It’s been nine years since Jinkx Monsoon walked away with the crown as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5. Now luckily it’s monsoon season again as the Swamp Witch returns for Season 7 of all starsthe “All Winners” season.
Jinkx was a trailblazer this season from the moment she walked into the work room and “forgot” her opening line. She won the reading challenge, served up a fun verse in the “Legends” lyric challenge, and rocked sleek and fierce ensembles on the track. Oh, and she delivered what many consider to be the best Snatch Game ever with her hilariously perfect impersonations of Natasha Lyonne and Judy Garland.
Jinkx spoke with Logo about returning to drag racewhat it was like to walk the runway in front of Vanna White, and how we almost saw her Meryl Streep on the Snatch Game stage.
I love your gasp when you saw Vanna. What went through your mind when you saw her and as you walked down the runway in front of her?
Many things. First of all, every time I meet a female celebrity who has always been in my life, when you grow up with someone on your TV, and you meet them in real life, it’s such a surreal experience. And so, just seeing her in person was a mind-blowing experience. It gave me a little vertigo. But I was very grateful that she wore black because I had chosen to recreate a look that probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of Vanna White, but it was something that really stuck with me. really touched. And I always try to stay genuine and authentic to what interests me. So seeing her wearing black, I was like, “Okay. Now it won’t be so over the top that I decided to recreate a Halloween outfit.
Were you able to talk to her when she was on set?
No. Track days are such busy days. We have a moment to say hello. But track days are our busiest days. So there’s not a lot of extra time for anything else.
And then also, your “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Fonda” look was so clever. “Before and after”, this whole category is so broad to interpret. Were there any other ideas you almost went with?
Oh yeah. No vouchers. When I said “Whatever happened to Baby Jane Fonda” was the aha moment. I was trying different things with Betty White, but nothing was sticking. I knew the Ball Challenge was going to be tough for me. No drag queen can have every superpower. And I’m very confident in the skills I have and very realistic with the skills I don’t have. So I knew designing my own look was going to be a challenge. And I just wanted to get out. But I knew I really had to show off in the pre-built looks. So whatever happened to Baby Jane Fonda, I’m putting all my eggs in this basket.
Yeah. I loved it when you were doing the reviews and saying, “That’s my only weakness.” When you were going back to drag race, have you thought about perhaps working on sewing before leaving? Or did you just want to lean into it?
Well, my first time on Drag Race, obviously I had a big fall in the Ball Challenge. But I had pretty neutral reactions to the first dress I had to design when we did the Dumpster Dive Challenge. So my thought was, if I could at least do something as good as if I could braid a look. And that’s how I started this one. I was like, “Okay. I’m going to do braiding and draping, and I’m going to make it work. And the problem with me, with things that require digital dexterity and so much monotonous detail, it’s that I’m starting to drift and get lost in thought. And I lost my way from my original plan for this design. But at least I wore an outfit that held up throughout the presentation. of the parade. And I saw looks on drag race. I don’t think this is the worst self-built look ever. But I was never going to win a Ball Challenge. There are so many talented queens with such impeccable skills in this area that I was just happy to at least do something that I could wear on the runway that still had a story and a purpose, even if it was a bit muddy.
Where is that Lavender Fields dress now? Did you keep it?
I kept it. I photographed it. It’s in my basement. I will never put it back on again. We learn things. If I look all stars 7 like a hero’s journey, it was my trip to the underworld.
The dress could one day become part of the Monsoon Museum.
So we talked about this week, but I have to ask you about Snatch Game. It was just one of the best, if not the best Snatch Game. Was it as fun on set as watching it? Because it seemed like everyone was having fun.
Absolutely. It was. I mean, even the queens who were less confident in their Snatch Game repertoire, we were all having fun. And I remember Jaida [Essence Hall] just being so hilarious that day. And sure enough, I was kind of trance-bound through it all. I tried to fall into character and stay there. So many things have happened without my realizing it. But I just remember that we were exhausted at the end of the day. I think everyone on set was exhausted because it was a very, very long day. But we were all delighted and on cloud nine.
And when you chose Judy, did you know that no one had ever done Judy? I couldn’t believe it when I read this.
A big factor in what I chose to do for Snatch Game was that I wanted to do something that had never been done before. Sometimes there are repetitions, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I really wanted any characters I created to be able to stand on their own and not be compared to a past iteration. And Judy was a last minute decision. I changed my mind to bring Judy two days before I checked in for our quarantine stay. And that’s because I contacted Thirsty Burlington, my friend who taught me how to do Judy, and got her blessing. I didn’t tell him what it was for. I just said, “If I were to do a Judy Garland impersonation in a high-profile situation, would you feel like I was ripping you off? Or do I have your blessing? And she said, “I don’t do Judy anymore. I want you to take it and shine, honey. And so once I had her blessing, I knew Judy was the right choice. And let’s just say Meryl [Streep] would have been a lot of fun, but I don’t think she’s the perfect choice for Snatch Game.
Would you have made a Death becomes her Meryl?
The problem was that I never got to the place with my Meryl impersonation where she got very verbal. It was just a lot of sounds. It was just me saying “Oh!”
Lots of sounds and lots of touching your face. She likes to touch her face.
Well, fans online have always thought that if any queen was to do Judy, it would be you. Did you know ?
No. I had this crazy idea for a while that I was going to do Judy and Liza [Minnelli] together, split down the middle so that when I was facing one direction, I was doing… And I joked a lot about that. But when I heard we were doing two characters, I thought, “I should just focus on doing two characters well rather than doing two and a half characters.” But I mean, I guess it makes sense. I established myself as the queen of vintage and the former queen of Hollywood. And that’s just because I find a lot of inspiration in the past. And I think that resonates in just about everything I do. Matthew Anderson once called me a “magnificent anachronism”. And I always kept that in my heart. And it always reassured me that everything I do works for me.
I like this. And then my last question. I loved how you raised Season 5 veteran Dave. Did Dave contact you? He said he hoped to meet you at DragCon. Did you reach out to him?
Yeah. We reach out to Dave. We’re trying to set up a little phone meeting. I can’t remember the last time I was in contact with him. But of course, we played musical chairs. You always feel like you’re in the same place two days apart. But definitely, I still have a special place in my heart for Dave. And it’s so nice to see him get so much joy out of the scream. And he has fun with it. He had such a good time after being on drag race the first time. I’m happy every time he gets a little boost. He’s such a sweet person.