Jaremi Carey, formerly known as Phi Phi O’Hara, is an American drag performer, cosplay artist, actor, streamer and singer. He is also National Co-Chair of Drag Out The Vote, an organisation aiming to educate, register, and turn out voters with the art and activism of drag.
Did you know 1 in 5 LGBTQ people are not registered to vote?! If you’re one of these people and are eligible, please go now to www.dragoutthevote2020.org/vote to get registered. This truly is one of the most important elections ever, make your voice heard.
With less than a month to go before the US elections on November 4th, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jaremi to talk more about his streaming, his love of games, the importance of voting and the awesome Divas For Democracy: United We Slay event coming up later this month.
Hi Jaremi, thanks for sparing the time for us, how’s lockdown life treating you?
I joke and say we are “thrivin’ and alive’n” but it is probably the most perfect way in my own words I can describe it! Trying to make the most out of a crazy time we are all living in right now.
You’ve been streaming for just over a year, why did you decide to make the jump into streaming?
I actually made my Twitch account over a year ago, along with my discord and then went on tour nonstop. So I couldn’t find it in my schedule, in between shows and flying, to stream. It wasn’t till March when quarantine started that I had time home where I could FINALLY sit down and start building my gaming community.
What are your favourite games to stream?
I am a variety streamer! I love anything from horror to Pokemon. I usually play what is trending in that moment, but consistently I love to play Dead By Daylight!
What games are you currently playing?
My current new obsession and taking over the streaming world by storm is Among Us! I invite subscribers to play with me and it is so funny seeing how ruthless and cutthroat everyone gets and then laugh and shake it off after each match! It is truly the meaning of playing a game to win and having fun at the same time! Also… I am pretty sure my subscribers and viewers have officially passed me in the throwing shade meter after playing this game!
You’re well known for morphing cosplay into your drag, what are some of your favourite cosplay looks?
My two favourites are Rita Repulsa and Bellatrix Lestrange! It isn’t hard for me to play a villain and I do it well! So to become either of these incredible and iconic characters has been a pleasure! I grew up on Power Rangers where I thought I wanted to be the White Ranger… who knew this entire time I WAS THE RITA?!
In mid-August, you embarked on a new photo series ’The Trailblazing Woman’ – what inspired you to start this series?
Drag Out The Vote and I had a meeting and we were discussing ways we can inspire and get people educated and ready to VOTE. I love a good photo series and when the idea of bringing up iconic faces, whether new or old, in American politics was something I have never seen and thought would be an amazing tribute to honor women and their legacy!
I put out a call for womxn from around the world to invite them to be part of the project and the response was overwhelming. It is really cool to see how each person connects with the person they are portraying and how others are learning and getting conversations started about real issues!
View this post on Instagram
Today marks 100 years since the ratification of 19th amendment, allowing many women the right to vote! It is IMPORTANT to recognize that although this was a pivotal moment in United States history, it did NOT grant voting rights to all citizens. When any of my followers and friends in the United States post today or celebrate what today marks in our history we remember to share the following information. Native Americans didn’t have the right to vote till 1948, Asian women till 1952 and it wasn’t until 1966 The Voting Rights Act allowed black women to vote! This project was an amazing to be part of, not only because of the amazing humans I got to work with around the world to create these transformations and tributes but being able to research every person and LEARN more about their amazing contributions. I hope this project inspires you to learn and possibly show how no matter where we are in the world….if we come together we can contribute something beautiful and powerful to the world! FIRST UP on my series is #RuthBaderGinsburg! (I left my neck tattoo showing because I feel #RBG would appreciate the rebel lol) Everyone day I will share a new photo honoring a different women who has contributed to American politics but NOT BY MYSELF! I didn’t feel right honoring women being a cis male and doing it all alone! I put our a call to the world to invite transgender women, cis women, and gender non-conforming people from around the world to join me in this project! I want to thank each and every person that brought this first list of historical women to life and I can’t wait for the second series! This 2020 election is more important than ever, people in power are trying to make it harder for us to vote. WE MUST FIGHT BACK! Please make sure your vote is counted and your voice it heard! For ANY information on how to register, where to register, how to vote, or if you wanna get involved please follow @DragOutTheVote!
Tell us more about your involvement with Drag Out The Vote
I have known Jackie Huba for years! An amazing human being that I am forever grateful that our paths have crossed! She originally hired me to perform at one of her book release parties in Austin, TX and our friendship blossomed from there!
