Sapphira Cristál and Monét X Change dish about the aural confections of ‘Soundcake’

Popular drag reality competition RuPaul’s Drag Race has a penchant for creating superstars, and RPDR alumni Sapphira Cristál and Monét X Change are some of the shows brightest supernovas. The two multi-hyphenates exhibited plenty of charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent while on the show, with Sapphira being runner-up and Miss Congeniality on season 16 and Monét X Change, a fellow Miss Congeniality, winning All Stars season four. And while many relegate drag to lip syncing, Sapphira and Monét, both classically-trained opera singers, are proving that the mics are on in their new show Soundcake: Aural Confections by Sapphira Cristál & Monét X Change.

Soundcake marks the debut duet of Sapphira and Monét, as they sing a collection of original pieces and time-tested works that reflect their personal journeys and vocal prowess. Commissioned by Lincoln Center, with director James Blaszko, this opening night performance of Lincoln Center’s “Summer for the City” series will be a night of drag, opera, queerness, and gender expansion. Joined by by the “Queen of Classical Music,” violinist, and Drag Race alumna Thorgy Thor, genre-queer chanteuse Pretty Lamé, and a begowned orchestra conducted by David Bloom, Soundcake will be a performance to remember.

INTO chatted with Sapphira and Monét about their upcoming duet debut, their love for Janelle Monáe’s “pussy pants,” and the hidden talents that might show up during Soundcake.

Hi Sapphira and Monét, congrats on your duet debut at Lincoln Center! How did Soundcake come together?

Sapphira: I’m going to give Mimi Imfurst her due. She said to me, “What are your dreams?” And I said, “I wanna travel the world with a full orchestra.” I had this idea for what Soundcake could be and it was actually my father who passed away two years ago who named it that. Then when I knew I was coming into fame, I was working with my producing partner James Blaszko on my talent for Drag Race and told him about my dream. He said, “I think we can make it happen at Lincoln Center—and we should bring Monét in on this.” 

Monét: Yup, I was sitting at home minding my gay, little business when I got a call from Sapphira and James inviting me to be part of the Soundcake confection! It’s been almost a year of having these meetings, working on the script, and now it’s culminated into this beautiful performance. 

With both of you being classically-trained opera singers, what’s your go-to opera song to sing?

Monét: My go-to opera song is “O Isis und Osiris” from The Magic Flute. It’s the most boring aria and not exciting at all, but it was the first bass role that made me say, “Oh my god, I can sing that!” I just love it. 

Sapphira: I always switch them up, but probably Carmen. The “Habanera” is one of my favorite arias. I really want to play Carmen. Like…a lot. 

As RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, you’ve both been creating queer pop culture moments that will stand the test of time. So for you both, outside of Drag Race, which queer pop culture moment stays on your mind?

Monét: Honestly because she is queer and crowned mother monster by the gays, I think of [Lady Gaga’s] “Paparazzi” performance at the VMAs. It is one of my favorite performances of the early aughts, just so impactful and so crazy. And seeing her do that, it was everything I love. 

Sapphira: Honestly, anything that Janelle Monáe ever does is like my favorite thing in the world. 

Monét: The pussy pants. 

Sapphira: The pussy pants! Honestly, the pussy pants are it, they make me feel fire in places that I’m very happy to admit [laughs]. Really, just anything Janelle Monáe does is the blueprint for “queer iconery.”

Speaking of Drag Race, the show has a dedicated fanbase obsessing over each episode. Which TV show, film, song/album, podcast, or book are you obsessed with right now?

Monét: Well, this kind of is two birds, one stone. But I saw on TikTok the interview of Ru doing, Call Her Daddy. I saw he was on to talk about his book. So I went straight to the pod on Apple podcasts and I downloaded the episode. I’ve said in many interviews, I’m literally obsessed with RuPaul Charles. I spent so much of my TV time with him. I’ve been on three seasons of Drag Race, two seasons of Celebrity Drag Race. And so just hearing him talk about his coming of age and his love, and all that stuff in the interview…which…the interview was so unhinged. And finding out that RuPaul dropped acid every weekend of his 20s.

Sapphira: I remember hearing that. And do you remember their podcast? I would listen to that all the time. I love RuPaul as well. But when it comes to things that are not RuPaul or drag related, I’d say I just love TV. I just love to watch scripted television. Having been on reality television, it’s just not my favorite thing to watch. And so I have been obsessed with Black Mafia Family. 

Monét: I also love Traitors, I’m a big fan. 

Sapphira: I like Shark Tank. I love when you see people’s dreams come true. I just hate it when they don’t get it. 

Soundcake is going to bring many drag newcomers to Lincoln Center. What do you hope attendees take away from your performance?

Monét: For me, I hope that these new drag attendees find an appreciation for classical music that will bloom and blossom. If we can just inject, like, a little appreciation and desire to experience more classical music, whether that’s going to a symphony or to see some operas, I’ll feel happy.

Sapphira: What I want from the attendees is a true appreciation for the artform like Monét said, but also—I want to remind people that even though there might be things in life that people don’t like as much as you do, just live it out as much as you want. I hope that they get that from us. Opera is not in pop culture as much as it once was. And I think that just because it’s not in pop culture doesn’t mean that it’s not something that deserves to still be enjoyed, and that if you like it, then love it and get into it. Wholeheartedly live your dreams out. And if your dream is something that everybody else does not really get into as much, it’s still your dream, baby. Enjoy it.

Lastly, drag artists are typically “performers of all trades,” unleashing many hidden talents when the time is right. Any other hidden talents that might show up at your Lincoln Center performance?

Monét: I don’t think any of my hidden talents will come out at Lincoln Center. 

Sapphira: She might put her fist in her mouth, but that’s not a hidden talent. 

Monét: Maybe my hidden talents will come out at The Box at 2am [laughs]. But people will see us singing some opera standards, singing some pop music, and singing our own original music with a full orchestra. This is something that I don’t think queens have really done before. And with Lincoln Center, definitely never. So we are breaking new ground.

Sapphira: Yes, I think the hidden talent is that we’re doing something that has never been done before.

Soundcake: Aural Confections by Sapphira Cristál & Monét X Change premieres at Lincoln Center on June 12.

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