The drag superstar opens up about finding herself, how far she really made it in the casting process for The Little Mermaid and getting embraced by the country music community.
Ginger Minj is booked and busy these days.
Riding high off “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars 6” — in which she placed second — the drag superstar also recently released a new country album, has some secret projects brewing and a pair of holiday tours on the horizon.
Not too shabby for someone who felt they needed to “fall back in love with drag” just a few short years ago.
Ginger, the drag alter-ego of Joshua Allen Eads, made her debut on the seventh season of “Drag Race,” finishing as the runner-up. She immediately turned around, competed on and performed poorly on “All Stars 2,” before getting her big Ru-demption on “All Stars 6” earlier this year. She may not technically be a winner, baby, when it comes to the crown — but she’s thrilled with where she is now.
“Hey, I’m just so excited to be out of my house,” Minj told TooFab of her jam-packed fall. “I did need some time off to like regroup and kind of fall back in love with drag, but I have done that and I am most excited to be outside talking to people and safely hugging people.”
Explaining why she and drag were on the outs for a bit, Minj said the job can get a little repetitive — “doing the same thing, night after night” at gigs where fans of the show want to see her perform the routines for which she’s known. “It takes the spontaneity out of it, it takes the creativity out of the drag. Just because it’s old to you, doesn’t mean they don’t still want to see it,” she said, adding that sometimes she falls “into this rut where you feel like I can’t really be as creative as I want to be.”
The feeling coincided with her one-two punch of appearances on Season 7 and All Stars 2, with Minj feeling like she had a “very polarizing” reaction from the fans. “You either loved me or hated me,” she said of her Season 7 appearance, “and while that’s good for TV, that’s not good for me or my mental health.”
“So I had to sit back and I had to like really watch it. My grandmother always said you can’t really see yourself until you see yourself through somebody else’s eyes. And that’s what ‘Drag Race’ did for me, it allowed me to sit back and watch myself filtered through somebody else’s reality,” she continued. “And I realized a lot of things about myself that I think I knew deep down, but I had never really come to terms with. And it was just I was very unhappy. And I think that when you have all of those insecurities and all of that unhappiness inside of you, you do project it out into the world.”
Unfortunately for Ginger, she didn’t have that time for self-reflection before jumping into All Stars 2.
“There was so much else that was just like getting piled down on top of me in real life, that I just wasn’t in it, like I never mentally showed up into that workroom, and I’m not surprised that I didn’t do that well,” said Minj, who was the third to be eliminated that season.
The queen said that the pandemic, as awful as it was and continues to be, also provided a breath of fresh air when it came to drag. With clubs across the world closed down, many queens decided to perform virtual shows for their fans from the comfort of their own homes — revitalizing their creativity and forcing them outside of their comfort zones.
“If it hadn’t been for quarantine, I probably would not have gone back to ‘Drag Race,’” she explained, revealing she had been asked to return “a couple of years prior” but turned it down. “But this, I finally felt like I had something different to offer … I felt finally like, oh, I have found the fun in my drag again and I really kind of want to share that with the world. So they called at the right time and I said yes, I will gladly show up.”
“I feel like I really am me for the first time, and I’ve always said that it’s a hard lesson to learn but if you can just unapologetically be yourself, people will connect with that,” she added. “People want authenticity, and I think that’s what the difference was this time, was that I was just authentically myself, good, bad whatever and people really saw some of themselves in that.”
Ginger was considered one of the early front-runners of All Stars 6, a season which included queens like Eureka, Ra’Jah O’Hara, Jan and Kylie Sonique Love, the latter of whom went on to win the whole thing. Coming in second place again doesn’t seem to bother Ginger too much now — as she said the entire cast knew they’d be “happy and disappointed” no matter who won.
“It’ll be hard to top this experience because All Stars 6 was so positive from beginning to end, and it was the first time we got to the Top Four and we looked around and we were like, we don’t really give a s— who wins,” she said. “We’re going to be happy and disappointed either way and it doesn’t matter, because it was fun. I could sit here and try to come up with big words but the only one you need is fun.”
“I think the whole world was pretty much like, ‘I do have my favorite but if any of them wins, I’m totally cool,’” she added. “That was nice to be a part of because … it always comes down to that week before the finale when they put out the #Team This, #Team That. And people get so cutthroat, like, ‘F— that bitch! F— that bitch! She’s the one that deserves it.’ But it wasn’t like that really for this season.”
While Ginger says she never wants to “knock down” fans who have her back, she said they all sometimes have to remind their supporters that their support can come “without tearing everybody else down.” This past season, she added, they didn’t have to do that, because it felt like the fans were kind of rooting for them all.
In a previous interview, Ginger noted that she felt like her storyline on “All Stars 6” was “diminished” a bit toward the end and felt some of her better moments were left on the cutting room floor. When asked to elaborate, Minj pointed to her final interview with RuPaul and Michelle Visage, sharing with TooFab what was apparently edited out of the conversation.
