Words: Stephen M Hornby
Like all great stars who know their true worth, she’s late. A quivering, sweating, wreck of a man runs on stage in what looks like a paramedic’s uniform and collapses in a panic.
He is Major Scales, the lyricist, pianist and performer. She is Jinkx Monsoon. She is in the building. And she is pissed.
Scales calms his terror with a several large glugs of vodka, tidies the set, positions the mic and warns the audience before collapsing again into his panic. The lights change to high drama fabulousness and Monsoon arrives on stage. This girls knows how to make an entrance.
Jinkx Monsoon is best known for winning season five of Rupaul’s Drag Race in 2013, but she has since deployed her considerable creative talents in a series of touring shows, each contrasting to last, all showing off what she’s best at: singing, jokes, impersonations and generally just being a drag queen at the artistic genius end of the spectrum of sassiness.
The show is half touring showcase for the new album The Ginger Snapped, and half a mock psychotherapy session, the kind of psychotherapy where Jinkx downs mouthfuls of Valium with vodka as she answers questions about her coping mechanisms.
But some real darker notes are struck. Jinkx is skilled at letting some of the difficulties of being a drag star show with a sadness and sincerity that creeps out from underneath the glittering drag veneer to just the right degree.
Jinkx is brilliant at taking traditional drag tropes and refreshing them for the moment. She does startling impression of Liza Minelli and Judy Garland, but then throws in a series of jokes about post-colonialism and the correct way to say chorizo.
The mix works brilliantly, with the only rare off-notes being some naïve comments about Brexit politics and a British accent which Jinkx seems to think is way better than it actually is.
The show is very funny. Jinkx works the audience skilfully and her singing is on point all the way through. Major Scales could tone down the gurning a little. He’s a perfectly effective foil but seems unable to deliver even the most simple line without pulling at least three ridiculous expressions. One is fine. Really. He makes up for it though with some excellent musicianship and the witty lyrics that his brings to all the songs.
The Ginger Snapped is exactly what claims to be, a mash-up of album tour and shrink session, a comedy cabaret with a twisted underbelly, and a joking exploration of Drag Race fame which can’t help but make some serious observations.
The category is multi-talented drag queen supremeness, and Jinkx Monsoon wins.
Touring nationally until 4 June. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.