It’s been three days since the Drag Race All Stars 7 finale, but the memory of runner-up Monét X Change’s final performance has not faded one bit. Her showdown with eventual winner Jinkx Monsoon to Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” was the culmination of a string of thrilling moments created by Monét this season, including a campy Ella Fitzgerald lip sync, a viral dance challenge, and a live classical aria. But it’s not even the first “break the internet” moment for the Brooklyn queen. Way back on her first season, Monét gagged the Drag Race fandom with her game-changing rendition of Nicki Minaj’s “Pound the Alarm,” featuring the fake split heard ’round the world.
Four years later, with Monét having just completed her third (and her last) season of Drag Race, she spoke to Vulture about how to craft an iconic performance, what it was like being on the first “nice” season of Drag Race, and why the only reason she’d return to the show would be to whoop Bob the Drag Queen’s ass.
You absolutely destroyed that final lip sync. How did it feel watching back? And how did you feel with the final result?
It felt so fucking good watching that back. When it comes time for the lip syncs, especially the final final one, everyone — camera guys, the crew — floods into the soundstage to watch. The energy was so powerful. I was so proud of everything I did. “Pound the Alarm” used to be my favorite lip sync, but this to me has gone light-years above that. I was so, so, so proud of all the little gags and tricks I did. The ones we were able to catch on-camera and the ones we didn’t.
I watched it four times, probably even more. You brought up all the tricks you did. Ever since even seeing you at Industry Bar in 2015, 2016—
— it’s something that’s in all your performances. There’s an incredible amount of precision and specificity in the choices you make. It’s always well-paced out and intentional.
Yeah. The reason why Sasha Velour’s rose-petal thing worked was because it wasn’t just some crazy gag she did for the sake of doing a gag. It made sense with the lyrics of the song. I always think that going in, I want to do things that make sense with the song.
The lipstick thing I did [referenced] BenDeLaCreme, Jinkx’s friend. I was thinking, I should do a lipstick moment, but no Wite-Out is allowed near the Drag Race set. [Laughs.] So I said to a PA: “Do you mind getting me some white nail polish? I need to touch up my nails.” Then I took the white nail polish and wrote Jinkx’s name on a lipstick. The money part made sense with what Nicki was saying, and the ballroom moment at the end was a callback to how I found my queer culture sneaking into balls and queer functions back when I was 13, 14 in midtown and Chelsea. That’s when I discovered what queerness was, what drag was. This being my last time on Drag Race, I just wanted to wrap everything up in a nice bow.
This is your third season of Drag Race.
I can only imagine it’s exhausting, it’s expensive, it’s time-consuming. What keeps you coming back?
I don’t think I’d ever come back again. They hit me up for this during season three of the pandemic. The pandemic made me miss performing, and they got me at a really vulnerable point. But I can confidently state I have no desire to go back to Drag Race again.
If they’d asked a month later, you’d have been like, “No.”
Yeah. Full tea, I turned down some really big opportunities that summer to do Drag Race. But now? No, I can’t think of a single scenario where I’d do it.
Well, maybe that answers this question, but both BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx have discussed this “RuPaul’s Best Friend Race” idea —
No? Outright no?
No. You know what, here’s the only way I’d do Drag Race: a ten-episode arc of just me and Bob [the Drag Queen] doing Drag Race together. That’s the only way I’m coming back.
Is it both of you competing against each other or just, like, a talent showcase?
Oh, yeah, it’s me and Bob competing against each other, and it’s me whooping his ass every week. Making him my son, as Nicki Minaj would say.
This felt like a very kind season. No one got negative critiques, no one was eliminated. How did you feel watching it back? Do you think it would work going forward?
When we were filming, we were like, “Girl, this ‘nice nice’ shit … The fans are not going to like this.” Come to find out, everyone really enjoyed the positivity, so I guess we were wrong! [Laughs.] But I think it only works for this format; you can’t do this for a regular season. You have to do something to separate the winners of your show. A different set of rules for a different machine. I think it works for this. I’m curious if they try it for a regular season of All Stars, would it have the same reception? I don’t know.
You had this amazing opera moment this season where you flexed a skill that we hadn’t seen you do on this show so far. What’s your advice to queens coming onto the show who want to try something that they’re passionate about that they think might not be received so well?
Do your thing. I know I can sing really well; I spent enough money in college learning how to do this damn thing. Still in the hole because of it! Go out there and do that thing. I’m happy I sang that aria. I’m getting some really great opportunities to do some fun stuff that I didn’t think that I would ever do in drag.
I’m praying for a Jasmine Rice LaBeija–Monét X Change tenor-bass duet.
Oh my God, you know Jasmine? For those of you who don’t know, Jasmine is an amazing tenor, studied at Juilliard, beautiful voice. I recently saw her at the Shell in San Diego with Megan Hilty. I’m gonna sound like Kanye West: No offense to Megan Hilty, she was great, but Jasmine Rice LaBeija tore it up. The drama of her wings, and her gown, and that crazy beautiful voice. Opera in drag is about to burst onto the scene, y’all are about to gag.
I cannot wait.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.