Jonny McGovern Is Back With More Hey Qween!

Christine Fitzgerald 19 Min Read
19 Min Read
Jonny McGovern is back with more Hey Qween!
Photo via jonnymcgovernisyourdaddy/Instagram

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Jonny McGovern has put many Drag Race alums in the hot seat as the host of the popular, long-running talk show, Hey Qween! Back after a two-year hiatus, the new iteration of Hey Qween! revamps the original format as a RuPaul’s Drag Race companion series where returning host Jonny McGovern will interview the eliminated queens from each episode of season 16. New episodes of Hey Qween! debut on Mondays at 2pm PST / 5pm ET on WOW Presents Plus.

In addition to his hosting duties, Jonny is also a talented comedian and was a cast member on Logo’s comedy series The Big Gay Sketch Show. He was also a regular on VH1 shows including Best Week Ever, Totally Gay, and 40 Dumbest Celebrity Quotes. He’s also dabbled in music, creating songs as his Eminem-inspired character The Gay Pimp.

We chatted with this multi-talented performer about the new season, his thoughts about finding a replacement for his longtime co-host, the late, great Lady Red Couture and his new podcast in our exclusive interview.

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What are the origins of Hey Qween!?
 Hey Qween! started because I had done a different web series called Whoa, Dude, which was about like all the homoerotic things straight people did on the Internet. And that was with the studio called the stream TV. That was a big success. And they said, “Hey, what do you want to do next?” And at the time, I figured I would do seven episodes of something. And I thought, you know what? I'm going to do like a Charlie Rose style show, where it'll just be me and a table and I'm going to say, “Hey qween!”. And the other person will say, “Hey qween!” and we would just have a conversation.

That all changed when I got the idea to involve my former co-host who's now passed on to heaven, Lady Red. And I thought, wow, Lady Red could be my sidekick. We could chat at the top and then she can be there as sort of the Ed McMahon – smiling, rolling her eyes, giving her attitude, doing all the things that she did. And that sort of created the format for it. We started small, we did it on no budget in a little studio where we used the table from the reception area at the studio with a cheap glitter tablecloth as the set, but it just it grew and grew. The team believed in the show and believed in me, and we did eight years of Hey Qween! together. We did ten years total of Hey Qween! and it just grew into what it was. Having RuPaul as an early guest really helped get the eyes of the drag world on us because they’re like, “Oh, well she was on it. I think I want to go on too.”

And at that time, there weren’t that many places where the queens could go and fully tell the rest of their story after being on camera. So, I think we really benefited from that because they were able to come on and spill the tea as it were, but mostly spill about their experience, their journey – and that's something I think we all find fascinating.

You had mentioned Charlie Rose, but I'm always curious because I do a lot of interviews myself, how would you describe your interview style?
Relaxed, supportive, lighthearted yet earnest, because a lot of times we're talking about serious stuff that these queens have gone through, you know, I want to start off fun. I want to make them feel good. I want the audience to have fun. A lot of people watch Hey Qween! as comfort viewing. I've watched it for so many years. So, I want that, but also, I don't want to be afraid to really get into it, to talk about serious things because the queens that go on Drag Race have varied experiences of being on the show but come with a whole history behind them that informs what you see on the show. And I want to be able to get to that with them. So, it's kind of a rainbow from silly to serious and we like to end somewhere in the middle where we can really access both sides.

Over the 10 seasons of Hey Qween! have there been any standout guests?
Yes, I mean, there's some, there are some guests that just are completely unfiltered, and those are some of my most favorite ones. I mean, Gia Gunn from Drag Race and Drag Race All Stars…when Gia came on the show, she left nothing on the table. She spilled every drop of tea. If she had a conflict with somebody, she went into detail about it. She spoke directly to the camera and when it came time to do the next show, she switched outfits. You know, when some people are so themselves and so solid with their opinions and thoughts, it makes for an incredible interview.  

Are there people you still would like to interview that you haven't yet?  
Oh, I mean, there's always people that I'd love to interview. I'm lucky enough to someone that I still would like to do a full interview with on the show and it's more someone who's a huge star for me personally is now actually involved in the show.  The legendary drag icon, Kevin Aviance, has been someone who influenced my creative journey from me seeing him back in the day in New York City, performing at five in the morning at Roxy, doing these shows that blew my mind.

We've been friends for many years, but I've never actually had a sit-down interview with him. And now he's doing the openings for the show, continuing that Lady Red spirit of crazy outfits that look like roses or pharaohs or whatever else, but because I know him so well and I know all of his stories and he's had such an incredible life, I look forward to the day that we can finally get that one-on-one to really get in and spill the tea.

I noticed that Kevin did the intro and I know Lady Red is irreplaceable, but would you ever want to have another sidekick or are you just going to go at it without?  
No, I think that Lady Red is irreplaceable in that manner. I mean, we were best friends. She lived in my house. The whole thing was a vibe. When people came into the studio where you felt our vibe together, you could get into it. It was fun and colorful and bright. And I think if I was going to try to do that with somebody else, they could do something, but they'd have to do something completely different. There was already chemistry with me and Lady Red, so nothing needs to be worked out.

I don't ever rule it out, but in the meantime, I'm not looking for someone to be a fake Lady Red. Lady Red was who she was. She would sometimes not pay attention. She would eat snacks. She would roll her eyes. She would laugh at wrong times. And that is why she was incredible.

