Performing since age 16, Jinkx has come a long way since puttung herself through college by working as a janitor. Ironically, it was a more recent trash-y moment when Jinkx realized her potential in earnest. “I didn’t really fully understand where I was or what I was doing until the third day there when we were digging through the dumpsters [to find materials to design our runway look],” she recalled. “That’s the first moment it clicked in for me that I was in the biggest competition for any drag queen.”
A relative newcomer in a workroom full of pros, Jinkx kept her aspirations contained to surviving until Drag Race‘s signature Snatch Game. Once there, she blew the judges away with her uncanny impression of Little Edie Beale from Grey Gardens. Her final breakthrough came during a top-five challenge when she had to design a drag look for a military veteran. Her partner Dave — the oldest veteran in the challenge, who’s also living with AIDS — “gave me that last boost,” said Jinkx. “He told me he saw something really special in me, and he told me all these stories about how he was fighting for equal rights and the gay rights movement. He gave me all the motivation and all the spirit that I needed to carry me through that last stretch. That’s when I really had the fire under me to win. When I made it into the top 5, I thought, ‘There’s no excuse for me not to go for it now. I have to try to win this thing.'”
And so she did. But there’s no rest for the narcoleptic. Next up, Jinkx heads back to Seattle to play Velma Von Tussle in a concert production of Hairspray. Later this summer, she’ll return to New York for a limited engagement of The Vaudevillians, the one-act musical comedy she cowrote with Richard Andriessen about two Vaudeville stars cryogenically frozen then thawed out to perform for modern audiences.
From trash to treasured, “I can’t think of a more parallel Cinderella story,” said Jinkx. Before Drag Race, where she was so often dismissed as nothing but a comedy queen, Jinkx admitted, “No one had ever asked me, ‘Can you be a glamorous, gorgeous beauty queen?’ When they threw the challenge down, all I wanted to do was rise to the challenge. Now I look at that, and I’m thankful for it. Who knows where I would be if I hadn’t gone on Drag Race and gotten that kick in the rear to step it up to the next level? Now that I have, I’m loving every moment of it.”
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