Drag Race royalty Monét X Change on the art of camp and where she disagrees with RuPaul
Monét X Change is already planning her first big outing of 2021: inauguration day.
“I plan on sitting right outside Trump Tower with a f**king bullhorn, a megaphone, and just screaming at the top of my lungs,” she tells PinkNews, following up with her trademark cackle.
Monét will arrive back in the US in January after spending Christmas and the New Year away from home for the first time, in London. When we talk over the phone, she’s quarantining in the capital with her pet cat, rehearsing over Zoom for her new West End show: Death Drop – A Dragatha Christie Murder Mystery.
It’s a fitting end to a year unlike any other, which for Monét began on a high: as Drag Race‘s current reigning All Stars champion (along with Trinity the Tuck), looking at a packed diary of international engagements (DragCon UK, the Werq the World Australia tour to name a few), TV gigs and a wildly popular podcast.
And then – well, you know what happened next. We won’t bore you with the details, instead we’ll skip to the good part: live drag is back, with Monét joined by Courtney Act and Vinegar Strokes in the new Holly Stars-scripted play, which opens 4 December.
During a quick break from learning lines, PinkNews caught up with everyone’s favourite kitchen sponge enthusiast to find out more about the play, camp, representation and where her view of drag diverges from RuPaul’s.
PinkNews: Let’s talk Death Drop! What drew you to the script?
Monét X Change: I love how camp it is. I just love camp by nature. I think it is an art form that isn’t revered as much it should be, because it takes a certain artist to bring a level of camp to life and to give it an irreverent quality.
And this is what this is, in the best way. It’s not like, you know, sometimes we see campy Drag Race sketches and we’re like, literally burn the script, don’t ever anyone speak of it ever again. But this is not that. It just, it really spoke to me. And it’s nice that I’m gonna be able to be on stage again. The only downside is that it’s with Courtney, but you know, you win some you lose some!
It’s exciting to see the West End re-opening with a big drag-centric play. Does this mean that drag is officially mainstream?
RuPaul famously said that drag will be will not be mainstream, but I think Ru was looking at it from a different lens, and maybe Ru’s definition of what mainstream is is different to how the rest of us are perceiving it.
I believe drag is pretty mainstream. You have people like Trixie Mattel who are selling out huge concert halls across the world. Bianca del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen and Peppermint – you see all these queens who are on mainstream media – Courtney Act has done Big Brother, Bob has done so many roles on television… I think drag is kinda mainstream. I think it’s just a matter of time before you see queens being nominated for Oscars for Emmys, Grammys, Oliviers, all that stuff.
Well you were on TV recently, you were in Lovecraft Country.
That was so fun! Myself, Shangela and Darryl Stephens – people may remember him from Noah’s Ark which is a show I was obsessed with as a young Black queer kid. It was like the gay black Sex in the City.
It was a real pleasure to to work with him as now a fully realised queen of my own making. The series ended up coming out like year after we filmed it, so I remember watching it again, I was like, oh God, who is that fat man playing Monét X Change? A lot of people enjoyed seeing us on the air. And hopefully, again, there’ll be more drag representation in shows and on scripted TV shows on HBO, ABC and BBC and all that stuff.
It’s really great seeing not just drag representation, but Black drag representation. It’s been such an amazing year in that respect, especially with Drag Race where we had Shea Couleé and Jaida Essence Hall winning, Priyanka [on Canada’s Drag Race] too.
I think it’s been a long time coming. And I’ve said this before, in the grand scheme of things Drag Race is a pretty eclectic show that tells the stories of so many Black and POC queens. If you look at the winners over half of them are people of colour, which is really great. It’s nice to see that we are snatching trophies too; we’re not just getting the drama and the flair, we are winning as well. I couldn’t be happier or prouder to be coming from a franchise that is telling the stories of so many people of colour.
While the show definitely celebrates its queens of colour, a lot of queens have talked about the fact that there is horrific and widespread racism within the fandom. It isn’t new, and Black queens have been speaking out about it for a while, but this year we’ve seen a lot of white queens and the show itself also addressing the issue in solidarity. Has this year brought any change in the way queens are being treated?
I think there is definitely a shift and a change, especially the conscious fans who are watching the show and follow the queens, who are digesting everything that we’re saying. I think that there is a shift in terms of how they are perceiving us, or how they are interacting with the queens post-show.
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But once you have social media and the internet there is no way to eradicate troll-ism. I think it is fair to say that as long as we have social media, trolling will be a thing. In life, you know, even before social media, trolls would show up to red carpets and heckle and boo you, so it’s always going to be a thing.
But definitely I think in terms of how they’re following the queens post-season, like Jaida, like Heidi, they’re listening to what queens like Aquaria, Trixie, Katya and Trinity are saying. I think that that they’re more in tune. It’s not gone away, but it’s more in tune, and they’re being more gracious in the way that they handle and treat the queens during and after the season. But that’s just my perspective. If you talk to Mayhem Miller or Widow Von’Du, they have different experiences and I think those are 100 per cent valid as well, but from what I see and how I perceive the internet and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, the fans are getting better about it.
When you get back to the US, you’ll be arriving to the dawn of a new presidency. How are you feeling about that?
Oh my God. I am so excited – as as much as the whole world is excited. The whole world is ready for a change. The whole world needs a change, and it’s gonna be amazing. I plan on sitting right outside Trump Tower with a f**king bullhorn, a megaphone, and just screaming the top of my lungs. It was really dark for a while and I think a lot of people we did not see light at the end of the tunnel, we thought this will never be done, this presidency that was four years felt like 400 years. I think the whole earth had a collective sigh. Let’s get him out, and let’s get Biden in and let’s make real change, positive change for everyone.
Monét X Change stars in Death Drop, running from 4 December to 17 January at the Garrick Theatre, London, with a reduced capacity to comply with COVID-19 guidelines. Tickets are available now.