The WERRRK.com Interview: Jinkx Monsoon

 


Hi there Jinkx! How are you doing today? 

I’m doing all right. How are you?

Oh I can’t complain. I’m very excited to get this opportunity to speak with you today though. Obviously we’re all we’re all big fans of you here at WERRRK.com. 

Thank you very much.

It seems like you’ve had a pretty big year already with your album The Ginger Snapped dropping in January. (Go buy it here. We’ll wait for you.)

Yeah it’s been a lot of fun. It was a passion project of mine so I’m really happy with the way it came out.

One of the things I’ve noticed from you recently is over the last couple of years you’ve used your platform to speak out about various issues particularly like gender issues. On that album you even have a song called Just Me (The Gender Binary Blues). What made you decide to use your voice on an issue like that and to write a song about it? 

I think it’s because I try not to speak out on issues unless I’m educated and passionate about it. So gender issues are something I’ve studied. I’ve studied gender theory and queer theory for years. I also grew up in a very diverse queer community in Portland, Oregon where I knew lots of people of different gender identities. I’ve known trans people since I was a young teenager and they were my age, you know like peers who were transitioning in their early teens because they lived in the community that allowed them to do that. And so I get passionate when I hear about people not being given those opportunities and not being given those freedoms. That’s why I choose to use my voice to kind of try to educate anyone who is listening on new ways of thinking about gender and more progressive ways to approach gender identity and your own identity.

That’s a fantastic use of your voice. I do have to say the the video for that is wonderful and did I clock a Dallas Coulter design on that green outfit? 

Yes that is a Dallas Coulter. We designed it for DragCon last year and it’s based off of Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter. Laughs Most of my designs with Dallas are referencing either a movie, a cartoon or video games.

That’s a good segue into your one to one of the other big songs of your album, Cartoons and Vodka. How many different cartoons are referenced in that video? 

I think someone on the YouTube video commented on it because I’ve never even sat down and counted. But I know it’s between fifteen and eighteen. I was very specific about what cartoons I wanted referenced in it because all of the cartoons in it are cartoons that I grew up with or cartoons that are special to me still today, you know like Rick and Morty and Steven Universe. They are more recent ones that are cartoons I just absolutely love. But then there’s also all the cartoons I grew up with like Beavis and Butthead and Dragonball Z and Fairly Odd Parents.

Did I catch Dexter’s Laboratory in there too?

Oh yeah. Dexter’s Laboratory and there that’s one of my favorite ones because it’s me and Major Scales together and he’s playing the computer like a piano. I’m drawn as DeeDee and he’s drawn as Dexter. That was the show I watched with my little brother all the time and the whole video makes me so happy to see myself drawn as these characters. It was such a guilty pleasure of mine.

And it makes for a much easier video shoot for you personally. 

Yeah I mean animation is a lot to take on. Luckily my friend Mac Kerman was the lead animator on all of that and its his animation company that produced the video. So he gave me a deal and was really helpful throughout the whole process, making sure that it was still my vision while we welcomed in all these different animators because every different little segment is done by a different animator. That’s how we were able to keep it at a reasonable budget. The style of the video is called Exquisite Corpse where all the different segments are done by different animators and then one head animator weaves them all together. He decided to do it that way as a cost saving measure but I think the best way to do it. What led to it being such a successful music video was that we had every different segment animated by a different animator and they got to choose their segment so they got to choose the cartoon that spoke to them the most and they were the most excited to do. It really shows in the work.

Photo by Magnus Hastings

So I just looked at your upcoming schedule this morning and your schedule for the rest of the year made me tired just reading it.

Laughs

You and Major Scales are going to be in Provincetown at the Art House the whole summer with Beach City Bimbo. (Get tickets here!)

Yes, that’s our new show created specifically for Provincetown. Every year I do a really cerebral, kind of philosophical show or I tackle a big issue. Last year we did The Ginger Snapped which is our show. It’s about mental health and de-stigmatizing the conversation around mental illness but in a funny lighthearted way. The year before that we did a whole show about the election which was a pretty heavy topic for us to tackle. So I figured now for once I’m going to write a show that’s just all about you know, summer, falling in love, being at the beach and stuff like that. It will still be very cerebral and philosophical but it’ll be in the in the guise of a fluffy, light-hearted summer beach piece .

