Jasper Soloff

Drag Race HERstory was made on 15 February, 2019 when RuPaul crowned not one, but two sickening queens for the fourth season of All Stars.

After ten episodes of challenges, lip syncing for their legacy and sashaying down the runway, Monét X Change and Trinity the Tuck were both deemed worthy of a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, and it’s safe to say it left the drag world – as Monique Heart would say – “gooped”. It made history for two reasons: one, there’s never been multiple queens crowned at the same time and two, RuPaul has never inducted a queen of colour into the Hall of Fame. “I am completely shocked,” Monét tells us over the phone after we interrupt her McDonalds (yas queen, she may have 100,000 doollaz but this bitch is still eating McChicken sandwiches). “I honestly had no idea that that was even in the cards. It’s all so nutty! It’s like, where the fuck did RuPaul get an additional $100,000 from? The whole time? THE WHOLE TIME? Thank you VH1.”

It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for the NYC-based performer, who only found out that she had won the crown alongside Trinity around 12 hours prior to our conversation. The two queens were sat side by side for a live crowning reaction video for WowPresents, and if you’ve watched the clip, you could clearly see that they were both gagged to the high heavens (especially Trinity, who didn’t move and was frozen in time). “Those were genuine reactions,” she admits. “Trinity was shocked and didn’t really understand what was going on in the moment, and she just wanted to make sure she had $100,000. That’s all she was thinking about! Where my mind went to, was that there’s never been a black All Star, so I’m like, ‘Woo! It’s a win!’”

Monét wears asymmetrical silk dress, £933, gold hair piece, £233 (both Jun Jie), and her own earrings

Although she’s obviously pleased with her Monét (laugh now please), the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar means more to her than just a pay cheque. “This win for me is a victory for so many reasons. It’s the first time a Miss Congeniality has also won a crown, and it’s the first time we’ve had an All Star queen of colour. I can’t express to you how proud that makes me feel.” She continues: “I think that for a while, especially pertaining to the All Stars franchise, people have wanted to see a more melanated representation. Monique [Heart] said that a lot throughout season ten, how she loved that we had a highly-melanated top four, and I think it just reflects the drag world at large. There are many different queens, there are black queens, white queens, purple queens, grey queens, every colour that you can imagine! So, the chance to add a little chocolate representation to that Hall of Fame girl, and to show that All Stars is as diverse as the regular seasons is amazing to me. I’m just so over the moon about it.”

Monét’s win was also the first time a queen of colour emerged victorious since Bob the Drag Queen (her best squirrel friend and podcast partner) on the show’s eighth season, meaning we’ve had four consecutive white winners since 2016. The show has massively boosted in popularity since then (it became the first series to win Emmys for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program and Outstanding Host in the same year) which means the fanbase has gotten larger and now has its fair share of passionate, die-hard fanatics, a lot of which are ignorant, keyboard warrior racists. (Queens such as Bebe Zahara Benet, Kennedy Davenport, Naomi Smalls and Asia O’Hara are just a few of the queens who have been inundated with death threats.) “We have seen time and time again how racist some of the show’s fans can be, and I think that this speaks to that,” she opens up. Monét has received racist comment after racist comment since her first appearance on the series in 2018, but it wasn’t until she was announced as the winner this season that it spiralled out of control.

Monét wears hooded coat by Adrienne Landau, £5,041, dress by Agent Provocateur, £524, gold earrings by Jun Jie, £233, gold rings by L’enchanteur, £139 and £131

“Trinity and I both posted pictures from yesterday with our crown and sceptre,” she continues. “If you just scroll through the comments of each of our pictures, they are vastly different. Trinity is being so loved and celebrated, and everyone is paying their respects to her. 98% of her comments are ‘Beautiful, you did a great job.’ You go to my posts, and I am being called the ‘n’ word, I’m called cheap. Yeah it does offend me, but it doesn’t hurt my spirit because I know what I came into this competition to do, and what I achieved. I do have people who support me and love the work I did on Drag Race, so I’m not gonna let those segment of people cloud my victory and cloud this huge victory for queens of colour on All Stars. I’m not gonna let it affect me… but it is overwhelmingly different when you look at these responses.” It’s infuriating and baffling to say the least, especially considering the show’s main message is to promote love and inclusivity.

