Entertainment

Monét X Change is Oversharing

Monét X Change may have been voted Miss Congeniality for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, but gentility and manners aside, she has plenty to say and is taking it on the road with drag sister Bob the Drag Queen for their Sibling Rivalry tour. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Quickly becoming a fan favorite for her lewks, quick wit, and kitchen sponge couture, she has returned to the Drag Race universe for All Stars, guest lip sync assassinations, and tours, and has expanded her brand as an entertainer to not only include drag and reality TV, but consummate podcaster and recording artist. Her bigger-than-life personality and cutting, dry humor started at an early age.

I was very talkative. I was always in trouble for talking. I was definitely the class clown. I would always get in trouble and would always call my house. My mom’s dying wish (well, she is still alive) was for me to stop talking in class and for the teacher would stop calling her at home.

Born a Brooklyn girl, she was raised in Saint Lucia, later moving to the Bronx and literally finding her voice (she’s a bass!) in the world of opera, training at Westminster Choir College, and performing roles in The Magic Flute and La Boheme. The world of opera did not just help her gain a voice but would help in her coming out and ultimately lead to the world of drag.

Opera was like my gateway to coming out because opera was so dramatic. I would use that opportunity to bring wigs and corsets and heels home. And to my mom, it was part of a production and I used that as a way of coming out.

And once an opera girl, always an opera girl. She’s not done.

I didn’t really leave opera. I just took a break. Honey, she’s coming back to opera. After college rehearsing, I would practice for hours and hours a day by myself in a room and it was a lot. Drag allowed me to be a little more with people and presented more opportunities at the time. But I love operas, was my first musical love and I’ve never left. Just took a little nap.

The first exposure Monét had to drag was when Drag Race alum Peppermint came to host an event at Monét’s school called The Student Drag Ball, a moment memorialized in a photo shared with a story during Monét’s one-person show. With the pageantry and on-stage skills learned through opera, Monét would make her drag debut. Did she nail it?

No, no, no. I mean, no. I mean, yes, yes, no. My first drag performance was at Saliva Tuesdays at the Ritz and in New York City where it’s very customary to do mixes. So, I did a mix of Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” into Ella Fitzgerald’s “Stormy Weather” into some other song. It made absolutely no sense. I looked crazy, but I had a really good time doing it and I knew I wanted to do more.

I am very grateful for New York City, for learning to do drag there. I was able to see lots of great drag queens like Peppermint, Candis Cayne, Bianca Del Rio, and really see what they did and saw how they were able to win over a room of drunk, homosexuals with their charm, wit, and personality. And I think I have learned to do that in my career as well.

Monét would go on to win her first drag pageant at the sixth annual Gay Caribbean USA Pageant in 2014, representing Saint Lucia. It would still take a few years and a few audition tapes to get to Drag Race.

I actually auditioned five times before I got on the show. My first time was for Season 6, and it was terrible. I maybe had two wigs and I was living in Portland at the time. But to trick them into thinking I had all this drag, I borrowed a lot from a friend who was in the Portland Opera with me. I borrowed her costumes and wigs and pretended like they were mine. So, my first tape was really bad. Season 7 was a little better and Season 8 was even better. I really thought I was going to get on Season 9. But then Season 10, was the crème de la crème.

Filming her debut season of Drag Race was a learning experience. Fans instantly connected to her energy and even in the guise of her alter ego, she maintains a genuine level of sincerity and truthfulness in everything she does. She is not playing a role, she just IS Monét.

I learned that Kevin aka Monét has a lot to offer the world. And there is no reason to try to go on TV to be someone else that you’re not. The reason you’re cast is because you’re you, that’s what they want to see. So, my first season I felt that from day one. And every time I have gone on, I felt the same way. It has always led to a good result.

I’m not someone who puts on a drag persona. I’m not someone who gets in drag and becomes a character. I am pretty much the same in and out of drag. There are still differences, but for the most part, the same person.

Since Drag Race she has traveled the world with her one-person show, released music that demands repeating, appeared in music videos for Madonna and Todrick Hall, taken part in numerous web series, and crossed into mainstream media for shows like CBS This Morning, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Bachelorette, and even The View.

I love The View. It’s my favorite show. I watch it at least three or four times a week. (Being on it) was great. Whoopi was amazing, Sarah and Sunny were amazing. Every time I’ve gone though, I’ve missed Joy. I’ve never met Joy in real life. I’m kind of upset about that. Joy is avoiding me.

In 2018, Monét joined forces with Bob the Drag Queen for the podcast Sibling Rivalry. With their candid opinions about everything, infectious humor, and ability to read each other for filth in a loving way, the podcast has become a hit. Often asked if they are indeed related, they have become family. Bonding over the inability to style wigs and through conversations amid the many miles driven when one of them actually owned a car in New York City, their friendship goes beyond the Drag Race world and into real life. They may drop in on each other unannounced, borrow gowns and even a Roomba that may never be returned, or offer each other sisterly life advice. This has become a winning match for their audiences.

