Jinkx Monsoon doesn’t just say “Water off a duck’s back” as a catchphrase–they live by it.
Shadow and Act talked with The RuPaul’s Drag Race season 5 winner and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 7 aka All Winners season contestant about that amazing Snatch Game, in which Monsoon gave a magnificent performance of both Natasha Lyonne and Judy Garland. They said they’re glad everyone has loved it, but they’re already moving on.
“I mean, of course, it’s wonderful to see that. I think at my current age and my current place in life, I try to take the compliment and then focus on what’s next,” they said. “I think it is easy to kind of get sucked into the good and the bad. It’s easy to get sucked into people’s opinions of you, whether they’re good or bad. And I think one thing that’s kept me really grounded over the last few years especially is accepting the praise and feeling like, ‘OK, that’s a job well done,’ but not letting that like derail me from my next plan and what’s coming up next for me.”
Monsoon didn’t want their time on the show defined solely by the Judy Garland impression for fear of listening to the hype.
“I think there’s a trap of kind of like getting sucked into your own hype. And so as proud as I am of that–and of course, I’m really, really happy that everyone enjoyed it as much as they did–I’m like, ‘OK, so that’s good. I’m closing the book on that,'” they said. “…Now there’s more [of the] season to come and let’s just hope the love carries out because you know, any human being is subject to making mistakes. We have our good days and our bad days, and I just [have to] to carry on as a human being. So, you know, I love the response and also I’m ready to keep moving.”
Monsoon did say that doing Snatch Game was more worrisome than we viewers probably thought.
“Well, it was nerve-wracking because I put a lot of pressure on myself just doing anything, I even put pressure on myself cooking dinner. So, I had high hopes for myself and a high standard for myself,” they said. “So it was, you know, it was nerve wracking, but every time I got Ru and Michelle [Visage] and Ross [Matthews] to crack up and every time I could feel like the energy around me and was everyone was enjoying it more and more, I’m like, ‘OK, I’m on the right path. I just gotta keep trusting my instincts here.”
Even the shout-out to Dave, a veteran who was a guest on Monsoon’s season for the makeover challenge, was a risk. In the fifth season, Dave talked about his worry that he might have had a hand in Garland’s death by recommending some sleeping pills to her. Monsoon took that moment and used it as a bit of comedy and as a way to let Dave know he doesn’t have to persecute himself for something he had no control over.
“The Dave shout-out was something I had kind of like thought about, but wasn’t going to do it unless it felt right,” they said. “But everything was feeling so good in that moment and I felt like I was in command of my performance. And so my gut told me [it was the] moment to give Dave a shout-out, and I’m so glad that I did because he absolutely loves it. He loves the attention and I’m so happy he had fun with it.
Monsoon is a well-known and respected singer, comedian and performer, but they were apprehensive about coming back to the show. Monsoon eventually decided to do the show because of possible regret.
“Two things can be true. It was a call I was dreading and a call that I was super excited to get,” they said. “I really feel blessed from my time on season 5. And there was a part of me that never wanted to tamper with that, but it was my husband who said, ‘Well, if they’re filming an all-winners season and one day you’re going to be watching it. If you’re not on it, are you going to sit there wishing you had done it?’ So, you know, it was one of those moments where you have to say to yourself, ‘You regret 100% of the chances you don’t take.’ So I went for it. I put all I had into it. I worked really hard to feel ready for it. And, um, yeah, I’m, I’m happy that I did it.”
While Monsoon was absolutely ready for Snatch Game despite their fears, The Realness of Fortune Ball proved what Monsoon said earlier in the interview–that defining your career by your highlight reel can set you up.
“And here comes like exactly what I was just talking about,” they said, laughing. “I had this huge success with Snatch Game. And then, then the very next challenge [has]…my biggest weakness as drag and drag entertainer…that I don’t have a lot of skills when it comes to sewing and designing my own work.”
“I’ve been very, very fortunate. I’ve worked with wonderful designers throughout the years, most notably, The Lady Hyde who creates like 90 percent of what I wear. So I really just tried to think about what was within my capabilities and what’s a realistic goal I can set for myself. But the biggest challenge for me about designing and sewing and stuff is that it’s a lot of monotonous detail,” they continued. “I can get into the weeds when it comes to creating a performance, but when it comes to something that requires digital dexterity and hyper-focus on those kinds of things, I tend to drift off and zone out and kind of lose track of what I’m doing.”
Monsoon was thankful for Trinity The Tuck, who gave Monsoon “a little boost at the halfway point.”
“I was able to at least construct something that I was able to wear down the runway that didn’t fall apart,” they said. “So I’ve got to consider that a victory for me and like I said, no one person is good at every single thing. I’m very proud of Snatch Game. I’m proud of the things you’ll see throughout the rest of the season. Hopefully, we can just look at the ball challenges as, ‘OK, maybe Jinkx isn’t good at designing, but she’s good at other things.'”
While creating a dress was a challenge, Jinkx and the entire cast had a shock of a different kind–seeing Vanna White surprise them on the main stage.
“It was very surreal. She was always on my TV growing up,” they said. “It’s like meeting a mythical figure in real life. But she was so sweet and so kind, and I personally was just happy she was wearing black because my recreation was one of her looks, a Halloween costume that she wore, and it’s not like the most iconic and first thing that you think of when you think of Vanna White. But it was what resonated with me. And when I saw her wearing black, I was like, at least now it won’t seem so far-fetched that I had one of her rare black outfits [made].”
Overall, though, Monsoon is glad to be a part of the series because of the sisterhood they’ve been able to enjoy among their peers.
“Competition can bring out wonderful work. You know, it inspires wonderful work in people, but it’s also a complete minefield and it’s it’s very challenging on the human spirit. So to be able to compete, but also be surrounded by love and support, I think it’s a wonderful testament to the positivity that also exists within the drag community,” they said. “And you know, drag is very much a community thing. Before Drag Race, I didn’t do anything without like the support of my sister queens and Portland and Seattle. And it always takes a village to put together a drag number [and] a look, so having that kind of comradery while competing was so wonderful because it felt like we got to compete with each other rather than against each other.”
“Friendships and bonds were formed during the season that I know will last forever,” they continued. “And we really had each other’s back through the hard moments and really lifted each other up so that we could all be our best selves throughout the competition.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars drops each Friday on Paramount+.