A few weeks back, Monét called out the racism on her Twitter timeline when a ‘meme’ of her, Trinity, Naomi, Monique and Latrice Royale was brought to her attention, which depicted the queens of colour as masculine black men standing behind Trinity, who was portrayed as a “little white girl”. “It was a clearly, blatantly racist ‘meme’ and the person who made it owned up to it and it ended up being some 12-year-old kid who didn’t realise the gravity of what they were doing,” Monét explains. “I think that is part of the problem, that the fandom of Drag Race tends to be very young and they don’t understand. They think they’re being shady and kunty but they are actually being really nasty and rude.”

Monét wears hooded coat by Adrienne Landau, £5,041, dress by Agent Provocateur, £524, gold earrings by Jun Jie, £233, gold rings by L’enchanteur, £139 and £131

Monét credits the rise of leaders and dictators currently in power around the world for the views of the fandom, especially Brazil’s new anti-LGBTQ president Jair Bolsonaro and United States’ leader, D*nald Tr*mp. “They are setting the tone for how people in their communities interact with each other and the world,” she explains. “Those people are making it so easy for racists and misogynists and people who are homophobic to share their views.” When we ask Monét the best way to tackle this ongoing issue, she confidently responds: “I think we have to address the problem head on. It’s making them take ownership over what they said and making them self-analyse, reflect and see what they did was wrong. Hopefully that will be a teaching moment for other people. Racism is as old as time, and I think we’re trying our best to combat it and make people realise the error of their ways. To me, the best way I like to handle it is to call people out directly. But who knows what’s gonna be the fixer of people’s racism?” However, she triumphantly states: “I am a queen of colour, I came and I worked hard this season, and I shared my talents with the world. You can be as rude, nasty and racist as you want, but that is not gonna change the fact that queens of colour are extremely talented and add just as much as anyone else to the drag community.” Can we get a “hallello!” on the side of this scolding hot T, puhleez?

Now that Monét has conquered what she set to do on the series, the queen has her eyes set on the music industry. Last year, she left us slain with her debut single, the dance-bop homage to her iconic sponge runway, Soak It Up. Despite being one of the biggest earworms from a Drag Race alumni to date, Monét is leaving that sound behind. “I was all about making a fun Drag Race song, because that’s what a lot of the girls do. I wanna step away from just doing drag music, and just make music. I have an actual classical song that I’m singing on my EP, know what I mean? That’s just not been done by a Drag Race girl.” Don’t take this as her dissing ‘drag music’, because honey, she’s not that kind of queen. She rightfully says that “drag music is beautiful” and lists Purse First from Bob and Brown Cow Stunning by Monique as two of her favourites, but reiterates that she wants to step “into a different realm”.

Monét wears striped dress by Jun Jie, £699, and her own earrings

On the same day she won All Stars, Monét released a music video to accompany her debut visual EP, Unapologetically, which consists of the aforementioned classical track, Ave Maria, the funk-filled There For You, dance floor anthem Beyoncé, and smooth R&B jam Gently. We’re gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s possibly one of the greatest projects ever released from a Drag Race contestant (and we’re not just saying that because she’s on our cover). “I wanted to make music that I listen to everyday like, SZA, H.E.R and Summer Walker, all those artists really inspire me,” she reveals, before informing us one of her greatest inspirations, the late American singer-songwriter, Sylvester. “If you think about it, Sylvester was doing drag in the 80s and we didn’t even realise it. If you watch Sylvester’s Mighty Real, just the fact that he made this video in the 80s in full drag in a club, it’s the craziest thing. I bet you back then, people probably were probably saying, ‘Ugh! Does he think it’s okay to do this?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah it is.’” Her main aim is to – like Sylvester – have a “viable music career”, hence why she recruited producers who have worked with the likes of Lil Kim, Beyoncé and Solange, to try and catapult drag further into the mainstream. “A lot of drag queens are talented artists. Why can’t we be nominated for Grammys? Why can’t we be at the AMAs? Why can’t we be at the Billboard Music Awards?”

