Interview Series | Jerri Valentine

Jerri and I met at the Drake Diner for some good greasy diner food: eggs and hash browns. He was wearing these awesome contacts and a killer necklace, which maybe he’ll let me borrow sometime? I’ll let him introduce himself. So if you’re still at home and haven’t eaten breakfast yet, make yourself an omelet and read this!




KHENRI: Please give us a little bio/description of yourself?

JERRI: Before I moved to Iowa I lived in Saint Louis. All the majority of my family lives there. But my dad worked in Chicago so we traveled between the two cities. In 2005 I moved to Iowa on Halloween. So this Halloween will be seven years in Iowa. I lived in Cedar Rapids almost the past seven years and now I’m finally in Des Moines. During the day I’m a retail manager for starbucks on Fleur and Stanton. My side profession is I do make up artistry for wedding and events and also photography. I enjoy fashion photography. Anything that’s not normal. If you want to look like a freak in a photo then you call me.

Because we traveled, I was home-schooled my entire life. Growing up in a class of three and my family was also in the church and I grew up in a very conservative home. Being myself wasn’t really an option until I was 18. I dealt with a lot of suicidal thoughts and personal conflicts; not really knowing what was going on in my heart and head. Being told that you’re wrong is really hard to handle. When I moved here, I just decided to come out. Now my family is at an understanding but not an accepting.

A lot of people think I’m a drag queen but I don’t do drag. There’s a difference between doing drag and being an entertainer and having a lifestyle choice. I wouldn’t consider myself a transgender though because I don’t want to be a woman. I’m just a dude who likes wearing high heels and putting on makeup.


KHENRI: How did you get started doing makeup and photography? What inspired you?

JERRI: I dabbled with graphics and photography when I was younger and web design. But that was also when I was twelve. I stopped doing that when I was fifteen because I started doing other things. When I was seventeen I started dating a guy who wore a lot of makeup and when I was that age I hated the idea of a guy wearing makeup. I thought it was the biggest turnoff ever. So dating him really just brought me into this fascination with makeup and shortly after that I picked up a camera again and started playing with it and got really into it. So that was my kickstart.


KHENRI: What is your fashion item go-to?

JERRI: I really like bodysuits. I have a fascination with bodysuits. I would rather buy a bodysuit and accessorize it. Black or patterned or leopard print. Really fun and out of the box patterns.


KHENRI: Do you have any fashion icons or celebrities that inspire you?

JERRI: My biggest fashion inspiration is McQueen. Because his fashion wasn’t just fashion, it was an art piece. And that’s one of the things I love the most is about fashion is that it can be an art piece. Wearing something that you wouldn’t think of normally and pulling it off is mind-blowing to me. Anyone can wear a jacket but not everyone can wear a box of cereal. As far as celebrities, I admire natural and subtle beauty. So one of my favorites is Marilyn Monroe but I also like the extreme of David Bowie. I really like his side of things but also her side of things. Katy Perry and Jessie J are also two of my favorite and inspiring people.


KHENRI: You recently moved to Des Moines. What are the differences from Cedar Rapids?

JERRI: Obviously bigger. There is just so much more to do. I’m really big on driving around and exploring new terrain. The architecture is a lot more fun here. There is a lot more culture here. Cedar Rapids once was a cool city but once the flood, nothing was brought back.


KHENRI: When you go to the grocery store, what are your top items you buy?

JERRI: Protein bars, 20 gram protein bars to be specific. I’m a big veggie and fruit person. I probably eat an apple and a banana every day. Other than that, I’m a big fan of eggs and chicken. I also have a big weakness for sweetness like gummie bears and pastries.


KHENRI: What is your most embarrassing story?

JERRI: I was walking through Campus Cafe in between classes and there was this gorgeous boy that I was gawking at and not paying attention to where I was going. I toppled over a table and chairs. It was a total 80s teenage movie moment.

KHENRI: Did anyone see you?

JERRI: I don’t know I just got up and ran!


KHENRI: Tell me about what events that you do.

JERRI: I did Northern Iowa’s variety show just earlier this week. I will be doing photography for a few pageants in Des Moines and Sioux City and also I’ll be in Iowa City hosting the Fantasy Show put on by the University. It’s a big drag ball and rave so it’ll be a blast.

KHENRI: What advice do you have for young people wanting to pursue their dreams?

JERRI: Honestly, listen to your gut feeling. Because everyone around you is going to try and persuade you and tell you something different. Ultimately it’s how you feel and how you will approach the situation. Because your experience is never going to be the same as someone else’s. So you really can’t base it off their experience. You can learn from their experience but you can’t really base your decision off what they went through. I would also say to just follow your heart.

To contact Jerri for his services, his information is located on his facebook page.

If you’d like to read past interviews that I have done on my blog, thumb through these!
My Vicarious Life – fashion blogger, editor, Katrice – Atlanta, Georgia
Body By Svec – artist, Emily Svec – Des Moines, Iowa
808 Shirts – screenprinters, Tampa Bay, Florida
Sara Fakhraie – artist, South Dakota
Wesley Cook (donate to his kickstarter project) – musician, Atlanta, Georgia
Brolester Records, Jeremiah Tuhn, record label – Des Moines, Iowa
Atom St. George – artist, Riverside, California
John Eric Booth – vocalist, West Virginia
Brent Houzenga – artist, New Orleans
Adrienne Gross of justADG – photographer, Des Moines, Iowa
Harley May – writer and comic, The South





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