The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
There have been some big changes taking place in the Big Apple even though you might not have even realized it. With Bianca Del Rio winning her recent season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, she’s clearly not going to be around nearly as much, that leaves a larger than life and an obnoxious void in the city’s drag scene. Mimi Imfurst has moved on to greener pastures and a fresh start in the City of Brotherly Love. Dallas DuBois retired from drag and moved to LA, presumably after the Rockettes refused to hire her. Epiphany is spending large chunks of the year overseas and I can’t blame her even slightly for that. But even with the outgoing talent there is still a lot of established talent in the city as well. Drag Race villainess extraordinaire, Phi Phi O’Hara made the move from the Windy City to New York. Legends like Lady Bunny, Sherry Vine, Hedda Lettuce and others are still killing it. The cupboard is clearly not bare.
But now, more than ever, there is a young, hungry (by hungry I mean ambitious…and, well…hungry. Most of these skinny bitches need a sandwich or three) crop of young drag talent ready to burst into stardom. As a part of this series, NewYorkNowNext, we’re going to be taking a look at some of this talent that is blooming all around the Big Apple. Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to talk with Miss Monét X. Change!
Chiffon Dior: Hi there Monét! I’m really excited to be talking with you today. How are you doing on the lovely, nearly spring-like day in New York City?
Monét X. Change: I am great! It is 60 degrees in Mid February in NYC. The twinks are going crazy and so am I girl!
CD: C’mon global warming!
MXE: Hello! Breakout the skank tanks, and flip flops girl!
CD: Nobody wants to see me in that, trust! So I’ve been talking with other queens for this series of interviews and your name kept on coming up as one to watch so I had to reach out to you. New York queens talking nice about other queens,….what is this world coming to gurl?
MXE: Well I mean, with Bob the Drag Queen halfway to Hollywood, and Sherry Vine with one foot in the grave…there isn’t really much else to talk about.
CD: Well that is PRECISELY what I’ve been talking about! This city is in a state of flux! Established queens moving on, moving out and moving to LA. So this series of interviews has been all about who is next! But we’ll get to that! Let’s dish on you first. Where are you from originally baby?
MXE: I am born and raised in a little town in New York you may have heard of called Brooklyn!
CD: I’m vaguely familiar. Quaint little suburb where all the hipster queen ply their trade right?
MXE: If my erratic subway etiquette doesn’t tell you that, the switch blade I keep under all of my wigs surely will! Girl Queens who get trade from Brooklyn have one thing on the brain…a death wish
CD: You had that advice here first kids! That is one of Monet’s rule of drag!
MXE: That, and always let old people cut in front you at Duane Reade…they don’t have much time left
CD: Hey wait….didn’t you let me cut in front of you there the other day??
MXE: *Laughs* ummm yes! You’re the exception.
CD: Not the first time I’ve heard that! So growing up in Brooklyn, what was your first exposure to the world of drag when you were young?
MXE: Well I went to school in Manhattan on 48th st, so I remember getting off of the train for school at 7AM and sometimes seeing queens roaming the streets looking decrepit and scary girl! I mean FRIGHTFUL!
CD: Working those street corners?
MXE: Working SOMETHING girl! This is NYC…these might have been actual Rite Aid employees.
CD: So were you thinking you could do that better, even as you were serving school bus realness?
MXE: *Laughs* I was thinking these bitches are terrifying! Imagine what you look like after being in drag for about five plus hours. Now imagine a dumpster next to that!
CD: That might be an improvement for me most nights I’m sad to say.
MXE: You and Lady Bunny both.
CD: Oh sure, you let Bunny cut you in line at the drug store but then you’re all shady to her here. Shame gurl, shame!
CD: So if you were scared of the queens back then, what made you want to become one?
MXE: My school in undergrad had a Drag Ball every year, where Peppermint was the host. Up until that point I was still DEATHLY afraid of drag queens as I still didn’t get it. But the moment my eye fell on Pep, and I saw her act…I. WAS. HOOKED!
CD: Peppermint addiction is a real thing?
MXE: Personally I prefer Spearmint…but, Pep sufficed. Her charisma, her singing, how funny she was. She literally embodied celebrity for me in that moment, like I felt I was watching a black, mocha-caramel Wonder Woman do her thing, two feet in front of me on stage! It showed me that drag was not this scary thing, of course I still had all of my prepubescent stereotypes of gay men putting on women clothes, but it made drag more human for me, and planted the seed in the back of my mind, “girl…you can totally do this” which eventually flowered to Feb 20th, 2016…working 6 nights a week.
CD: I think I had a black mocha caramel wonder woman at Starbucks the other day. Cost me like nine bucks!
CD: Where did the name Monét X. Change come from?
MXE: I was sitting at Dallas BBQ on 42nd st…desperately running through the list a cute PUN-Tastic drag names…and was failing MISERABLY! I looked across the street, saw a currency exchange booth and thought, “Ooo Money Exchange” then as all black folk do, added an accent over the “e” to sound fancy then swapped the Y for a T and BAM…..Monét X Change!
