Ginger Minj dishes on drag and bringing ‘Crossdresser for Christ’ to Florida

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“There’s no accounting for people’s taste,” Orlando-based entertainer Joshua Eads, known worldwide as drag performer Ginger Minj, jokes about his years of post “RuPaul’s Drag Race” success. “It’s gotten crazy. Every year gets crazier.” After finishing the popular drag competition’s seventh season as a finalist and sashaying onto its “All Stars 2” spin-off, Minj hasn’t stopped. She quickly brought her autobiographical, one-woman (but three person) show “Crossdresser for Christ” to fans worldwide and dropped a debut album.

Watermark caught up with Minj ahead of Tampa’s “Crossdresser” stop at the Straz Center to dish on drag, Disney divas and never slowing down.

WATERMARK: It doesn’t seem like you’ve stopped working since “Drag Race.”

GINGER MINJ: It’s really strange. When you get on the show, you’re pretty much told “you have one year to make this thing work for you and then you kind of fade off into obscurity while the next group of girls come out.”

But I realized I had worked seven days a week and had been successful in drag for almost a decade before “Drag Race.” I knew there was some way to take what I was given and parlay it into what I was doing, just on a bigger scale.

What’d you do?

I hustled. I listened to [season 6 winner] Bianca Del Rio, who told me, “Take every booking that you can possibly take, make all the connections that you possibly can and you’ll be set.” And she was right.

That’s exactly what I did for a very long time. I didn’t care what they were paying, where it was or how long I had to travel. I would show up, do the best show that I could and try to build relationships. It completely worked out in my favor. It has grown from doing club appearances to doing world tours of my one-woman show, and doing movies and doing television shows, and all of these things that I always wanted to do but never thought I’d have the chance to.

It’s been a year since “Drag Race” judge Michelle Visage married you and your husband. What was that like?

Michelle and I were working together in Chicago not long after he and I got together. When she met him, she told him she was obsessed with him, that she saw why I loved him so much, that we were going to get married and be together forever.

That’s high praise coming from Michelle Visage.We knew that whenever we decided to get married we wanted her to be a part of it because she was the first one to be so vocal and supportive of us. She was more nervous than we were.

You were dressed as Snow White, that’s a lot of pressure.

It’s hard being a Disney princess.

Fans also want you to play the Disney villain Ursula in a live-action “The Little Mermaid.”

Isn’t that weird how that just kind of blows up out of nowhere? I’m not going to go, “it’s so sweet, and it’s nice that they thought of me for that.” It is, but if you think about it… this role was created for someone like me. It’s originally based on Divine.

If you’re going to cast a drag queen, I’m fat, I’m funny, I’m a villain and I can sing. So I kind of check off all of the boxes, and I think that if I was given the opportunity I know I could blow it out of the water.

Your debut album, “Sweet T,” did just that. What was it like working on it?

It was a labor of love, but it drove me insane. It’s a long album, first of all, with 15 tracks. It’s definitely the Adele album of all the drag albums. I think that hurt and helped it. I did get a four-star review from Billboard Magazine and it’s done exactly what I wanted it to do. It let people see this other side of my talent and let them in a little more into who I am as a person and entertainer.

It was very personal for me, but I very quickly realized I couldn’t go and perform that at 2 o’clock in the morning for a bunch of people at the bar because none of the songs are fun. They’re pretty and they tell a great story, but they’re not fun. They’re not going to get the club pumping at 2 a.m.

You’re also working on a follow-up, right?

I wouldn’t even call it a follow-up, it’s a complete departure. I’m more excited about this one because it’s stupid, campy, fun and clever. It’s called “Clown Fucker,” so it doesn’t get any better than that. I’m really excited about it.

You’re shining a spotlight on your own life with “Crossdresser for Christ.” What inspired that?

We’ve been doing it for the last four years, and we haven’t done it in Florida because it’s personal and about a lot of the experiences that I’ve had coming up here. So it wasn’t something that I was ready to share or put in the faces of the people it was about until recently.

What changed?

We reworked the show and kind of rediscovered something, putting in a little bit more. We found this new love for it and this new energy. It’s very relevant. People are looking for something they can identify with and something they can take something away from. I think this is definitely that show.

It’s been described as a “relig-ish experience.” How would you define that?

There are preachy moments. The whole thing starts with a sermon and a revival, and the story is told through chapters of the Bible—which are actually the chapters of my life up to this point. There are certainly religious moments in it, but they don’t make up the entire story. It’s not about religion; it’s about reconciling all of that with the choices that we do make in life.

What are the challenges of sharing your journey?

There was someone in Chicago who physically attacked me. First they tried to heckle me during the show, which is never a good idea. Don’t heckle a drag queen, because we have faster tongues than you.

I am the most un-athletic person that you will ever meet, but I can run my mouth; it’s the only exercise I get. You will never beat me in that kind of battle. But he tried to physically assault me when I was leaving because he didn’t feel that anybody from the gay community should support religion. My whole thing is I don’t support organized religion, and I’m not saying the choices I’ve made are for everybody. My entire show is about finding what works for you, what you believe in, and applying that to your everyday life.

What’s been the most rewarding part?

It’s cheaper than therapy. It gives you the desired effects—you go out there, you talk about the things on your mind. The show changes every night. The opening segment is me talking to the audience about what’s going on in the world, what’s happening in our lives and how it all comes together to make this beautiful, terrible society. I think that is the best part—meeting these people, hearing their stories and realizing we’re all just a different shade of fucked up.

A number of “Drag Race” girls have come from Florida. Why do you think our state is so popular with producers?

Florida is such a melting pot in general. Everybody in the world comes to Florida, and that goes double for drag queens. You have club kids and you’ve got pageant girls, trans women, gender-fuck drag, you have bio-drag. You have every type of drag. It all just kind of coexists in this beautiful little bubble. You don’t get that everywhere else. You come to Florida and you can find any type of drag you have ever imagined.

“Drag Race” has faced criticism by some who feel it’s hurt local entertainment.

Everything is a double-edged sword. You can’t blame everything on just one thing … you can’t sit there and say “Drag Race” has destroyed local drag. There are times where it probably does detract, because the people who are coming out to the shows do watch drag in their living rooms and get a closed-off view of what they think drag is or should be.

But on the other hand, every time you bring a “Drag Race” girl to these local bars, you’re getting a much bigger fan turnout. So the local queens, I feel like they’re getting the exposure for the people who come to see the “Drag Race” girls and stay to see them.

Why is drag important in today’s political climate?

Drag has always been important in every political climate. We have the distinct ability to take something that is offensive, hurtful or scary and lampoon it, make fun of it and turn it on its head.

What do you want fans to know about what’s next for you?

Oh lord, there’s so much going on. After “Crossdresser” closes in Tampa I’m in New York for the world premiere of my one-woman Divine show. I’m excited to get that on its feet. I did a movie with Jennifer Aniston called “Dumplin’” which is coming out soon. It’s a great movie and I can’t wait for it to come out.

I have a couple of deals with Netflix that are in the works right now, so hopefully you’ll see me on your television screens very soon, and of course my album. Then we’re going on tour and my husband and I have started the process of having a baby, just because we like a challenge.

That’s a pretty full plate.

It’s very full. It’s one of those good, Golden Corral, overflowin’-buffet plates. I’m very excited about everything, I have no complaints.

Ginger Minj’s “Crossdresser for Christ” runs Sept. 8-16 in the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. For more information or to buy tickets, visit StrazCenter.org or DragFans.com.

Looking for something to do? Check out the 2018 Fall Arts Guide available now online for a full listing of events in your area! Live shows, art exhibits and so much more! 

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