50 Questions with Jinkx Monsoon

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Jinkx Monsoon by Jiji Lee
Jinkx MonsoonPhotography by Jiji Lee

Ahead of the The Return of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE!, the Drag Race alum answers 50 questions about everything from getting sober and getting married to getting her wigs cleaned

Jinkx Monsoon is Drag Race royalty – and not just because she snatched the crown in season five. With a name partly inspired by Jennifer Saunders’ Absolutely Fabulous character, Edina Monsoon, and a persona she describes as “Disney evil queen in the disguise of your sexy stepmom”, she remains a thrillingly singular proposition. Who else would choose to impersonate down-at-heel American socialite Little Edie in Snatch Game? Who else could make that character work?

Jinkx is also a major live draw who is about to tour the UK and North America with BenDeLaCreme, a fellow Drag Race alum known for possessing rock-solid comedy chops and a unique worldview. Ahead of the The Return of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE! – to give their festive tour its full title – Jinkx answers 50 questions about everything from getting sober and getting married to, well, getting her wigs cleaned. As you’ll see, she’s as quick and eloquent as the school debating champion, but much less entitled.

1. Where are you right now?

I’m in Portland, Oregon, which is where I was born and raised. Previously I lived in Seattle for 12 years and then San Francisco for just about two years. It was unrelated to the pandemic that I moved back to Portland, but because of the pandemic I’ve really settled in again, so I’d be hard pressed to ever leave.

2. What will you be doing after this interview?

Another interview. It never stops!

3. Why do you and BenDeLaCreme work so well together?

We have a shared aesthetic, we’ve been through similar life experiences, and we’ve known each other long enough to be completely honest, upfront and candid with one another. But also, just the base fact that we are drag queens with similar mission statements and goals. And we’re both really fucking good at drag.

4. How do you make the yuletide gay?

By leaning into what’s always been there. You know, the holiday season is inherently fabulous and spectacular and performative. And costuming and decorations is a big part of it. It was always gay; we just weren’t allowed to talk about it for so long.

5. Is Mariah Carey the true Queen of Christmas?

Objectively, I think I have to say yes, because we all know that song. But for me, my queen of Christmas is Judy Garland forever.

What did you learn growing up in the Pacific Northwest? “That everyone should have an unquestioned freedom to be who they are, without so much debate about it”

6. What is the best thing about touring the UK?

Nowadays, it’s seeing my husband, who lives there, and working him into my tour plans. We’re used to making the most of my time in the UK. But also, I was raised on British comedy and film and TV, so there’s a special kind of shared language when I perform in the UK.

7. How did you meet your husband?

He is British – extremely British – and we met in Manchester while I was on tour in 2019 with my music partner Major Scales. It was a chance meeting that led to, well, marriage. 

8. What is the best thing about being married?

Not having to worry about whether I’ll ever meet anyone who will put up with this. Now, the trick is just to not push him away. But if he’s made it this far, I think it’s safe to assume that he’s in it for the long haul. And vice versa, you know, because being married to a British person comes with its own trials and tribulations.

9. What did you learn growing up in the Pacific Northwest?

That everyone should have an unquestioned freedom to be who they are, without so much debate about it. You know, I will never understand how governments justify trying to regulate a person’s ability to be their own true self or the decisions they make about their lives and bodies. Being from Portland, I feel like I was raised with so many things being a no-brainer to me. So when I see the way that some people think about certain things that should just be basic human rights, I’m shocked.

10. What would your parents like you to have done for a living?

My mom says she named me Jerick Roman Lamar Hoffer because she thought it would be a good American football name. I don’t know if she foresaw me being a football star, but that dream was quashed the moment I could gesticulate. I think my father would maybe have wanted me to be a mechanic like him. But my aunt was also very much a mother to me, and I’m doing exactly what she would have wanted.

11. What are you most proud of in your career?

Being someone who has helped young people come out to their family, whether that’s as queer, gender non-binary, or trans. And I don’t want to make it sound more altruistic than it is, because I always say the best bonus in my work is getting to help people in certain ways without ever even knowing it. I think that’s a testament to the fact that sometimes just being an unapologetically visibly queer person is doing work to help people. I’ve had a lot of people say that watching Drag Race, and seeing some of the things I put out into the world, helped to build a bridge between them and their parents in a way that helped their parents to finally understand and accept them. That means a lot.

