Through self-care, therapy and witchcraft, Jinkx Monsoon is finally – in her words – a “well-rounded drag queen” (and “ethical slut”).
This year, the internationally tolerated redhead made a triumphant return to Broom’s Drag Race on the franchise’s first-ever Quarter Quell season, where she delivered the best Snatch Game performance in herstory and became only the second US contestant – after her Seattle sister BenDeLaCreme – to win five maxi-challenges. The power of Hecate!
Jinkx ultimately defeated her opponents – including Monét X Change, Trinity the Tuck and Shea Couleé – becoming the first two-time winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Queen of All Queens.
“All Stars 7 was so celebratory and [the producers] gave us so much of what we needed to be our best selves,” Jinkx tells GAY TIMES. “No one was eliminated and there wasn’t a lot of catty drama, and it was so amazing to see that so much good work could come out of an environment of positivity and support. Yes, drag is very competitive. The entertainment world is very competitive. But, there’s also a strong sense of community.”
The star is currently preparing for the release of her brand new sketch show on WOW Presents Plus, titled Sketchy Queens, which she co-created with her comedy partner Liam Krug. Joined by fellow Drag Racers and celebrities such as Trixie Mattel, Brittany Broski and Brandon Rogers, the eight-episode series features celebrity impersonations and alternate versions of our favourite narcoleptic superstar, as well as Winderly Landchime, who is better than you.
Read ahead for our full interview with the Queen of All Queens about her All Stars 7 victory and this exciting new phase in her career.
Jinkx Monsoon, huge condragulations on your All Stars 7 win. How does it feel having a title as prestigious as the Queen of All Queens? Surely you must feel like that bitch?
I’ve never been “that bitch”! Maybe I feel like that witch? I’ve got to be completely honest, when I won season five I put so much pressure on myself. I let expectations affect the work that I was creating. I was so worried about meeting everyone’s expectations as a winner of Drag Race that it got to me. I was having less fun because I was more worried about meeting expectations than doing the work I love. Every other episode on All Stars 7, I’m talking about witchcraft, gender politics, being sober, trans identities. I was an ethical slut shouting it from the rooftops! I really let it all hang out, and then I won. I told myself, rather than worrying about expectations with this title and putting a lot of pressure myself, why don’t I trust that I won this title being myself? So, I should uphold this title being myself. That’s really been such a huge difference between season five and now. I’ve gotten to that place because I put the work in with therapy, witchcraft, self-care, y’know? All that good stuff, all the stuff that makes us well-rounded human beings. That’s why I’m now such a well-rounded drag queen!
It was truly one of the best seasons of Drag Race ever, thanks to the incredible roster of queens and its celebration of the art-form. What else did you take away from the experience?
Some of the profound things for me were… Talking about that kind of pressure and expectations that I had, when I talked to all the other winners there, they all had such similar stories. Realising those pressures and that anxiety and the voices that get into your head, when you’re holding a position of power, I was always worried, ‘Am I too soft for this? Was I not built for this?’ It turns out that all these other queens that I’ve always admired and seen as such powerful entities in the world went through all the same stuff. It’s human to go through those moments of self-doubt and to put that kind of pressure on yourself. It’s human to be scared sometimes. It was really profound to know that it’s a universal thing, or maybe a thing shared amongst winners! I think the most amazing thing about All Stars 7 is… I’m really close with a lot of the girls from season five, but that was in spite of the competition. All Stars 7 was so celebratory and they gave us so much of what we needed to be our best selves. No one was eliminated and there wasn’t a lot of catty drama, and it was so amazing to see that so much good work could come out of an environment of positivity and support. Yes, drag is very competitive. The entertainment world is very competitive. But, there’s also a strong sense of community. When the queens are on tour together, if someone’s missing a bobby bin then someone else gives her a bobby pin. That’s the kind of drag I want displayed in the world and I’m so proud to be part of season seven, where we displayed that kind of sisterhood and camaraderie, and still produced a fucking amazing of Drag Race.
Let’s talk Sketchy Queens. Jinkx, I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the first episode. I need to thank you, personally, for Winderly Landchime, a future Pulitzer Prize winner?
[Laughs] Yeah, I think that’s somewhere in there!
What journalist tips would Winderly give me, do you think?
If Winderly Landchime had a tip it would be: remember that you’re better than everyone you interview.
I will take that on board. Honestly, I was howling with laughter throughout the entire segment.
Trixie was such a good sport. I can’t remember who was our first when we were filming, but we knew we had to go first with Trixie because she nailed the assignment.
I’m obsessed with Winderly and Bethany. Where did the idea for these two interesting creatures come from?