I think my personality and Bob’s mesh very well. Where he’s weak, I’m strong, and vice versa. I think there’s a really good level of honesty in our friendship, which helps it grow and not to allow things to fester. Bob and I overshare, we overshare on this podcast too much. [Laughs] The good, bad, and the ugly. I think people like to listen to that. They like to hear people putting their real lives out there. I think that’s why reality TV is so successful. So, when you can just stick it in your car, instead of watching The Kardashians, you can listen to Monét talk about her first hookup after Drag Race, which gave her chlamydia in Belfast. Like, bitch, you are tuning in!

The nation may not be ready for their live version of the show hitting the circuit this September.

People are thinking it’s going to be Bob and me coming on stage and just sitting down doing a podcast. No, it is like a full, full show. We have dancers. We have choreography. Bob might do a back flip. I might bring the splits out again. I’ve not done them since the pandemic, but I might be putting some splits back in my repertoire. So, we are going to give them a full show and podcast. It’s going to be crazy.

Does Monét get into shenanigans on the road?

I’m very well behaved. You never see anything about me because I haven’t done anything.

And what does Monét think she and Bob have taught each other through their friendship?

I’ve taught him beauty. Well, he’s still learning. [Laughs] I think I’ve taught Bob a little humility. Bob can be a bit of a showboat, but he has seen someone like myself who can do something well, but not have to put it in everyone’s face. And from Bob, I have learned how to perform. Honestly, I would go to see Bob pretty much every Monday night at his gig at Barracuda, and I learned a lot about how to entertain from him.

With the high exposure of Drag Race and our current attack on the drag world from national conservatives, does she think queens need to use their voice for activism?

I believe no one has to be an activist. If that’s your calling and you want to do that, sure. If your calling is to be an activist, you have a lot to say, then go ahead, go for it. But I think sometimes social media people feel pressure to be activists and they have to speak out or else. No. Not everyone is good at that, and that’s okay. Like if that’s your thing, you want to do it. Sure. But you don’t have to be.

Monet X Change Love Like This video by Bird Lambro Kasum Shaffi

There is no doubt that Monét has taken the spotlight since that first performance at The Ritz. She has successfully established her brand outside of the Drag Race world and now with the success of the podcast, is she worried about saying too much with cancel culture continually standing by?

I mean I speak honestly and sometimes I even apologize afterward if I feel I’ve said something wrong. But I don’t believe in censoring myself in order to spare feelings. Everyone has a politically incorrect thought come into their head and not everything deserves to be on Twitter. But I don’t ever censor myself from speaking out publicly about something because I’m afraid of the backlash.

Along those lines, she has something to say about the backlash the drag community has received for reading to kids in libraries.

We don’t like kids. I don’t like children. We don’t want to be by them. Okay. So why the uproar? So, we will read to them, sure, we will be nice to them, but I don’t want no kids. I don’t want to be by no kids! [Laughs]

Drag is now a mainstream topic. It is now being talked about as a political issue. There are more and more iterations of Drag Race coming out every season. Straight people are now doing drag. Is drag becoming too commercial?

I don’t think drag is at risk of becoming too commercial. I think is a booming industry and there is nothing else like it. You’re going to see a lot of people coming into it and trying to figure out other, different spaces in drag. But I feel the quote, unquote mainstream of drag was bound to happen at some point, but you still have the die-hards who would be doing it still in the darkest part of the club. And that’s the beauty of drag, in my opinion.

With the growing success of Drag Race also comes growing egos and hyper drama from some of the cast members. There seems to be an increased number of social media feuds commenting on each other’s abilities or lewks. Fans have gotten wrapped up in the Twitter drama and glitter-laden feuds. Monét’s take?

I don’t think it’s drag specific. I think it’s in any industry. But when you do these competition shows, there are lots of egos involved, especially in drag. There are many things for people to pick apart – your face, your fashions – and sometimes a little comment will hit the wrong person the wrong way, and they got to let you know, you know? But it’s all humans, not just drag queens.

When asked about what she would be doing if she hadn’t followed a career in entertainment, she was actually speechless. There is nothing else. Entertainment is her blood, music is her soul, and drag is her art. You can meet Monét on the road for Sibling Rivalry, listen to the podcast (they insist on recording according to schedule rain or shine), or catch her pop-ins to the Drag Race world. Beyond the witty comebacks, her message to her fans is sincere.

My message to my fans is peace and love. I know that sounds really corny, but with everything going on, peace and love, but radicalized. Let these bitches know – Tweet about it, post about it – let people know and let your voice be heard. Let them know that this mess is not okay. Period.

You can follow Monét on IG: @MonétXChange

Check out Sibling Rivalry at www.siblingrivalrypodcast.com

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Published by
Alexander Rodriguez

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