Monique Jenkinson, a.k.a. Fauxnique, was the first cisgender woman to win the Miss Trannyshack Pageant in 2003, raising many glittered eyebrows in consternation and launching a performance career that has taken her around the globe. In a kiki with Out in the Bay, she shares live performance clips; reads from her memoir, Faux Queen: A Life in Drag; and spills T about where drag and feminism meet and about words that are “now Problematic with a capital P. Or rather, a capital T.”
In Faux Queen, Jenkinson invites readers into “the ‘shack,” the club she’d been invited to by gay men and that was central to the extraordinary, edgy San Francisco drag scene of the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Trannyshack, the late-night performance club that ran weekly from 1996 – 2008 with an annual pageant and later occasionally in SF and other cities, profoundly influenced drag. Deferring to transgender activists, founder Heklina changed the name to “T-Shack” in 2014, then to “Mother” in 2015.
“I’m not a transwoman and it’s not my purview … to say who can use this word,” Jenkinson told us, “but in the moment [tranny] was a cute nickname that drag queens and trans women had for each other” and it was used “very lovingly.”
The club transformed Jenkinson, who’d trained in classical ballet as a youngster, into Fauxnique: “Being invited into this weekly kind of down-and-dirty, loose, but very frequent and regular practice was a game-changer.”
Since her 2003 pageant win, Jenkinson, performing as Fauxnique, has created more than a dozen solo shows combing dance, spoken word and extravagant drag, including Faux Real, The F Word – clips of which we hear on Out in the Bay – and C*NT, or The Horror of Nothing to See. (Click titles to see photos and video clips.)
Anger fueled some of her shows. Especially when creating C*NT, she told Out in the Bay, “I was deep in my feminist rage.” Yet she says it’s important to “keep your sense of humor and use it.”
“All the gay men in my life have taught me that. They survived a plague through humor,” she says. “That’s one of the big lessons of this book … how humor helps us through.”
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This edition of Out in the Bay, produced by Kendra Klang with sound design and editing by Christopher J Beale, first aired in 2022. This week’s This Way Out, the weekly international LGBTQ radio magazine, features a distillation of our conversation. It will be broadcast by some 200 stations in North America and around the world Aug. 1 – 7, 2023! You can hear This Way Out’s roughly 14-minute version on its website.
Photo by Gareth Gooch: Fauxnique portrays Wonder Woman in her show The F Word at Oasis cabaret, San Francisco, 2016.