Jonny McGovern

Taken from Issue 12 of THEGAYUK (June 2015)

New York native, McGovern is part of LGBT technology history. As each new advancement made it possible for gay voices to be heard he’s been at the forefront of it. From taking advantage of a newly introduced iTunes to Podcasting to Vlogging. We sent MARK GOGGIN to find out what the original gay pimp is doing now.

Jonny McGovern
Credit: YouTube/HeyQueen / Supplied

I caught up with the Gay Pimp Jonny McGovern and he spilt the T about his show Hey Qween, his musical past and what Dolce & Gabbana can kiss…

MG: First off, congratulations on the success of Hey Qween! Where did the idea originate?
JMG: The idea for Hey Qween started after I finished shooting Whoa, Dude! which was the first show I did with The Stream studios (co-producers of Hey Qween) that celebrated the best intentionally and unintentionally homoerotic content from around the Internet, kind of like The Soup. They asked me what I wanted to do next, and I had an idea for a talk show. The only thing that I really knew about it was that I wanted to call it Hey Qween, I would sit down with a guest and I would say “Hey Qween,” and they would say “Hey Qween,” back and we would have a conversation. That was it, almost like Charlie Rose a very basic interview show. But when it hit me like a lightening bolt to include Lady Red Couture in the mix, it all came together. I knew that if I had her there she would be like my drag Ed McMahon sidekick and we could kiki at the beginning of every show.

MG: Your relationship with Lady Red Couture is hilarious. How did you meet?
JMG: I first saw Lady Red perform at Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood where she was part of the Goddess revue hosted by Calpernia Addams and Lady Red stole the show. She did a big gospel number where she wore church robes and started testifying and would run to the back of the club and disappear and then run out of a totally different door. I was in drag love. I asked her to be part of my Dickmatized video where she played around the way banjee girl. Then I wrote the song Rich White Woman for her and I thought she was so fun and so charismatic that when I started Hey Qween I thought she would be the perfect match. Though we didn’t know each other that well when we started Hey Qween we are now best friends and spend all the time together and always have a ton of fun. It’s been like a dream working with her, she is a superstar.

MG: Is she EVER going to sign up to Drag Race? She’d kill it!
JMG: Yes! That is our dream. We did work on an incredible audition tape for her for Drag Race season 8 and it has been submitted, so may the best woman win! I know she would kill it.

MG: Talking of Drag Race, some great contestants have graced your couch. Who was your favourite to interview? Or at least who were you most excited about meeting? 
MG: RuPaul herself. I’ve been a fan since I was a teenager and though I got to interview him on the phone once for my podcast we had never really gotten a chance to sit down and talk in real life. The show was so fun, and he was so open and inspiring that it was truly a dream come true. As far as the other queens I’ve enjoyed all of them. Our most popular episode was Willam – he’s always a hoot and he bought his own pizza. We also really enjoyed Alaska who came in an amazing garbage bag couture dress. They’re all a lot of fun and come ready to kill. Trixie Mattel was also a highlight for our season premiere because she was so funny and honest.

MG: Did anyone turn out to be a bit of a letdown?
JMG: No. I think everyone has always been great. Some interviews are harder to edit than others, some people are more ready to spill the T, other people I need to warm up into being comfortable. That sometimes leads to a harder editing job to make the conversation seem as lively and spontaneous as it needs to be. But most of the Drag Race girls come prepared to have fun and we just have a kiki.

MG: Hey Qween! Series 3 is currently underway. How’s it going?
JMG: It premiered two weeks ago with Trixie Mattel and our latest episode is with Latrice Royale. Next week the legendary Coco Peru comes on, followed by Mathu Andersen, followed by more and more amazing guests! We’ve been working with The Stream who is an incredibly supportive studio and they have given us our own channel Hey Qween TV. Season 3 is bigger than ever and we are having a ton of fun.

MG: You suggested upping the gay ante this series and were helped out by the fans to raise the budget. Did you get enough to support your new ideas?
JMG: Yes we ended up raising almost $13,000 from the fans, which was incredible! We have been able to use it to not only make Hey Qween better but to expand the brand into a whole bunch of other shows that I know our audience is going to love.

MG: Have you bagged any celebrities for season 3 that you’ve wanted to interview for ages? Who would your dream guest be?
JMG: Mathu Andersen was definitely a dream guest since he’s been creating the RuPaul look the last 20 years. He’s such an incredible artist and mysterious elusive enigma that I was excited to chat with him. My dream guest is one of the surviving cast members from Paris Is Burning, Junior Labeija who was the MC in all of the ballroom scenes. We would love to have him on, he is one of the most iconic figures from that film and to get to talk to him about his experiences and his incredible charisma would make for a legendary Hey Qween how. Of course, I would also love to interview Kevin Aviance who is my number one favourite drag queen in the world. Martha Wash who is the voice behind Everybody Dance Now from C+C Music Factory, Black Box and tons of others. I’d also love to interview Miss J from America’s Next Top Model. The list goes on and on.

