Jonny McGovern Returns to Ru's Mothership with 'Hey Qween' on WOW
Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 8 MIN.
When Jonny McGovern first started his talk show "Hey Qween!" it was 2014, and he was working from what he describes as a "reception table from the lobby of the studio covered with the tablecloth." The episodes were posted to YouTube at a time when "RuPaul's Drag Race" was going strong, but wasn't the international sensation it's since become.
Originally, McGovern and co-host Lady Red Couture interviewed "Drag Race" starts from seasons past. Tragically, Lady Red Couture died in 2020. After that loss, McGovern took some time away from the show.
But now "Hey Qween!" is back in a production that's been upgraded in every way. McGovern hosts solo now, but Lady Red Couture is there in spirit: A shrine to her memory has pride of place on McGovern's desk, and legendary drag queen Kevin Aviance ushers each episode with an introduction that once belonged to Lady Red Couture. But today the show takes a slightly different approach now, with McGovern interviewing each of the 14 queens of the current, sixteenth season of "Drag Race" as, week by week, one sashays away to speak with McGovern.
On the show, which streams exclusively on World of Wonder Presents Plus, McGovern wears eye-popping couture of his own and pours tea from a gorgeous vintage pot (a touch of class by way of his grandmother – it's her tea pot). As part of the segment, McGovern asks each of the vanquished "Drag Race" contestants to spill some tea of their own. In another recurring segment, he offers them an "immunity potion" to free them up for some frank talk about their fellow contestants, and hears some unexpectedly poignant personal stories, as well as in-depth accounts of what it was like to receive a withering glance (or a smile) from the Queen Mother of Queens, RuPaul herself... And, of course, what it felt like to be told to "sashay away."
EDGE caught up with McGovern to see what tea he might spill in turn, not just about "Hey Qween!" but also his saucy queer podcast, "Gay As Fuck," in which – as McGovern says in each episode's intro – he showcases "pop culture with dirty gay stuff."
EDGE: Tell me about the fantastic shirts you wear on the show.
Jonny McGovern Oh, those shirts are something I've been wearing for the last five years. I discovered them a while back. It's a company called JCRT – it's two designers who make this incredibly thoughtful collection of plaid shirts. The color stories are taken from different pieces of art, film, books... you'll get a shirt that has the colors of the movie poster of "Jaws," or [the comic strip] "Peanuts," or all the gay flags. I collaborate with them; they sent me the whole collection, and I wear them on pretty much any public appearance. I love them.
EDGE: "Hey Qween!" started off as a YouTube web series, and now you're on World of Wonder Presents Plus. Did they pick you up because they saw how valuable you are for the "Drag Race" franchise?
Jonny McGovern The dream all along with "Hey Qween!" was to return to the mothership. "Drag Race" stars, as well as queer stories of all types, have been the cornerstone of "Hey Qween!" We were somewhere that the girls would go to talk to spill the tea, to tell their full story.
We've worked alongside World of Wonder for many years, with their blessing to have the girls on the show. "Drag Race" has gotten so much huger than when we started in 2014. It was a huge hit at that time, but now it's a global phenomenon.
The real thing that was exciting to me [for the current season] was to be right in the middle of the conversation. I was able to meet with them a couple months back, and we all sort of had the same idea: It would be really great to get the new season girls right on "Hey Qween!" We used to have to wait till the season was over, and sometimes it'd be years before we'd get to talk to them, but now literally the day their show comes out, you'll see the interview with me and them. It's just super fun and super exciting.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.