Like when you wrap your dog’s medication in like a piece of cheese. 

Yeah basically, yeah. laughs

Then on top of that you’re going to be heading over to England for Drag World UK at the end of August the 18th and 19th at Olympia London.  (Get your tickets here!)

Yes. This is my second year doing it. I did it last year and it was a lot of fun. I admittedly didn’t really know going into it that it was like a bonafide convention, much like DragCon, so last year my booth was just a rainbow flag with a pot leaf and we had one small table with all my merch on it and mostly I was just there to meet and greet with the fans. This year I’m hoping to put a little something more together to give it a little bit more glitz and glamour but really what the fans are excited about is meeting the individual queens and I’m really happy to provide that. The UK audience has been so loyal to me and has been just so receptive to the kind of work I’ve been putting out, that I’m always happy to do anything to make the fans happy. If standing in line for a couple hours to meet me and take a selfie with me is going to make their day special then I’m really happy to provide that.

Do you notice any difference between the fans in the UK versus here in the States? 

No. Both audiences really love drag and have their own history with drag. I think with the U.K. drag has been part of the more mainstream side of their culture for a little bit longer. I feel like before there was Drag Race, it was just a big tradition over there. You know they have kind of like grand dame drag queens who sing a selection of songs and everyone is all rowdy and stuff. I think in the UK you didn’t have to necessarily be a big fan of drag to know a lot about the drag that was happening there. But now because of Drag Race I feel like it’s kind of taken our international audiences and they’ve all become interconnected, especially through social media. I feel like our UK audiences and our Australian audiences and our American audiences are all kind of like inbreeding with each other. Or I guess that could be crossbreeding. Laughs

Then on top of that you’re going to be back overseas in the fall, all over the UK in the month of October including five straight nights at Leicester Square Theatre in London. Well maybe not straight…. 

 Laughs I mean I just love performing in the UK, so whenever a UK gig comes my way, I’m always eager to jump at it. I’m about to go on tour with a new one woman show, more of a stand up comedy format that’s called Cursed and I’ll be doing that all through June. Of course like we said I have Drag World UK in August. Then I go back in October where we’re doing a big tour spanning the UK with a show that Major and I created which is The Ginger Snapped this year. Last year we took The Vaudevillians on tour. I performed at Leicester Square Theatre for the first time last year doing my show called Jinkx Sings Everything and it was just such an amazing experience. It’s a wonderful space. There’s not a lot of big cabaret spaces in the UK similar to New York. You know the cabaret spaces are fairly intimate. The Leicester Square Theatre is one of the bigger theatres I’ve ever done a cabaret show and still felt like I could really connect with everybody in the audience. The UK audiences are so supportive that doing my show Jinkx Sings Everything there was such a special thing because it’s an improv show and I take requests from the audience so the shows only as good as the audience is engaged in it and my UK audiences were really, really fun to perform for. (See Jinkx’s full UK schedule here)

Photo by Magnus Hastings

 I also have to ask what was it like working with one of my favorite people Deven Green on Cool Mom (on WOW Presents Plus, subscribe here)? 

Oh that was a lot of fun! I mean Deven Green, her Welcome to My Home video, I have been lip synching to that for years. Like I think I started doing a lip sync to that video at like 16 or 17. I’ve done it in all kinds of mash ups and stuff so her voice is so permanently ingrained in my memory. Laughs And thanks to WOW Presents Plus, I’ve gotten to meet Deven a handful of times and we’ve become friends over the years and she’s just such a sweet, creative, wonderful person. And then you get her in front of a camera and she’s instantly in that persona and it’s funny because her brain just constantly generates those non sequitur quotes. I’ve never seen someone be able to like improv in such a kind of nonlinear non sequitur way. Laughs It was hard because we were playing with characters that were kind of fighting with each other on our episode together but everything that she said made me laugh and I couldn’t really commit to this idea of being mad at her because I was just you know in such awe of her. \

I think one of my favorite parts of Drag Race is seeing what all the queens do with the different opportunities that arise because of the show. Could you have imagined what have been able to do in your years since winning when you first applied for the show? 

