Ginger Minj may be known as the gospel-loving “Cross Dresser for Christ” on LOGO TV’s RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 7, but this Florida native considers herself more of a performance chameleon and a Broadway girl. “Give me a microphone and let me work,” says Ginger during the interview. “Rest assured it will be funny and inappropriate.”
Born in Leesville, Ginger grew up in the Lake County theater scene and cites performance and entertainment as being the only life she’s ever known. When she turned 18, she sold everything she owned, moved to New York and performed on Broadway. Ginger left New York in 2006 and moved to Orlando, where she became a regular drag performer for the Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Theater.
RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 7 kicks off 9 p.m. March 2. Ginger—whose given name is Josh Eads-Brown—shares her experiences as a Season 7 contestant, the birth of Ginger Minj and her determination to succeed at any female role she wants.
WATERMARK: What first attracted you to drag performance?
GINGER MINJ: I fell into drag accidentally; it was never at the top of my radar, but I’ve always loved women’s roles [in theater] more than men’s roles. After I was cast as a female role in the Orlando Film Festival, I realized I can do any role regardless of whether it’s male or female.
You met your husband while you were living in New York. What did he initially think when you expressed interest in performing drag?
We’re at a very good place with it. There was never a question about whether he was going to be supportive. There was some concern on his part in the beginning because in two previous relationships, the men he dated made the decision to become female after doing drag. It took a lot to make him see I have no desire to become a woman. To me, it’s an acting exercise, a chance to knock down walls and barriers in the acting world. I was the first man cast to play the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. When he came to see me in that role, he saw I immersed myself in the world of this woman and became that character, and he said, “I get it now.”
Was he the one who encouraged you to audition for RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Actually, this past year I worked with one of the queens in New York who I had never met before, and she said, “You need to be on this show; it’s a perfect fit.” I had been a fan of the show since Season 1—a casual fan, not a hardcore one. I love the drama and the costumes. I kind of had an idea of what RuPaul’s Drag Race really was and what it took to get on, and I always told myself I would audition as soon as I felt my personal life was in order. That way, no matter what happens on the show, I’ll have money in the bank, a roof over my head and a husband to support me. It finally gave me that kick in the ass to say, “Maybe it’s time to audition.”
I looked up the application and realized I had about a week to turn it in. I worked for three days around the clock to get the video and 50-page application finished. One day, I got an email invitation to join a Skype interview for the following day, the same day I had a Sleuth’s matinee for 300 elementary school kids. The interview was at 1 p.m. and the performance ended at 12:50. I was in complete drag for all these kids and had 10 minutes to scrub all the makeup off my face, take my hair down, and figure out how to work Skype. When they told me I was chosen as a contestant for Season 7, I literally fell out of my chair and said, “Shut! Up! Really?!”
Did you go straight into filming from that point?
I got the news at the beginning of July and left a couple weeks later to start filming. You’re not allowed to tell anyone you’ve been cast on the show during filming. Part of it is the big secret about who’s on the season.
I heard you told the public you were sick with MRSA so you could keep it a secret. Is that correct?
Well, I actually did have MRSA the December prior. I had finally gotten it under control, but it seemed to be the most perfect cover story to say my treatment was taking longer than expected. And it wasn’t a lie because I had been dealing with it and people knew I was sick. People who had a feeling I was a contestant would stalk every Facebook post, take screen shots on Reddit, and send spies to the club to see if I was there. I got back from filming and the world had exploded with rumors of me being on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
How did your fans react when they found out they were right?
Some of them said, “I knew it! I knew she didn’t have MRSA!” Some said, “She’s terrible and I wish she had gotten MRSA and died.” But at least they’re passionate about it. I’ve probably gotten hate for every single thing I’ve done. I’m at the point in my life where it doesn’t bother me for the most part because I sit and think about where it comes from. With every bad comment, there are 100 good ones.
How about on set drama? Have you had any conflicts with the other girls?
It is chock full of drama! I can’t share it with you; you’ll just have to watch it. I will tell you they pull us from all over the country and us good ole Southern gals here in Florida have a different way of dealing with everyday life than someone from Chicago or Kentucky or New York.
When you put 14 people together who have never met each other, it’s a fun social experiment to see how they’ll react to each other. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. I’ve got that very Southern belle sensibility—I’ll tell them they’re pissing me off but end it with, “bless your heart,” which any girl from the South knows is a polite way of saying “Fuck you.”
But me and the girls are very close. We’re a sorority of drag sisters. We text every day, talk on the phone, and have coffee together every morning. We go through adventures together and have each other’s backs despite any drama on the show.
In your “Meet the Queens” video from the show’s website, you said Ginger Minj is British slang for “red vagina.” I’m dying to know how you came up with your name!
I was still going by my real name until I took Ginger Minj. I was just an actor, not a character yet. Ten years ago, the film director at Sleuth’s found me at a performance. He offered to give me a job as a drag performer and pay for everything I needed for my character under one condition: that I take the name Ginger Minj.
When Sleuth’s first opened in 1986, Simon, an old Scottish character from the Sleuth’s show Squires Inn, went out to mingle before the show. He looked at a red-headed woman and yelled across the room, “Hey Nigel, do you think this one’s got a ginger minj?” The woman, who was British, knew exactly what it meant and punched him in the jaw. The story became a huge legend for Sleuth’s. Everyone knew about it but no one was allowed to talk about it.
I think Ginger Minj fits my persona very well. It’s crass and it’s trashy, but it sounds classy. At least until you know what it really means.
What was it like working on set with RuPaul?
RuPaul is one of the nicest, most nurturing people I’ve ever met in my life. His heart is totally in it and you can tell he wants the best for each and every contestant. When it comes time for elimination, he doesn’t want anyone to go home because he saw something in us. This is exactly what he wanted and is committed to making sure it’s good.
Going on RuPaul’s Drag Race helped me break down the same barriers that RuPaul did. After watching people like RuPaul knock down walls, play any role they wanted to play and be successful, there is no reason I can’t play whatever female role I want.
WHAT: RuPaul’s Drag Race
WHERE: Logo TV
WHEN: 9 p.m. March 2