Liam and I, who co-created the show with me, have a very shared sense-of-humour. We had, in our own work before we created Sketchy Queens, done our own advertisement for The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special, the holiday film BenDeLaCreme and I created together. We decided for an advertisement that we would do a nightmare interview, because I’ve had some nightmare interviews and I told Liam some of my experiences. Then we basically just improvised a nightmare interview and turned that into an advertisement for The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special. From that, we developed two characters that would be the nightmare interviewers and turn it up to a thousand. Then, we invited famous friends of ours to come into the studio and do an interview talk show, but we told them that it’s not going to be us interviewing them and that they’d just have to roll with the punches. They were game, and some magical moments came from it!
Does this mean it’s a regular segment?
What I can tell you is, from episode one, you don’t know what things might be recurring and what things are one-and-done. That’s what I love about a sketch show, you don’t know what characters you’re going to see a lot of and what characters you’re only gonna see once. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but there’s some recurring sketches in Sketchy Queens that I’m really excited for you to see their development.
Sketchy Queens introduces a rather unhinged version of Jinkx Monsoon. What universe does this character live in? Is there a Jinkx Monsoon multiverse?
We imagined this is what Jinkx Monsoon will grow into. Three or four years ago, Major Scales and I, my musical partner, wrote a show called Together Again, Again! where it jumps 45 years into the future and Jinkx and Major are in their 80s. They’re doing a retrospective of their careers. That is the character we see in that sketch: Jinkx, a faded starlet – obviously, she’s inspired by Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. But, that has been my inspiration for old Jinkx for a long, long time; this faded starlet who lives in obscurity but can’t let go of the fact that she was once famous.
The best part of that scene, for me, is the laptop in the background playing your best bits from season five…
She just sits around recapping. All of this is a modern retelling of Sunset Boulevard through a queer lens. One of my favourite things about Sunset Boulevard is that Norma Desmond spends her days watching her old films, which is an impulse I can’t really relate to! Maybe when I was young, I loved to rewatch everything that I did because I was super proud that I did it. Now that it’s old hat, I watch everything once, maybe twice, and then I let the rest of the world have it.
What did yours and Liam’s creative process look like for this series?
Liam does a lot of writing of the scripts, as far as physically writing it down. How the script gets generated is, Liam and I brainstorm funny ideas and then I sit there and talk and talk and talk. Liam then takes any gems that I come up with and then creates the script out of it. Then, we perform the script on camera and while we’re performing it, always leave room for new ideas to come to us. That’s the beautiful thing. I’m a live performer through and through, but what I love about scripted camerawork is that you can take multiple takes and then you can take the best moments from all of these different live performances and weave together one beautiful performance. That’s something you can’t do on stage, and why I’m so excited to have this chance to show all the mini different mediums with which I can be ridiculous.
Are there any other versions of Jinkx Monsoon that haven’t been brought to life yet?
I love creating new characters, and the double-edged sword of becoming successful as my bottom bitch Jinkx Monsoon is that I mostly play her. So any chance I get to do an alternate iteration of Jinkx is really exciting for me. What I’d say is, each of my scripted shows you get a slightly different version of Jinkx. My shows with Major Scales that I write, you’re getting cabaret Jinkx. It’s a more intimate and candid experience with Jinkx Monsoon. Mine and DeLa’s holiday show, that’s holiday Jinkx, where I lean into certain aspects of Jinkx that works best against DeLa. For Sketchy Queens, what I’m so excited about is that I play so many different characters and I don’t think any of them are Jinkx Monsoon! I don’t think I ever appear as Jinkx Monsoon in Sketchy Queens, and that just means you get to see all the different kinds of characters that I keep inside my head.
I also have to offer you congrats on signing to Innovative Artists with DeLa. What can you tease about this next phase in your career?
I think the phrase ‘work smart and not harder’ comes to mind. What you can expect from the next phase is taking everything I’ve been doing to its logical conclusion. I’m focusing a lot more on scripted work. Whether the script is by myself or me and DeLa, or by some other brilliant writer, I’m finding a lot of joy in really leaning into scripted work and I feel like that’s when you get the best presentation of something. I’ll always be a live entertainer and have room in my schedule for my music tours with Major Scales, my holiday tour with BenDeLaCreme, but I do wanna see where I can take this in the realm of scripted. Those are the offers I’m fielding the most right now.
Sketchy Queens will premiere on 15 September in the UK, exclusively on the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus. Subscribe via https://uk.wowpresentsplus.com/
Tickets are now on sale for RuPaul’s DragCon UK 2023, taking place at ExCel London from 6-8 January 2023. Find out more on https://uk.rupaulsdragcon.com/