Saturday, June 22, 2024
EntertainmentInterviews

Spreading holiday cheer and queer love: Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme

The holidays are here and Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are back with The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, an all new holiday show, marking their biggest tour yet.

The 2023 tour is a thirty city international tour including stops at various iconic locations including The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles; L’Olympia de Montreal; Moore Theatre in Seattle; Atlanta Symphony Hall; Kimmel Cultural Campus in Philadelphia; The Orpheum in Vancouver; Kings Theatre in Brooklyn; and two nights at the London Palladium. This year’s show is not only co-stars and is co-written by Jinkx and DeLa, but it’s also produced and directed by BenDeLaCreme under her production company BenDeLaCreme Presents. Queer Forty’s Jeffrey James Keyes caught up with Jinkx and DeLa for some laughter and the scoop on this year’s tour just before they kicked off their preview in Detroit. 

Queer Forty: I understand this year’s show is a new experience, what can our readers look forward to? 

Jinkx Monsoon: DeLa and I write a brand new show every year. It is a lovely, enjoyable, maddening experience. It becomes more of a challenge every year because we’ve got to think of more and more to say about the season. That, in turn, leads us to coming up with crazier and crazier premises for our shows. But our audiences said “Yes”, so we said “Yes as well.” And this year, you’re gonna get one heck of a Christmas themed drag show!

BenDeLaCreme: For those that saw the show last year, we took kind of a bold step that we weren’t sure whether it was going to work. We stepped into a Sci Fi vein doing A Christmas Carol Back to the Future mashup of sorts, and audiences embraced it so fervently and we’re so excited about stepping into this new way of talking about the themes we always talk about which are chosen family, the importance of creating your own traditions around the holidays and that core will always be there that will always be. It will always be why we do this. But when people you know tell us that not only is it okay with them for us to get weird but that they like it well then watch out because this year, we have gone on this whole kind of super now natural Faustian Twilight Zone Christmas route and I think people are going to be excited by the you know, the same kind of fun and spectacle and camp that we always have. But combined some of our most out there authentic weirdness that we have ever brought to the stage. 

(Laughter) 

Jinkx Monsoon

Queer Forty: Can you share a little about how your holiday experiences differ and how you incorporate some of your background into these holiday shows? 

Jinkx Monsoon: You know, what’s very, is that when it comes to the winter holiday season DeLa and I have very contrasting childhood memories, and whereas DeLa doesn’t have a lot of fond Christmas memories from her childhood. That’s where all my fond childhood memories live: at Christmas time. But then we get on stage and I play the character who is just sour on the holidays and DeLa plays the character who is way too enthusiastic about the holidays. And that dynamic allows us to play the gamut. And it allows us to experience the other side of things and bring the experiences we have from our own life into these characters that we play on stage.

BenDeLaCreme: I grew up in a very picturesque Norman Rockwell New England family that on the outside looked like it was really great but on the inside felt really alienating and repressive. I love that with my version of DeLa in this show that I get to represent this thing that I find so oppressive. I remember saying to Jinkx in the very first year we did this that it was really fun for me to play this show with her because I get to play the villain like I sort of DeLa as the oppressive force and that’s a really fun change for me in terms of what I get to do even though it still comes in this bubbly package.

QueerForty: How did you two decide to come together to do a holiday show? 

Jinkx Monsoon: DeLa had been producing queer holiday shows in Seattle for many years. When I started performing in those shows it was a very formative part of our friendship and that also began our very interesting relationship where we are both sisters and also DeLa has been a mentor to me throughout my life. So while working under her as a producer, I learned a lot that then I took into my own career. And then many years later, we were hosting each other’s Drag Race viewing parties as we took turns going on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and people really enjoyed watching us sit on stage and be ourselves riffing off of each other. We took that affirmation of our friendship into the winter season. We both had the season open one year and we said remember, you know the core mission statements of the old holiday show we did? What if we took that on the road, the two of us spreading holiday cheer around the world. It started out just sounding like a really fun idea. And now it’s a huge part of my life. It is a formative thing to do this show every year and I owe a lot of the recent wonderful experiences in my life, to my ongoing partnership with BenDeLaCreme and working on this show, point blank. (laughs) 

