In 1989, RuPaul got her first big break cameoing in the B-52’s “Love Shack” music video. Now, that moment comes full circle as the band’s frontman Fred Schneider joins Drag Race season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon on “She Evil,” a track from her latest album, The Ginger Snapped. Monsoon tells Billboard that she and her musical partner, Major Scales, share an appreciation for the new wave band and wrote the track as a homage to them.
This isn’t the first time she has collaborated with Schneider; the veteran rocker co-wrote and featured on “The Bacon Shake,” on Monsoon’s 2014 debut, The Inevitable Album.
“Fred comes to pretty much every show we do in New York and he’s been a pretty big supporter ours,” Monsoon shares. “He came to The Vaudevillians when we did it in New York five years ago and we’ve been pretty good friends with him ever since.”
Today (July 20), Monsoon releases the song’s music video, and it’s campy, fun and full references
“At first, I just wanted to recreate Ann Margret singing “Bye Bye Birdie” from the movie. I wanted the music video to be me dancing around in a big blue room with a camera following me, all in one shot,” the drag performer says. But the video’s director suggested they add a couple other homages to some Monsoon’s favorite female performances. Monsoon decided to pay tribute to Madonna and Azealia Banks.
“I just think that music video is one the most brilliant music videos ever,” Monsoon says Banks’ “212.” It’s such a simple concept but it’s done so well. There’s something about watching Azealia Banks scream into that boy’s face as he just nods into the camera that inspired me so much,” she laughs.
“I’m a little nervous because there’s been some controversy with Azealia Banks recently and I hope she’ll see it as an homage and not an attempt to rip f anything,” Monsoon explains, acknowledging the public feud between Banks and some her Drag Race sisters that went down in early June. “This video was an attempt to celebrate iconic female performances that I love.”
“Drag queens, our whole art form is about taking inspiration from artists we adore. The whole act lip syncing is about celebrating a piece music that you love. It’s easy to see it as drag queens ripping f things -- and there are some queens that rip f things -- but I think the smart drag queens are paying homage to performers that they want to celebrate. Everytime I have paid homage to some artist, specifically this music video, I always try to keep it on the air doing a spo or a parody to celebrate the music video rather than just ripping f something I like.”
As for Madonna, Monsoon first discovered the power Madge during her Ray Light era. “I didn’t really grow up with Madonna as a sex symbol as she was in the '80s. I grew up with the more mature, retrospective Madonna. When I found the “Human Nature” music video as a teenager -- I’ve been a drag queen since 15 -- I just loved that music video so much because it’s such a celebration her femininity and her sexuality. I thought it was so powerful.”
Monsoon is taking The Ginger Snapped, a cabaret show that features all the music from her latest album, on the road through the U.K. Then, at the start 2019 she will begin filming in a new Peaches Christ production film, titled Slay Gardens.
“It’s based f our Grey Gardens comedy show that we’ve done for years. It’s about me and Peaches Christ basically playing Big Edie and Little Edie for 40 years until we kind degrade into the characters,” Monsoon explains. “And it’s also a kind murder mystery.”