When Hurricane Maria caused so much devastation and no assistance was being provided, I stepped up and created my first huge charity show to raise almost $100K by bringing over 30 drag entertainers together and donating all their time, flights, booking fees, door fees and so on.
Jackie was so incredibly great by my side, helping with the entire event! About a year later she came to me with her idea for Drag Out The Vote, inspired by my drag charity event and BAM! Drag Out the Vote happened and I said YES! WHATEVER YOU NEED!
Jackie works so hard behind the scenes, and I am incredibly proud of her hard work and happy I get to help with my platform and talents to spread a message we are so passionate about. Voting!
What are the aims of Drag Out The Vote?
Drag Out The Vote is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works with drag performers to promote participation in democracy. We educate and register voters at drag events online and offline, by organizing local and national voter activations.
Led by fierce drag kings and queens across the nation, we advocate for increased voter access and engagement in 2020 and beyond. Drag Out The Vote’s primary goal is to increase awareness, participation, registration, and turnout among queer voters, queer voters of color, and people aged 18-25.
How have this year’s challenges impacted on Drag Out The Vote’s work?
The real struggle has been fundraising. With all non-profit organizations, we rely a lot on donations! Prior to COVID-19 we were allowed to set up at events around the nations, register voters, educate and raise money and sadly a lot of that has been either canceled or rescheduled.
The cool part is seeing how everyone is tapping into their creative body to think of new ways to engage our following, produce content and create these incredible events where we can all kind of escape for a moment and have a great time, while still raising money for Drag Out The Vote.
I did a “Gaga Ball” in Animal Crossing where I had my best friend Jiggly Caliente join me! We invited 7 people to my island and raised a little over $3K. It was so fun and we also got to raise money!
Why is voting so important?
Where to start!? We boast about being the land of the free but who are we kidding? We have rules, regulations and laws that we must abide by to be a member of this “free” world, which is sometimes wonderful. I do think when there is chaos you obviously need order. However, there are people who are oppressed by these rules, regulations, and laws whether it be by racism, misogyny, sexism, bigotry, etc. We need people in office who will stand up and say “Hey that isn’t right, we need to change it, and here is how and why!”
We get to decide who works for the American people and I think finally people are seeing that. So many people think there is only one election, and that is for the presidency and although YES that is VERY important we can not ignore local elections. We often see signs in our neighbor’s yards, billboards off the highway and think…”meh so and so is running for a local position” and we can’t think of it that way.
Every vote literally counts and if we want the issues that matter to us to be heard and taken care of we must start within our own communities by VOTING!
What can readers do to prepare themselves for voting?
Education! Social media is such an easy place to just retweet and like without actually reading or seeing that the information you spread is possibly false. Things go viral in seconds on the internet, so if we want to prepare ourselves and each other we owe it to ourselves to read and share accurate, honest, and trustworthy sites and credible sources
What would you say to someone who has never voted because they don’t think their vote matters?
The idea that your vote doesn’t matter is not only harmful to you and the issues that matter to you, but it is a harmful way of thinking for the world. Be the change, have a voice, and vote to create a world YOU want to be part of.
What’s the next big Drag Out The Vote event?
Drag Out The Vote’s next big event is called Divas For Democracy: United We Slay. It is a variety show where the divas of Broadway join forces with the divas of the drag world to encourage participation in our democracy.
Broadway divas will sing some of the most iconic musical theatre songs while their drag counterparts match their vocal prowess with lip sync passion and style.
Special segments will feature LGBTQIA+ activists in a nonpartisan fashion to promote the importance of the LGBTQIA+ community engagement and voter participation.
Divas for Democracy streams exclusively on StageIt, October 18th, 2020 at 8 PM EST. Tickets are “donate what you can” with a minimum $5 donation, with optional “tipping” for additional donations during the show.
All proceeds benefit Drag Out The Vote’s get-out-the-vote efforts in 2020 and beyond.
What’s coming up next for Jaremi?
I have left the Phi Phi name behind which has been amazing. Phi Phi is a chapter in my life I can close and now move on to creating art under my real name! I have been blessed with my incredible gaming community, I have huge host events coming up and major collaborations all because of gaming. I have a comic I have been working on and new music too! Things are so great and I am so happy!
Where can readers find out more about you and Drag Out The Vote?
Instagram: @PhiPhiOhara (sadly verified accounts have to go through support to change their name and I have not had a reply!)
Drag Out The Vote – dragouthevote2020.org