Jerick Hoffer has a big set of balls. Not that you will ever catch even a glimpse of them as he spends so much of his time as his alter ego the drag superstar Jinkx Monsoon who clearly keeps them tucked away. Hoffer however earned his when some years back he helped out his friend Alex Berry who needed to make a video about gender, and he originally just wanted to shoot Monsoon getting into drag. It of course evolved into something much more as Berry started questioning Monsoon about her life and if you have ever met her (see queerguru interview for PTV) you will know that she is never at a loss for words.
They put their rather raw footage out in episodic internet videos and when she shot to global fame winning Ru Paul’s Drag Race it made perfect sense to turn it into a feature length documentary. The most impressive part of this story is that this delightful warts-and-all is refreshingly un-doctored and so we really get a sense of who both Hoffer and Monsoon are.
Coming from a broken home and being brought up with his two siblings in Portland by his alcoholic mother certainly toughened Hoffer up, and made him fiercely independent. He credits his grandmother as a stabilizing influence in his life and the one who he conspired with when he embarked on doing drag at the tender age of 15. He started to learn his craft in literally any local bar where he could perform, but it was moving to Seattle where he really found his metier. At Sylvia O’Stayformore’s monthly nights at the Bacon Strip, acts were not allowed to do things that you could see at normal drag shows and that is where Jinkx’s journey started in earnest.
Hoffer’s transformation into Jinkx a 40 year old woman gave him a voice to not only belt out songs but also just say things that he never could as a shy red-headed boy. Like in his season on Drag Show and dressed to the nines in his finery he finally opens up and talks about his dysfunctional relationship with his mother on national TV, something he could never even have attempted to do as Hoffer.
Jinkx was borne out of climate created by the whole Drag Race phenomena where the days of drag queens just lip-synching are well and truly over. As Jinkx we cannot help but admire her enormous talent to perform and the way that she likes to constantly change her act and add so much original content, that reminds us that she is first a artist, and then a drag queen. It is however as the disarmingly straight-talking Hoffer that we come to like him just as much by the time the end credits roll on this compelling wee documentary. ‘I thought that fame would be a band aid, and fix all the problems I have. It’s not. It’s an invitation to take your work further, and to work harder.’
P.S. The title BTW comes from the fact that one of Hoffer’s (several) obsessions with the movie Death Becomes Her and its star Meryl Streep who I think he envisions himself as the drag version off.
Drag Becomes Him is available VOD at Amazon.com
Labels: 2016, documentary, drag, Provincetown Culture