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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 10, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 19
Condragulations, Jinkx! - Seattle has a drag superstar in the house
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Condragulations, Jinkx! - Seattle has a drag superstar in the house

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

They gathered at Splash Lounge in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They packed Midnight Sun in San Francisco's Castro District. And, of course, they squeezed into Julia's on Broadway here in Seattle. All waited through nearly 90 minutes of contestant interviews, choreographed numbers, and minor bitch-slapping to hear the name of Jinkx Monsoon announced as RuPaul's Drag Race Season Five winner. The love and support for this Emerald City performer was universal, and while she easily had the fan vote going into Monday evening's finale, it was all in the hands of the show's co-creator and superstar impersonator. The title comes with a $100,000 cash prize, an all-expense-paid vacation, merchandise gifts, and a world of future opportunities. I caught up with Jinkx Monsoon on Wednesday afternoon, en route to an appearance in Richmond, Virginia. Here's what she shared with me during a layover in Atlanta.

Albert Rodriguez: You knew all along that you'd made it to the Final Three. Was that hard to conceal from family and friends?

Jinkx Monsoon: It was one of the hardest things I've had to keep to myself because it's not easy making it to that level, as we've now all seen. I was really proud of myself to be not only the first queen from Seattle to make it onto Drag Race, but also the first queen from the Northwest to make it to the Top Three, period, and [the first] campy comedy queen to make it to the Top Three ever. I was really, really excited about that, but it's hard to keep it a secret.

Rodriguez: You surprised a lot of people with how well you lip-sync, beating Detox in that elimination challenge. Have you thought about incorporating that 'Mambo' number into a future act?

Monsoon: Actually, I have created a mash-up number with that song and a comedy monologue by Deven Green that I love to listen to - it's from her 'Welcome to My Home' parody video, from Brenda Dickson's original 'Welcome to My Home' video of the late '80s. I'm planning on performing it on the 13th of this month when we do a big celebration party at Julia's, and a portion of the proceeds from that evening are going to Lifelong AIDS Alliance and Gay City Health Project.

Rodriguez: When and where will you be appearing next in Seattle?

Monsoon: I will be there this Friday, and the celebration party is on Monday the 13th. And then the following weekend, next Friday and Saturday, I'll be hosting 'An Evening at Le Faux,' and then I have a lot of performances coming up in Seattle this summer, like Kevin Kauer's 'Gender Blender Party' [at Neighbours], which is a benefit for Gay City for Gay Pride, and I will be appearing in the concert version of Hairspray at the 5th Avenue Theatre, playing the role of Velma Von Tussle, and on June 2 my music partner and I will be doing The Vaudevillians, our musical original comedy show that we created a couple years back, at the Improv Theatre. I think we have two shows that evening.

Rodriguez: We should also mention the cruise in October.

Monsoon: Yeah, the cruise with Al & Chuck [Travel] - it's an eight-day cruise, I believe, a Caribbean cruise - and if you book through me, you get to have a customized private dining experience and a cocktail experience with me, which I'm not even fully sure what that entails. But I can promise that a cocktail experience with Jinkx Monsoon is one of a kind, for sure.

Rodriguez: What we all saw transpire over many weeks, how long did it actually take to film the whole season?

Monsoon: I think, overall, it was about a month and a half, give or take a couple of days. To make it into the Top Three, you're there at least a month. I think I was there for a month and a half. I lost all concept of time - I refer to it as a 'narcoleptic haze' that I was in. But the hardest thing about that long of a time filming is being away from your family and friends. For me, the most exciting part of the experience was getting to come home and be with all my best friends again.

Rodriguez: The anger towards Roxxxy was widespread, and many people took to social media to voice their opinion. So to clear the air, is this all water under the bridge now?

Monsoon: Oh, yeah. In fact, that was circumstantial, much like my crush with Ivy Winters. That was a circumstantial-situational thing that happens in the heat of competition. Roxxxy and I get along great today. She actually said some of the nicest things to me on the reunion. Not only did she say I was as talented a competitor as her, but possibly even better. You see me gasp for a moment, and that was truly authentic because even though Roxxxy and I had patched things up between us, we were still in competition with one another and that really shocked me to hear something so complimentary and so unabashedly.

Rodriguez: You certainly represented Seattle on the show. You were not only proud to be from Seattle, but you also made great mention of our city throughout the season.

Monsoon: There was a huge amount of pressure that I put on myself, being the first queen from the Northwest because we have a very, very unique style and an all-encompassing drag community in Seattle and the Northwest. We have everything from pageant drag to performance-art drag, drag queens who work primarily in burlesque, drag queens who are stand-up comedians. We're very multi-tasked in this community. And even though I started drag out in Portland, when I moved to Seattle that's when I really felt I'd found what I wanted to do with my art form for the rest of my life. I've been lucky in Seattle - I've not only had a fruitful career as a drag queen, but I've had a fruitful career as a drag queen in theater, this year with Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I played female roles in the Shakespeare Theatre Company and I'm going to be playing Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray. I feel Seattle is this amazing place where you can literally make a career out of any kind of performance art.

Rodriguez: Do people notice you now at airports?

Monsoon: I get noticed here and there. I try to keep a low profile, just so I can make it to my flights on time. I'm a little less unrecognizable out of drag than I am in drag, but I would say once per airport trip someone recognizes me. It's really fun when the flight attendants recognize me because then my assistant and I get real special treatment - they sneak me an extra little bottle of vodka or something like that.

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