Stunning! That’s the most accurate, not to mention concise, way to describe Monique Heart’s run on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars season four. She came in as an underdog, having been freshly eliminated just months earlier on season 10, and came out an All Star, clocking three challenge wins.
She tore up the runways, her lip syncs, acting challenges and provided the best eye bulging memes of the season. Heart also revealed more about her journey toward self-acceptance, opening to Ru in the workroom — and gaining some high-profile fans along the way including Lizzo and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Here, we talk to her about the finale elimination, rampant racism within the fandom and advice for her new season eleven sisters.
Eight queens of color this season. Three queens of color in the top four. What did it mean to you to have such a melanin-infused line-up, both from the get-go and into the finale?
Well clearly there’s not representation of people of color, throughout the world and so if you’re melanated you really aren’t represented. So to see that with a demographic of people that don’t have as much visibility, to give them that representation lets them know: hey, you’re seen, this is what you bring, you identify over here like I do, great, wonderful. Let your truth be heard. Let your voice be heard. Let your art come out and just be an inspiration to people as well.
Of all of your runway looks this season, which are you most proud of?
All the ones that I was robbed on, how about that?
Any you feel like you were particularly robbed on?
Clearly that would be the brown cow.
Favorite lip sync of the season?
The one where I beat Latrice but RuPaul called Latrice’s name.
We’ve witnessed your growth as a drag queen, how have you changed as a person over the course of the last year?
I don’t know if it’s changed me as a person so much as changed my perspective and outlook. Clearly you recognize that this is a business and an industry and you can make a lot of money if you play the game well and market it. And so this is opportunity has allowed me to get closer to the dreams and goals that I really have wanted to do and now can do.
What’s it been like watching yourself becomes such a source of GIFs and memes this season?
I don’t know because the fandom is weird in the sense that they will meme and quote, but I guess because of complexion it really doesn’t seem like the fandom is there [to support you] if you want me to be completely honest.
I do want to be honest. You’re obviously aware of the rampant racism in this fandom. It’s not a new conversation, but it’s one that’s come to a boil once again. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the root of this ongoing problem?
Well the gay community is an oppressed community but it is a subculture of white culture. Cis, white gay men have had money to fund the establishment, the bars and the clubs. Even club promoters, nine times out of ten, are white. And so they create and control the environment in the space. So if they want a certain kind of demographic so they can either make more money, or find a cute boy that they can hook up with then they will do so. I mean you can clearly look at it and see that the three black girls were all in blonde hair at the finale trying to, I guess, play some role to win following the three that was already before them.
Is it going to change? I don’t know. I think you would probably need to start seeing representation. But it’s like how do you bring representation to melanation when Samantha does not see herself in Keisha? And Keisha has been brainwashed her whole life to want to be Samantha. That’s where the racism is coming in at. I don’t think people recognize that. Just for the simple fact that if you are light skinned or have light skinned privilege or you are white … you can be a complete booger but you’ll get grace but if you are a person of color or specifically black they will judge you and critique you a lot harder. It’s a known fact. Watch the show. Go to porn. It’s just what it is. If you type in hung, hot dudes it’s first going to be a white image. If you want to see a latino, a black guy, a middle eastern guy, you have to literally type in something different. I feel like in order to bring about change it really needs to start showing everyone. Everyone needs to be active at the table.
Thank you for such a thoughtful answer. Switching gears: You released your single “Brown Cow Stunning.” And this season we witnessed first hand how beautiful your singing voice is. Any plans for more music?
Yes we are releasing some music in the near, near, near future. Just stay on the lookout. We also have TV and film coming out. Just say this: we’re crossing over into the mainstream, how about that? We’re securing the bag.
Advice for season 11 sisters?
Have a plan. Cause you only get six months and after that six months; What are you going to do? Let this be an opportunity to launch you into the career path that you want. Don’t just get pigeonholed into just being a drag queen. If you break a leg, how do you pay the bills? What’s your back-up plan? You need to make sure that Drag Race is not a one all and be all but it is a launching pad to the career that you truly want.