Girl Talk: My Gab Session with Jinkx Monsoon

The Season 5 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race talks about how her life has changed since becoming America’s Next Drag Superstar.

When Jinkx Monsoon walked through the door on Episode 1 of this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, few thought the kooky red-headed queen from Seattle would have what it takes to contend with some of her more-seasoned, pageant-queen competitors. But sometime around the middle of the season, during the Snatch Game challenge, she whipped out a spot-on Edie Beale impersonation that got the world’s attention, spurring some to dub her the “Meryl Streep of Drag Race.” Suddenly, the judges were all about her kitschy vintage schtick and her competition started dropping like fruit flies, until, on the final episode last week, Miss Monsoon was finally crowned the season’s winner.

This week, she rang me from Seattle for a delightful chat about how life has changed since becoming America’s Next Drag Superstar.  

G Philly: Congratulations on winning! Are you so excited?
Jinkx Monsoon: I am. I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it.

You were definitely the favorite going into last week’s finale. Were you surprised when you won or did you know you’d be the winner?
I didn’t let myself get too psyched up. A lot of people were rooting me on and a lot of my friends were convinced I had this one in the bag, but I absolutely was not … going to let myself be convinced that I won until it actually happened. When it did actually happen, I was just beside myself with excitement. It took about a week for it to sink in, but last night [Monday] I got to have my celebration party here in Seattle and it became very real for me. Now I’m so ready to take on the world, you know.

Where did you watch the finale?
I watched with Roxxxy and Alaska in a private suite in New York. We were holding each others’ hands and supporting one another. I was going to be excited for whomever won, because any one of us would have done a fantastic job with the title. We all offer really different things and are very … capable people.

Did you watch in drag?
Yes, we were in full drag, because we had to do a show that night. So we were all three in drag and it was very emotional, but very exciting, too. It was so great to be with the two of them, because they’re the only two people in the whole wide world who know what that experience was like.

What’s your favorite thing so far about being America’s Next Drag Superstar?
Getting to introduce myself as America’s Next Drag Superstar [laughs]. It’s a prestigious title. It’s every drag queen’s dream right now to go on Drag Race … to get the kind of experience I had [being on the show], and I feel so grateful for it. I’m the first drag queen [to win] from the Northwest and I was able to bring the crown home to Seattle. It was a surreal experience to thank my city and hometown for giving me what I needed to go on national TV and win a competition like this.

How do you think your win will affect the Seattle drag community? Will you still perform there?
I’m actually in Seattle this weekend performing at the home bar I performed at before I did Drag Race, [Julia's on Broadway]. I’m so excited to be the first drag queen from the Northwest on Drag Race, because I really feel like I brought the unique character and heart that you can only find in the Northwest to the main stage and show the world what we do here. I hope I made drag queens from the Northwest proud, because I think the drag here is sensational. … I truly believe I’m the drag queen I am today because of the friends I made in Seattle and the performers I got to meet and work with here. To share the wealth and bring attention to these people who inspired me way before Drag Race, that’s been very rewarding.

What do you miss most about being just Jinkx, a drag queen from Seattle?
Nowadays if I go out to a bar with my friends it’s likely I’m going to get recognized and have to do a bunch of photos and stuff. I love it — getting to meet the fans and having little chitchats with them — but I do kind of miss … being kind of obscure.

How has the experience changed your perception of fame?
It’s given me the utmost respect for the art form of drag. I already was so madly in love and passionate about this art form, but going through this experience, I learned that it’s not just me that feels this way. A lot of people out there are crazy about drag and love doing it.

Now that you’re a huge star, will you stay in Seattle?
I have always, always — since I was a little boy — wanted to live in New York. It just seems like — especially when you are a theater person — the epicenter of culture for theater queens like myself. When I visited there, it just seemed like I could have so much fun there. But I am so in love with Seattle that I am definitely not ready to leave yet. My dream is to keep my apartment in Seattle and also have an apartment in New York so I can do the whole bicoastal thing.

Jinkx performing at Voyeur on April 27.

You were in Philly recently to perform at Voyeur. How was your trip?
I had a great time in Philadelphia. I had no idea what Philly was like going into it. The only experience I had was It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and that was not necessarily the most accurate representation [laughs]. But I had such a blast and can’t wait to come back.

