Friday, June 21, 2024

Making the Yuletide gay with drag duo Jinkx & DeLa

There is no better way to usher in the festive season than to get up close and personal with these touring drag superstars!

Drag superstars Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are currently on tour with The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show. This will mark the fourth year that the duo has hit the road, spreading their unique brand of holiday cheer in a show celebrated by critics and fans alike.

Having already completed their engagement in the United Kingdom, the girls are back home in North America crisscrossing the US and making stops in Canada all the way through December 30, after which Jinkx will go on to make Broadway history as the first drag performer to portray Matron Mama Morton in Chicago in early 2023.

We were lucky enough to have the chance to sit down with the comediennes to discuss the show, what the holidays mean to them, and our mutual love of Jennifer Tilly!

The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show 2022 (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

Queer Forty (Q40): Hello ladies! It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to chat with the two of you! I’m hearing great things about this year’s show. What can fans expect this year? Are there any plot points or themes you can share with us?

BenDeLaCreme (DeLa): Well, you know, every year we base the show on the same basic premise that people can always come in and expect, which is that the show is really about the friendship between Jinkx and I. It’s about the characters. It’s about the differences in the characters and how they bump up against each other, how they see things from a very different perspective, but also the real underlying love and friendship between them. And that part of the story is always going to be the same. It’s also always going to be that our show is a love letter to all the folks out there, queer or otherwise, who feel that the holidays and the way they’re marketed and presented is not necessarily for them. It’s a show about creating your own community, your own family, your own traditions, and finding joy; regardless of how difficult this time of year can be.

And then with that said, every single year we come at it from a new angle that’s really informed by the world around us, what’s happening politically, socially and what we’re going through as individuals that we can make universal. This year, we’re really in a moment where we’re looking to the future. How do we move forward as a society and how are we reflecting on the past? The show is diving into those ideas in a fun and entertaining way. However, I want to keep the specifics, the new characters ,and all the inner workings a surprise because they’re pretty bombastic!!

Q40: Totally understandable! I was wondering though, how do you guys go about writing your shows? What does that process look like?

Jinkx Monsoon (Jinkx): You ever seen the movie Misery?

Q40: (GAFFAWS) One of my favorites!!

Jinkx: (Laughs) So DeLa and I, we have the fortunate blessing in our work to have known each other for over a decade. We’re on like 13 or 14 years now of respecting each other, admiring each other, and learning each other’s aesthetic and brand of humor. By the time we started writing together, we already had a really strong sense of who the other one was and how to create content together. And now, five years into it, we can write in each other’s voice. We start coming up with the same idea at the same time. It’s like a hive mentality.

So, the actual process is that we just lock ourselves in a hotel and spend like three weeks intensely pouring over every minute detail of our show so that by the time we’re putting it up in front of an audience it’s polished, ready to be seen, ready to be consumed. But also, because it’s live entertainment, anything could happen and we’re both really skilled performers for those on-the-spot moments of reality that creep their way on stage. (laughs)

That’s why live entertainment is so exciting, because literally anything could happen.

Jinkx Monsoon with Ruby Mimosa, Mr. Babygirl, and Elby Brosch. (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

Q40: Very true. Man! To be a fly on that wall in that hotel room must have been something…

Jinkx: You ever seen The Shining?

Q40: (Cackles) This next question is for both of you. I was wondering what is your personal relationship to the holiday season and how do you celebrate?

Jinkx: You know what’s so funny is DeLa and I on stage have very specific dynamics and we have very specific backstories for our characters. And then off stage we kind of flip flop a lot of things. Because on stage, Jinkx is very, very cynical about the holidays and DeLa is all for the holidays. But when you take us off stage, I’m kind of the one who came into this thinking I love the holidays and DeLa has always….well, the reason why she’s worked on the holidays is because she’s very publicly processing her childhood trauma around the holidays.

So, it’s funny that now after five years of working together, this has become our holiday tradition. And it’s kind of meta in that way, that every year we talk on stage about creating a holiday tradition that works for you, that creates your own sense of family, and we’ve done that in doing the show. The dancers that we work with every year have become my little squishy babies on tour. DeLa and I are already family, so even though we do it on stage and on the road, it really is our version of home for the holidays.

