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Hot 20 2009: Monique Jenkinson, Performance Artist

Photography by Erik Almås.

Monique Jenkinson claims that her parents have been grooming her to be a gay man since birth—odd considering her upbringing in the “white Christian suburbs” of Denver. “My mom was really into old movies, camp and disco,” says Jenkinson. “At a very young age, she put in my little hands Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life and DV, the autobiography of Diana Vreeland. My father would dress me as Raggedy Ann just for fun.”

No wonder Jenkinson—or, rather, her alter ego, Fauxnique—was crowned Miss Trannyshack in 2003. Yes, you read that right, a married heterosexual woman with an affinity for bathhouse disco brought her A game to SF’s outrageous drag-queen beauty pageant and took home the title. No doubt her lively self-discovery dance piece set to Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” helped seal the deal. “In a high-art context, that performance might be really cheesy,” says Jenkinson, who has performed as Fauxnique at SF’s Climate Theater and the New Museum in New York. “Drag puts feminine vanity into humorous perspective.”

The Missionite’s latest endeavor, a multimedia performance titled Luxury Items, debuting next month at ODC, focuses on the joy and pain of extravagance. “What is luxury? Is it the time to grow roses? Is it an Hermès bag? Or is it a two-hour art performance that costs thousands of dollars to produce?” asks Jenkinson. “Because in a way, that is the ultimate extravagance for an artist. I’ve spent my life proving to other people that what I do is valuable. Now I do it for the sheer pleasure.”

Photo Assistance: Tom Hood and Audrey Rudolf. Prop Styling: Christine Featherstone. Hair + Makeup: France Pierson for ArtistUntied.com. A.F. Vandervorst black slip at M.A.C., 415-863-3011.

Check out the other 2009 Hot 20.