Jinkx Monsoon carries herself with an elegance and grace far beyond her 28 years, a vision of glamour even as she saunters about a low-lit bar. It’s the same “stage left, off center” kind of quality — the poise and polish of a Southern belle, the whimsy of a classic 1950’s playgirl — that led her to clap hands on the crown (and tug on our heartstrings) on Season Five of RuPaul’s Drag Race. But make no mistake: In all her narcoleptic glory, Jinkx Monsoon is wide-awake and revved up. Today, Jinkx is performing her acclaimed show “Return to Gray Gardens” in Provincetown, reprising her Snatch Game claim to fame as Little Edie Beale.
Even with her back to the bar – without that big, winning smile on her face, or the hand resting ever so gently on her sequined hip – Bianca Del Rio oozes charisma. It’s why fans can’t get enough of that acid tongue she wears on her sleeve. Bold, brash, and armed with a ruthless wit, the New Orleans native and Season Six Drag Race winner eases in and out of her rolodex of hate like a well-oiled machine. With legions of adoring fans and plenty to look forward to on the horizon – from prime time to the silver screen – Bianca’s reign has only begun. Today, Bianca is turning the corner on her final week of “Rolodex” in Provincetown.
I meet the queens for a nightcap at The Art House, a minute’s walk from The Queen Vic. The time is just past midnight, and Commercial Avenue is alive with the sound of Fagbash, Provincetown’s weekly blowout at Club Purgatory. Bianca puts my margarita on her tab (pretty sweet for the queen of mean), and it’s off to the races.
Jinkx: I have to deal with her in my dressing room for another whole week. It’s terrible.
Chris: You two share a dressing room?
Jinkx: We do, we do.
Chris: You’re practically sisters.
Jinkx: We are quite good sisters.
Chris: What were you two up to today?
Bianca: Today I woke up early, and went and had breakfast at some bakery, I don’t know where it was…
Jinkx: The Portuguese bakery!
Bianca: Yes, the Portuguese bakery. But we went and I had a spinach and feta croissant, and then I went back to my hotel room. I have a brooch that I’m sewing — I like projects — and some stones I’m resewing onto a dress…
Jinkx: She also prepares other people’s costumes in her down time. Marilyn Maye, Broadway superstar? She was altering her top tonight…
Bianca: I was.
Jinkx: In her downtime. That’s Bianca Del Rio.
Chris: How was your day, Jinkx?
Jinkx: I slept in ’til three, went to a band rehearsal, sat with Bianca and catcalled for an hour. But you know, it’s just amazing that Bianca still finds time. She fixed Courtney’s wigs and then she sewed up my music partner’s pants.
Bianca: I like busy! I’ve always liked busy.
Chris: Even on Drag Race, you were always helping out other queens when you weren’t sending them packing.
Bianca: Yeah, but it wasn’t an intentional thing. People helped me for many years, so it’s just what you do. It’s not a conscious thing, and by no means is it, “Oh, let me change your world.” It’s going, “You got a hole? Let me sew it up!” And as a gay man, if you have a hole, I might fuck it.
Chris: How were tonight’s shows?
Bianca: For me, it was interesting. I think midway it clicked, but the beginning was a bit harsh. Last night we had a great show, but it happens. You’re only as good as your last show. So in the end, you reexamine yourself. You go, “Did I say this right? Did I set it up properly?” You can’t blame the audience. They obviously care about you.
Chris: And, of course, they love you.
Jinkx: And that’s the mark of a professional. The fact that she said, “I’m looking at myself, I’m looking at my own jokes to see what I can tweak before tomorrow.” That’s the mark of a professional. A non-professional, someone who just found themselves in this career, will blame the audience and think the next night’s gonna be different all of a sudden.
Bianca: But you know, you know as well, every night is different. Sometimes there’s moments when its a seller and you know you’re set, and sometimes in the midst of it, you go, “I’m gonna cut all of this before that to get to that.” What’s great about what we do is if they like us enough to take a chance and watch us, I get a chance to entertain. You may not like it. I’ve had people that have seen me several times and have said, “I preferred you here.” You know what I’ve gotta say? Wa…
Jinkx: Water off a duck’s back!
Bianca: No, not even that! Or as I tell people, “Water off a spic’s back,” which is very different. But it’s like, my version of a good show may mean nothing to them, so it’s where we are.
Chris: How was your show tonight, Jinkx?
Jinkx: Great. Medium audience, large-sized energy. You know, I don’t care about how many seats are filled as long as the audience is having a good time, because I make money off of what I do no matter what. And a smaller audience doesn’t mean a smaller performance. It just means feel this audience, adapt, and fucking give them what that audience wants! And that’s why Bianca’s such a professional. I’ve seen her with audiences that laugh out loud at everything, and then audiences where she has to coax them out of their shell and give them permission to laugh. Giving your audience permission to laugh is something that a lot of newer talents don’t understand.
Chris: We’re sitting in the winner’s circle. How does it feel to have your own golden ticket?
Bianca: I’m one of those people who worked on a schedule for a very long time, and my life was this, this, and this. So to travel the world has been kind of insane. It’s been 58 cities and many countries, and I’m doing two, sometimes three shows a night. To find that hate is universal is kind of magical. I’m most impressed by the fact that I can be at this point in my life, 40, doing what I’m doing, and somebody in Europe knows who the fuck I am. It’s nice…
Jinkx: I always say Bianca is the perfect example of the good that can come out of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Because she’s worked for sixty years doing this, and finally she’s getting her moment in the sun, you know?
Bianca: And you know what’s funny, what’s weird? It’s when I look at Jinkx, and realize she’s spent sixty years in the sun and she still hasn’t even had her moment. It is what it is!
Chris: What are you up to these days, Jinkxy?
Jinkx: Same old, same old. Working on the new album, working on new shows, just trying to keep the momentum of what I built up going, you know…
Bianca: Because the difference with Jinkx and the rest of the other winners is that in the end, with Jinkx, it’s raw talent. And in the same breath, despite the fact that we are very different, we deal with a live audience. We come from theater: me, you, Courtney Act. We do theater. She can sing her ass off and be funny and patter and all that madness, and bring all that Sonny and Cher brilliance. And then there’s Courtney Act, who comes in with something very Kylie Minogue, like Madonna, gorgeous and beautiful…
Jinkx: And then there’s Bianca Del Rio, coming in being hateful and awful for a whole hour, and she sells out every night!
Jinkx: No, no, but the thing is, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it matters how you play the game.
Chris: If you capture the hearts, you capture the hearts.
Jinkx: And you can not capture the hearts and still have a great career afterward, but what Bianca does is she brings the professionally that she always possessed to Drag Race. She never stopped being professional her whole season of Drag Race, and now after Drag Race, she’s doing exactly what she did before, but on a whole new level. And it’s taking something that she’s perfected for years and finally putting it on a global stage… That’s the best thing Drag Race has to offer queens who’ve been doing this for a decade. Or eight.