It has been nine years since Jinkx Monsoon walked away with the crown as the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5. Now, thankfully, it is Monsoon Season once again as the swamp witch returns for Season 7 of All Stars, the "All Winners" season.
Jinkx has been a frontrunner this season from the moment she stepped into the workroom and "forgot" her opening line. She won the reading challenge, served a funny verse in the "Legends" lyrics challenge, and has been rocking some elegant and ferocious ensembles on the runway. Oh, and she delivered what many are considering the best Snatch Game ever with her hilarious and spot-on impersonations of Natasha Lyonne and Judy Garland.
Jinkx spoke with Logo about returning to Drag Race, what 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 was going through your mind when you saw her and while you were walking the runway in front of her?
Lots of things. First of all, whenever I get to meet a female celebrity that has always been in my life, when you grow up with someone on your TV, and then you meet them in real life, it's such a surreal experience. And so just to see her in person was a mind-blowing experience. It made me a little dizzy. But I was very grateful she was wearing black because I had chosen to recreate a look of hers that's probably not the first thing you think of when you think of Vanna White, but it was something that really resonated with me. And I always try to stay authentic and genuine to what interests me. So seeing her wear black, I was like, "Okay. Now it won't be so much of a stretch that I decided to recreate a Halloween outfit."
Did you get to talk to her when she was on set?
No. The runway days are such jampacked days. We got a little moment to say hi. But the runway days are our most busy 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," that whole category is just so wide to interpretation. Were there any other ideas that you almost went with?
Oh, yeah. No good ones. When I said "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Fonda," it was the aha moment. I was trying a few different things with Betty White, but nothing stuck. I knew that the Ball Challenge was going to be difficult for me. No one drag queen can have every superpower. And I'm very confident in the skills that I do have and very realistic with the skills that I don't have. So I knew designing my own look was going to be a challenge. And I just wanted to get through it. But I knew that I had to really showcase myself in the pre-constructed looks. So Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Fonda, I'm putting all my eggs in that basket.
Yeah. I loved when you were doing the critiques and you were like, "It's my one weakness." When you were going back to Drag Race, did you think about maybe working on sewing before you went? Or did you just want to just lean into it?
Well, my first time on Drag Race, obviously I had a big fall in the Ball Challenge. But I got 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 well as that if I could braid together a look. And that's how I started on this one. I was like, "Okay. I'm going to do braiding and draping, and I'm going to make this work." And the problem with me, with things that require digital dexterity and so much monotonous detail, is that I just start to drift off and I start to get lost in my thoughts. And I lost my way from my original plan for this design. But at least I wore an outfit that held together all through the runway presentation. And I've seen some looks on Drag Race. I don't think this is the all-time worst self-constructed look. But I was never going to win a Ball Challenge. There are so many talented queens with such impeccable skill in this area that I was just happy to at least make something that I could wear down the runway and still had a story and had a focus, even if it was a little muddy.
Where is that Lavender Fields dress now? Did you keep it?
I kept it. I photographed it. It's in my basement. I'll never put it on again. We learn from things. If I'm looking at All Stars 7 as a hero's journey, this was my trip to the underworld.
The dress could be part of the Monsoon Museum one day.
So we talked about this week, but I have to ask you about Snatch Game. That was just one of, if not the best Snatch Game. Was it as fun on set as it was watching it? Because it just looked like everyone was having a blast.
Oh, absolutely. It was. I mean, even queens who were less confident in their Snatch Game repertoire, we were all having a blast. And I remember Jaida [Essence Hall] just being so hilarious that day. And of course, I was in a bit of a trance through the whole thing. I tried to drop into the character and stay there. So a lot of things went by without me noticing. But I just remember we were exhausted by the end of the day. I think everyone on set was exhausted because it was a very, very long day. But we were all elated and on cloud nine.
And when you picked Judy, did you know that no one had ever done Judy? I couldn't believe that when I read that.
A big factor in who I chose to do for Snatch Game was I wanted to do someone who had never been done before. Sometimes there are repeats, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I really wanted any characters that I did to be able to stand alone 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 it was because I reached out to Thirsty Burlington, my friend who taught me how to do Judy, and I got her blessing. I didn't tell her 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, darling." And so once I had her blessing, I knew Judy was the right choice. And let's just say Meryl [Streep] would've been a lot of fun, but I don't think she's the perfect choice for Snatch Game.
Would you've done a Death Becomes Her Meryl?
The problem was I never got to the place with my Meryl impersonation where she became very verbal. It was just a lot of sounds. It was just me going, "Oh!"
Lots of sounds and lots of touching your face. She loves to touch her face.
Well, fans online always thought that if a queen were to do Judy it would have to be you. Did you know that?
No. I had this wild 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 around about this a lot. But when I heard we were doing two characters, I was like, "I should just put a lot of focus into doing two characters really well rather than doing two and a half characters." But I mean, I guess it makes sense. I've cemented myself as the vintage queen and the old Hollywood queen. And it's just because I find a lot of inspiration from the past. And I think that resonates through pretty much everything that I do. Matthew Anderson once called me "a gorgeous anachronism." And I have always kept that in the back of my mind. And it's always been my reassurance that whatever I'm doing works for me.
I love that. And then my last question. I loved how you brought up Dave, the veteran from Season 5. Has Dave reached out to you? He said that he was hoping to run into you at DragCon. Have you reached out to him at all?
Yeah. We are reaching out to Dave. We're trying to set up a little reunion call. I can't remember the last time I was in contact with him. But of course, we played musical chairs. It always seems like we're at the same place two days apart from each other. But definitely, I always hold a special place in my heart for Dave. And it's just so nice to see him getting so much joy from the shout-out. And he's having fun with it. He had such a good time after being on Drag Race the first time. I'm happy anytime he gets a little boost. He's such a sweet person.