In Conversation with: Jinkx Monsoon
Words Joe Black Photography Greg Bailey
The evening starts to settle in and Joe Black sits down with his iPad and loads up Skype to prepare for his trans-Atlantic video interview and catch up with friend, cabaret powerhouse and winner of Rupaul’s drag race season five ‘Jinkx monsoon.'
Hello, how you doing?
I’m doing well Joe, how are you?
I’m doing alright, yes. So firstly, who is Jinkx Monsoon?
Jinkx Monsoon is the hardest working single mother in show business, she’s Seattle’s hottest Milf, and basically she’s just your average woman with big dreams but she puts herself in the way, if that makes sense. She’s a vein, egocentric, a gorgeous anachronism. That’s Jinkx Monsoon.
So like one of those women who have an air of old Hollywood about them.
Yes but they’re actually just a Drag Queen in a dirty bar.
If that’s Jinkx Monsoon, who is Jerick Hoffer?
Jerick Hoffer is just a goofy red headed stoner with big dreams in his head.
So both Jinkx and Jerick have the big dreams?
Yes, but independent of one another.
If you were to describe Jinkx Monsoon’s general aesthetic how would you do that?
She’s any time but now. I like to think of her as if Betty Davis had terrible taste.
Was it a natural thing or was it a choice? Like you said “I want her to be like this”?
Some of it was natural, and some of it was a choice. When I first started drag it was anything I just thought was pretty, I didn’t have an over arching theme in my head I just got what I liked, and things that reminded me of Movies that I liked. Now though I’m very particular about what Jinkx wears. I let the aesthetic come naturally, but now the artist has to edit. I try to pick out outfits that are Jinkx Monsoon and if something doesn’t look Jinkx then I know it right away. It could be a dress that I think is gorgeous but if I know Jinkx would never wear it I just don’t pick it up; I don’t even tamper with it.
So now you’re her stylist?
Well yeah, in the last two years Jinkx Monsoon has had enough time on stage and in the public eye that she now has her own personality and she takes her own place in the world. So even though I’m her creator and I do all the shopping, she’s gotten refined in how she presents herself to the world. Jinkx is definitely in between a real woman and a drag queen. She has a hair colour, she may wear wigs and be aware that she wears wigs but she’s trying to present herself as a normal woman. I think of her as a real woman, a woman who does drag because it’s the way she became most popular. So when you have a set hair colour like that you have a set colour palette that you’re working with. The more realistic you make her, like this is her bust size, and she never leaves home with out a corset, her hair is red, the more I make these finite decisions about her that are based on what I’ve created and what I know about this person in my head, the easier it becomes to portray her accurately because I’ve become a little more precise with certain details of her character.
So she’s a character playing a character? Have you ever thought of her as a faux queen?
Yeah that’s what I think she is. She’s a real woman who tried to make it in theatre but never did, so she took all of her theatre know how and went and auditioned in a dingy little bar for a cabaret show, not realising it was drag show. It stuck and that’s where she found her calling, performing for drunken homosexuals.
Right with that in mind, when Jerick started why did you go for drag rather than going down the musical theatre route? You have that cabaret style to you; why not perform as a man?
Well its not that profound actually, when I first started performing I was fifteen, I was still called Jinkx but I was performing as a boy. I would tap dance and do my mime routines and stuff like that. My reception was okay when I was a boy doing that but when I first did drag I would do the same things I was doing as a boy and the reaction would be ten times bigger. So after that I just thought for my career it would be better to start doing drag. Once I started, it felt like it was something I should have been doing the whole time, like I was made for this.
I never knew you did it as a boy first. I kind of did the same myself. I started off quite simple in regards to makeup but since dressing and painting how I do now; I get a bigger reaction to performing the same things.
Yeah, people like the spectacle of it you know. I mean, I still work as an actor, as a male, and when I was starting to become successful as a drag queen I was still working simultaneously at my attempts at a male actor. But it helps that I can sound like a woman, people who aren’t as hip to drag can think I am a real woman. That’s what makes it interesting, me playing with my voice, with my gender, it’s better than me just wearing a bowler hat and tap dancing...
TO READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD ISSUE TWO
Issue two download featuring Katya, Jinkx Monsoon, Milk, Munroe Bergdorf, and Elliot Joseph Rentz AKA Alexis Stone.