What are some of your favorite things you did while you were here?
On the day I was leaving, I made a point to go shopping just a little bit and there were a lot of fun shops in Philly. Going out to the bars the night before [the performance] … you guys just have a very diverse community. I got a little taste of everything.

A taste of everything? So you met a few men while you were here?
[laughs] I try to keep it cute on the road and not kiss-and-tell. I try not to sleep around too much, but there are a lot of cute boys in Philadelphia, I’ll tell you that much.

When you performed here you were a much-more glamorous queen than we were used to seeing on the show. On the reunion show you called yourself Jinkx 2.0 now. What does that mean?
I was very stubborn before Drag Race. I only did vintage stuff and wore tacky, campy outfits. But because of Drag Race I’ve embraced the glamour within me. I realized you can be yourself, whomever that is, when you do it 100 percent. That’s when you’re being true to the art form. So I haven’t changed Jinkx’s aesthetic. I haven’t changed who she is. I’ve just taken it to the next level. … So Jinkx 2.0 is a more fully realized, little bit more glamorous, little bit more polished version of the Jinkx you saw on Drag Race. I’m just taking all the things I leaned on the show and … making sure I’m the best I can be at all times.

It looks like it’s probably more expensive to be Jinkx 2.0
Oh yea, it is. [laughs] But it’s rewarding. I can afford to have my favorite dressmaker in Seattle — Jamie Von Stratton — customize everything for me these days. That’s a privilege. When you make more money from drag you get to spend more money on drag. It perpetuates the evolution of the art form.

Alexander Kacala (far right) and me with Jinkx when she performed at Voyeur.

Speaking of money, what’s the most extravagant thing you’re going to buy with the $100K you won on Drag Race?
I plan on going to the Apple store and buying myself the most extravagant, most up-to-date MacBook Pro. I’m going to get one with all the bells and whistles. I’ve never bought myself something where I just absolutely splurged. I’m normally very practical and very frugal, but this time I’m going to go and get the biggest, grandest computer. I use computers every day in my work as a drag queen. It’s very important to have a good computer on the road. So I’m going to make sure mine is the biggest fanciest one I can find.

So what’s on the forecast for Monsoon Season?
This summer, I have a lot of exciting projects. I will be playing Velma Von Tussle in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Hairspray here in Seattle. During Seattle Pride I will be in a show called Gender Blender. … In July, I will be in The Vaudevillians at the Laurie Beechman Theater in New York, which is a show I co-created with a music partner. I’m very excited to get to show it to the world. And I hope to do as much drag theater as possible, to play roles in theater as a drag queen. My personal fantasy is to be the first drag queen to host SNL. So I’m putting that into the universe and crossing my finger that SNL will come knocking.

That’s great. I’ll put it out into the universe for you, too
Oh thank you so much, darling. … Have a wonderful rest of your day it was great chatting with you.

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  • alyr

    Amazing how many people and interviewers love to insult this highly talented gorgeous person. Then expect everyone to just agree.

    Cowered in the background? She set a RPDR record by scoring HIGH from Episode 3 for 8 weeks with no LOW scores. The only reason she didn’t score HIGH Episode 2 performing as Mimi was because her team got screwed with Serena and nobody placed HIGH from her team. But she got accolades as Mimi from the panel. And she wasn’t less seasoned, she’s been doing drag for 10 years.

    The crack about not being able to do makeup is not even amusing OR right. She painted for theater lights and when she finally saw the playback for the Amen video she understood what adjustment she had to make. She’s the ONLY theater queen in the history of RPDR and according to Visage, they refuse to allow them to see a playback for makeup because “it’s reality tv”. In other words, shady.

    Try to do interviews that don’t try so hard to make YOURSELF seem witty. Focus on the actual person who’s nice enough to give you the time.

  • Barb

    God – drag is so dated and boring.

    A guy is gender variant – that’s funny!!!

    Maybe this was relevant 60 years ago. Now it just recapitulates misogyny and transmisogyny. Ha – the feminine is funny – and needs to be expressed by guys safely – up on a stage – with quotation marks around it. So you know it’s not a real thing. And the guys involved and writing about it have some distance from it.