I mean the things that I’m doing now, it was the plan I always had, you know, it was my trajectory I was always on. And I like to take questions like this as a moment to acknowledge that there are a handful of queens from before there was a TV show dedicated to queens. There are queens who made it as big as you could make it before there was a TV show about drag and that’s like Miss Richfield, Coco Peru, Jackie Beat, Varla Jean Merman, Lady Bunny, Peaches Christ and Heklina in San Francisco, Kevin Aviance. There’s all these there’s all this drag royalty and we kind of refer to them as the old guard of drag. Laughs And you know all of these queens are so diverse and they have made amazing careers without a TV show. Some of them are cabaret singers and some of them are parody song artists and some are stand up comedians and the TV show kind of just shone a light on how diverse the talent pool in the drag community is. What I love about it is that the opportunities are really finely tuned to the talents of the queen and opportunities have opened up because there’s a newfound respect for drag and the artists who create it. Nowadays you see drag in the high fashion world. You see drag in standup comedy. We’re making movies, we’re making music, we’re on TV shows. In many ways we’re still treated like a novelty act but I think as we continue to flourish and continue to show our the you know the talent that exist within our community, the more seriously we’ll be taken and soon we won’t have to just be like a novelty addition to a show, we’ll have our own TV shows where where our own main characters.

One thing I always do on my interviews is a lightning round. Would you mind a couple quick answer questions? 

Sure.

 

 

Must Have makeup item?

Eyeliner. Black liquid felt eyeliner.

4 AM post show food craving?

Usually like a quesadilla.

The best part of drag?

Being onstage.

Worst part of drag?

Corsets.

Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?

I feel like I’m such an an open book. Everyone knows everything weird about me. I used to love watching wrestling as a kid. Like the professional wrestling on TV. I used to stay up late just to watch it. Laughs

Queen you would pay to see?

Varla Jean Mermen, Coco Peru, Lady Bunny, Dame Edna if she’s still kicking around doing shows these days.

Guilty Pleasure?

Haagen-Dazs Chocolate peanut butter ice cream…and vodka.

Together or? 

No. Those are equal in my mind.

Death Row last meal?

Lobster. I got into lobster in Provincetown. I had never had a lobster before in my life. And then in Provincetown I had my first and now it’s like an annual thing to go have lobster night one night of the year. So I think my death row meal would be lobster, eggplant parmesan and cheesecake.

Last movie to make you cry?

Coco.

Netflix Binge recommendation?

I just watched The Office from start to finish for the second time. That says a lot about me. I always say I’m going to stop when Michael Scott leaves, when Steve Carell leaves the show. I always think I’m going to stop watching it and then I still always end up finishing it to the end because they’re just too invested in it.

Most Embarrassing song on your phone?

That YouTube song that Apple forced us to download.

Well we’ve just about hit the end of the road here but I just want to thank you for making the time to talk with me. The last thing I always ask people is if they have a word of wisdom to leave the WERRRK.com Universe with.

Even though every opinion is valid, not every opinion is equal so don’t put importance on trolls on the internet because just because they have a very loud opinion doesn’t mean they’ve put in the hours and paid their dues to give that opinion. You know, you want to take medical advice from some stranger on the Internet? You go to a doctor for that because they’ve been trained to give you advice in that field. So random strangers on the Internet no matter how loudly or how insistent they are with their opinions, you don’t have to put any stock in it because you don’t know what kind of education they’ve been given on that opinion. You think it could just be random opinion that they generated themselves with no context. Thank you. Have a great day!

Photo by José Alberto Guzmán Colón
About Chiffon Dior 474 Articles
Despite being a drag journalist for over five years, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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