'RuPaul's Drag Race': Monet X Change Talks the Key to Lip Syncing, Working With Tyler Oakley & More

Krista Schlueter
Monet X Change photographed on March 21, 2018 at TRL Studios in New York.

On Thursday night, RuPaul’s Drag Race delivered a classic makeover challenge, this time with a social media twist: All of the men the queens were making over were internet stars. After a mini-challenge where the queens got to explore the butch side of drag, each of the girls was paired up with a social media star they had to make over into their drag daughters, introducing them on the runway and dancing together in a “viral video” lip sync to RuPaul’s “Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve & Talent”

After weeks of making it to the top but not quite winning, Miz Cracker and her drag daughter Miz Cookie (Chester See) won this week’s challenge. But Monét X Change and Kameron Michaels found themselves in the bottom two for their lackluster makeovers on Tyler Oakley and Anthony Padilla, respectively. Lip syncing to Lizzo’s self-love anthem “Good as Hell,” both queens worked it out on the runway, leaving RuPaul to shock the audience by saving Kameron for a second week in a row, while sending home lip sync assassin and fan favorite Monét

Monét talked to Billboard the day after her elimination about the key to a good lip sync, dealing with harsh critiques, working with Tyler Oakley and more.

I know it's been a while since you guys filmed, but how are you feeling after watching your elimination?

Oh I still feel the same, I still feel like I did a really good job. Had I gone home in either of the other two challenges I bottomed in, I would have felt really sad, I would have felt very down. But after I rewatched the episode, I was like, "Oh, I fucking turned it out!" I still feel like ... I don't feel like there was anything else I could have done to impress the judges, and I feel like my partner was really happy. I feel like we did have that family resemblance, and I think I did an amazing job in that goddamn lip sync, so I really feel great. I don't feel bitter or sad about it in any way.

I'm glad you brought up lip-syncing -- I feel the need to say thank you for turning out three of the best lip syncs of this season, and frankly, in the show's history.

Thank you, that's so sweet!

With this lip sync, you had that stunt where you ended up breaking the lights at the front of the stage. What happened there, and what were you thinking when it happened?

What happened was, I said, "I am going to injure myself on this runway, and just like when Ru slapped Asia, they'll feel bad that I cut my leg and they'll let me stay." [Laughs] No, but for real, I tried to do a little running split moment, and as you saw, sometimes drag is dangerous. Sometimes you break shit! But the most important part is that whoever was watching it at home, or the judges, or if you were watching it at a bar, wherever you are, is that you got entertained and you had a good time watching me perform.

Well you delivered, girl. How did you cultivate your specific style of lip syncing over time?

A lot of it comes from going out in New York City, just as a wee little drag baby, and watching Peppermint perform, and watching Bob perform, watching these two amazing entertainers do their thing and realizing that ... lip syncing is not about doing a flashy dance move or a cartwheel or the splits to entertain an audience. No, music is so much bigger and deeper than that. So it's about really honing in on what the singer is trying to say. So like, what is Lizzo trying to say in this song? And then really emoting that, and not just going through the same basic motions of some instant dance combo that you learned at a fucking dance class.

Like, a lot of these artists, I know it sounds cheesy, but they give you wings to fly on in their song. The lyrics are often so much bigger than you singing about them, so I really try to listen to what the artist is trying to say. And sometimes there's a really silly moment in the song where you take two hairspray cans and try and color your hair on stage. So yeah, sometimes it's literal, and people will try to overlook that because it's silly. But, I have learned over the years in NYC that an audience appreciates that more when you're really going through a lip sync, and trying to give them something deeper than just the words and the basic things other people would do.

You got to work with Tyler Oakley on this episode, and he became your first-ever drag daughter, as you pointed out. What was he like to work with?

Tyler was so much fun! He was so open to the process, Tyler was literally all about having the best time on the runway. He really wanted to just become a drag queen. And look, the truth is, lots of guys ... lots of guys are still afraid to try on drag. Last night, what we learned through Tyler and through Chester See is that when you break down those walls, and really allow yourself to see a different side of yourself, you really open yourself up to just having a fun, good time and unlocking this beast that was inside of you the whole time.

Now, every week the judges seemed to have something to critique about your runway looks, and you even tweeted about how frustrating that is for you just to watch back on. What did that feel like in the moment?

