At this point, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing that Jinkx Monsoon (they/she) can’t do. From winning RuPaul’s Drag Race twice, to dominating the Broadway stage as Mama Morton in Chicago, to sci-fi shenanigans in the upcoming season of Doctor Who, Jinkx can literally do it all and do it well. And for their next act, they’re bringing all of the laughs with their new standup comedy special Red Head Redemption.
In this comedy special, Jinkx is an open book. The accomplished drag performer, singer, actor, and comedian merge all of their talents to weave a tale about their experiences as a trans femme, nonbinary, ethical slut navigating challenges with alcohol usage. While you can expect some belly laughs, viewers also get an inside look into her journey of self-discovery, one that leads Jinkx to finding their husband, sobriety, and happiness.
Next month, they’re taking their comedic talents on a 44-city tour called Everything at Stake. Like her comedy special, her upcoming tour will be a mixture of comedy, music, camp, and, this time, plenty of magic. INTO spoke with Jinkx, ahead of the release of her comedy special, to discuss her hilarious journey of self-discovery, items that are inherently queer (like poppers), and whether performing stand up is more challenging than competing on Drag Race.
Your new comedy special Red Head Redemption is a mixture of stand up and musical performance, paired with a hilarious journey of self-discovery. What inspired you to set it this way?
Well, pretty much all my work is some form of narrative. I’ve written a lot of shows. This is just my first swing at a stand up comedy show. In all of my work, I like to take life experiences that may have been difficult when they happened to me, but now I can look back on them and find a comedic lens to look at them through. Then, I like to tell the story to my audiences and bring it all to a point: here’s why you just listened to that ridiculous story about losing a condom in my ass. I like to be filthy and I like to tell really raunchy, dark jokes, but I like to think it’s always with a purpose. I don’t like to shock people just to shock people. I like to shock people awake so that they can hear what I got to say.
Well, you were shocking the masses awake, that’s for sure. From talking about navigating an airport as a trans femme, nonbinary person to your discussion on different kinks, what was your favorite part from your special?
I think definitely talking about the trans femme, nonbinary, trans, et all experience of going through the airport. I think that’s my favorite. It was the newest material. I wrote it specifically for Red Head Redemption. And I worked really hard on it. Little pieces of it had been workshopped in different venues and different shows. But it’s something I’ve been talking about for years, literally for years, about what it’s like to go through the airport and how much stress and anxiety it gives me and how many horrible experiences I’ve had. Everyone who hears these stories is like, “I can’t believe that’s happened. That sounds so upsetting.” And it happens pretty much every time. Something happens every time.
And the airport is just one example. And so I tell other jokes about it, and I make it funny so that we can all be welcomed into this conversation in a non-confrontational way. But I need people to hear that it f*cking sucks to go through the airport as a gender nonconforming person or I have friends who have told me stories, friends who are unclockable trans. It’s not about how well you blend.
It’s just if you are trans and you have to step into one of those machines that scans your body, you just pray that the TSA agent there is going to be cool and just rescan you differently. The best case scenario is that they’ll say, “Should we scan you differently?” And then you have to say to them, “Yes, scan me like this.”
That’s dysphoric for a lot of people, but that’s a best case scenario. Worst case scenario is this TSA agent treats you like you tried to trick them and starts making you a spectacle in the middle of security and starts calling people over and bringing attention to you. I’ve had just awful experiences with that. That’s before we even get into the discussion about the bathrooms. I’m very proud of that section. I just want people to stop and think about what it’s actually like. Not like what people on television are telling you. Think about the day-to-day, monotonous, tedious things that are turned into nail biting, stress inducing, awful moments in our lives. But then I want you to laugh about it, right?
In your special you discuss how different queer things are now appropriated by straight people, like sniffing poppers in the club or eating ass. What are some other things that you feel inherently belong to us?
Oh, Bette Midler. I mean, like all of the pantheon of divas. Of course the straight community can appreciate them, but they are our goddesses and we are their cult. We protect them. So it’s like Cher, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Rihanna. We all might have joint custody with the pantheon of goddesses. I mean, I could literally name all of them. But you know who I’m talking about.