L-R: Mr. Babygirl, Shane Donohue, Jinkx Monsoon, Chloe Albin, Elby Brosch,
BenDeLaCreme, and Ruby Mimosa. (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

DeLa: Both the folks that are on stage and the people that are behind the scenes, I mean they all are genuinely our chosen family, which makes the actual tour so joyous and it’s something that we look forward to all year. So yeah, the show is our tradition. The show is how we celebrate. And to me, it really is the perfect way to do it.

The way that I initially came into wanting to make holiday content is that I really strongly dreaded the holidays every year. I did not have a good experience with the holidays growing up and I wanted to find a way to spin them for me that would make them joyful. And quite honestly, I needed an excuse not to go home anymore. That was a big piece of it.

Jinkx talked about our different perspectives, but it’s also different histories. I mean, Jinkx grew up really enjoying the holidays. I grew up dreading them from the time I was a child, and then the characters get to speak to the opposite voice. I personally love getting to write DeLa as somebody who blindly loves the holidays and has really fond sugar-coated memories of them, because it’s a really fun opportunity for me to do sort of like a scathing satire of how vapid I see that point of view.

Jinkx: And the perfect way to sum up my experience with the holidays and my family and all of that stuff, is that every year when we bring the show to Portland, my guest list is like 25 people because my entire family- entire blood family and all the extended family- and all the people who raised me come out to see this holiday show, even when there’s monologues in it about my mom ruining Christmas. (LAUGHS)

Jim Kent, BenDeLaCreme, and Jinkx Monsoon. (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

Q40: I love that. I’m sorry the holidays were rough for you, DeLa, but I do love that the art that you two are creating is becoming a tradition for your fans as well. It’s like you’re bringing them in on your tradition too. It’s great.

So, moving right along… Congrats on being crowned the Queen of All Queens Jinkx!

Jinkx: What? What are you talking about? Oh my God, I forgot to watch that episode!!!

No, thank you. That’s very kind.

Q40: Of course! It was so well deserved. I’m so glad you got the recognition you deserve. I was wondering what, if anything, has changed for you since winning that title?

Jinkx: I could speak in grand, insightful terms, but really I could say it very succinctly with– I’m sober. I’m married. I’m very self-assured in my gender identity and gender presentation, and I have multiple successful working relationships with collaborators I love and respect above all else.

So, what changed is that I’m at my A+ as a human being. So, the work that I’m creating, I feel like it’s A+ too. And I I’ve worked really, really hard throughout the years to just carve out my place in the world of entertainment, in the world of drag and I think for the first time in my life, I just feel like … “hey! job well done, kid.” I haven’t felt like this since college. So, if you’re asking how I feel, I feel like a spring chicken once more. I feel revitalized, reborn, rejuvenated, and ready to take over the entire world.

Q40: Amazing! I’m so happy to hear that.

Now, DeLa I’ve seen your commentary on Queer For Fear, which has been so insightful. The last time we spoke you were talking about your interest in horror and how you might be further dipping your toes into the genre. Are there any updates on that front? I’m also wondering what your takes are on recent horror films that have come out like Hellraiser and Halloween Ends?

DeLa: Since we last spoke, everything has been so breakneck with the Ready to Be Committed Tour, and a secret project I can’t talk about, and then this; so, I have not had a chance to advance those plans yet. What I will say is that the time is currently carved out to develop the project. It’s coming down the pipe, and I’m very excited to get there. But yeah, and in being so busy, I hate to say this, I haven’t seen either of those films yet!

Q40: That’s OK. You’re busy.

BenDeLaCreme (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

DeLa: Please don’t tell on me! I will say that one that movie that I just was like fully obsessed with that came out this year was X and I am really excited to see the prequel that I still have not had the opportunity to see even though it’s been out for a bit. (Laughs)

Oh! I also have to say I’m absolutely obsessed with the Chucky series and the Child’s Play franchise. Don Mancini’s work is something that I’ve been so passionate about for such a long time! The first three Child’s Play movies were Don Mancini’s concept, but then other people were at the helm, and then as soon as he retook the reins with Bride of Chucky, it suddenly became so queer and has been ever since.

