It’s been a busy year for drag star Ginger Minj: Taking a runner-up spot on the sixth season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars; releasing the country album Double Wide Diva; landing a book deal for a part-cookbook, part-memoir; and now, embarking on a tour of her holiday show, Ginger Minj’s Winter Wonderland, with best friend and fellow drag queen Gidget Galore.
In a recent interview with the Mercury, Minj says touring has been a welcome change from the confines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People like me, we need that love and interaction with the audience,” she says. “To be back out among people who need it so much—need it just as much as you do—I feel like that relationship between me and the audience is just stronger than it’s ever been.”
Minj brings her holiday show to Portland’s Aladdin Theater on December 9. Here’s more from our conversation about her queer love for the holidays, finding her way into country music, and what fans can expect from the show.
MERCURY: You’ve been doing some form of a holiday drag show for years now. What makes you want to keep doing it year after year?
GINGER MINJ: I’m such a holiday freak—it fills me with sentimental feelings. And I don’t know why, because my Christmases were never that great growing up. But there’s just something about the magic of the holiday season that I think goes hand in hand with drag. It’s all about throwing a little glitter and spark and lights on top of something, and making it just so much more fun.
And I love all holidays, it’s not just Christmas for me. My husband is Jewish, so we also observe Hanukkah, and I love learning about the culture and traditions involved in that. I’ve learned a little about Kwanza and I think it’s so interesting—each holiday is so rich, and it goes so much deeper than we think about.
The holidays can be a mixed bag for LGBTQ+ people, as it can bring up hard feelings about hometowns and families of origin, but also be a time to celebrate your chosen family. How do you feel about this time as a queer person?
It’s all about making your own traditions. It’s about being together with the people you want to be around, and choose to share those warm feelings with.
My Christmases growing up—very Southern Baptist, very country town—they were never that pleasant. But I always saw the potential in them. So when I got older, I wanted to create for myself the holidays I had never been given growing up.
That’s why I try to do a holiday tour every year; to pull together those lost little souls out there who want to do something warm and festive. It’s for them. It’s fun to bring that new tradition not just to queer people, but anyone who feels like they don’t have a place to go during the holidays.
I’ve been enjoying Double Wide Diva. Will we hear any music from that in the show?
No, we aren’t doing any songs from Double Wide Diva. But the last couple years, Gidget and I have decided to start releasing new covers from classic holiday songs. This year, we’ve recorded a new version of “Sisters” from White Christmas. That will be featured in the show.
We’ll have some songs that are recorded, and some that will be new. Plus, our finale is a 15-minute tribute to Frozen, and it includes ten costume changes. It tells the entire story of Frozen in 15 minutes: We’ve got puppets, we’ve got snow machines, we’ve got fog machines, we’ve got confetti cannons and projections. If you can think of it, we’ve thrown it into this number.
Ha! Where did you get the idea to do that?
During quarantine, [Gidget and I] were quarantining together, and we were putting on these digital drag shows two or three times a week. Our most successful show was our tribute to Disney. It became some kind of challenge for us to take a Disney movie and do the whole thing in ten to 15 minutes.
The one we most wanted to do was Frozen, but we didn’t want to do it until we could have a stage and costume changes. We even hired a magician to help us fly the glove and cape and everything off the stage.
What else can you tell me about the show?
It’s broken into four sections, and we’ve also got some video elements with helpful holiday hints, like how to decorate a gingerbread house, and crafts that are non-denominational, but somehow everything goes horribly wrong.
We’ve got a country section, so there will be some country music in there. And we’ve got some tributes to movies. There will be something for everyone in this show.
What draws you to country music?
I was born and raised in the country. It’s what’s authentic to me. But I was always scared to do it as a drag queen. If you say “country” to the drag crowd, they’ll go, “Not my cup of tea.” Or if you say “drag” to the country crowd, they’ll go “I don’t want anything to do with it.”
So I had to leave it for a while until it felt right to do it. For All Stars 6, we did that country song with Ru and Tanya Tucker. While we were doing it, the producer said, “You’ve got a great voice for country,” and it’s what I’ve grown up with. And he said, “I’ll help you produce a single, you should do an album.”
So it made me get over my nerves about it. And even more so than the Drag Race crowd, the country scene has really embraced it. That’s what I like to do—I like to tell stories—and there’s no better way to do that than through country music.
Ginger Minj’s Holiday Wonderland is showing at 7 pm Thursday, December 9 at the Aladdin Theater. Tickets start at $30.