Nine down, four to go.
Those hoping Monét X Change would pull a Coco Montrese and survive her third lip sync were met with an unfortunate reality Thursday when Kameron Michaels narrowly edged out X Change for safety in the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
It was a controversial exit, with many on Twitter noting that Aquaria deserved to be in the bottom and others saying Michaels should have went home. Regardless of where you fall, the result was especially unanticipated given the intensity of this week’s lip sync in comparison to last week’s (the season’s double save), which lacked the oomph this one so easily projected.
I mean, light bulbs were shattered.
It’s also worth pointing out that in a season that placed conversations around race within the drag and LGBTQ communities front and center, X Change’s exit means a top eight that was once 50% black queens has been whittled down to a top five with just one black queen, Asia O’Hara, remaining.
Mic spoke with Monét X Change about the elimination and what’s next for her drag career.
Mic: Much as I love you, I’m not thrilled to be talking to you this morning.
Monét X Change: Girl...
Let’s start on a positive note with a condragulations on the timely release of “Soak It Up.” Gotta begin by asking, how are you feeling this morning?
MXC: Honestly, I feel like I did such a great job that I really don’t feel anything negative about what I did out there. I did a great job in the challenge. I did a great job in the lip sync. It’s one thing to watch an episode and think, “Maybe if I did this” or, “If I did that, I’d still be there,” but I really think I did a great job all the way around, and I don’t think anything I would have done differently would have helped me stay anyways. So I really feel like I went out on a high note. The judges loved my look; they loved everything; it was just like, “Girl, it’s your time to go.” Just the luck of the draw.
There are two pervasive sentiments I’ve been seeing online about your elimination. One, that you shouldn’t have been in the bottom to begin with, and two, you did not deserve to be sent home based on your lip sync.
MXC: I don’t think I should have been in the bottom two. I feel like I did the best that I could with this. I’m a 6-foot-1-inch black dude from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and I had this 5-foot-nothing white dude from Jackson, Michigan, so you know I feel like I did the best to make us look like family. And the challenge was not to make twins, it was to be a family, and I feel like we really did that, not just with the looks on the runway and the hair and the glasses, but in terms of us really bonding and sharing that moment and going deeper than just looking alike. And Tyler had his glasses on, he didn’t have contacts, so he had to wear glasses. So I thought instead of just putting him out there with glasses, I’ll put myself in glasses too because I don’t want him to feel weird or awkward or uncomfortable. I did my best to really share that moment with him.
A lot has been written and dissected about the racial optics on the show this season. Three weeks ago, four of the top eight queens were black. Per your elimination last night, we’re down to just one. What are your thoughts on the conversation around race this current season?
MXC: The eliminations are never racial in any way. RuPaul’s Drag Race is probably one of the most ethnically diverse reality competitions shows ever. If you look at the winners, or just the contestants in general, there are a lot of people of color on the show. If you look at season 10 alone, over half of us were queens of color — you have the five black queens, plus Yuhua, Kalorie and Vanessa. We have a lot of queer POC representation on this show.
But I do think the fandom is where the problem lies. There is something to be said that when the cast was revealed, people — not knowing anything about the queens — [looked] at queens like Aquaria, Cracker and Blair, the skinny, blonde-haired, blue-eyed ones, [and thought], “Those are the ones I’m going to root for” for whatever reason. I don’t think it’s an intentional thing, I think it’s a subliminal thing that they don’t realize. Yes, three black queens got eliminated in a row, but I don’t think that’s something the show was trying to do, that’s just how it worked out. And if you look at the show, those things were justified. It’s just how it was.
You got rather misty reading your notes from the other girls at the end of Untucked. What surprised you most about how you thought this experience would play out versus what it was in actuality?
MXC: We go into the show with this preconceived notion of how we think it’s going to go and how we think we’re going to be, but the reality is that this show is a beast. It is very rigorous; it is very hard because you’re constantly working, and not just working on doing the show, but in your brain about how you think you’re going to do this challenge and how you’re going to change it up, and the judges don’t like that I have short hair and how am I going to change that next time to make them like me more. Your brain and your body are constantly working for the show, and you get home at 12 o’clock and you have to be up by 6 a.m. to start, so it’s very, very, very intense.
Let’s talk about that sponge dress, second only to Miss Vanjie by way of mentions this season. You’ve gotten a lot of flack for “trying to make the sponge dress happen.” Monét, why are people so hateful?
MXC: I think that people have this thing, that they feel like I went into this season thinking that I called RuPaul before we started and said, “Hey, for the first challenge, you should make it drag on a dime.” No, that’s not what happened. I did the sponge dress; I loved my look. What happened was pieces of the sponge dress were literally all around the set. When we were all standing in the back, when people were lip syncing for their lives, that little bench, there were sponges all over it. And any time production people were cleaning up for next week there would be more. It was the weirdest thing. Pieces of sponge were all over the set, in Untucked, in the workroom, on the judges’ table. So it became a lucky thing for me.
After the first challenge, I always kept it tucked in my left boob in my garment. The first week I was in the bottom, we were so busy with getting stuff ready for the ball, I forgot to put it under my breast and that’s when I landed in the bottom. And the next week was really hectic going from the challenge right to the runway, so I forgot it again and I was in the bottom again. So I was like, “Oh no, after this day, I will always keep the sponge on me.” And so I did, and [it] was great through the rest of the season until I went home.
I want to get your thoughts on Eureka, who has really polarized the fan base, particularly this week. Why do you think that is?
MXC: Eureka is polarizing because it’s clear Eureka wants everyone to like her, and that’s not necessarily a bad quality. But being a New Yorker and being a young black kid in America, I realized quickly not everyone is going to like you, and sometimes for no good reason. When you see someone wanting everyone to like them, that speaks to a part of them that you realize there’s a need and desire, and people don’t like that because they want you to be authentically you and it comes off as though you are not being genuine. Fans want to feel like you’re being real in a reality competition show.
Who are you rooting for this season now that you’re gone?
MXC: I am rooting for Miz Cracker. Cracker is my best friend for a very long time, and I want her to bring that crown to NYC, henny.
What’s next for Monét X Change?
MXC: I have my Sibling Rivalry podcast popping off, and [Bob the Drag Queen] and I are about to get syndicated, getting repped by the American Media something [laughs]. They want to bring our podcast to a larger audience. Monique and I are about to get our WOWPresents popping. I’m just going to be in people’s faces, and of course you know henny, the music, soak it up. I am a creature of music, so I’ll be having an EP coming out very soon.
Check out Mic’s exit interviews with week one’s eliminated queen Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, week two’s eliminated queen Kalorie Karbdashian Williams, week three’s eliminated queen Yuhua Hamasaki, week four’s eliminated queen Dusty Ray Bottoms, week five’s eliminated queen Mayhem Miller, week six’s eliminated queen Blair St. Clair, week seven’s eliminated queen Monique Heart and week eight’s eliminated queen The Vixen.