Jinkx Monsoon talks love for live theater recreations, acting strategies in ‘Drag Becomes Her’

Peaches Christ Productions/Courtesy

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Jinkx Monsoon, longtime friend and collaborator with Peaches Christ, is preparing for the next iteration of Christ’s campy cult film parodies. This time, Christ is putting on a production of the 1992 classic horror film, “Death Becomes Her,” starring Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn. Christ, who is well-known in San Francisco for uplifting the local drag community with her productions, has enlisted the likes of famous queens Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme, along with local queens Heklina and Lady Bear.

Monsoon, who was the Season 5 winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” met Christ in 2013 in the midst of her season’s airing. The two soon began working together on productions. In an interview with The Daily Californian, Monsoon detailed the first show she and Christ worked on together. 

“She thought ‘Grey Gardens’ would be a fun one, and that was before she even knew that I did Little Edie as my Snatch Game impersonation. So when the episode aired, that kind of cemented ‘Grey Gardens’ as the perfect show for us to do together,” Monsoon said.

Monsoon also praised Christ’s open-minded nature and generosity with giving actors creative independence.We really found a great way of marrying our two sensibilities and aesthetics into a cohesive production,” she said.

The unique part of “Drag Becomes Her” is that this isn’t the first time Christ has put on the production in San Francisco. Christ toured the show in the U.K. after it first debuted in San Francisco and is now returning to the city with a new and improved version

Ben and I found a lot of nuance in our performance and a lot of new things to add to the performance since the first time we did it in San Francisco, so we’re really excited to bring it back to San Francisco with everything we’ve learned in the U.K.,” Monsoon said.

Monsoon emphasized her excitement to perform her favorite movie with close friends. “Ben and I — there’s no other way to describe it other than true drag sisters. We are always on the same wavelength; we’re really good at knowing when to steal the spotlight and when to give it to the other person, so with Ben and Peaches, I don’t think there’s any two performers that I’d trust as much as the two of them when I’m doing a drag show.

She also expressed her dedication to channeling Meryl Streep throughout her performance while still making it true to herself. Monsoon said, “I feel like the whole time I’ve been trying to give my performance the same affectations and idiosyncrasies that she brought to the character originally, because Meryl Streep’s performance in this movie is so iconic that if you don’t deliver certain lines in the way that everyone remembers them, they’re going to feel kind of ripped off.

Monsoon highlighted that she is most excited for the shovel fight scene in the movie, in which Streep’s and Hawn’s characters duke it out in a heavily exaggerated and absolutely hilarious special effects sequence. As to why it’s her favorite scene, she said, “I also really love anything where I’m fighting, I guess, (so it) is the obvious answer.” 

But while Christ’s work focuses on staying true to “Death Becomes Her,” it also strives for originality while appealing to the queer community overall.

“I think Peaches is very careful when picking which movies to do a show of because she specifically picks queer cult films. So all of these movies, even though they were created for a straight audience, they have such high camp value that it feels like they were already written for drag queens,” Monsoons said.

She expressed her appreciation for Christ’s smaller and more intimate shows. “I think I love the impermanence of them. It’s only going to happen this handful of times, so the experience that the audience gets is, like, really unique. It’s not something you can watch on YouTube over and over. You have to make the pilgrimage to the show.

Christ’s productions are especially known for highlighting local talent, which is an essential part of making the shows accessible to the community.

“I think in any production it’s important to involve local performers, and I think it’s very, very generous of the local performers to give these shows their all and put so much of themselves into these shows, even with an outsider oftentimes playing the lead,” Monsoon said. “It’s always important for the local audience to realize that they don’t have to wait for a ‘Drag Race’ show to come to town, that there’s really great drag talent already living there.”

While “Drag Becomes Her” may seem like a more sophisticated version of Christ’s productions because of its cast full of seasoned queens, don’t assume that it’ll be devoid of huge amounts of camp. Fans can put their faith in Christ to knock another drag parody out of the park.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].