Months before The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show even begins, two of the most beloved drag queens in North America are already feeling the wintery spirit. When the Straight caught up with Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme in September, they were already working hard on this year’s iteration of their all-singing, all-dancing, all-extravagance annual holiday show.
“We tell everyone else in our lives, ‘Winter time—and subsequently fall, so we can write the show—that’s Jinkx and DeLa time,’” Monsoon says with a familiar witchy cackle. “Everything else has to take a bow and let the holidays take over for a while.”
There’s a lot that needs to get put on pause. Monsoon and DeLa both shot to fame through successful stints on seasons five and six (respectively) of RuPaul’s Drag Race in the early-mid 2010s, and they always have projects on the go. Monsoon has done everything from starring in Broadway’s Chicago as Mama Morton to joining the cast of the next season of Doctor Who, while DeLa runs bustling production company BenDeLaCreme Presents.
And while the pair put on their first holiday tour in 2018, DeLa had been producing Christmas-y shows in Seattle for a decade before that—with Jinkx joining the cast whenever she was in town—cementing her reputation as the queen of the festive season.
“We both felt passionately about being able to continue queer holiday tradition and grow it even further, through this artistic marriage of sorts,” DeLa explains. “No matter where we go, the community that needs this is pretty consistent… The audience, whether they be queer-identified, or just folks who feel disenfranchised and need to be creating their own traditions and finding their own family—that’s a universal experience. That’s something that folks from every place and all walks of life understand and relate to.”
The last six years have seen the queens taking their festive show on the road. Even the uncertainty of 2020 couldn’t knock their spirits, as the duo put out The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special—a kitschy take on the classic Christmas TV variety show à la Christmas at Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
While the script of the show changes every year, some things stay the same. Both Monsoon and DeLa share certain vaudeville sensibilities: a love of capital-t Theatre, camp charm, and good, old-fashioned over-the-topness, served up with earnest sincerity below the silliness. The familiar routine of the yearly tour has turned the duo’s holiday show into a well established queer tradition, often contrasting DeLa’s terminally delightful energy with Jinkx’s more cynical outlook as they play outsized versions of their drag characters.
“It used to be a bit of a frenemy thing,” Jinkx reflects. “We realized if we set up a competitive angle between us, people will expect that and push it further. It’s one thing if we want to joke about that, but it’s another when people kind of push that onto us… This year, it’s going to be Jinkx and DeLa versus the world.”
“The world” is pretty accurate, considering the two-month monster festive tour is bigger than ever this year, taking in 23 US cities, four UK dates, and four Canadian provinces before wrapping up in Vancouver on December 30.
With such an established schedule in place, there’s plenty of fan desire to see the show’s different iterations year after year. But spreading that lightness and love only works so long as the performers are fully committed to the bit—and the years spent working on this project together have only strengthened their love for this yuletide show.
“This show is something that has seen us through a lot, in the same way that we as close friends, and any two close friends, get more and more bonded by the experiences you go through,” DeLa says thoughtfully. “But this show is its own entity that we’re also responsible for, and that we have a relationship to. That relationship grows stronger as we go, you know?”
Her eyes light up as she ponders what she’s just said. “Whoa, Jinkx—I think I just wrote another little section of our monologue.”
“Was someone recording this?” Monsoon deadpans. And then there’s that cackle again.
When: December 30, 8pm
Where: Orpheum Theatre
Admission: $65.25+, available here