Since early November, ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ star Monét X Change has been holed up in lockdown London, waiting for the moment she can break out and rehearse with her fellow queens for their Dragatha Christie murder mystery ‘Death Drop’. Now the government restrictions have been eased, audiences will be invited to join Monét and her co-stars on the fictional Tuck Island for the 1991-set show at the Garrick Theatre, starting this week. While she waited, fabulously, in performer’s limbo, we caught up with Monét to talk about London drag, Birmingham and Joe Biden.
What can you tell us about ‘Death Drop’?
‘Think “Clue” or “Knives Out”, but super-campy and with lots of energy. No shade. I love “Clue” but it’s a little stuffy… “Death Drop” was really taking the best parts of those, injecting a little drag into it, a little more foundation and contour, and making it fun.’
If things were open right now, where would you like to go?
‘A place in the UK I love is Birmingham, not for any reason except I met a lovely gentleman there a year ago and he’s literally the love of my life. He has no idea who I am anymore, I’m sure, but I would plan on going to Birmingham and just standing outside his home and seeing if he’ll open the door and being like “hey! How are you!?”.’
My boyfriend is actually from Birmingham…
‘Oh really! God, Birmingham boys, girl. I’m telling you. He literally changed my life… I may be in love with your husband too, I don’t know, I have to meet him.’
You did a live stream for the American election recently. How did you feel when you got the news Biden was in?
‘It just feels like a new dawning and a new day. It feels like people of colour and queer people, women, indigenous folk, all these people can breathe and sleep a little easier now that this maniac psycho moron is leaving the White House. Now he’s saying he’s not leaving… Girl, I will literally show up to the White House in six-inch stilettos and drag him out by that goddamn wig on his head if he doesn’t want to go. He’s leaving: ding dong, the witch is gone.’
We heard you’re a trained opera singer. Will there be a ‘Death Drop’ solo?
‘I don’t sing in “Death Drop” unfortunately… An opera with drag queens, I mean, I’m waiting for that! I think the UK is the perfect place to have it done and give a little Covent Garden moment.’
‘Death Drop’ is set in 1991, when you were only one year old. What was child Monét like?
‘I was a pretty precocious kid. My mom was born and raised in St Lucia – she still lives there – which is [in the British] Commonwealth, so a lot of the things you guys have here I had growing up, like Milo and Weetabix and Ribena. A lot of the things that are British are in St Lucia. My mom also adopted a lot of the British things too, I feel, in her raising me. I feel at home here. I always say, if I live in New York, I could most definitely live in London – not lockdown London! – but I could definitely see myself living here, I just love it so much. Little Kevin – little Monét – would like that as well.’
Are there any UK drag queens you’d love to see on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ in the US?
‘Crystal Lubrikunt. I think that she is really talented. She also uses her platform not just for artistry and her drag but to be vocal about politics. I don’t subscribe to the belief that everyone has to be political. There’s this thing like, as soon as someone identifies as trans, everyone wants them to be this great activist. If the person chooses to, sure, but just because that is your identity, doesn’t mean you need to speak for the community. But Crystal is someone who does speak about politics, I really admire that about her.’
What would you like to see people reading and watching, beyond ‘Drag Race’, to learn more about drag culture?
‘I would really implore people, if they really are invested in drag, to take the next step and look outside drag to the trans people and people of colour who have been doing it for so much longer than lots of these queens, because that’s where you really get the essence of the culture. If you really consider yourself connoisseur… go see where it really really truly came from: trans people from the late ’80s and early ’90s and vogue culture and ballroom culture. That’s where drag culture is deep seated.’
You do a lot of a ‘Drag Race’ meet-and-greets, do you ever get sick of them?
‘The real answer is, what I don’t like is when they put the meet-and-greets after the show, because I am a pretty enthusiastic, energetic performer. If I have a hard thought I start sweating, so after I perform, prancing on the stage, cartwheeling and doing whatever, then you want me to meet someone afterwards? This person has just paid $150 to take a sweaty, gross looking picture of me? That is what really gets me.’
Okay, so in ‘Drag Race’ terms, what do you think of London: TOOT or BOOT?
‘London is an absolute SHOOT. My husband is from here, I’m hoping to find him in the next month and half. Or two months. I fucking love London. I honestly might move here.’
What would you BOOT about London?
‘Oh, the ice! I have been here for a week and I cannot find any ice. I have Uber Eats’d, I have Deliveroo-ed, KFC, McDonald’s. I don’t have an ice tray in my fridge. What is with London and ice?’
You need to go to the small cornershops – where you find the Goodfellas pizzas, that’s where you’ll usually find big bags of ice.
’Okay, that’s good to know, thank you! So I can go to one of these shops – are they like bags of ice?‘
Yep, big bags of ice!
‘Huh, okay. Good to know! This is probably the most useful advice I’ve gotten ever.’
What do you feel is different about the London drag scene?
‘You guys are so irreverent. I think in New York people are super-duper PC and so worried about how they are perceived. In the UK, you guys live freely, you aren’t bogged down by that. Also, in the States, everyone has a fucking broom up their ass… When people need to be called out and people do wrong things you’re like “Hey, that’s not cool”, but for the most part, you guys let artists be artists.’
‘Death Drop’ is at the Garrick Theatre Dec 4-Jan 17 2021. From £20.
Find more London Theatre shows still happening in 2020.
In other theatre news, a Bob Marley musical is coming to London in 2021.