CD: Yeah, those little accents are a huge pain in the ass although at least my phone autocorrects it in for Beyoncé now.
MXE: its okay…Beyoncé can’t spell her own name either.
CD: With her kind of money, she can spell any damn way she wants. What was your first time out as a queen like?
MXE: Ugh! PAINFUL!! Stuffed my big Size 14 foot in a size 12 and hobbled my way around the Ritz, for Saliva Tuesday with Thorgy and Azraea.
CD: Saliva Tuesday sounds unsettling to begin with.
MXE: It was one of the BIGGEST parties in the city. Sooooo many queens were born there, legends were made there girl!! Every Queen in NYC would come together there every Tuesday and just do crazy stupid funny, retarded numbers for each other until 3AM…then go eat at Westway Diner until 7AM.
CD: Born in the saliva? That explains a lot about some of these queens!
MXE: Yeah that was Kittin Wuthawhip’s birthing place. Thank God SHE’S dead!
CD: Yeah, whatever became of her? I doubt she ever did anything of note.
MXE: No idea! Hasta Lavista bitch! (For those of you who aren’t as cool as Monét and myself, Kitten Wuthawhip was Bob the Drag Queen’s original drag name. We aim to entertain AND educate here at WERRRK.com.)
CD: So did you ever have a drag mom to guide you through the rough early times of being a queen or did you navigate those waters on your own?
MXE: I am pretty much self taught, with little tidbits of info by my Aunt Kizha Carr, my Big Sister Bob, and my official drag mother is Honey Davenport but taught myself how to paint alone and all the other essentials.
CD: What do you think is the biggest challenge that comes along with being a queen in New York City?
MXE: Building the courage to walk out of your apartment in full drag! Once you take that first leap hunny…it is balls to the wall!
CD: Amen gurl! Although I think technically the balls go somewhere else but I get your gist.
CD: So the main focus of these interviews I’ve been doing is to get the perspective of various young queens about the period of change that the New York City drag scene is going through. What changes have you seen in the time that you’ve been a part of and for that matter, have been following the NYC drag scene?
MXE: I’ve see the rise and falls of many queens. The NYC scene is in a constant state of flux. For example a queen can go from having two gigs a week to five gigs a week and vice versa. I’m not going to say any names but its very evident and everyone knows it.
CD: Is a turn like that the fault of the queen or is it just the case of the fans being fickle and wanting the “next thing”? I’m speaking in generalities, not of any one queen in particular.
MXE: I don’t think its anyones fault. Its just that NYC requires A LOT from you. To be a dynamic queen in NYC, you have to be able to keep an audience engaged by YOURSELF for at least an hour. You have to to funny, perform well, and keep them wanting more.
CD: With some of the more established queens in the city moving on to new projects and phases in their careers, there is room for some new queens to flourish. Who do you think is poised to fill that void?
MXE: Absolutely…and you are interviewing one right now Henny! I think Miz Cracker of course! She is probably one of the funniest people I know. Her humor is so…..intricate. I say this all the time…she does Inception jokes…a joke, in a joke, in a joke.
CD: But what do we do if she gets eaten by a lion or a wildebeest while she’s over in Africa right now?
MXE: Give it to Judy Darling. She’s pretty thirsty. I also am a big Brita Filter fan.
CD: I love me some Brita’s as well! Her number with Terra at the Glam Awards was everything!
MXE: IT was!! She is real talent!!
CD: What do you feel that you bring the scene that is unique? What makes Monet stand out from the crowd?
MXE: I think that my style of comedy and charisma on stage is very different than other queens. A lot of queens fancy themselves comedians, and I think that where it all goes to shit a little bit. I don’t think I’m a comedian, just someone who says funny things occasionally on stage which for me takes away a lot of the pressure. It just lets me feel very natural, like I’m talking to my friends, but there just happens to be a mic in my hand, and there just happens to be a sea of drunk white women listening to me. Also, I am fucking GORGEOUS!
CD: But the biggest thing is probably your modesty right?
MXE: Right! Nailed it!
CD: So if people want to come see this gorgeous yet modest diva who works six nights a week, where can they come cram money into your undies?
MXE: Monday Pieces at 10, Tuesday Industry at 12, Wednesday Monster w/ Holly Dae, Thursday at Industry, Every other Friday at Laurie Beechman, and Sundays at Hardware 10PM They can also check out my website monetxchange.com!
CD: Geez, is that all?
MXE: *Laughs* Oh! I forgot my Port Authority show!
CD: Are you legally allowed to mention that here?
MXE: In all fifty states except Alaska!
CD: What do you have left on your bucket list of drag goals that you would like to accomplish before you hang up your heels some day?
MXE: My goal is to be the first queen of daytime tv.
CD: Didn’t Wendy Williams do that already?
MXE: *Laughs* Yes but I want bigger hair.
CD: Well my dear, I think we have just about reached the end here. Thank you so much for time. I’m thrilled we got to kiki for a bit! Do you have any final words of wisdom for our readers before we call it a day?
MXE: Yes, I have to pee!