It’s not just the world of music Monét wants to stomp over with her Dora Milaje-inspired Super Queen boots. Last month, the performer starred in a Pepsi commercial with American rapper, Cardi B, aka the first ever female solo artist to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be in a Pepsi commercial with the biggest female rap artist in history,” she tells us, before exclusively revealing: “I have projects coming up with Nickelodeon, and I have a potential digital TV talk show moment happening! It’s all because I let my star shine on Drag Race and now I have directors and producers wanting to work with me. Again, contributing to that mainstreaming of drag – why can’t drag queens be at the Oscars? We sell out concerts and theatre halls around the world, and we have fanbases just like other public figures, so why should we not be included?”

Monét wears asymmetrical silk dress, £933, gold hair piece, £233 (both Jun Jie), and her own earrings

As we continue our interview, conversation turns to the superhero genre. In the All Stars finale, Monét paid tribute to the fierce female warriors from Black Panther, the Dora Milaje (as we mentioned above). The blockbuster – which is set in a fictional African nation – became the first Marvel production to feature a predominantly black cast, the highest-grossing film by a black director and the first superhero film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. It was a historic moment for people of colour, who are rarely represented in mainstream cinema, and has since become a beloved celebration of the African-American community, which is why Monét wanted to reiterate this message on the show. “I love being as black as I can be. Growing up, I was never really proud of the colour of my skin, until my early 20s when I started to look in the mirror and thought, ‘This is great. This is beautiful. This is amazing.’ So I take every chance in my life and in my drag to celebrate that and to express it in the most beautiful way possible.” She adds: “My costume was a nod to the Dora Milaje and my final look was this beautiful African gown. Typically, you don’t see people celebrating African fabrics and treating them as beautiful and elegant, so I wanted to do that for the finale and show a black queen wearing these beautiful, beaded, stoned fabrics with a beautiful, natural hairstyle. Again, natural hair is not something you see as being elegant so I wanted to show that natural hair, African fabrics and chocolate skin can be gorgeous.”

Last year, Marvel Comics unveiled their first ever mutant drag queen, Shade. Its creator, Sina Grace, credited previous Drag Race alumni The Vixen, Dax Exclamation Point, Shea Coulee, and your reigning All Stars winner, Monét, as inspirations. When we ask Monét if she’s down for becoming the first drag queen superhero on screen, she excitedly responds: “Absolutely, without question! We as queer people know the power of the drag queen in our community, and I think the world is realising it. The more and more that we can show that we are great musicians, actors, and artists in general, the world will latch onto it a bit more. Drag queens, we’re fucking fierce. I think that we can take the world by storm. I really do.” Now that she’s won All Stars, Monét is hopeful that more amazing opportunities (like that superhero one we just mentioned) will come along. “Maybe some movies? Maybe I can get A Star is Born like Shangela? A main role in a movie starring Jennifer Aniston? Maybe not her. Viola Davis? I’m joking, I love Jennifer Aniston.”

Drag is becoming bigger than ever, fact. Last year, season seven runnerup Ginger Minj appeared alongside Aniston in the critically-acclaimed Netflix drama, Dumplin, season five icon Alyssa Edwards received her own original series, and we were also blessed with the first ever adult animated drag series, Super Drags. Drag is officially mainstream henny! “I know that we’re often scared of the mainstream of drag, because so many negative things come with that, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives, because drag is such a powerful thing and I honestly think drag can change the world,” Monét proclaims. “Mainstreaming can help a lot of change, and I think it’s worth it.” We leave our interview with Monét on one final question, “Drag Race winners season – are you in?” to which she responds: “Absolutely, just so I can fucking beat Bob.” Now that’s a showdown we can’t wait to see. A double crowning, maybe? That would be groundbreaking!

Photography Jasper Soloff
Creative Umar Sarwar
Fashion Willyum Beck