Laganja Estranja has been to Ann Arbor once for a 2014 show at Necto Nightclub. But Laganja — a longtime marijuana activist whose very name references the herb superb — has never been to the Hash Bash. This year, however, Laganja will be at the April 3 Hash Bash without having to actually come to Ann Arbor. Her recorded performance is part of this year's Hash Bash lineup.
Just like last year, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Hash Bash will be cast in a digital format and hosted by news anchor-turned-cannabis entrepreneur Anqunette "Q" Sarfoh, with a host of big names such as Attorney General Dana Nessel, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, state Sen. Jeff Irwin, Pro Football Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, and Former Red Wing Darren McCarty.
OK with the politicians and athletes. Organizers are touting a variety show-style production, so what else is up? There are some musicians on the set, and a drag queen. Yes indeed: Laganja Estranja, a Texas-born gal who left the state ... because that's what drag queen cannabis rights activists do. Texas is one of a minority of states that have not even legalized medical marijuana.
"I would say pretty much anyone who treats cannabis as a positive thing would not be accepted in Texas," says Laganja. "They refer to it as the devil's lettuce. ... I've been a cannabis activist since I started. Plant-based medicine really changed my life. ... The LGBTQIA community and cannabis community has a long history of working side by side. I'm lucky to live in an environment where cannabis is accepted and seen as medicine."
Laganja's first drag performance was in West Hollywood in 2011, and she made it onto the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2014. While on the show Laganja began recording vocals for on-set productions. She kept it up after the season, and has released five singles over the years, including 2018's "Look at Me" with a video slamming marijuana arrests. Her sixth single and video, "Hypeman," is scheduled to drop April 20 on Laganja's Youtube channel.
High Times, Dope, and Civilized magazine have featured Laganja, who has tackled the topic of homophobia in the marijuana industry, which she reports as "slowly evolving." Laganja has also appeared on "So You Think You Can Dance" (she has a degree from the California Institute of the Arts in dance and choreography). She also hosts a web show on the World of Wonder platform.
Hash Bash revelers will see how it all comes together in the high-energy show recorded for the event. Cannabis definitely has a large presence.
"I think drag is the original art form of rebellion [because it causes] people to look inside their gender norms," says Laganja.
Rebellion — isn't that what the Hash Bash has been about from the start? It's good to remember that on the 50th anniversary.
This year's Hash Bash is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday, April 3 at facebook.com/groups/AnnArborHashBash.
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