Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme on making Christmas queer again – and why they want to host SNL
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are taking over the world, one performance at a time.
Monsoon recently became the first queen to win Drag Race twice, the second time being against seven of the fiercest winners the franchise has ever seen. DeLa has similarly gone from strength to strength, with her own production company, BenDeLaCreme Presents, producing art by, and for, drag queens, including her critically-hailed solo woman show.
They’ve also staked a claim on Christmas, with live festive shows and a new holiday song, “Looking For The Lights” to help fans get into the spirit of the season.
Ahead of their fourth international holiday tour, titled The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, the duo have released the single “Looking at the Lights”, a track from 2021’s show.
The duo spoke to PinkNews about their creative process, synergetic partnership and why drag is so important – now, more than ever.
PinkNews: DeLa you wrote “Looking at the Lights” and Jinkx, you performed it – and it was composed by Major Scales. What does it mean for you to have that partnership?
BenDeLaCreme: That song came out of me free-writing, trying to figure out what last year’s show was about, because it was such a weird, sad year. It wasn’t something I ever intended to share with anybody – but when I did, it clearly resonated. And to have it resonate enough with Jinkx to vocally bring it to life in the way that I could never, it’s fantastic to see a simple, emotional experience that feels like you won’t be able to share, go through all these channels and be something that is received by the world.
Jinkx Monsoon: The people that we started working with before either of us were on Drag Race are the people we still work with today; we don’t start at ground zero, we start with a decade of knowing each other. That informs the work so much because, when you hear the song, you can hear that it was written specifically for my voice.
It’s this beautiful example of the mission statement and the art synergizing because everything BenDeLaCreme Presents does is specifically geared towards the queer community. It’s for the queer community, by queer artists. So the art is better because of the mission statement, and the mission statement gets fulfilled because we follow it while we’re creating the art. That’s the work I’ve always wanted to do. That’s the work I’m doing now. And I’m doing it with my best friend.
PN: Your art is for the queer community, by the queer community, including this song and tour. What’s the importance in that?
JM: We’re at this wonderful renaissance of seeing queer performers playing queer roles at a higher volume than ever before, but you still see outsiders creating content for our community. You might have queer performers, you might have queer writers, but when there’s straight producers, whose mind is on money, that’s when you start to see queer characters get boiled down to catchphrases or plot points.
When you have someone like BenDeLaCreme, who owns a production company that produces not only our holiday tour, but many of her solo shows, they are the queer people that we want to see. It’s run by the queer people that need their voices heard in this in the mainstream media.
BDLC: People resonate with authenticity when they see it. You don’t have to understand its inner workings for it to read on stage or screen. It speaks to the hunger of audiences, that we’ve been so well received. Now, you’re seeing some of the stuff that feels like it comes from a less genuine place, moving slowly into a different category as more and more queer artists start to really speak from their gut.
PN: Drag is moving ever further into the mainstream – and your shows are at the forefront of that. You’ve now produced four holiday tours and a feature-length film, The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special. Where does this upcoming show find itself in relation to that?
BDLC: What we’re making is even bigger and more sprawling than our last show, which was bigger than our last. It’s never intentional, to build something bigger and better, but we just do because there’s so much energy behind the fact that so many people are excited for this. At its core, this is two small queer kids being the weirdos that they were and figuring out how, in adulthood, to get back to that unabashed weirdness.
JM: When something is niche, like the queer community, we get conditioned by mainstream culture to think of it in more limited terms. What our show does, is build upon [shows like Drag Race] and say, not only are there many different types of drag queens out there, there’s many different ways to perform drag and to receive drag. If you come to our show because you love theatre, you’re gonna leave a fan of drag. And if you love drag and come see our show, you’re gonna leave a fan of theatre.
PN: Can I ask for any teases?
JM: I don’t like to say any of the teasers because I inadvertently always give away something that DeLa didn’t want me to. I’m gonna hand that over.
BDLC: I’ll give one that’s not content-based, this is the first year that we’re getting to travel across the pond with our entire cast. We have six dancers that are part of this community we’ve worked with for a very long time. That’s allowed us to weave a narrative this year that’s way more complicated, deeply bizarre, but I think will be very satisfying. We’ve got all the Christmas stuff you want, and then we’re pulling in a whole lot of other stuff you wouldn’t expect and weaving it into Christmas tradition. And I think it’s gonna be really fun.
JM: There’s certain things that happen in a year that just have to be talked about on stage. We usually work in some film references from whatever amazing films we’ve seen. But this year, we’re taking lots of inspiration from the really wonderful sci-fi movies that have come out this year…
BDLC: You wanted to avoid spoilers, and then you just went there. Wow. Alright.
PN: How does your creative process work?
JM: Every year, there’s a point where DeLa realises that the show we wrote is what we are most grappling with that year in our own personal lives. We don’t go into every show thinking ‘We’re going to write a show with a bunch of heart,’ we go into the show writing something entertaining, and the heart gets infused, because our hearts are enlarged, and they just can’t help but find their way into our work.
BDLC: We’re in a new chapter where we’re really still trying to be present as much as we’re trying to move forward and we are still very much caught up in something that happened in the recent past. We’re trying not to look backwards, trying to be present, trying to move forward. If only you can imagine how past, present and future might play into a Christmas thematic show. Then, with a sci-fi slant. There you have it.
PN: And what can we expect in the future for you two?
JM: I don’t think they’ve ever had two hosts at once for SNL. But imagine if for the first time ever, they had two hosts, and they were both drag queens. That would be like, three of my dreams coming true at once.
BDLC: Jinkx’s performance career is blasting through the roof and is going to continue, and I love performing, but I’m really finding that production and direction is something that’s so deeply satisfying to me. As we move forward, pursuing more film and television is an aspect that I’m so excited about. It’s cool because Jinkx Monsoon and I have these goals and these passions that really complement each other.
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