Attention Queens: BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon Go on Tour This Holiday Season
The RuPaul's Drag Race stars team up for their second annual holiday concert: All I Want for Christmas Is Attention.
"November 1st is the turnover for both drag queens and drug stores," BenDeLaCreme dryly remarked as she sashayed into TheaterMania's Times Square office earlier this month. Referring to the ever-expanding range of dates in which Christmas colors take over public spaces, she was wearing a forest-green dress with a large white poinsettia in her hair. Next to her was Jinkx Monsoon, decked out in red.
The two drag superstars are frequent headliners at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, where DeLa (as her fans know her) recently debuted Ready to Be Committed. Jinkx has performed her own holiday show there with Major Scales. Now they're moving to even bigger stages all across the country, and they're doing it together.
Following the success of last year's To Jesus, Thanks for Everything, Jinkx and DeLa!, the two Seattle-based performers are teaming up for All I Want for Christmas Is Attention, which they're taking across the US and UK. The tour kicks off November 29 (Black Friday) at Washington, DC's Lincoln Theatre, with stops in Manchester, London, Boston, and New York (among others).
I spoke with Jinkx and DeLa about this new show, their complicated histories with Christmas, and the important lessons we can learn from puppets.
You both perform in New York quite a bit. Is there a place you like to visit while you're here?
Jinkx Monsoon: To be completely honest, I find New York to be too much city for me. I always feel very overwhelmed here, so I typically just go to the Laurie Beechman. Even if I don't have a show there, I go see what's playing and hang out with the staff.
BenDeLaCreme: I've really enjoyed exploring a lot of the performance scene here. One of the best things I saw was Then She Fell. I also saw a piece by Erin Markey called Singlet that was really incredible.
You're both from Seattle. All politics is local. What about drag?
Jinkx: Drag is very regional. What's best about Seattle drag is what we're bringing around the world with us in this show: cabaret think pieces. It takes what can be seen as frivolous entertainment into the realm of ridiculous theater.
Was performing a big part of Christmas for you growing up?
DeLa: I've been doing Christmas shows for a little over a decade, and a huge part of that came from wanting a legitimate reason not to go home. Christmas was never something I enjoyed. It was a time when I felt descended upon by family performing closeness…in a way that I never indulged. Doing holiday shows was a way to reclaim the holidays even in terms of time spent: I'm going to spend this time doing something that makes me happy, with people who make me happy.
Jinkx: I went to The Nutcracker every year with my grandma and aunt. Then, in my early teen years, I thought I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I went real gung-ho in that direction, and I started performing in The Nutcracker.
What's your favorite candy in the second act of The Nutcracker?
Jinkx: Oh, ummmmm ... hmmmmm.
DeLa: What's the least racist one?
Jinkx: I'm going to avoid the second act. When I was in The Nutcracker in Portland, we did the Russian version that has wind-up dolls. And there's a specific wind-up doll called the vivandière doll that I was obsessed with. She had this very staccato rigid movement. And my first drag character was a wind-up doll based on that character.
Do you work with a choreographer for this show?
Jinkx: DeLa and I take the lead, but it's a lot of group generation.
DeLa: We work with a bunch of dancers, a few of which I've known for a long time. They're fantastically talented and can come up with a lot of material.
Jinkx: Between DeLa as producer, the dancers, and the designers, what I really love is that this is a holiday production with an entirely queer cast and crew. DeLa points out all the time that queer people are often pushed aside this time of year. So this is a holiday refuge for queer people who may not have good relations with their blood family.
What numbers will you be singing?
DeLa: We're working on a Hanukkah reimagining of a very popular Lizzo song. I won't reveal more than that.
Jinkx: Last year, we busted our chops and built a strong foundation for the show, and this year is about building off what we created last year. We went into this with the idea that we would have a casual, conversational show, where we improvise some bits — and then it turned into a scripted two-person musical.
DeLa: It's a fully realized spectacle.
Will there be puppets?
DeLa: There is always a puppet in anything BenDeLaCreme is associated with. Last year we baked a gingerbread cookie that ended up being horribly transphobic. Puppets make great foils. So we'll see what puppets emerge to teach us the wrong lessons this year.
I've noticed you do a meet and greet at most shows. Does it make you feel like Elizabeth Warren?
Jinkx: Elizabeth Warren feels like us, because we've been doing it longer.
What kind of gifts have you received from fans at these meet and greets?
DeLa: A lot of amazing fan art. We get all of these fascinating beautiful and bizarre depictions of ourselves.
Jinkx: I'm a well-known lush, but I recently and very publically announced my divorce with alcohol. So all of my fans accustomed to bringing me big bottles of vodka will have to get creative this year. I've really thrown them a curveball.
DeLa: It should be noted that onstage, Jinkx still is a lush.
Jinkx: Oh yes. Just in case anyone is worried: Drunk Jinkx alive and well and living in the theater.