Drag Race Star Ginger Minj Brings Her New Holiday Show to Portland

Ginger Minj's Winter Wonderland comes to the Aladdin on December 9.

By Conner Reed December 7, 2021

Ginger Minj in Ginger Minj's Winter Wonderland

Ginger Minj, a.k.a. Florida native Joshua Eads, is one of only two contestants in the history of RuPaul's Drag Race to win the Snatch Game—a popular challenge where queens compete on a fake game show in celebrity guise—twice. Indeed, the two-time Drag Race runner-up (once on season 7, once on All Stars 6), is a classic show(wo)man: trained in the theater, with sizable comic chops and a flair for flamboyance. 

That all bodes well for her upcoming holiday tour, inspired by the Technicolor nostalgia of Andy Williams and White Christmas. Ginger Minj's Winter Wonderland joins the former Drag Race star with her hometown sister Gidget Galore for an unabashed embrace of the holiday season, replete with menorahs, magic tricks, Christmas trees, and more. We chatted with Ginger about the show (which comes to the Aladdin Theater on December 9), her meeting with Jessica Chastain, her love of Adele, and her magical experience at a Portland Chipotle. Our conversation has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity. 

My first, boring question is how did the idea for this show come together?

During quarantine, I transferred my entire life over to my best friend Gidget's house, and we were putting on shows in the garage two, three, sometimes four times a week. We had finally run out of things, and we were going through the garage trying to find a box of Christmas stuff. And then we said, "Well, how about we do a Christmas in July thing?"  So we put together this quick little holiday variety show and said, ‘This is the most fun that we've had the whole time. Why don't we take this and turn it into a full-fledged musical?’

At that point, we were hoping the world would be opened back up and we'd be able to go  do a holiday tour—Christmas is my thing, I've been doing solo Christmas tours for years. We wrote it, put it together, we recorded the title song, "Winter Wonderland," last year and released it. But the world, of course, didn't open up. So we sat on this show, tweaking it, making it better, and eventually we ended up with 20 costume changes and these DIY videos that go terribly wrong and magic tricks and all sorts of stuff.

How does this show differ from your solo Christmas tours?

[My solo shows] have always been about sharing the story of my holidays growing up. Being a queer kid in Leesburg, Florida, which is a very tiny little Southern Baptist town, I didn't have the greatest holidays, so I felt like it was important to find the good moments in that and share them just to let other people know, "See, there's good if you look for it."

But I already shared that story, and I wanted to have a little more fun, so we opened it up to all the different holidays. We wanted it to be something for everyone because, especially the queer community, we don't typically have the best track record for holidays with our families, and we wanted to create a new tradition.

Can you share some of your favorite holiday specials?

I love the Jinkx and BenDeLa Christmas special they did for Hulu last year. Theirs is a little more tongue in cheek, "Oh, we hate the holidays, but we're doing it anyway," and I think that that's so fun, but ours is the opposite side of that same coin. I also grew up watching the Andy Williams Christmas specials with my grandparents, and I just I love how lush and lavish and beautiful the costumes were, and the scenery, and the songs, and we're trying to kind of recapture that.

Obligatory local media question: have you spent much time in Portland before?

I did the Haters Roast tour, which came through Portland twice, and that was it. I loved it. I had the best experience at a Chipotle. 

We do have those here.

I met the most lovely people eating at the table across from us. They were coming to see the show that night, and they were just super excited—I love being able to meet and talk to fans. To me, that's the best part of the job. A lot of the Drag Race girls, they dread the meet-and-greets, but to me, that's my favorite part, and I've never shied away from listening to people's stories and what makes them enjoy what I do. 

So we sat down and had lunch with them at this Chipotle in Portland, Oregon, for like three hours. We were almost late to the show—it was me and Thorgy Thor.

I think there's something about what you do and the way you present on the show—a lot of it is very emotional, even though it's very funny, and I bet a lot of people feel safe sharing with you.

