Interview with drag queen and cabaret performer Jinkx Monsoon

"I've wanted to be a performer since I could talk. It's just always been so clear to me that this is what I'm meant to do – so I've been finding any and every excuse to be on a stage since childhood."

Interview with drag queen and cabaret performer Jinkx Monsoon

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I am Jinkx Monsoon, internationally Drag Queen and Cabaret Performer. Beloved (or at least tolerated) by many. I'm best known for my original Musical Cabaret shows and for my two stints on a little show called: RuPaul's Drag Race... No spoilers, but I did alright. 
How would you describe your show?

It's part Stand Up comedy, part Rock Concert, part Vaudeville-- all served to you through a Drag Queen's unique perspective. If you're a fan of Drag, we got you covered. If you're a fan of Cabaret, we've got you covered. If you're not a fan of either, gimme an hour of your time and I'll change that for you. You can expect lots of wonderful music, plenty of raunchy humor, and a drag queen who never disappoints.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I'm thrilled at the chance to showcase our talents amongst so many other talented performers. I love a festival, especially one of the fringe variety. There's always an electricity in the air, and where-else can you fill a whole week with amazing, eclectic, original shows in one city?

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I would say, the renown and prestige that surrounds it. In my work, the moment I mention I work Cabaret, the immediate response is: have you ever been to Edinburgh fringe? For many years, I've heard magical tales about this festival – it's kind of become a thing of lore to me, and I can't wait to finally experience it for myself.
What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I've wanted to be a performer since I could talk. It's just always been so clear to me that this is what I'm meant to do – so I've been finding any and every excuse to be on a stage since childhood. When I first discovered Drag, and the Drag Queens who've already carved a path out for the theatrically oriented Drag Queens, such as myself – I knew that this was the medium within which I'd like to work. Varla Jean Merman, Lady Bunny, Dina Martina... to name a few... These performers showed me how to combine Drag, and theater, and music, and sheer idiocy into one performance. So I heeded the call, and the rest is herstory.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

I am very lucky to have been raised in a wonderful place to be queer in America: Portland Oregon. The Pacific Northwest of the US, in general, is a magical place. That, with a former education in Musical Theater, set me up to make the most of my time on television. I may work in comedy (filthy comedy, at that) but I have a true love for the classics as well, particularly Bertolt Brecht and Jean Paul Sartre, who's influence can be seen in much of my work. 
What is your earliest childhood art memory?

I made a home video of me singing "Beauty and the Beast" a la Angela Lansbury, multiple times, in its entirety, as I dedicated each performance of the song to a different family member.
If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

My Plan B was to teach English, hopefully, interpreting Shakespeare, in school. Maybe I'd be doing that... or maybe I'd have a restaurant.
Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now?

I believe my approach shows the same way, with a new mindfulness of the collective trauma we, as a planet, have been through. I know that people need a brief escape right now, but also we need to laugh at all of this. I know laughing at some of my biggest problems was the only way to survive them. So I hope to provide a little levity, and a different perspective to my audiences, so we can get through this confusing time as a community. I know one thing that has increased, is my gratitude for the fact that I get to do what I love, as much as I get to. I think audiences and performers alike are grateful to have each other in their lives again.
Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Surreal, magnificent, terrifying, worthwhile.
Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’?

I believe that community viewing the art gets to decide how important that art is in their lives. I want to say "Cancel culture is bad for culture" because we've seen attempts to erase history and culture for very evil reasons. However, I fully endorse an individual's right to not endorse something they don't agree with.
If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

I think I'd have to say Lucille Ball... or Jennifer Saunders... or could it be all three of us working on something together? I think I've learned most of everything I needed to know about comedy from these two spectacular people, and a chance to riff with for an audience of any sort, would be a dream come true. 
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Some of the most brilliant shows I've ever seen started out as really really stupid ideas.
And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Follow me on Instagram @theJinkx and you'll find my link tree in the bio which will lead you everywhere else!


See Jinkx Monsoon: She’s Still Got It! With Major Scales at the Assembly during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 6-21 August. For more information and tickets visit www.edfringe.com or www.assemblyfestival.com

Header Image Credit: Jinkx Monsoon

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

We need your help supporting young creatives

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Tom Inniss

0 Comments

Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like

Dreamcoat Stars

Dreamcoat Stars

by Libby Hall

Read now