BenDeLaCreme

BenDeLaCreme: Jinx and I obviously have really had this opportunity to bolster and lift each other up. Both of us talk a lot about how working with the other has improved our individual work as well as together.  We have this connection, similar references, aesthetics, and  loves, but we also kind of have strengths that click together. When it started out, we were filling some of each other’s gaps so to speak, that sounds gross, but as we’ve grown, we’ve learned so much from each other that now we’ve gone from filling each other’s gaps to two holes. How’s that for a breast, quote? 

(Laughter) 

Jinkx Monsoon: Two holes? W-H-O-L-E-S. She loves wordplay. 

(More laughter) 

Queer Forty: Okay, I can tell this show is going to be epic. What do you hope the audience takes away from the experience? 

BenDeLaCreme: Well, you know, oh, sorry. You go. 

Jinkx Monsoon: I’ve gone first every other time you go.

(Laughter) 

BenDeLaCreme: The mission statement of this show is about us wanting to remind and encourage people that no matter how the holidays make you feel…if you feel alienated from the the messaging and the imagery of homecoming and family togetherness, if that feels like something you weren’t given access to, we’re here to say you have access to it. Home is where you want to return to. Family is who you want to spend your time with. Traditions are the ones you want to create. We’re honored to be a part of a lot of people’s holiday traditions now. There are so many people who come back year after year, and tell us that this is their holiday tradition now. That’s an honor for us because it’s ours too. The bottom line of this show is always that both the audience and we feel better knowing that there’s a place to return to and every single year and to and to speak openly and candidly as queer people to confront the terrible things going on in the world to speak our minds. Within that, we realize there are so many people who share those sentiments and this is a great way to kind of gather strength for the year to come. It’s both a call to action and a respite. And that’s what really makes it work.

Jinkx Monsoon: Christmas was my favorite time of year as a kid. I grew up in a really loving supportive family. You know, we weren’t perfect but I always got to be myself, I was always celebrated for being myself and I see that as such a big privilege. Now I have this way to share that joy that I felt around the season for my community for people who might not have grown up with that feeling. My co-star DeLa did not grow up with that feeling around the holidays. Together we get to build a fun experience. That’s kind of become my personal mission statement: I share with my community the joy that my grandma, my aunt, my mother, and the lovely women in my life gave to me around this season. I pay it forward. You know?

Queer Forty: I have to commend you both because I feel like aside from A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker there has really been limited holiday offerings. Thank you both for expanding the canon of holiday offerings, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. In looking at the cities you’re heading to, are there any that you’re excited about in particular? 

BenDeLaCreme: Whatever city you live in, is our absolute favorite.

(Laughter) 

The reality actually is that Jinkx and I have been so lucky that you can’t tell what city you’re in based on the audience’s response. There’s something that transcends geography about this need for queer space and this and there is a joy that we all feel together. I don’t think there is any one place where an audience is better or worse. They’re all there to have the same experience. And it’s, it’s, it’s pretty, it’s pretty special.

Jinkx Monsoon: Yeah, we’re all part of the world. So the things that have happened this year happened to all of us, you know, and we all experience the winter together. We all have to put up with all kinds of systems that don’t necessarily have the queer community in mind. We provide an annual space where we address all of that in a light hearted way, and lampoon what we have to go through just to be clear people alive today. We need that, it recharges us for the next year.

Queer Forty: Do you have any hopes for the upcoming year for 2024?

BenDeLaCreme: Break the system! 

Jinkx Monsoon: I hope we continue to dismantle the patriarchy. That’s all.

BenDeLaCreme: We need to continue to realize that the folks that we’re up against are loud and awful. But they’re also outnumbered and we need to continue to manifest our powers for good and the good of the country and the world around us.

For more information, and to sign up for updates, visit jinkxanddela.com.

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