It's so funny, because Ru said that to me a lot on All Stars 6. I don't think it made it into the final edit, but she would always tell me in the critique, "There's just something so safe about watching you, do you know what I mean?" I said, "Not really." [Laughs] She said, "When you come onstage, there's a warmth. You perform from the heart, and we connect with that."

And that meant a lot to me, because that's how I've always tried to be. I didn't have people like me on TV or in movies or in the spotlight at all growing up. I felt really alone. So when I was given this platform, I was like, "You know what? I am going to be as open and transparent and accessible as possible, so all these kids out there that are like me have something they can identify with."

I have a pair of Snatch Gamerelated questions. First: You very memorably played Adele on Snatch Game [in season 7]. What are your thoughts on 30?

I know it's so controversial, but it's not my favorite. Her first album is actually my absolute favorite. I think there's such a good mix of emotional songs and upbeat, fun, dancy songs. As a drag performer, I look for the things you can dance around to, you know? One of my favorite Adele songs of all time is "Right as Rain." 

The second album, of course, I think, is her magnum opus—it really just delves into her soul. And it was so different from the first album that I was hoping 30 would be another complete reinvention and departure, but I feel like it's a lot of the same as the second album. I mean, believe me, I have it on repeat—it just didn't give me what I had built my expectations up for. 

Do you see yourself incorporating any of its tracks into future performances?

Funny you mention that, because we actually did incorporate a little bit of "Easy on Me" into our holiday tour.

On a similar note, your Tammy Faye Bakker [in All Stars 2's Snatch Game] is iconic. Jessica Chastain played her in The Eyes of Tammy Faye this year—did you see the performance? What did you think of it?

I watched the movie before it was released, because I got to interview Jessica Chastain for Entertainment Weekly. I got to dress like Tammy Faye Bakker in the interview, and I was gushing about her performance, because she's brilliant in that movie, she's totally transcendent, you don't even realize it's just Jessica Chastain. And it floored me because she was like, "You know, my first introduction to Tammy Faye was when you played her on Drag Race. And then I got into watching The Eyes of Tammy Faye documentary, also by [Drag Race] production company World of Wonder, and I fell down this rabbit hole. And it made me really want to play her." So what I'm saying is I take full credit for her performance.

If she walks away with the Oscar, she better thank you.

Or at least share it with me. I'm from Orlando, we have plenty of timeshares, I know how this works.

I happen to have an Irish editor in chief, and when I pitched this Q&A to her and mentioned your name, her eyes nearly fell out of her head. How many Americans clock the dirtiness in your name?

They don't. In America, I get a lot of "Ginger Minaj," and I'm like, 'No relation to Nicki.' Up until All Stars 6, a lot of people were very unsure of what my last name was, where it came from, what it meant, but now more and more they're clocking it. Ru, she's a huge fan of the UK, and she said the first thing that attracted her about my audition tape was my name. It made her laugh. 

I wanted a name that sounded prim and proper but also had a really dirty meaning when I first started drag, and I think it really encapsulates me as a character.

Your career has moved in a lot of different directions. You've been on All Stars 6, you've done some voice acting, you costarred with Dolly Parton, you just put out a country album, now you're doing this holiday tour. What's next for you?

I signed up to play Albin in La Cage Aux Folles in Chicago for two months at the beginning of the year, I've got some more tours and some more music, and I sold my book to Simon & Schuster, which will be coming out this coming year, called Southern Fried Sass. My husband and I are really starting the process of having our first child, and I don't think I'll be doing a whole lot more touring after this coming year, so I'm trying to squeeze as many in as I can right now.

I'm 37, and I have to have a baby by the time I'm 40, or I feel like I'll just never do it. My entire goal in life was never to be famous, it was never to do drag. I wanted to become a theater teacher and have a family, and Drag Race has led me, of course, in a really exciting direction that I didn't expect, but I also feel like it's leading me to my ultimate goal. Eventually, when I retire from this, I would still like to go into teaching theater and have my family and raise them. 

Ginger Minj’s Winter Wonderland 

7 p.m. Thu, Dec 9, Aladdin Theater, $30