If there’s one thing that Ginger Minj taught us during her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race, it’s that you should never underestimate a comedy queen. With a long career in comedy, theatre and pageantry, Ginger Minj shot straight to the top of the competition and finished as a finalist. Never mind the fact that missed out on snatching the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, though; she’s not letting it slow her down.
In truth, Ginger’s career is only beginning: On top of the mountain of bookings she’s received since her time on the show, she’s appearing in stage shows, running her one woman show Crossdresser for Christ and even starting her own music career! With her soulful debut single Ooh Lala Lala already circulating the internet, it’s only a matter of time before her mysterious debut album is unleashed onto the world, giving fans worldwide that extra Minj experience that they’ve been so desperately waiting for.
In the not-so-quiet space between the single and album, we asked Ginger about her experience on Drag Race, her musical background and exactly what we can expect from her upcoming musical projects.
Michael Smith: First thing’s first: Congratulations on making it to the top 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race this season! How are things for you personally now that it’s been a few months since the finale aired?
Ginger Minj: Things are amazing! I’m the happiest, healthiest, and most productive I’ve ever been. Even when the schedule gets a little crazy, or my skin threatens to revolt if I shave one more time, I can’t help but feel blessed and grateful for this amazing opportunity!
MS: How did it feel to be the first self-proclaimed “big girl” in the top 3?
GM: It felt amazing! I wanted to get to the top because of my talent, not my size; but to be able to achieve that and still represent for such an amazing, beautiful group of big boned gals was the icing on the cake. Mmmm… Icing.
MS: Who are your main style inspirations when it comes to your drag? How much do you think it helped you throughout the competition?
GM: I’ve always had a very classic aesthetic… Adele, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins to name just a few. While I love vintage fashion, I think it sometimes hindered me on the runway because I was too afraid to go outside of my comfort zone. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to take more risks. Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks! Embracing that has been very freeing.
MS: How has your career changed since being on the show? Would you say it was worth the trouble?
GM: My mother called me not too long ago to say, “It took you 30 years to become an overnight success!” I’ve worked and scrimped and sacrificed my entire life to be an artist. To achieve recognition and respect on an international level for doing what I love is a dream come true! I work almost every day and I am so, so, so grateful for that blessing!
MS: Your main talents are music and comedy; both traits that were held in high regard throughout a season full of those sorts of challenges. Can you tell us about your musical past?
GM: I’m a theatre baby! Musical theatre literally saved my life when I was growing up. It provided me with a safe environment to experiment and express myself without being persecuted for it. It allowed me to escape my own personal demons and slip into someone else’s world, even if only for a little while. It taught me how to be responsible and punctual. And most importantly, it taught me to not be afraid of my emotions. I doubt I would be alive today if I hadn’t had musical theatre in my life.
MS: Did these traits and your experience make your time on reality TV as easy as it seemed to viewers?
GM: Absolutely not! The work I did on the show was some of the hardest, most nerve wrecking work I’ve ever done! In theatre you get second chances, on television it’s one shot that’s preserved forever. I tried to stay focused (sometimes to a fault!) and saved my tears for my pillow at night.
MS: You’ve definitely been making use of these talents outside of the show, too: You’ve been performing your off-Broadway musical Crossdresser for Christ over the past few months on top of other bookings. How different is Crossdresser from your usual shows? Is it something you plan to continue performing?
GM: CD4C is such a cathartic journey for me! It’s my life story set to some of my favorite songs. I talk about things I’ve never even told my therapist! It’s funny, it’s awkward, it’s sad and I’ve learned that it’s a story anyone can relate to. Sometimes it’s a little mind-boggling to switch gears and go back to my club gigs because it’s a complete 180! But I’m an entertainer, performing is what I love to do. Whether it’s theatre, clubs, birthday parties or an impromptu lipsync at the Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m all in!
MS: Are there any other plans for stage shows that you can tell us about?
GM: There are and lot of fun things in the works, some of which I have to keep tucked under my wig for now! CD4C is currently booking for its second leg of the tour, my Christma-Hannu-Kwanzaa-Ka Eggstravaganza is premiering off-Broadway in December, and I’ll be spending the month of October playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter in an all new production of “Rocky Horror” at the Woodlawn Theatre in San Antonio, TX!
MS: You’ve also started a music career! You released your first single Ooh Lala Lala back in June, using it as a platform to address the negative criticisms you received during your time on Drag Race. How does it feel to be able to use such a widespread public forum to address these issues?
GM: It’s so important to acknowledge negativity in a positive way. The song isn’t just about my struggle. It’s something that everyone can relate to. We’ve all been misquoted and misunderstood. We’ve all been on the receiving end of bullying and backlash. It’s not the things that are said about us that defines is, it’s how we respond to it that does. And it’s just a really fun song!
MS: You went with a very theatrical gospel sound on Ooh Lala Lala. Would you say these styles of song are your main inspiration when it comes to performing? Is this the style you feel most comfortable with?
GM: I like to describe myself as the musical love child of Jennifer Holliday and Meatloaf! Gospel, Broadway and southern rock have always been the genres I connect to. I’ve gotten more comfortable stepping outside of my box, but those will always be home for me.
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MS: You’ve mentioned that there’s a full-length album in the works, too. Is there anything you can tell us about that? Is it going to be in the same style as Ooh Lala Lala or are you open to experimenting?
GM: I am sooooo excited for this album to drop! We have really been taking our time, making sure we do it right, because you only get one chance to make a first impression. There’s some soul, some pop, some rhythm and blues and a couple of incredible duets with Jinkx Monsoon, Margaret Cho and Carnie Wilson. They’re all unique, but they go together so beautifully. I can’t wait to share our labor of love with the world!
MS: Have you got any collaborations planned, either with other queens for music or for something more performance-oriented?
GM: Aside from the ones I’ve already mentioned, there are a few more big surprises on their way! Stay tuned…
MS: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!
GM: Always my pleasure. Thanks for thinking of me!
Ginger Minj’s debut single Ooh Lala Lala is now available on iTunes.