12. Who would play you in a movie of your life?

If it’s a drama, Macaulay Culkin. I think he’s a really fascinating and unique performer. If it’s a comedy, I don’t know, Kathy Griffin.

13. What’s your biggest regret?

This comes with an asterisk, but my biggest regret is not quitting drinking sooner. It comes with an asterisk because I think if I would have quit drinking earlier, I would have missed out on some of the most valuable lessons that now serve me in my current life. I try not to live in regret because even the hardest, toughest moments of my life contributed to me being where I am right now. And that is a place where I’m really proud of myself and really love myself while still maintaining the brand of self-loathing that I’m known for!

14. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Don’t surround yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear. Surround yourself with people who love you enough to tell you the truth.

15. If pushed, how quickly can you get into drag?

If we’re talking bare essentials, [so that] you could point at me and say “that’s a drag queen”, I think I can do it in 55 minutes. And that is 40 minutes for make-up, then 15 minutes to scramble into something that looks like I gave a shit.

What is the enemy of drag? “Ignorance”

16. What’s the one thing you could never do drag without?


17. How often do you clean your wigs?

Maybe three times a year? I used to just, you know, buy new wigs. But now I have so many wigs in the exact same colour that I send them out to other designers to wash and reimagine them. Every year I commission a big new wardrobe of wigs, and then two or three times a year I send everything else out for a wash and restyle.

18. What’s the secret ingredient that turns a good drag queen into a great drag queen?

Self-awareness. I think you have to find that special balance between being so confident in yourself that you can do anything, but also being self-aware enough to know that the work is never done.

19. Has Instagram done more good for drag or more bad?

Oh, more good. I think it’s been instrumental in the progress we’ve seen in terms of the wider acceptance and popularity of drag.

20. What is the enemy of drag?


21. Do you think drag can ever be fully mainstream?

I think in its nature, it needs to maintain an air of being underground, even [when it appears] on the most mainstream platforms. And I think that’s just to say that it must always be for queer people, by queer people. Because it is a unique thing to the queer community. That does not mean that other people can’t access drag, or that it can’t be a part of their lives. Because obviously it can. But it must always be through a queer lens and for the queer community. And then we invite the cis, heteronormative community to share it with us, without taking it from us.

22. Who is the most underrated drag performer you know of?

I don’t want to call anyone underrated, but I’d say Juno Birch because she’s building up her esteem and more and more people are learning about her. And I think she has the potential to do absolutely everything that she could possibly want to.

23. Is there anything you should never make a joke about?

I think there’s potential for humour in everything if it’s done with intellect, sensitivity, consciousness and mindfulness. There’s a way to make a joke out of everything and still remain reverent and respectful of the thing you’re joking about. That said, I think a good artist knows what topics to leave alone for a while. It’s a tricky place to be as a comedian these days. Like, I want to be objectively funny, but I also want to be a mindful, conscious, effective artist. And I think the way you do that is by putting in the work. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can make a joke out of everything. But you really have to put in the work to understand what you’re joking about, so you know how to make the joke in a way that’s contributing to the solution, not the problem.

24. What is the core purpose of comedy?

To make people think in a different way and see topics they already know about from a new angle.

25. How do you deal with hecklers?

I heckle back.

How do you deal with hecklers? “I heckle back”

26. Do you ever get stage fright?

Yes, and it fuels me. Because anytime I feel nervous, it becomes like a personal vendetta for me to do that much more in the performance.

27. What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or heard?

One time I was misbehaving at a family birthday party and my grandma leaned in and very sweetly said to me: “Honey, if you don’t stop behaving like that, Nana is gonna rip your little arm off.” It still makes me laugh now! 

28. Should Jennifer Saunders write another series of Absolutely Fabulous?

No, I think Jennifer Saunders’ audience should accept that she wants to create a new character in a new story, and let her do that. Because when she tried to do that before, audiences were like, “We just want more Ab Fab.” And yes, Ab Fab is amazing – I wouldn’t be a drag queen without Ab Fab – but if this person wants to try something new, we as fans should support that.

