Monét X Change is here to have fun, first and foremost. After placing sixth on season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the then-newly-minted Miss Congeniality winner waited a mere two months before returning to compete again on All Stars 4, where she would eventually become the franchise’s first double winner (alongside Trinity The Tuck). Now, four years later, she’s back to compete on the first all-winners edition of All Stars — and though she really wants to win (who wouldn’t), more than anything, she’s dedicated herself to having the best time possible.
But don’t get it twisted. While some people like to have fun by sitting back and taking it easy, this sneaky New York starlet prefers to get her kicks through intricate plotting and very strategic gameplay. Treating her third stint in the “Drag Race Multiverse of Madness” as its own edition of Survivor, Monét has spent the better part of this season forming alliances (trying to, at least) and moving other players around like tiny pieces on her own personal chessboard. Of course, that’s only when she isn’t dominating challenges — like in the first week, when she placed in the top thanks to her incredible performance in “Legends.” And with several weeks left to go, the talented singer, actor, comedian, and self-proclaimed “mover” is showing no signs of letting up.
NYLON recently hopped on the phone with Monét X Change to talk about reclaiming her title as the season’s unofficial narrator, how she felt after “this British bitch” The Vivienne blocked her, why she enjoyed feeling her Survivor fantasy, her upcoming comedy special, and the “shady commentary” Bob the Drag Queen gave her when she became host of “The Pit Stop.”
The show premiered a few weeks ago. How has this entire experience been for you?
It's been really great. When we first filmed the show last year, we all had a good time doing it, but we were concerned about how the fans would react because no one was going home. We were like, Will they be bored with it? But the reaction from everyone has been really great. People are really into it and people aren’t mad that no one's going home. People actually love it more. I don't think they want it for a regular All Stars season, but this feels appropriate and people are really enjoying it — and honestly, when people are liking the show, it makes us enjoy the show more too. So it’s nice that the fandom and the viewing public are really enjoying it.
Well, even though no one is going home, the whole “blocking” element does give this season a certain element of added drama, which I think people are gravitating toward.
Don't bring up the blocking because I'm going to… [Monet takes a deep, irritated sigh] I really want to go and donkey-punch this British bitch for what she did to me!
Well, that’s what I was about to ask. What was going through your head when The Vivienne blocked you? Based on your words in Untucked, you were not pleased.
Well, she did a little Jedi mind-trick. She acted like she was going to give it to Jaida [Essence Hall], but she ended up giving it to me. And when I was holding [the plunger], in my mind, I was thinking, Not this colonizing bitch coming over to my country and shading me on international television. The nerve! The gall! The gumption! But I was gagged.
You know, I had been doing such a good job up to that point tricking the dolls into not blocking me. Like, when Jinkx won, when we were doing our makeup, she was like, "It makes sense to block you or Shea.” And I was like, “Well, I don't know…” and just saying these different things. And Jinkx is so analytical, so she's listening to me, and eventually, she was like, "Well, you do have a valid point.” So I got that out the way. Then, it was Jaida. I had trapped her by the water-cooler, and I was like, "Girl, if you block them," yada-yada-yada. Then I had my alliance with Trinity, as well. So I was doing a good job up until that point. But The Vivienne, girl. She's like, "No, I'm going to get her." But if I get the chance, let me be very clear: I will return the favor.
Do you regret not asking The Vivienne to join your alliance? You asked Shea and Jinkx, who both rejected your offer. But one of the people you didn’t even ask ended up being the one to block you…
I have few regrets in my life. Number one was buying Chromatica Oreos, and number two was not talking to The Vivienne more. But I thought I had some more time! I was trying to make my rounds, and I feel like if I would've gotten to her in time, I would've prevented this. But alliances... Well, it's such a small cast! I was trying to be really tight with who I was talking to, but I guess I made a mistake. I should have spoken to The Vivienne.
Let’s talk about the whole alliance thing more generally. There will obviously always be a benefit to having people in your corner in a competition like this, but you were so quick to plunge into this idea with Trinity, so I’m wondering: Was it all in good fun? (You talked about watching a lot of Survivor during the worst of the pandemic.) Or did some part of you really feel like this kind of strategy was necessary to getting the crown at the end?
