BWW Feature: KLASSICAL KWEENS: Monét X Change

BWW Feature: KLASSICAL KWEENS: Monét X Change

In the performing arts, people love to talk about the 'it' factor - and it's annoying. Everyone has their own, elusive, definition of what this means, which basically boils down to - you know it when you see it. It's something so intangible and unteachable that being able to pin it down with words is next to impossible. I understand what I'm about to say officially makes me part of the problem, but that is truly the best way to describe the magnitude of Monét X Change. Is she perfect? Hardly. Is she hyper-polished? Nope. Will she text you back? Depends on the day. But does she have the 'it' factor? Abso-f*cking-lutely. And I can't - won't - take my eyes off of her.

Drag is stitched so innately into the fabric of her soul that her passion and expertise drown her audiences. The effervescent light pouring out of Monét is almost indescribable. She is a consummate performer and watching her onstage is something that everyone should experience - lucky for us, the world is going to get their chance...

Before drag, Monét studied at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ as a classical voice/music education major. This course of study is rigorous and not for the faint of heart - proving the perfect foundation for the countless hurdles drag queens face at every turn. One degree requirement for this major is a senior recital. It's a thesis of sorts that showcases the hard work and effort one puts in during their years of study. On hers, she chose to include Brahms' Four Last Songs - a song-cycle chock-full of depth and intense necessity for advanced technique and understanding. She nailed them. And performing these pieces early in life continue to give her confidence today. In fact, she keeps the recording on her iPod and, occasionally, it will come on shuffle to remind her that she can do anything. I hope we all have little reminders like this... Something to remind us of the bad-assery that exists in all of us.

BWW Feature: KLASSICAL KWEENS: Monét X Change

Before Westminster, she'd attended a performing arts high school, and even though she wasn't sure music was exactly what she wanted for her life, decided to give collegiate musical studies a chance. Thank goodness she did. While there, she fortified the building blocks of the great performer she is today.

"Being a lip-synch artist, you have to take every minute detail and portray it. It's the same as [what you do] with sheet music - even though your [vocal] cords aren't producing sound."

She uses these exacting skills she perfected as a classical vocalist to imbue her hauntingly memorable lip-synchs with an acute attention to detail. To train as a classical vocalist, you train as a precisionist. You train as a historian and a consummate actor who must convincingly portray the most outrageous storylines. She has clearly integrated this course of study into her performances. This process is inspiring and proves that it's not 'just drag' - it's art. An art she pours focus and attention into, feeding her life - her soul. And while some are quick to pejoratively toss this phrase around, trying to sluff off stress or heated debates around the topic, Monét has something to say:

"'Just drag' pays my bills. [It's] the thing that takes care of me. It's something that has made Kevin who I am today."

BWW Feature: KLASSICAL KWEENS: Monét X ChangeAnd who he is today is pretty damn fierce. Though, surprisingly, he started doing drag reluctantly - at least outwardly. New York's Peppermint used to host a Drag Ball and pageant at Monét's undergraduate, where a yearly winner was crowned. This was the first time Monét saw a drag queen in the wild and she was dying to explore this new artistic expression - though she was reluctant to admit it. Eventually, she convinced some girlfriends to do her makeup and, through feigned reluctance, tiptoed into drag. And for Pride 2012, she bought a dress, some pumps, a "shitty wig," and never looked back. Monét was born.

Since then, her growth has been exponential and her star is shining brighter than ever before. Just last night, it was announced that she will be a contestant on season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race - and the gays erupted in screams of adulation from viewing parties all over the city. When asked about this next chapter, she said:

"I'm most excited for people outside the tri-state area to see who Monét is. NYC is an amazing place to perform, [but] I'm excited for more people to fall in love with my art."

Catch her before this "Bold, Effervescent, Silly" queen gets whisked away on her meteoric rise:

Tuesdays: Industry (Bad Drag Queen)

Wednesdays: Therapy (The Help with Pixie Aventura)

Thursdays: Therapy (Host: RuPaul's Drag Race Viewing)

Saturdays: Hardware (One Woman Show)

Sundays: Hardware (Turn it On with Miz Cracker)

And, of course, starting March 22nd, you can see her in the comfort of your own living room for season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race on VH1.

Photo Credit: Preston Burford

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From This Author Cole Grissom

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