What’s inherently queer? Well, you know what? I think I need to point this out. Horror is inherently queer. Horror and sci-fi, anything with a camp element to it. I’m sorry. If you have a favorite horror movie, if you consider yourself a horror buff, if you consider yourself a sci-fi buff, I guarantee one of your favorite movies, one of your favorite TV shows, you probably don’t realize it, but it was written by or directed by or starring queer people. I’m sorry to break it to you. People were irritated that Chucky had a queer vibe. Guess what? Chucky was created by a queer person.
People were irritated that Doctor Who was taking on a queer vibe. Guess what? It’s always been queer. And your favorite seasons were written by a queer person. I think it’s time for the world to wake up. There is no genre that we don’t have a part in because we have always been here. We’ll always be here. We’re just sick of being quiet about it.
You and so many other drag performers have gone on record denouncing these heinous anti-drag and anti-LGBTQ+ bills that keep popping up around the U.S. Your comedy also calls out these issues. What do you hope viewers of your special take away from it?
I feel like a lot of my audience is going to be happy I get to laugh at some of this sh*t because we’ve been shaking our heads about it for a long time. That’s why I say my humor is dark. Dark, to me, doesn’t mean that it puts anyone down or that it makes people uncomfortable. Dark, to me, means if there’s an elephant in the room that we don’t want to talk about, I’m going to find a way to talk about it in, hopefully, a funny way that can begin the conversation.
Gender reveal parties, I hate that they exist, but let’s talk about them in a funny way. Let’s talk about the best case scenario of a gender reveal party. That’s a bit I was very proud of. I talk about a Portland gender reveal party and the broken expectation of what if someone came out and just started chucking cake at all the people who arrived at the party because they shouldn’t have been supporting a gender reveal party in the first place, motherfuckers. That kind of shit makes me laugh.
I think comedy is a really good way to begin conversations. I think most of my mind blowing self-discoveries began with a really powerful stand up comedy set. Or comedy is just like this palatable way into a new way of thinking, I think, because look at some of our biggest comedians. They’re also some of the most intelligent people. Jon Stewart and Sarah Silverman are two big comedic icons to me. Trevor Noah hilarious and fucking intelligent. There’s a reason why these comedians keep transitioning into places of getting to talk about politics. It’s because to be able to laugh at sh*t, you have to understand it and to get other people to laugh at it. You got to really f*cking understand it.
What do you think is more challenging: competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race, performing on Broadway, recording a podcast, filming a TV show, or performing stand up?
Oh, well, I don’t know what’s the hardest. They all just have their own challenges and their own perks and benefits. I would say definitely one of the most nerve-racking in the beginning was Broadway because for years, being on stage with my own material, if I say a line wrong, I can find a way to fix it. Or if I start a line wrong, I know what I got to say to get to the end. Or if something goes just horribly wrong, I can just throw out the script and just stop and talk to the audience. I feel like anything could happen. But I’ve got it under control.
On Broadway, I’ve got a finite amount of words to say, and I got to convey these certain things. Or if I’m singing a song, the microphone is right here picking up everything. I’m not going to be able to turn away from the microphone if I’ve got to clear my throat or something. So it takes a certain kind of discipline that I hadn’t practiced in a long time. But I got to say, like, three nights into it, I was like, “Oh, I know what I’m doing.”
I’ve just got to be real laser focused on staying present with my scene partners and with what’s going on on stage.
Well, we are all here for the Jinkx Monsoon experience.
Well, thanks. Stick around. I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.
What excites you most about going on your summer tour, Everything at Stake?
I’m so excited. Major Scales and I started creating shows with the intent to tour, the dream has always been to grow it to the point where we would have a full band. And this is our first iteration of that. It’s not only like our first iteration of [the show], but we get to come out with a big swing. We’re thrilled to be partnering with AEG, and everyone from my team to AEG’s team is just ready to give this tour full percentage. It’s just been a really exciting time and I’m excited to take this on tour. I’m excited to do the holiday tour with BenDeLaCreme and then I’m going to go to sleep for all of 2024.
Red Head Redemption is streaming now on VOD.