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MG: I definitely think you should consider bringing Hey Qween! to the UK, make it some sort of club tour! Will the season 3 budget stretch to that – possibly?
JMG: We would love to come to the UK! I love London, I went as a teenager several times but I have not gotten to come back as a fully-grown homo. We actually would love to see Hey Qween come on real TV in the UK. I feel that the audience over there and the networks might be more open to putting our show on real TV because you have excellent taste and are less scared of drag and stuff like that than American networks. So hopefully someone in the UK, a producer, will read this and you can send us over. If RuPaul’s Drag Race UK happens maybe we could do a simultaneous Hey Qween season at the same time – that would be dreamy honey.

MG: Outside of Hey Qween you’ve produced some great music and comedy under the persona The Gay Pimp. Are you dropping any new music soon?
JMG: I had been doing The Gay Pimp stuff for ten years and as much as I love it, I wanted to be able to evolve and do stuff where I wasn’t trying to be the same person I was ten years ago. I am able to reflect who I am and what I do now. So I’ve taken a little break from that but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped making videos! I have the final video single from my Gayest Of All Time album coming out in the next couple of months. It’s full of sexy guys with Lady Red and some lady back up singers. It’s really fun so that should be coming pretty soon.

MG: Who inspires you as a musician?
JMG: When I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a RnB singer, but then I realised I was a 6’4” gay white man so that was probably going to be a difficult path! I kind of put it aside but when I started to do comedy, doing sort of comedy songs and using my musical skills like that, it really made sense. It is something that I have truly enjoyed and has let me play at being a pop star for many years. My biggest musical inspiration is my co-producer Adam Joseph who works with me on all of my records. He is a musical genius and anytime I have a seed of an idea he has such incredible musical knowledge that he is able to listen to my vision and create it seemingly instantaneously. He is incredible and if you’ve never heard him sing before he has many of his own albums, I call him the white soul hummingbird because he sounds exactly like your favourite black diva but he’s a little white man.

MG: What’s your number one go-to album?
JMG: I currently listen to lots of club music and trap music because I DJ at a party here called Saturday Night Slut in West Hollywood every week. When I’m just listening myself, old Aretha Franklin records from the late 60s and all through the 70s, Martha Wash’s solo album, DJ sets by Junior Vasquez from the 90s and Prince’s Sign ‘O’ The Times is probably one of my favourite all-time records.

MG: We heard The Gay Pimp was started because of a homophobic Eminem rant, is there any truth in that?
JMG: Yes… (the)Eminem (album) had come out and though it seemed at first like he was kind of like a modern guy and maybe wasn’t going to be homophobic, as the album rolled out we saw that he was kind of having a lot of homophobic stuff. He was throwing fag around and I felt that the media was giving him a pass on it. I figured the best way to protest would be to write a musical. When you’re an artist you got to protest with your art. So we wrote a hilarious little show called The Wrong Fag To F**k With The Gay Pimp vs Eminem, which was a parody musical where Gay Pimp was this pop star in an alternate universe who battled Eminem at the MTV Video Music Awards. Needless to say, it ended up with Eminem getting f***** up the butt by Gay Pimp – and hilarity ensued. The show became so popular; people started asking me to perform at nightclubs around town. It was the era of Britney and NSync, so I would go with backup dancers and drag queen cheerleaders and we would go to these tiny bars and perform these Gay Pimp songs as if we were doing a stadium show in these tiny little dive bars.

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MG: With that in mind, do you think it is important as a gay male to stand up for LGBT issues? Do you get involved in LGBT debates – the Dolce & Gabbana debacle or Indiana’s recent outburst for example?
JMG: Yes I think it is extremely important for all of us to be aware of what is going on as far as civil rights for LGBT people in our countries and around the world. We can’t be ignoring how our brothers and sisters in other countries are being treated and we can’t just be satisfied with sitting around and letting big corporations and the right wing make decisions that affect us. So it’s very important for us all to speak out. As far as the Dolce & Gabbana debacle that makes me think they are completely out of touch and in a self-hating bubble of their own. For them to have any comment about what makes a family real – you can kiss my motherfu**ing ass, fu** yourselves Dolce & Gabbana.

MG: Thank you so much for your time. Where can we visit to get all of our Gay Pimp needs?
JMG: Make sure you subscribe to Hey Qween TV on YouTube – the Look At Huh aftershow, Hot T, He’s Fit and Judge Lady Red. Plus you can visit my blog everyday for sexy gent pictures, new podcasts, Hey Qween updates and more dirty gay fun. Plus make sure to support me by buying my music on iTunes. Daddy needs to pay rent.

Twitter: @GayPimp

About the author: Mark Goggin
Writer,photographer and general creator of anything you want so long as it keeps me out of working in retail. I have recently returned to the UK after an amazing round-the-world year long adventure and now spend most of my time looking at my photographic memories and crying.