I don't think it would be necessary to getting the crown. But this is my third time on the show and I just want to have fun, girl! I want to have the kiki. There's literally nothing for me to prove. I love my career outside of this [show]. Everything's going great. I came back to literally play a game and have fun. That's really the majority of it.
All of us came in like that. We're just trying to have a good time. But I think the word “alliance” scares people because of bad seasons of the show and because of the ones that didn't really work out. I think that word scared the girls, but from day one, I was like, I’m going to lean into this thing. I'm going to fucking make these alliances and I'm going to be the only person that doesn't get blocked. But, alas, my efforts were futile and a bitch got blocked anyway. Blocked as hell. Bald-headed, confused, and blocked.
As you just mentioned, this is your third time back on the show. What would you say has been the biggest difference between your experience in each season?
Whew! Season ten…I was so green in season ten. I had no idea what to expect being on TV. I was like, I can't believe I'm going to see myself every Monday night on TV. It was so crazy, but I went in with no expectations, just being my normal Monét self — and I won Miss Congeniality.
Then, I went back so quickly for All Stars. Some people don't even realize it. Season 10 wrapped in summer 2018 and All Stars 4 taped summer 2018. I literally had a two-month break, and then it aired in winter 2018. It was a very busy year. But I went right back because I was like, I know what I need to change, which is clothes, and then I can secure the bag. So I did that and I won.
And then, coming back this time, I literally already have all the things you can win on Drag Race: Miss Congeniality and the title. So this third time is just to have a good time and play the game, and to just do that. None of us have anything to prove at all. We’re all here just to have fun and because we want to be.
You were in the top two for the very first challenge of the season. How did that feel?
It was really great to come out swinging on the first episode. Music and dancing and writing and song challenges, I love. I really thrive in that, and it was really great that Ru decided to start with one of those. Starting any competition at the top, you're like, I'm sending a strong message, and it definitely feels good to watch that and see people react positively to it. Because there's also that thing where you could win and everybody is like, "Not her." But that wasn't the case, which was nice. People were like, "Yeah, bitch! She turned it! She deserves it!"
Nevertheless, because of these All Stars rules, winning does have a “downside,” so to speak. Do you think getting that first Legendary Legend star put an early target on your back?
It did, but girl, that's when the alliances came in! I was like, I got this star but I can put a little dim on the star with a little alliance talk. And I knew that was a crucial part to my gameplay.
People have once again started calling you the “Narrator of the Season” thanks to your hilarious confessionals. Why do you think you thrive so much in that particular environment?
Well, you know, I really like to talk. I really like to talk — not to hear the sound of my own voice or anything, but I just like to talk to people. It's why my talk show The X Change Rate happened. I have two podcasts. Even when I was a little kid in school, at least twice, bimonthly, my teachers would call my house and say, "Kevin will not stop talking." That has been a thing. It would be on every report card: He's really smart, but won't stop talking. So it's been a character trait of mine since the sperm met the egg.
[laughing] I used to get the exact same comments on all my report cards.
So you identify with this! I love to talk! And I love to make commentary on things I observe. That's always been a thing for me too, so I think that's why I lend myself to being a narrator. But it's fun. I like to talk. And girl, you need someone to talk about the things! Some people are great seamstresses, some people are great roasters, and some people like to talk — and that's me.
I’d say that your passion for talking also helped land you “The Pit Stop” hosting gig for season 14 of Drag Race — and now, it’s possible that you might get an individual Emmy nomination for your incredible work. How does that feel?
It is great. I think “The Pit Stop” has become a staple in the Drag Race Multiverse of Madness, if you will, and that's a testament to how great “The Pit Stop” editing is and to how great the content is that it delivers. [By the time they watch “The Pit Stop”], people have watched an hour and a half of Drag Race, a half-hour of Untucked, and then they are still rabid. Come Saturday morning, if that shit is not uploaded by 9:00 AM PST, buildings and civilizations will crumble. People want to see their “Pit Stop” and I think that speaks to not just how great Drag Race is, but how great “The Pit Stop” is and how well the show is being received by the fandom. It truly is a great thing to consume digitally and everyone should.
