difficult! I think I knew going in the hard work that goes into being a contestant, so I never wanted to be malicious or be a bitch. I didn’t want to be that bitch judge. I wanted to be very fair and very, like, I follow the rules on what… and that’s the one thing. As a contestant, I know the rules that go into all these challenges. I’m like, “You ain’t gonna get by me with that dress, bitch! I know you didn’t make that here. That looks like it’s a Forever 21 dress. What is that?” Things like that, but hey! I think I was a fair judge.
Final question. I’m also speaking to Peppermint in just a couple hours from now. Is there anything you’d like me to tell her for you, or is there anything you’d like me to ask her?
If she does another Janet Jackson tribute, can we do “You Want This” and I want to be MC Lyte?
New episodes of Translation Season 2 release Tuesdays on OUTtv.
Article cover taken by David Laffe.