TV

Ginger Minj: “All Stars” Season 2 “Was Such a Traumatic Experience for Me”

"My whole life was in shambles at that time. I should not have done it."

Ribbit ribbit, the Glamour Toad jumped from the lily pad back to the workroom!

Ginger Minj, one of the biggest stars to come out of RuPaul’s Drag Race, has had a long herstory with the franchise. She first competed on Season 7, only to lose out to Violet Chachki, and she then returned for what many fans believe is the greatest season of Drag Race: All Stars Season 2.

For All Stars Season 6, the Orlando comedy queen leapfrogged back into the workroom for a third attempt at the crown. Just like before, Ginger didn’t snatch a spot in the Drag Race Hall of Fame, making it to the final four but ultimately losing to Kylie Sonique Love.

Throughout the season, it looked like Ginger was the one to beat. She never let the stress of the competition get to her, not only winning Snatch Game but constantly bringing lewks and laughs to the runway every week — and her Lizzo “Phone” lip-sync is one for the herstory books.

Ginger spoke with Logo about returning to the Drag Race franchise yet again, bonding with Eureka, and how she almost impersonated Ross Mathews for Snatch Game.
 

You were on All Stars 2, which many regard as the best season of Drag Race. Did you ever think you would return for another All Stars?

Absolutely, 100%, because that was such a traumatic experience for me. My whole life was in shambles at that time. I should not have done it. I knew in my heart I didn’t want to do it. But the way that everything was being thrown around behind the scenes, it was like, “All Stars 1 was horrible, nobody liked it, so we’re going to try this again, but this is probably going to be it.” So it was like, “Well, it’s now or never. I guess I have to go back if I ever want to do this again.” Not knowing, of course, what it would turn into and what it has become since then. But I should not have done it. I mentally was in a bad spot. I’ll just put it out there. I was very suicidal at the time, and I couldn’t get out of my own way, so I knew afterward that could not be the end of my Drag Race story. I knew that I would go back one day. I had been asked to come back a few times, but I always said, “I’m not going to go back until I have something new to offer.” And the pandemic really forced me to. Once all my gigs were canceled and I found myself putting on digital shows in the garage, in front of my cell phone, trying to scrape together a couple of dollars here and there. I found myself going back to my childhood theater days and my first days in drag, where you’re just digging through boxes of crap in the garage and trying to put together something spectacular. We were doing this a couple of times a week, and I went, “I am having so much fun. I feel like I have found my love for drag again, my love of theater, my love for just being creative.” And I thought, “Well, that is what I have to share with the world now that is different than before.” So when they called this year, I said, “Yeah, I’m ready. I think now I have something fresh to offer.”

It’s funny that you mentioned you were having fun when you started doing drag again in your garage because it seemed like you were having fun this season, even though it also seemed tiring and stressful. Is that accurate?

Of course I was having fun! I mean, there were moments that were less fun than others. For the most part, we were just a group of entertainers who had been sitting alone at home. Our jobs are social. We are social creatures. We hadn’t had any kind of interaction with anybody. We haven’t been able to just dress up and put on a show for our friends, so it was nice to be in a room with people who understood. We were so excited to be there, and I think that’s why the vibe of this season is so different than any other season, particularly an All Stars season. It’s not as cutthroat because we all wanted to be there, and we all wanted to keep everybody there the whole time because we were just happy to be around people.

What was it like getting close with Eureka? It seemed like you two bonded.

We did, which was very surprising because we have a rocky history. We ran in the same pageant circles for years before either of us were on Drag Race, and we got along very well. Having been in the game a little bit longer than her, she would always tell me, “I look up to you,” which is so funny because she was 12 feet taller than I am. And then I got on Drag Race, and I sensed some kind of, not jealousy, but envy. Like, “I’m happy for you, but I wish it was me.” And then she got on Drag Race, and the fan base kind of exploded in a way. Like, “All right, there’s two plus size sassy Southern girls, and there can only be one.” So they kind of pitted us against each other for a very long time. It was that way on social media; it was that way with bookings, with different promoters. It was that way when we were out of the club doing shows. And God forbid we get booked for the same gig because it just felt like the Sharks versus the Jets in West Side Story. They definitely picked a team for no reason other than they were like, “There can only be one.”

Wow.

So then working on this season, we went into it with the mindset of what the fans had forced on us. Like, “Well, there can only be one. We can’t co-exist in the same universe.” And it was really nice to rely on each other because we understood each other a lot more than I think we realized, and we needed each other. I think that’s why we’re both in the top four: because we were there. When nobody else understood our personal struggle, we were there to help each other.

Have you kept in touch since the season? Are you texting and such?

She literally just walked into my hotel room to steal a pack of cigarettes out of my purse. No, we’re super close. We talk every day.

How does it feel to make it to the final four? It was such a strong season.