So yeah, the casting call for that is not out. But if there was anyone to fill in in spiritually for Lady Red, it is Kevin. They loved each other. They really got along great. Kevin, like Lady Red, Kevin. can pick up a broken hat and ashtray, a scarf, wrap it around his head and make it fashion and Lady Red to do the same thing. So, I feel like that's the spiritual successor to where that role falls in the show.

Now you had mentioned Gia Gunn, but what is the wildest response you've gotten during an interview? Is there, is there one that stands out?  
I mean, there's not one in particular that blows my mind, but it definitely, sometimes someone will…we're mostly trying to keep everything cute and positive all the time. Even though we want the tea, I'm not really looking for personal attacks, but sometimes someone will come out with something, and I usually have to, in my mind, be like, do not say anything. Just let this person finish what they're saying. Don't try to follow up. Just let this moment happen.

There's been many of those over the years where someone just goes in or tells us something that's shocking or reveals something we never heard before. You know, something that happened on the first episode of Hey Qween! this season was that Hershii LiqCour-Jete, you know, talked about being diagnosed with HIV and how that affected her journey with her children with that. That was something that though she had talked about, it wasn't on the show really. And so, the fact that she's able to feel safe enough to share that with me and let us know how that affected her journey and the children coming into her life and what's on the show and how she sees the whole world. I thought that was really special. And as a testament to the kind of safe environment I want the queens to be able to feel when they're there, because they can talk about whatever, because if it makes you who you are, that's what we want to know. 

I appreciate the fact that your show is structured where you've got that conversation, but you also have those fun segments. what's the inspiration behind having the segments when other queens call in, like when you had Kerry Colby on?
I mean, look, we want to have fun, so we, you know, and we love to be dumb, so it's fun to be able to play silly games with the queens. Like Mirage came on last week and she's very inspired by strippers so we played a game called “stripper poll”. We were to find out what roles the people in the show would play in the strip club. Who would you want to make it rain on?

The great thing about working with World of Wonder on this season is the access we have to the Drag Race family so we can get these moments where we have other Drag Race queens call in to support or to say that they're a fan of the guest because again they've just been they've gotten into a spotlight that is so hot the audience has a million opinions we really want to build them up make them feel great so when we think of the connections of like oh who could who could call…I mean in the first episode Hershii got called by the winner of last season, Sasha Colby.

That's like a real boost. It's a boost for the audience. It's exciting. And then last week, we were able to get a video message for Mirage from Michelle Visage. That's the kind of access that now that we have on this new season, and it makes the show very glamorous. I'm like, am I a big hairy Oprah? What going on? This is fabulous! 

Now, I know you are a busy, busy person and in addition to Hey Queen, you've got a podcast and the newest one. Um, can we talk about that a little bit?
Yes. It’s Johnny McGovern is Gay as Fuck. I think I wanted to put it down fiercely, honey, and just say what it is. You know, I've been doing podcasting since 2006 when even I wasn't sure what a podcast was, but someone was like, this will be a good idea. Do it. And I've shared my life and my unfiltered opinions about pop culture, gay stuff, gay sexuality for years. And though I took a sort of break from everything except Hey Qween! for so many years because I was doing so many different jobs on hate queen to keep it afloat.

The fact that now I can go back to that podcast audience who are my most dedicated, my most loving, the ones that I feel like know me the best, because many of them have been listening to me for now, you know, almost 20 years, which is wild. So, I'm excited to be able to get back into that.

Not only reading celebrities talking about what I think is amazing, not amazing, shady, terrible, but also speaking unfiltered about gay sexuality, gay desire. What, you know, trivial things like which OnlyFans accounts are going to be ripping you off and which ones are worth the money. I mean, things that I would talk about with my homo homies and my girlfriends and the, the real sort of gossip session that you would get with me if we were hanging out in real life, that's what I like to do on Gay As Fuck. It's sort of Inspired by one of the greats, Wendy Williams, who could just sit in front of a microphone and gab with you for an hour and you just eat it up. So, that's where we are with that one and I'm having fun. I talk about everything, and I hold nothing back on that show.

Now podcasts, interviewing. What is the biggest challenge for you? Out of all of those things?  
You know what? The biggest challenge in the past was doing every role. A lot of times when you're dealing with a building production or even a lower budget production to I'm always trying to deliver something that seems like it cost way more and was much had a much bigger budget and much more glamorous and look better.

And a lot of times it was, you know, me, a camera, one person, somebody else. And I've In the past, edited it all myself, booked all the guests, uh, wrote everything, did the graphics, all of that. That's the hardest part. The creative part where I get to talk to people on camera and talk to guests and do podcasts.

That's what's easy. And that's what I, that's what I do best. The hardest thing is the behind-the-scenes stuff and having to, to hustle that yourself. Now, luckily with World of Wonder, honey, they've got the Emmys under their belt. I don't have to worry about with that, but in the past for 10 years, you know, I was the only person that edited every single episode of Hey Qween! That was a lot of work and it's really paid off.

Catch new episodes of Hey Queen! on WOW Presents Plus and listen to Jonny McGovern is Gay AF on Spotify, Apple, or wherever you stream your podcasts. Follow Jonny on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.


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