29. Should there be a sequel to Death Becomes Her?

No, and nor should there be a reboot. I think with a movie like Death Becomes Her, we should just let it live in its own time capsule and accept that it was already perfect.

30. Who is the greatest pop diva of all time?

Bette Midler. I don’t know if she counts as a pop diva [these days], but I think she was a pop diva when she was at her apex. She is the best live performer I have ever seen, so in my mind she’s the best pop diva even though she now lives in the realms of easy listening and show tunes.

31. What is the best pop song ever written?

Lost by Amanda Palmer. It’s a lesson that you can take into your life set to music – and good music at that.

32. What was the last film to make you cry?

I can tell you that the last TV show to make me cry was Feel Good starring Mae Martin. And they were kind of unexpected tears. I was laughing and laughing and laughing until all of a sudden I was sobbing.

33. What is your favourite video game?

My favourite video game series is the Zelda series because Link is such a hottie. No, seriously, the story of all these mythical heroes and villains being reborn over and over throughout time just resonates with me. And then there’s the fact they’re collecting all these different jewels and gems while this magical music is playing. Everything about it just works for me.

34. Who do you call when you need a really good time?

Lately it’s Bob the Drag Queen. I mean, obviously BenDeLaCreme too, but because we’re both very introspective people, it’s like ten minutes of comedy and 30 minutes of analysis whenever we talk. Whereas Bob the Drag Queen just makes me howl with laughter every time we talk.

How do we end heteronormativity? “Lil Nas X”

35. What’s your worst habit?

My housemates would say leaving wadded up paper towels all around the house. That makes it sound like I’m masturbating all the time, but I’m not.

36. Who hasn’t been done on Snatch Game yet who should be?

Jennifer Coolidge. Oh wait, she was just done. In which case, I’m gonna say Wanda Sykes. Why hasn’t Wanda Sykes been done yet? She’s right there, people!

37. What makes Little Edie an icon?

Her refusal to be silenced.

38. What is the most overrated thing in the world?

Pop music, especially now that it sounds like it’s being generated by a computer in a lab somewhere. I feel like now it’s all about algorithms and what’s gonna get the numbers up and blah blah blah. And I think the answer to that problem is Lizzo. I love it when a pop star actually knows what they’re doing musically, and Lizzo clearly knows music inside and out.

39. How would you explain the concept of gender to an alien that just landed on earth?

Humanity has decided that the genitalia you have dictates the way you should live your life. And it’s a myth that we are now trying to destroy.

40. How do we end heteronormativity?

Lil Nas X.

41. Is bigger always better?

No, not always. But a lot of the time, yes.

42. What is the campest thing you’ve ever seen?

Oh, that came early in life. It was seeing the character Mother Ginger in the ballet The Nutcracker. She comes out in this giant dress and then children come running out from underneath her dress. Now that is camp.

43. Are you a tidy person or a messy person?

Messy. It’s got better over time … but not that much better.

44. What is your most treasured possession?

A ring that I got when my grandmother passed away – it has all of her children’s birth stones set in it. I used to wear it until I smacked my hand against something and one of the stones came out. I have this plan to get the stone replaced, but I know that if I replace the stone and start wearing it again, I’m just gonna do exactly the same thing. I’m too clumsy to wear heirlooms. You don’t wear heirlooms, I think, you just put them on your altar and let them resonate with energy.

45. Of everyone you’ve met, who had the most star quality?

Rhys Nicholson, because everything Rhys Nicholson does is a curated experience from start to finish: the way they dress, the way they style their hair, the way they speak. And they were amazing as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.

What makes a legend most? “Tenacity married with integrity”

46. What makes a legend most?

Tenacity married with integrity.

47. Who is the most rebellious person alive?

Right now, it’s Lil Nas X. But overall I’m going to give it to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, with Lady Bunny right behind.

48. Can you teach anyone to be a drag queen?

No. You have to want to be a drag queen, even if it means sacrificing the ability to be a normal human being ever again. To be a drag queen comes with sacrifice, and without sacrifice you shall always just be a person in drag.

49. How would you describe Jinkx Monsoon?

A Disney evil queen in the disguise of your sexy stepmom.

50. Finally, did you enjoy this interview?

Oh yes, I love answering questions about myself.