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Jinkx Monsoon chooses new name of queenly proportions

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Jinkx Monsoon — Danica Robinson
Jinkx Monsoon — Danica Robinson

The queen of queens, Jinkx Monsoon, the first and only two-time winner of RuPaul's Drag Race, has shared with the world her new personal name: Hera Hoffer. The performer still uses her stage name but said she made this change to reflect her personal identity, which is separate from her drag.

Monsoon, who has been open about her gender fluidity for a decade, has added more recently that she identifies as Trans-femme Nonbinary. This year, she started hormone replacement therapy and underwent facial feminization surgery. In March, she posted pictures of her recovery on social media, sharing that a Trans elder told her, "Jinkx, it's never too late."

She wrote, "I will continue to use my voice till the day I die to fight for everyone, everywhere who is worried that it's 'too late.' We all find our path. We all find our time. You do you, however you want to do you, whenever you can — it's never too late."

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, she opened up about her gender journey, and discovering who she was outside of drag. "I removed all the rules and parameters I had placed on myself," she said. "I've identified as a Trans-feminine Nonbinary person for the last five years or so. And within that self-identity, I put so many rules on myself. My clothing had to stay on one side of androgynous. I wouldn't go too far into feminine. I never allowed myself to wear dresses out of drag in public, because I thought it would attract the wrong kind of attention. Sometime at the end of last year... I lifted all those rules and took a step forward."

She also talked about starting her medical transition, finding that "every day, I just feel like I'm taking strides toward the person I always saw myself becoming."

Alec White Courtesy of Hera  

The name Hera, which is also the name of Monsoon's new fragrance, was inspired by the Greek myths she read as a child. She was drawn to Hera the most because she was "the queen." For those unfamiliar with Greek mythology, Hera was the queen of the gods and wife of Zeus, infamous for tormenting the women her husband had affairs with. Not the most benevolent figure of queendom to be sure, but Monsoon broke this portrayal down in an interview with INTO. "She has a horrible reputation. She's depicted as this envious, rage-filled, naturally evil person, and that's not actually who she was. She was a woman under a certain set of circumstances who did pretty well for herself, I think!"

Monsoon's aim with the Hera fragrance was as much about this reclamation as about sharing some of her gender journey.

"Perfume became important to me when I really started to invest in how I present myself to the world. Perfume became just another way of showing everyone who I am, and I didn't think that it could be so important," Monsoon said in an interview with Women's Wear Daily. "In my own Trans identity... I'm constantly self-manifesting and finding ways to be more myself, to... present myself to the rest of the world so that they see me and smell me the way I want them to know me." She describes the scent as "witchy" and hopes it will attract people of any age and gender.

On stage and screen
Following her first victory on RuPaul's Drag Race, Monsoon became known for her sharp wit and uncanny impressions. A queen of many realms, she appeared in several films and TV shows, produced three original albums, and flaunted her comedic prowess as a host, most recently for the Queerty Awards. Last year, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of starring on Broadway, debuting in Chicago. According to Playbill, the production achieved the "highest selling non-holiday week in the show's 26-year history."

Jinkx Monsoon in Little Shop of Horrors — Evan Zimmerman  

On April 2, she starred on Broadway as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, which was her favorite movie musical as a kid. She was elated to land the role, which she previously felt was "out of the realm of possibility" for her.

Many in the Queer community read the character of Audrey as Trans, even though most major productions have largely cast cis women in the role. In one interview, Monsoon stated, "I'm not intending to play Audrey as a Trans woman — I'm just trying to play Audrey. However, if you see my Audrey as a Trans woman... that's totally plausible!" She does see Audrey as a drag character, "whether a cis woman is playing her or not," and this informed her performance. "I use my life experiences and that knowledge to inform this character," she explained, "but at the end of the day, I'm not thinking about Audrey's genitals. I'm thinking about who the character is and how she fits into this story."

Monsoon said to Cosmopolitan that, as an artist, her mission statement "is to teach everyone who loves theater that what's between an actor's legs shouldn't matter in regard to how well they can play a role."

Monsoon will return to Chicago in June, and will star as a new villain in Doctor Who this May.