“There was this whole section about not loving yourself, learning to love yourself and realizing that at the end of the day, you can get pumped up by the rest of the world, but if you don’t pump yourself up, you’re never going to be happy, you’re never going to find that peace,” said Ginger. “It was a really deep conversation between me and Ru and Michelle. The cameramen were crying and all of that and I felt like … if you just unabashedly share your truth, open up your heart and share with the world, it can help somebody, and it can change the world.”
“I felt like that was one of those moments that if there was anybody else out there in the world like me, that felt that way and needed to hear that, that could have changed the course of their life forever,” she continued. “This is something that I wish that I would have been able to watch on TV and see somebody that really represented who I was, telling me, basically, this and this and this is something that you can do to make the rest of your life happier and better. So that was the one thing I was really disappointed that got cut out.”
Minj also believes having that part cut out “made my conversation with Ru a little superficial.” She added that she understands edits happen and clarified that she’s “not mad about it” — she just wishes that clip could have at least been released online so fans could see it.
Another title she lost out on — but has a positive spin on — is that of Ursula in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” When the movie was announced, the “Drag Race” fandom made it known on Twitter they’d love to see her as the sea witch, citing the fact the original cartoon was inspired by drag queen Divine. The role ultimately went to Melissa McCarthy, but Ginger confirms she was in talks — and will play the character in an upcoming drag tour.
“I’m going to do the Disney Villains tour, which I’m really excited about. A couple years ago there was that petition that gained a lot of traction online for me to play Ursula in the movie and I didn’t get that,” she said, adding that she still, “made it further than most people think in the casting process.”
After TooFab noted how Gottmik also got a call from “Hellraiser” producers after her killer Cenobite-inspired finale look, Ginger said it’s clear the right people in Hollywood are watching the show.
“[Drag is] at the height of its popularity and I think it’s great because people are starting to realize that we’re true artists, and all of us are different, we have different things to offer, but we can sing, we can dance, we can act, maybe we could do all of these things,” Ginger continued. “I was so sad when I didn’t get cast, I didn’t expect to get cast but I was sad when I didn’t because I was like, oh well there goes my chance. I have had more offers to play Ursula, all around the world, than I probably ever would have if that wasn’t a thing.”
And Disney isn’t the only one who’s taken note of Ginger’s talents — as her new country music career has also not only been a hit with her fans, but a few big name country singers too. In September, she released her “Double Wide Diva” album, following her debut single “Walk Tall” — and has been “overwhelmed” by the response she’s seen for it so far.
“I have had a lot of of country stars reach out to me and I’m not going to say who they are yet because we’re actually in negotiations to kind of do some stuff together now that I’ve gone down this country route,” teased Ginger. “I’m really embracing the country side of myself. We’re working on some projects with them, so it’s always fun when the people that you admire, that you want to work with come to you, because it takes all that begging and pleading out, you know?”
“I always wanted to do country music because that’s what I was raised on, but I always felt like the country world had this immediate aversion to the drag world and vice versa,” Minj continued. “If you love country, you’re probably not gonna like drag and if you love drag, you’re probably not gonna like country. So I had to figure out the way to kind of ease both sides of myself … and I was very concerned because it’s difficult to break into anything new, particularly something that’s not really set up for your success.”
“I’ve been overwhelmed with how much traction it’s gained in the actual country space. I mean it’s being shared left and right, I’ve been doing all these interviews, I talked with with CMT and it’s just being featured a lot,” added Ginger, who said she even asked one country reporter interviewing her why they thought she “did right” so she can keep doing it. “And they said, the message is universal. Everybody has felt like this at some point in their life, particularly about ‘Walk Tall,’ and they’re like, this is kind of an anthem for the average everyday person. No matter what the world piles on you you just make yourself feel fabulous and walk as tall as you can but I was like, ‘Okay, well, good. That was the easy one to write!’”
Looking ahead, Minj said that a duet with Dolly Parton would be “the dream” — acknowledging that it probably wouldn’t happen “because she’s just too busy.” Ginger noted the two have met many times over the past few years, however, and Dolly not only remembers her name, but has “screamed” for her across the room to get a photo.
“It’s one of those surreal moments where, yes, you’ve met her and you know her, but you’d never expect somebody who’s such an idol of yours to A, remember you and B, call you over by name,” said Ginger. “So it was very surreal, but it was lovely and every time I’ve met her she is just the nicest most supportive person you could ever imagine.”
In addition to her album and Halloween tour, Ginger is also planning a non-denominational holiday tour and has a book in the works called “Southern Friend Sass,” which she describes as part cook book, part memoir. As for her “Drag Race” future, don’t count her out there either.
“Hey listen, there’s no talking me into it. If the timing is right I will always show up,” she said of possibly competing again, “because I always feel like I get something different out of every experience.”