It feels great, and it feels scary, and it feels exhilarating. There’s just no way to really put it into words because I’ve been in this position before, and a lot of people thought that I would have won Season 7, and I didn’t. It was very exciting, but it was also very crushing. So I feel like I’m falling back into that a little bit, mentally, just like, “Okay, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” But if this top four in particular… This whole cast — I’m not just going to say the top four — this whole cast is the closest group of girls that I’ve ever worked with. This is my third season. I talk to a few people from Season 7, a couple of people from All Stars 2, but for this season, we have a group chat that we all talk in. Well, I won’t say everybody, but almost everybody is really invested in everybody else’s journeys and successes and everything that they’re going through. It’s a very supportive group for the most part.

It seems like a real sisterhood.

It is. I think it’s because we’re products of the pandemic. We were forced to be close because we were the only people who could be around each other. But it’s so strong. So it’s scary to be in a position where you know that any of you could win and any of you could lose. And being so close to them, it’s like, whether I win or lose, I’m going to be happy and sad at the same time if that makes any sense.

Come on, Kacey Musgraves!

But it’s totally true. I can be happy for me and sad for my sisters, or sad for myself and happy for my sister. I don’t know. There’s just a lot of conflicted emotions. I know this is turning into therapy hour right now, so I apologize.

Hey, I’m into it. I’m here for you. So, you were famously in Dumplin’, a movie inspired by Dolly Parton songs. Were you tempted to give Kylie any pointers for playing Dolly in Snatch Game?

No, not at all. I did give her and a couple of the other girls that had asked me for pointers — pointers on doing Snatch Game, not particularly about characters. But improv is hard to do if you’ve never done it before. So when girls always come to me and say, “I’m going to audition. What should I do?” I say, “You need to take an improv class because you just need to understand what that skill set is.” So I told her, “Figure out the character that you want to do. It doesn’t have to be Dolly Parton per se. It can have the essence of Dolly Parton. But just listen to the people around you and respond to them in a way that would make you laugh. That’s all you have to do. If you think you’re funny, you’re going to be funny.” And it really paid off. I mean, she did a great job. Ra’Jah was another one. She was in that little group, we were having a conversation. And she did such a great job with Latoya as well, I thought. Because Snatch Game is not about looking just like the character or sounding just like the character, it’s about just embodying the essence and having a good time.

Did you have any Snatch Game alternatives?

I had a ton of Snatch Game alternatives. Snatch Game is my favorite thing to do, so I come prepared. I had won a best actress award for playing Roseanne in a live production of Roseanne, so I brought Roseanne with me, but I chose not to do her because politically, I don’t think it would have been a great move. I don’t want to bring too much spotlight to her. So I chose not to do that. I brought Judy Garland, even though I’m not real good at it, which is why I didn’t end up doing it. Ross Mathews, I thought about it. I was going to do Ross Mathews for All Stars 2, but got talked out of it.

Ross Mathews! I would have loved to see that.

I didn’t have enough makeup to portray Ross Mathews.
 

Are we going to see that Glamour Toad entrance look again? Are you going to break that out again anytime soon?

That’s going in a museum. It was so funny how divided America was [on that look]. It got the exact response that I wanted it to get. Because I wanted something that was going to grab people’s attention and make them talk shit about you. Nowadays, everybody just comes in trying to look as glamorous and gorgeous as possible. Girl, I’m going in dressed like a fucking frog. I don’t care, because they’re going to cling to it. And half of the people loved it and half the people hated it. There were arguments about it constantly on every recap show, on every Twitter board and Reddit, all of that shit. People were talking about it. They’re still talking about it. It didn’t stop. It did exactly what I wanted it to do.

According to Bob the Drag Queen, if this season doesn’t win an Emmy, it’s because of your entrance look.

She can suck my tuck.

I love your “Gummy Bear” song so much.

Thank you.

I just put that on repeat. I think it’s so good. And I loved how Ru was singing along when you were performing in the Variety Show, that you got a stamp of approval from Ru.

Which was nice for me because I didn’t see that in person. I didn’t know that that had happened. So to see it in the episode, I was like, “Aw, Mother does care.”

What can we expect from your new country album, Double Wide Diva?

So with this album, honestly, the whole thing was set into motion because of the Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent Monologues episode that we did, which I think is the most incredible challenge that Drag Race has ever come up with. I think it should be on every single season. Because every single one of us got to tell our story in our way, and they were all different, but they all gave insight into who we are outside of the wigs and the makeup.

Wow.

I think it’s an important challenge, and I would love to see that come back again and again. But telling that story, which is something that I’ve held so close to my heart for so many years, I was a little nervous to open up about it. I didn’t know if I wanted to put that story out into the world because it was so special to me. But then getting all the feedback that I got from all of these people that are like, “Oh my gosh, I have a very similar story,” or, “I had a very opposite story, but I wish that mine was more like yours. Yours gives me hope.” It really spurred me to tell my stories — to tell all of the important moments in my life, all the things that made me, me. I got to tell them, and not only tell them, but I also got to tell them through music. That whole album is… I know it sounds so self-serving, but I think it’s just beautiful. I think people who think they know me will be very surprised at the facts of my story.

Well, I can’t wait to hear it. “Walk Tall” is a surprisingly personal song.

That’s the one that I wrote based on the story that I told. I wanted to write it in a very non-specific way. So again, it goes back to that story, but it’s also just an anthem for all of us who felt like the weirdo, the outcast, and the underdog growing up.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."
@chrisreindeer