Now, there is a new host this season and she's not as pretty as me and you guys will have to suffer through that. I know, I know. But you can't review your own show on “The Pit Stop.” That's not allowed. So muscle through this one and maybe I'll be back in the future.
The “new host” this season is, of course, Bob the Drag Queen, your drag sister in arms, who’s also done it before. Did she give you any valuable advice when you got the gig?
No, because Bob is a hating ass hoe! [laughs] No, not really. Honestly, when I got “The Pit Stop,” Bob was like, “You're welcome.” I'm like, “‘You're welcome,’ for what?" And if you listen to our podcast, Sibling Rivalry, you’ll know this is par for the course — but Bob was like, “Well, how do you think you got it?” And I was like, "Bitch, you did not get me this gig." Bob is like, “But Monét, yes, I did.” And I’m like, "How so?" Bob: “Because I did it.” I'm like, “That does not mean that I got it because of you, bitch! They've been asking me to do it for a while! Whatever.” So anyway, no. Bob didn't have any advice — just some shady commentary that I allegedly got it because of him.
I am so excited for this special. You know, I was very grateful for my career in New York City before getting onto Drag Race. I was working six nights a week and a lot of my shows were just me, by myself — and to be a “working” queen in New York City does demand a lot of comedy chops from you, right? You're on stage by yourself for two hours, with a bar full of drunk queer people, trying to keep them entertained, keep them laughing. That's what I did for the years leading up to Drag Race. I’ve also hosted all of the major tours, all the Christmas ones, the Werq the World ones — and that, again, requires you to be on stage telling jokes all night long.
So I've always had the comedy chops. But this year, I sat down and wrote a bunch of new jokes down on paper. I got my thoughts together and my commentary on them, and I've been traveling around. I've been doing a few standup shows around the country, as well. I did one recently here in LA and it was great — I got some standing ovations. I also did the Just For Laughs Festival. So now, we're putting it all into a special that people can consume, which I'm really excited about because comedy is something that, again, I've always loved. I've always been in the neighborhood of it, but just never called it that. I'm really excited to bring some jokes.
We spoke when you were in New York for the press week, and I remember you talking about this All Stars season providing definitive proof that drag queens can be so many different things outside of just “drag queens.” Hearing you now say that you never called your comedy “comedy” makes me think about that, because I think having a filmed standup special would definitely qualify you as a bona fide “comedian.” Did you ever imagine that you’d get this kind of legitimization for something that’s not “drag?”
That's a great question. The short answer is no. Before Drag Race, I went to school for opera performance and I sang professionally for a while. So really, the only two things that I defined myself as, as a creative, were “opera singer” and “drag queen.” I thought those were the parameters for what all my creativity and all my artistry was. But through drag and Drag Race, honestly, I have discovered, Oh my god, but you're an actor too. And oh my god, you're also a dancer. And oh my god, you're a comedian. So Drag Race has been this very full-circle thing — my gender identity, my expression, and my talents have all come to full bloom through drag.
This comedy special is just one of those infinity stones that I'm collecting to become the full Thanos drag queen. I've checked off the singing stuff and I’ve checked off the dancing stuff. Well, I still don’t call myself a dancer, let's be really honest. I'm a mover. I can move. But comedy, singing, acting, and drag are the things I feel the most strongly about, and now, I’m really coming into my own as a comedian. I'm so happy to share this other side of me and to see how far we can milk that cow.
There's obviously so much more to come from this season, but do you feel like you accomplished everything you would want to accomplish on a third Drag Race run? Do you think you successfully got to show the continued evolution of Monét X Change?
Absolutely. Not even just myself. I really love the work that all these girls did all season long. In this winners season, they really did a great job of trying to show every aspect of our creativity and our talent. Whether you win a challenge or not has no bearing on how good you are at that thing, you know what I mean? It just maybe wasn't the right time for that, or there's so many other factors, or someone just shined a little brighter that day. But we're all still talented in all these areas and they really are showing that to the world. I couldn't be any more grateful.
Drag Race: All Stars airs every Friday on Paramount+.