Joshua Allen Eads took the world by storm as drag artist Ginger Minj on the seventh season of RuPaul's Drag Race. After being the runner-up for that season, Minj returned to the franchise for the second and sixth seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.
Acting gigs streamed in with three Netflix projects, Dumplin', Super Drags, and AJ and the Queen. Music endeavors have produced three studio albums with Sweet T, Gummy Bear and Double Wide Diva.
The talented Miss Minj stars as Albin at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie for Music Theater Work's La Cage aux Folles beginning March 10.
Eads is married to Ceejay Russell after a ceremony in 2017 officiated by Drag Race judge Michelle Visage during a DragCon convention.
Minj identifies as non-binary and uses she/her pronouns in or out of drag. She stated during Windy City Times' recent interview, "As long as you are respectful, I'm good."
Windy City Times: It is nice to talk to you again after we did a red-carpet interview with you before your season of RuPaul's Drag Race actually started.
Ginger Minj: I totally remember that. That night was full-circle for me because I had competed for Miss Continental Plus for years and years, which was also at The Vic Theatre. I felt like it was the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
WCT: They don't do press days with the RuPaul casts any longer in Chicago, as they did back then.
GM: That is because there are 5 million shows a year now! Season seven was the last season that was a stand-alone season. Season eight went into RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars two right after. It catapulted into so many seasons of Drag that we never get a chance to grow bored or get to know anybody!
WCT: How did you become involved with La Cage aux Folles at Music Theater Works in the first place?
GM: As a little theater brat it was something I aspired to be in. I loved The Birdcage when it came out and I found out it was based on La Cage, which was based on a French play.
I became obsessed with it and had the original cast recording. I played it nonstop. I was supposed to be in the show in a very conservative town in Florida when I was 18, but it was pulled at the last minute. I had no business playing the role at that age.
Flash-forward to the week after Pulse happened and we gathered the cast together to honor Harvey Fierstein at Logo's Trailblazer Honors event. I sang "I Am What I Am" and as a queer kid, it was such an anthem. It helped me get through a lot when I was growing up.
WCT: How was the experience of singing it there?
GM: I have no idea because I took a Xanax and two shots of whiskey before I went on! I was so nervous. I don't remember anything during that performance. I remember right after Harvey came running out crying and hugging me.
The offers for La Cage started coming in from all over after that. I was looking for someone that wanted to make it in the style that I did. It wasn't until Music Theater Works approached me during season six of RuPaul's All Stars and I sat down to talk to the director for hours that I found someone who got the real meat of the story. I felt we meshed really well.
He rearranged the schedule and I got an apartment in Chicago. I am coming there for two months to make sure the show is done right!
WCT: Isn't there some updating from the original that Harvey did with the script?
GM: There is a little and we are using the script from the last Broadway revival. Harvey Fierstein did some revisions, but it is still pretty much the same show.
We are taking out a few of the dated references that could be considered offensive by today's standards. The show affects people outside of our community, so there is a responsibility to tweak it to make it more accessible to a modern audience. I do feel the core values have to remain the same to continue the conversations that the show has had over the years.
WCT: I noticed that Project Runway's Justin LeBlanc is making the costumes.
GM: I am a reality TV show junkie and he funneled love into his designs on the show. Justin was the first designer that I connected with. I don't understand fashion, but he made it very accessible to me.
Meeting him was such a dream come true. He is just the nicest person with the smartest ideas when it comes to clothes. To him, clothing designs come from the inside out. I learned so much from watching him work.
WCT: I thought he was very nice also when I met him in the past, too.
GM: He and his husband are in the process of having their first child. My husband and I have been in the same process of having our first child, so there was a lot of common ground. When we went out to dinner, we got to talk about that, which was a real-life thing outside of drag and fashion. It reflects in the work that we do with each other since we know each other in a different way now.
WCT: Do you have a favorite moment in La Cage?
GM: My favorite moment is in act two when Albin Mougeotte goes into the bathroom to throw on some quick drag and pops out looking like Barbara Bush! It is a funny moment, but it showed he was ready to risk it all to save the moment. The whole show leads up to that and it is so nerve-racking because I have three minutes to complete the drag.
WCT: How long does it take you to transform into drag, usually?
GM: When I am doing regular drag I like to give myself 45 minutes to an hour just for the face. For this show, I am in and out of drag six times. The first time I am in drag I do it onstage while I am singing "A Little More Mascara." I have about two minutes to complete it while I am talking onstage.
WCT: What a challenge!
GM: I thought that would be my favorite moment in the show, but it is actually my least favorite part of La Cage. If your eyelash doesn't stick the second you need it to then you are behind and can't recover. We have spent hours and hours just on that number trying to perfect the tiny pieces that go into it. It is a lot!
WCT: Sounds like it. I love the behind-the-scenes that you are telling our readers.
GM: With the RuPaul girls the singing, dancing and acting all have to be there before setting foot on the stage. It is not a typical reality show where people are following around some Housewives with a camera while they throw a drink on someone. That is fun, but the second a RuPaul performer gets a role on Broadway, the naysayers come out and ask, "Can they can really do this?" Yes, drag queens are very talented and have learned to do it all for years and years.
WCT: Allow me to say that you slayed on the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.
GM: Thank you. I loved All Stars six. Season seven of Drag Race was not a great point in my life, but I had fun being on the show. Right before season two of All Stars my personal life blew up and I couldn't get my head in the game. I had no business doing All Stars two. I turned down All Stars four and five because it wasn't the time to reinvent myself.
We were in a pandemic for season six of All Stars and that forced me to reexamine myself as an artist. I became more creative because all of the work stopped. I put on plays in my garage as digital drag shows and that took off. It gave me a purpose to go back to All Stars.
We made Kylie Sonique Love take us out to dinner after she won and there were no bad feelings about it at all.
WCT: Music came out of the pandemic for you also didn't it?
GM: Yes. I thought drag and country music were opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum. I wound up loving it after making lyrics that stemmed from who I was growing up. When we released the album Double Wide Diva major country artists reached out to me about how good it was, so I felt like I was doing something right. It is a path that I will continue to follow.
WCT: You have a book coming out soon?
GM: I do and it is called Southern Fried Sass. It is my life story told through recipes. Everyone's love language is food and my grandmother gave me some of these old recipes. It is also things I have collected from all over the world, including from the queens I have met. I wouldn't call it a self-help book, but instead about how I helped myself!
Break out of your birdcage and fly into the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd. from March 10 through April 3. Tickets for La Cage Aux Folles can be found at MusicTheaterWorks.com including exclusive meet and greet experiences with the Minj.