You know, it was really frustrating, as you said. It was like, "I really just don't get what these judges want from me, what is going to wow them next?" And you know, I don't think I went in with the greatest runways of all time, but ... in the past, I think we can all agree that Drag Race was all about the performance, and more about things that were beyond the runway. Yes, the runways have always been a factor, but Drag Race, especially during Bob's season, or if you look at season 6 — which to me, were some of the greater seasons of Drag Race — it's really about turning it out in the performance, and the runways would just be the icing on the cake. You know what I mean? So, this whole thing with my wigs — it became this whole narrative that I was hearing about "short hair isn't beautiful or glamorous," which I think is completely false. I mean, lots of women in my family have very short hair and they're stunning. Halle Berry is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and she had short hair for a very long time ... until she wore that mop on her head that one year, that curly-ass weave. [Laughs] But short hair can and always will be glamorous. So no, I just really didn't get it at all.

One of your runway outfits we need to talk about is that sponge dress. Girl, next to Miss Vanjie, that is the meme of the season that would not die. When am I going to see you in a Scrub Daddy commercial?

[Laughs] Listen, if Scotch-Brite or Scrub Daddy want to sponsor me, I am open to it. I think it would be a beautiful partnership, they really ought to look into that. People think that I came into this season with a pre-conceived notion of this bit I was gonna do with sponges! And I'm like, "Yeah, I made RuPaul set up that challenge so I can make a sponge dress." Like, no! But the sponges became a lucky thing for me. Like, I would take the pieces on the runway with me and have them under my left boob the entire time. And the first time I was in the bottom, that was the first time I forgot to put it in there. We were so rushed, and it was super hectic, doing all of the runways for that ball. So I left them out and I was in the bottom. And then that next week, we went straight from the challenge to get ready for the runway, and I just forgot, and then I was in the bottom again. So I realized, "Girl, this is your lucky token from the season, you've been spared twice, do not ever leave the sponge off of your person ever again." It never helped me win, but it ended up doing the job by getting me to the top 6.

There was a moment in this episode where Eureka said that she didn't want to see another New York girl make top three. Do you think that there's an unfair stereotype among Drag Race queens about being from New York?

You know, I'd say that New York City, we have the best drag in the world because we are a city where people from around the country, literally from around the damn world, come to be actors, to be singers, to be models, to be dancers, to do all of these things. So we end up getting all of the performers from Arizona, from California, from Wisconsin, you know what I mean? Like, people come to New York City and they end up doing drag. Like, look at Cracker -- Cracker's from Washington, Aquaria's from Pennsylvania, Yuhua's, yes, she's lived in New York since she was a child, but she's from China, Dusty's from Kentucky -- you know what I mean? Like, I am the only person this season who was born in New York City. People come from around the world, and our drag is amazing because of it.

Unfortunately, we become targets as well. New York City has had the most winners of Drag Race. And even these New York winners aren't totally from New York -- Bob is from Atlanta, Bianca's from Louisiana, you get it. So now we've got these targets on our back, like, "We don't want New York to be successful because they win too much!" Well you know what, bitch, we're fucking talented and we deserve it.

Speaking of your drag sister, you and Bob have your podcast together, Sibling Rivalry. Where did the idea for that show come from?

You know, people ... we started this podcast because we realized that all of our friends love seeing me and Bob argue. We literally argue all of the time about absolutely everything. It can be something as simple as us going to IHOP, and that becomes a two-hour debate. Everyone always gets such a cackle out of it. So because Bob is out in Berkeley performing in Angels in America, I don't get to see him or argue with him as much as I would like to. So we said, "Let's do a podcast where we argue about different things. If our friends like hearing us argue, I'm sure the world will too." So it's just us, talking about topics we feel very passionately, and usually very differently about. That's where that kind of came from. It's always at least two hours where Bob has to sit down and talk to me, so I think it's great.

We're asking each of the girls this season -- who is your favorite local queen in New York and why?

Y'all are so shady with this question! Because y'all don't understand that all the queens are going to read this and say, "Oh, so you don't think I'm your favorite, huh?" [Laughs] I would say that I've got two that are my favorites: I love Pixie Aventura and Jasmine Rice. Pixie Aventura is such a fierce performer, she's one of the best performers in New York City. She really is an all-out entertainer; I did a show with her called "The Help" that we did for two and a half years now. I mean, it was a joy and a pleasure to work with her every week, because she inspired me to elevate my drag, and we just had so much fun together. And Jasmine Rice is another opera-singing queen like myself, and she is super super talented in terms of performance and also looks. Plus, she was top three in Miss Continental Plus, and it has never been heard of, seeing a newcomer in the top five in Miss Continental, because it's such a rigorous pageant system. Jasmine is amazing, and I would love to see either of them on the show.

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