by Steve Desroches
When it comes to Halloween, visions of autumn foliage, inky black skies at night, and leaf-littered streets come to mind. In short, Halloween looks like New England in October. That’s in part why drag-queen superstar Jinkx Monsoon is excited to perform at Town Hall this Halloween weekend. As a lover of Halloween, and a longtime fan of the cult classic film Hocus Pocus, which was set and filmed in Salem, Massachusetts, as was its recently release sequel, Monsoon is looking forward to celebrating in New England and experiencing Halloween in a place that looks like Halloween should, at least according to folklore and Hollywood. She’s only ever been to Provincetown in the summer, save one quick visit during Christmastime, and is eager to see the different animal the town turns into on the high haunted homo holiday. While some drag queens think of Halloween as “amateur night,” Monsoon loves the spirit and magic of the season, with drag queens positioned as high priestesses overseeing a conversion of the masses.
“What I love about Halloween is that it’s the time of year everyone takes a sip of the same potion that drag queens do all year,” says Monsoon. “Everyone taps into the drag queen sensibility.”
Indeed, Halloween does bring out the queen, or king, in us all. And these days Monsoon increasingly appears to be the reigning queen, both figuratively and literally, as since winning season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, in which all the cast members were previous winners of a season of the traditional format, Monsoon is now the “queen of queens.” Since the pop culture phenomenon debuted in 2009, and since Monsoon won the first time in 2013, the show has a whole new generation of fans, many of whom have no access to drag performance any other way than via television or the Internet. This new live show, which Monsoon created here with her frequent collaborator and co-star Major Scales, is titled She’s Still Got It, a wink and a nod to her longevity as well as her reinvigorated celebrity and acclaim.
Seeing the show, its debut, in Provincetown over Halloween weekend will be witnessing the beginning of Monsoon’s second act, or perhaps even third. Perhaps more than any former cast member of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Monsoon can pivot from the narratives and performances on TV to being able to present her own vision and viewpoint without having to repeat or stick to the confines of her television persona. That does take some choreography, explains Monsoon, who now says she must conscientiously mix some traditional standards as well as new features in each show to enchant her longtime fan base as well as those who have recently only become aware of her, many of them young people. Monsoon has been such a fixture of the drag queen phenomenon in this country and overseas for so long, and her drag character oozes and slinks with a sophistication and wisdom of the ages usually found in classy vampire movies. Monsoon giggles that she’s already considered a grand dame of drag, and she’s only in her thirties. But nevertheless, to young fans she’s considered part of an older generation.
“I feel weathered and experienced because I’ve been doing drag for 20 years, but I’m only 35,” laughs Monsoon. “I guess in drag years I feel 40. Drag queens live in half-life. We tend to age faster than everyone else.”
This Halloween show also marks a return to Provincetown for Monsoon, an important place to her professionally and personally. Since making her debut here in 2013, Monsoon spent several years here performing summer long runs, with shows like The Ginger Snapped, Together Again, Again, and the landmark The Vaudevillians, all with Major Scales as well as All I Want For Christmas is Attention with BenDeLaCreme, another frequent visitor to town, for Holly Folly in 2019. And only a few weeks after Halloween the two will hit the road touring with The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, with dates all over the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom. But first, Monsoon is focused on casting a spell on Provincetown this Halloween to revel in a town that has in turn enchanted her upon arrival. In fact, she says it was a bit of a struggle breaking the spell that kept Monsoon here so she could continue to expand her reach and opportunities, though the town will always be close to her heart.
“We took a hiatus from Provincetown because there were lots of things we weren’t getting to experience because we love Provincetown so much,” says Monsoon. “That’s the double-edged sword. You love it in Provincetown and you’re so happy there, but then 10 years go by and you realize, ‘I’ve never been to Scotland!’ So we decided to take a break from summers in Provincetown to do things like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Writing a new show every year is demanding, too, and you have to do that for Provincetown. But we needed to break up the routine and not get too complacent, otherwise we’d turn into fat and lazy house cats lounging around. But we’ll be back for a long residency someday for sure. We love Provincetown too much not to.”
Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales present She’s Still Got It at Provincetown Town Hall, 260 Commercial St., on Saturday, October 29 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets ($75-$200) are available at the Art House box office, 214 Commercial St., online at provincetownarthouse.com and at the door the day of the show if not sold out. For more information call 508.487.9222.