As she opens tonight’s sold-out show at Assembly George Square Gardens singing a jazzy version of Red Hot Chilli Peppers’s Give it Away, Jinkx Monsoon already proves that she isn’t just any interchangeable lip-syncing drag act. Yes, she is one of the most recognisable alumni from reality TV megahit RuPaul’s Drag Race, and was – spoiler alert – recently titled ‘Queen of All Queens’ after winning an All Stars: All Winners season of the show, but Jinkx doesn’t need to rely on this for one moment to shine. She touches briefly on her new crowning – how could she not? – but, apart from a few clever references here and there, avoids making this show a behind-the-scenes hour of gossip. And that would have been easy.
Instead, the dazzling drag queen presents an old-school cabaret set mixing unexpected covers, crowd work, fun choreography, and standup. She is dressed head to toe in scarlet, like a bejewelled homage to Goldie Hawn’s Helen in cult classic Death Becomes Her – a film Jinkx has previously parodied. This is a tightly rehearsed routine, with every song choice and punchline carefully curated. Even when she goes off-script for some ad-libbing it’s delightful and there is never a moment of dead air.
Interestingly, most of the song choices aren’t cheesy pop hits or showtunes but rather rock and indie tunes – Death Cab for Cutie, Gary Jules, David Bowie – transformed marvellously into what sound like Vaudeville ditties or Broadway classics. As well as Jinkx’s soaring, spiegeltent-shaking vocals, all of this is supported by incredibly talented musical director Major Scales, whom the star has worked with since her early days. The songs are clever choices that tie into some of the gloomy themes of the show, but that also rouse the audience.
The comedy itself touches on gender politics, climate change, and mental health, but most of the topics are light-hearted, and even these more weighty subjects are treated with a wink and fresh, funny perspectives.
It’s clear from She’s Still Got It that Jinkx Monsoon is the real deal, legitimate beyond the reality show that has made her a household name. Yes, Jinkx, a decade after winning your season of Drag Race, you do still got it.