This Chucky series is so phenomenal. It’s such a great gift to the fans of the franchise, the way it’s pulling everything together. But God, I love how queer it is! I love that the main characters are queer. I loved that the Jennifer Tilly camp is just turned up to 25.

Jinkx: You didn’t ask me but I love all the same things and I did see the new Hellraiser. (LAUGHS)

DeLa: Now you know, who’s been working harder.

Jinkx: Ohhh! (To DeLa) Good job! (laughs) But I do want to point out that I’m like, constantly retweeting Jennifer Tilly because I could not be more obsessed with that woman.

Q40: Me too!  My God. How could you not be? I hope she’s seen your impression of her because it is absolutely perfect, but I digress.

Jinkx Monsoon (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

Q40: Jinkx I just read an interview with you where you were talking about your sobriety, and how video games helped you in that journey. So, I’d like to know if you have any tips, recommendations, or best practices for people struggling with this issue?

Jinkx: I can only really speak to my own experience, but I can definitely share the things that helped me. There’s an app that’s called I Am Sober and it’s a sober clock. It tracks how long it’s been since your last drink and how much money you’ve saved and how many hours you’ve saved. And for me, as kind of a type A personality with OCD tendencies, the app was the biggest difference between this time and any previous time I quit drinking.

Alcohol used to be a way that I would unwind from all the adrenaline that I leave the stage with, the way that I’m keyed up after my shows. I really love Overwatch as my end of end of night decompress game, probably because of the diversity in the characters and the queer representation and the femme representation, and I just kick ass as Moira so….

But when I have a couple days off, then I have my own little video game staycations where I sink into a fantasy RPG. And for that, right now I’ve got Horizon Forbidden West.

DeLa:  And I still love Ms. Pac-Man!

Q40: Yeah, me too. I haven’t advanced far past Ms. Pac-Man. (Laughs)

Now, you two are some of the absolute funniest, most talented queens in the industry. What exactly informs your sense of humor?

DeLa: I am really inspired by character driven, over the top performers. I love Pee Wee Herman, played by Paul Rubens. I love Cassandra Peterson as Elvira. I love Amy Sedaris and everything she does. These sort of figures that are like larger than life and really wacky, but we still like believe in them because the performers are so committed.

And when I think of mine and Jinkx’s dynamic, I think of more vintage references. I think of Abbott and Costello. I think of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Lucy and Ethel, all these relationships where people have opposing perspectives but really love each other. I love all that stuff.

Jinkx: What informs my sense of humor is a lot of dry British comedies from the 90s and early 2000s. I Love Lucy. The Twilight Zone. I love old Hollywood references. And then on the converse side of things, I take lots of inspiration from the video games I play and cartoons that I watch.  So, I don’t know. I’m a typical millennial obsessed with the past but can only exist in the present. (LAUGHS)

L-R: Ruby Mimosa, Jim Kent, Shane Donohue, Jinkx Monsoon, BenDeLaCreme, Chloe
Albin, Mr. Babygirl, and Elby Brosch. (Photo Credit: Curtis Brown)

Q40: I can definitely see all those things in your work.

OK, so the last question and this is for both of you. What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Jinkx: I’ve been planting a lot of seeds in the last ten years of my career so that this year a lot of those seeds are starting to take root and blossom, and I’ve got lots of exciting things in the realms of TV, voiceover acting, stage, screen- a lot of things that I can’t talk about, but I’m very, very excited for what will be taking place in 2023.

DeLa: Um, 2023? I feel like finally we’ve almost finished playing catch up for everything that we lost in 2020 and parts of 2021, and this year has been so much about making up for all that lost time. I’m really excited for all of the time that I have blocked out next year to really strike out on the new ventures that have been percolating in my mind while my body’s been busy with making up for the past.

Q40: And I know that we’re all excited to see what’s coming next from both of you!! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules to chat with us. Best of luck on the rest of the tour and Happy New Year!

To stay up to date on The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show and to snag any last-minute tickets click here.

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John Hernandez

John A. Hernandez is a staff writer for Queer Forty with a focus on entertainment. He is also a writer for Vacationer Magazine and a contributor to Bear World Magazine and Gayming Magazine. He has a special love for all things horror and Halloween. He currently resides with his husband in New York City.

John Hernandez has 135 posts and counting. See all posts by John Hernandez

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