Returning to "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7" was daunting for every winning queen that has returned, but for Jinkx Monsoon, it was truly a return to where the world finally gets to experience the brilliance of this Pacific Northwest dynamo.
Jinkx has proven during the competition why she snagged the Season 5 crown, and her "Snatch Game" performance as Judy Garland is being called one of the best in the history of the franchise. I sat down to talk to Jinkx about returning to the main stage runway, that call out to a beloved Season 5 guest star, and why paying homage to the queens that have come before her remains crucial.
Michael Cook: One of the best parts about this season of "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7" is that all of the fans of Drag Race who may not have seen you snatch the crown on Season 5 get to have the experience now. What has that been like?
Jinkx Monsoon: You know, it is exciting to get to showcase the things that I am proud of and who I am as an artist and drag queen and get to showcase all of the things that I have been working on since the last time I was on Drag Race. That is really why I chose to do this, to really show off.
MC: You also added sleuth to your long list of accomplishments, when you finally were able to confirm that Dave (the beloved veteran that participated with Jinkx during a makeover challenge during her own season) did not kill Judy Garland (which he mentioned during his season). Was mentioning that during your now legendary "Snatch Game" performance something you planned?
JM: It was something that I had thought about and was only going to do if it felt right in the moment. When things were going so well during that "Snatch Game" performance, a part of me was like, "If it's gonna happen, you have to do it right now." It was half-planned out and half just trusting my gut.
MC: Is that your favorite era of Judy Garland or is there a different era of hers that is truly your favorite?
JM: I think what I find most captivating is Judy in interviews. That is what I wanted to bring to this Judy: the candid, fragile, vulnerable person that she was, even though she is such an icon and a mainstay in American culture. It is something that really resonated with me. I am not the best at accepting praise, I like to say, "Thank you;" I am glad it was well received, and then move on to the next thing. I was excited to show that side of Judy, and I also sang some songs and told some jokes, so I brought myself to the character as well as brought aspects of the character that resonated with me to the performance.
MC: Was returning to "RuPaul's Drag Race" after a decade like going home again or was it like entering into a whole new world?
JM: Two things can be true - it was both of those things. It felt a little bit nostalgic as the smells of the workroom came back to me: fresh paint, the smell of sawdust, the smell of hot glue, the feeling of all the hot lights. It was definitely nostalgic and it definitely gave me flashbacks. There was a whole different atmosphere throughout the entire season though. There was an ease, comfort, and familiarity with everything that I certainly didn't experience the first time. It was a double-edged sword; it was nerve-wracking, but it also felt comforting.
MC: The season is getting massive amounts of praise, and I personally feel that it is due to the fact that the majority of you know each other so well. You are all winners and don't have anything to prove, and simply want to do well. Do you think that is fair to say?
JM: That is absolutely fair to say. Even though we don't have anything to prove per se, we all have our own dragons to slay. For me, a big thing was the first time on Drag Race, I feel like I showcased a lot of my talents and abilities, but often times it got undermined by my lacking skills when it came to makeup styling, and the way that I presented my drag. Now, after a lot of time honing in on what my aesthetic is and what my style and brand are, I was able to showcase how far I have come as a drag queen and also reintroduce everyone to what I like about myself as a performer and as an entertainer. I think if you asked any girl if they had something to prove, they would have a specific challenge of aspect of their first time, or their first and second time on Drag Race that they were there to overcome personal demons rather than anything external.
MC: "Water Off A Ducks Back" became your own mantra during your winning season of "RuPaul's Drag Race," and it, in turn, inspired many others. Do you still tell yourself that all these years later?
JM: I do. I also have lots of mantras that get me through my day. One thing that I say to myself a lot is that "social media is an illusion." A newer one is that "two things can be true." "Water off a duck's back" definitely gets me through those moments where you have to let go of your own inner saboteur and your own inner critic and trust that you know what you're doing.
MC: Tell me about the brand new music you just dropped, right in time for Pride season.
JM: I have a new single called "Know It All" which is available anywhere you listen to or download music. It is the first of a few singles that I will be releasing throughout the summer, and I will be releasing an EP this summer and a full feature album hopefully by the end of the year. With only one single out it is hard to know this, but the full feature album will be a story-based rock opera. We worked really hard to make sure that each of the songs are stand-alone songs so you can listen to one song and enjoy it. Then, when you listen to it in the context of the whole album you'll get the whole story. We selected some of our favorite tracks to showcase the direction we are going in musically, and showcase what you can already expect from music from Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales. I think "Know It All" Is the best first track to release, it is a fun ditty about the ills of toxic masculinity with a ska vibe. A message in some toe-tapping garage-inspired sound, I think that is what I am good at presenting.
MC: What do you think it is about the Pacific Northwest that brings out such amazing and revolutionary drag?
JM: I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and I live in Portland once more. Both Portland and Seattle had huge influences on the type of drag that I do, who I am as an artist, and a performer, an advocate and an ally. I think it is just a, dare I say, privileged place to grow up. I was able to come out at an early age and was supported by my family and was immediately enveloped with support from a queer community and met people my own age who are queer and trans from a very young age. Just having a place to do all that from a young age influenced me as an artist. Seattle has just so much to offer and there are so many different types of performances being showcased there. Cabaret, theater, old school drag, new school drag, burlesque, there are so many ways to be a performer in Seattle and I have gotten to dip my toes in so many realms.
Seattle has so many iconic and celebrated drag performers like Dina Martina & Sylvia O'Stayformore. Both Ben DeLaCreme and I have migrated, but we always come back to Seattle to roost. I think that is where I really found my voice as Jinkx Monsoon. It is where I went to college and it's where I had so many of my formative years. Seattle will always feel like a home to me no matter where I am living.
MC: What are you the proudest of right now?
JM: I think what I am proud of right now is just having found some facets to who I am as a human being and having a place to be unapologetically queer and unapologetically gender non-conforming. I just love opportunities to share my love of drag. I am really proud that in everything that I do, I am able to give a nod to the drag queens that came before me, who paved this path for me. Even with my Judy performance, I was able to give a shout out to Thirsty Burlington who taught me how to do Judy and gave me her blessing to do Judy. Whenever possible, I like to pay reverence to the queer advocates and the queer activists and the drag queens and the entertainers who paved this path for me so I could be here at this moment.
Follow Jinkx Monsoon on Instagram @thejinkx.
Read about the other contestants on the homepage.