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A Chat With Jinkx Monsoon


The winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5 gives us her first interview after taking the crown home

What went through your mind when RuPaul called your name?

Honestly, I had to take a moment to remember that was my name! I didn't entirely believe it, and I don't think it's sunk in even yet. I'm very ecstatic; I had no idea I would get so much support.

As this season's underdog, and you took a lot of heat from some of the other queens. How did you manage to keep calm?

I was trying my best to be confident, but it's very hard to be cut off from my family and my best friends. While you're filming, you can't talk to anyone. I had to keep myself focused at all times so I could hear my own voice and not other people's voices.

What is the story behind your now famous mantra, 'Water off a duck's back'?

'Water off a duck's back' wasn't just a gimmick: It was literally what I was saying to myself on the runway. I have two wonderful drag sisters who I perform with in Seattle, Robbie Turner and Ben Delacreme. The year before Drag Race, I had gone from working solo on my burlesque cabaret to hosting the biggest drag show that happens in Seattle, An Evening At Le Faux at Julius. There was a lot of animosity between me and other drag queens because I came out of nowhere and got to one of the highest positions for a drag queen in Seattle. Robbie just said: 'Let it just be water of a duck's back. Don't even listen to this.' I could only hear her voice throughout the race, and I think it helped me a lot.


Looking back, what was your favorite moment in the show?

I have three favorite moments. Getting to play Little Edie at Snatch Game was amazing, because that's what I went on Drag Race to do. The RuPaul Roast was my favorite challenge: I've always wanted to participate in a roast. And working with Dave, the veteran I had to drag-up and who lives with AIDS. His story motivated me for that last stretch at the end.

Why do you relate to Little Edie from Grey Gardens so much?

She was an anacronism herself. We didn't fully realize how wonderful she was until she passed away, when she became the style icon that she is today. She's an American enigma. I relate to a woman who didn't really get her moment in her own time, and I've been lucky enough to have my own moment to shine because of her.

Were you shocked that so few of the other contestants knew about her?

I was for a moment. I think she's someone everyone should know. She's up there with Judy Garland, Cher, and Madonna as far as gay icons go.

Another highlight was your mind-blowing lipsynch to Yma Sumac's 'Malambo #1'. Do you feel that maybe the producers of the show made you a favor by choosing this song?

I had never heard that song before, and we only get about a day's warning when they tell us which song we have to practice. If you look at the Top 4, this song would have been perfect for all of us. Detox and I have very different styles, but she's hilarious, and she knows what she's doing when it comes to lipsynch. The same goes for Alaska. And I'm sure that you could give Roxxy anything and she would perform it out. So that song could have sent anyone home. I wouldn't have done as well if I had to do Rihanna.



Who do you keep in touch with now that the show's ended?

Even though there were fights and crazy moments, I have a wonderful relationship with all the contestants. I'm the closest with Ivy and Alaska, we talk on the phone all the time. Roxxy and I grew very close too. Sometimes fighting will bring people closer than they ever could have been if they had been nice to each other the whole time.

Did your crush on fellow contestant Ivy Winters materialize into anything more serious?

I knew that I had had that conversation with Alaska about liking Ivy, and I had no idea that it was going to air. I was actually terrified because it was such a situational thing. It's not something I held on to after we finished filming. I texted Ivy before the episode aired and I said 'You were so great with me, I think I may even have had a crush on you at one point' and she just replied 'Oh really? Oh, you know, whatever!' Ivy has a very charming boyfriend who takes wonderful care of her. He and I get along great, so there's no hard feelings about any of that.

Since we're on the subject, do you have a boyfriend?

I refer to myself as 'chronically single'! I'm focusing on my drag career right now, and I want to give this opportunity my full attention. It wouldn't be fair to anyone who would want to date me right now. They would have to put up with never seeing me, and when they do, always seeing me dressed like a 45-year-old woman. I'm just going to wait until it happens naturally.

And now for the Miss America question: What do you hope to stand for as America's Next Drag Superstar?

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want this year to look like. I want to hold that crown for everyone like me who had to overcome life struggles, and work their ass off to achieve their dream. Whatever your dream is, you always have to try to go for it, at least once. I also would love to work towards social change and equal rights, particularly gay marriage and discrimination at the work place. The gay rights movement hasn't ended: Even though we live a much more privileged life than our predecessors, the fight is not over. If you pay your taxes, you deserve the same rights as every other person.

What are you going to do with your prize money?

I'm going to open a college fund for my youngest brother, and I want to give enough money to my student loan company so they will just leave me alone for at least two years! I also want to put a little bit of it into trying to make an album.

Exciting! What would that sound like?

I could never make an album of dance music like Sharon Needles did. I would never touch that! I would do something with torch songs, Broadways standards, and more musical-y tracks.

What else is in the cards for you?

I'm going to star in the concert version of Hairspray at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle this summer. I'm playing Velma Von Tussle, the retired pagean queen! After that, I'm coming back to New York in mid-July to do an original musical comedy called The Vaudevillians, which I created with my music partner from Seattle. I play a coke-addicted whore! And there's also a lot of touring involved with the Absolut Drag Race Tour. We're going to Europe, starting with Glasgow, and roaming around the continent.

Catch up on RuPaul's Drag Race at, and keep in touch with Jinkx on her official website.

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