‘Tis the season once again! Or, if you’re two-time “RuPaul’s Drag Race” veteran and legendary drag queen BenDeLaCreme, the season ‘twas never gone.
From the release of her first movie “The Jinkx and Dela Holiday Special” last December to the already-bustling preparations of her 2021 holiday tour with longtime collaborator Jinkx Monsoon, BenDeLaCreme is constantly bearing the weight of her holiday queen crown.
“We’ve always kind of been like scrappy and doing it for ourselves,” BenDeLaCreme recounted in an interview with The Daily Californian, discussing the history of her projects with fellow drag legend Jinkx Monsoon. “When Hulu called a couple days later and wanted (our special), that blew my mind.”
The film marked a promising change in both holiday tradition as well as for the career path for the pair of stage veterans. But luckily for longtime fans, DeLa never once planned on leaving live audiences behind.
“The holiday tour really is my favorite thing that we get to do all year,” DeLa emphasized. “This is the first tour that I ever started producing in 2018 … I’m really proud of the work that Jinkx and I do together.”
While their tour will touch down at various international locations, DeLa’s hometown Seattle remains her favorite spot to perform in. She also highlighted San Francisco’s drag scene for its receptive audiences and its role in influencing her craft.
“People are telling stories, people are doing this kind of really subversive, weird work,” DeLa described, citing nightclub Oasis and local legend Peaches Christ as examples of the city’s innovative culture. “San Francisco, they just get it.”
As much as DeLa enjoys her San Franciscan audience, the adoration is outweighed by her diverse fandom in the wider Bay Area.
“It’s amazing,” DeLa said of her shows being a window for queer youths to envision drag as an artistic refuge away from home life. “When I was that age, the internet was barely a thing you know, and (it was hard) for me to find community, to find artists that I looked up to … It’s so cool that younger people don’t have to deal with all those hurdles.”
Reminiscing on her experience as a young adult in Boston discovering drag for the first time, DeLa remembered that it was a rendition of “The Bad Seed” by theatrical troupe The Gold Dust Orphans as well as Varla Jean Merman’s “Holiday Ham” that planted the seed for her campy persona.
“Those two shows kind of changed the course of my life, and that was really fortunate that I stumbled into that at 18,” DeLa said. “I’m really, really glad that so many more young queer youth get to have that.”
While Bay Area youth will undoubtedly find themselves flocking to The Palace of Fine Arts this winter for DeLa’s San Francisco stop on her upcoming tour, DeLa assured that queer people of any age will see themselves represented in her newest show.
“It will always take us on the journey of navigating what it means to be a queer person at this time of year,” DeLa explained. “We’re exploring it in an immediate sense; what is it like in the scope of pop culture right now? What is it like coming out of the pandemic?”
None of the answers come easily. In fact, DeLa confessed that she has her own worries about reentering public space.
“Starting to share space with people again has been a very weird and emotionally confusing process,” DeLa stated. “We’re all readjusting and we’re all discovering something new, and so that’s really what the show is about this year.”
With DeLa’s original rockier relationship with the holidays in mind, writing for and performing a perpetually cheerful character does not always come naturally.
“It’s hard to write for an optimistic character right now,” DeLa elaborated. “The world is so daunting and overwhelming, and for somebody that loves the holidays this much, how does (DeLa) find her footing again when it’s harder than ever to believe that Christmas really matters?”
Luckily, the chemistry between co-stars DeLa and Jinkx Monsoon is unwavering. As they navigate pandemic-induced uncertainties, any poor memories of the holidays are bound to be replaced by ones they create on tour.
“What really makes Jinkx and my dynamic work is that you see the actual love,” DeLa said. “Without the undercurrent of that real love and that genuine friendship, I don’t think people would want to go on this ride.”
As the collaborative relationship between the two stars has succeeded both the stage and the camera, DeLa isn’t opposed to crafting another film production.
“It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done,” DeLa recalled of last year’s Christmas special. “I can’t imagine (making another), that sounds like a full-on nightmare. And I also can’t imagine not doing it, because it was so satisfying.”
Along with a solo spring 2022 tour planned, DeLa is toying with turning one of her famed Seattle solos into video, or even taking her film style in the direction of horror.
“You never know what kind of opportunities are going to come your way extending out of something like your first film,” DeLa said. “I’m excited to see where things go from here in my film world.”
Tickets are available now at http://jinkxanddela.com/