Following an all-too-brief summer we can already feel the days getting shorter and the nights drawing in, which means one thing – Christmas is just around the corner! After a year of doom, gloom and Zoom, what better way to celebrate than by enjoying an evening of camp festive fun with two of our favourite drag queens, Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme? The duo have co-written and co-created The Return of the Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE! – which will call at seven cities in the UK this November.
The tour follows their critically-acclaimed Christmas shows To Jesus, Thanks For Everything in 2018 and All I Want For Christmas Is Attention in 2019, alongside their 2020 film The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special. It sounds like it’s shaping up to be a fab night out, which is sure to make the yuletide gayer than ever, but don’t just take our word for it – we had a delightfully camp little chat with the queens ahead of rehearsals for their tour. Here’s what they had to say…
You’ve been doing a Christmas show together for a few years now – how did this first come about?
DeLa: Ready for a long answer? One of many long answers?! Well, I’ve actually been doing holiday shows for a long time, starting in 2007. In Seattle I was producing a run of shows every year. Jinkx and I met around the same time and the tale of how we met each other was basically me being like ‘this drag queen is too incredibly talented not to pull into my projects’ so I started casting her in those shows. And then fast forward many many years – we’d done stuff on stage together, we’d done Drag Race, we’d obviously known each other a long time but we’d never collaborated, just the two of us, on creating something. The dynamic was so strong that it just felt like a very natural fit so we decided to take a swing, do a tour, see if people would be into it. Turns out, they were!
Jinkx: I should point out that everything she said is true. That said, as the producer, she did cast me in her shows but I had to play, like, the soot-covered orphan in the early holiday shows. So she was the glamorous drag queen and I was the toothless Dickensian waif coming on stage singing Oh ‘Oly Night, coughing up coal dust!
Without giving spoilers, can you give us a flavour of what audiences might expect?
DeLa: I think that we always want to give people two things: we want to give people a show that addresses what is happening for all of us right now, the cultural moment, whether that be what we’re all excited about in pop culture, or the general fears and anxieties that we’re dealing with; and then we also want to give people something familiar and joyous, something that can be escapism and also really incorporate that we have something that we can return to each year. People are going to get to see a lot of the things that they know and love from the Jinkx and DeLa holiday canon, but we’re also going to be bringing people on a journey and exploring the uniqueness of this new era as we re-enter the world, after we’ve experienced this collective trauma that took us through the holidays last year.
Jinkx: Every year we work in a few of the things that you will come to know and expect from us as a duo, but every year we write a brand new show. Doing an annual holiday tour, I think it’s a lot of people’s assumption that we’ve written one holiday show and we just do the same show every year, and that the movie is just the movie version of the same show. But truly we write a brand new show every year and then work in some call backs to the things that our audiences want to see from us annually. So if you’ve seen past tours or if you’ve seen our film just know that this is going to be a unique experience for the winter season of 2021!
Your touring schedule looks quite intense around Christmas! How are you spending the day itself?
DeLa: We always take Christmas Day itself off. We’ll be in Seattle, I’ve spent every Christmas in Seattle since 2007 and so it’s always been important to us to spend the actual Christmas Eve there. We know a lot of people there who count on us for that Christmas Eve tradition, but Christmas Day is always the day that we take to spend with each other and our friends and our chosen family. We’re always kinda flat on our backs form the exhaustion of touring, but it’s so nice to experience what we’ve been talking about the last two months, for ourselves!
Jinkx: My family has just gotten used to – if we’re lucky, we celebrate something on the day that it happened… this is my blood family, my chosen family has gotten used to me just being a text message! I’m a bit of a hermit by nature but I do love working, so scheduling work on significant days is the best way to make sure that I’m actually going to do something that day, rather than just hole up in my bedroom playing video games!
Is there anything you’d like to do while you’re here in the UK?
Jinkx: Luckily for both of us, we’ve spent a lot of time in the UK so we’ve gotten some of the touristy things out of the way. But also I’m married to a British person so I think a lot of my time is just going to be spent one on one! So working in the UK it’s a way to get to celebrate the holiday with my partner who’s used to getting a third of my year each year. My partner and I have done some of the actual touristy things, not like anything I’m actually interested in, but we did it just to say we did it! I remember one of our dates was spent at the M&M store in London just for the fun of it!
DeLa: I actually can’t count the number of times that I’ve stood in front of Buckingham Palace, like I’m not really sure what you do after standing there for the first time but it’s happened a lot. I love the Royal Gallery though! Unfortunately on this tour there’s not a lot of downtime but fortunately both of us have gotten to have lots of wonderful time there and some more time coming up in 2022.
This last 18 months has been a very difficult time for performers – how does it make you feel to be returning to the stage, with a live audience?
DeLa: Oh my god, overjoyed! I truly cannot wait to be in a theatre again with actual live human beings. This will be the two year mark for me in terms of touring, the last big thing we did was the 2019 holiday tour. I’ve always known how much I love live performance, I’ve always talked about it a lot in terms of the difference between creating web content and working with an audience, but there’s a whole new level of appreciation now. There’s nothing like the energetic exchange in a room, be it an exchange with your performance partner on stage, or the exchange with the audience… every night is so special and unique, every night is a memory that we all get, no matter who we are in the room, we all get to take that with us. I’m so happy that we get to experience that again!
Jinkx: Same! I’m really excited to be back on stage and I feel like it’s really fortunate that the first live show I’m going to be doing is the annual show that I always look at as the biggest and best thing that I put effort into in the year. In a typical year I spend three-fourths of the year travelling and doing shows, and they’re all special to me and I’m very proud of all the work that I do, but there’s something really significant and special about the tour that DeLa and I create together and the response that we get from our audiences with the show. So it’s really exciting that my first live show I’ll be doing is the one that is annually one of the best experiences. I mean, I’ll jump at the chance to do anything live again! But it’s kinda nice that it’s not gonna be, like, me on my own on a karaoke machine in my back yard performing for passersby! You know, it’s actually going to be a show.
We would still watch you on your own on a karaoke machine, that sounds great…
DeLa: Be careful what you wish for, some of us have heard that…
Jinkx: [singing] Don’t stop! Believing!
DeLa: Oh my god. Alright, well, goodnight everybody.
Ah thanks, that was special! Finally, in a nutshell, why should our readers come see your show?
Jinkx: No matter who you are, or what holiday you celebrate in the wintertime, I think there will be something there for you. We really run the gamut on examining this time of year through a queer lens, it’s very unapologetically and fervently a queer look at the holidays, but I think that we really work in a lot of universal themes. You can be someone who loves Christmas, or who hates Christmas, or someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, because you celebrate a different holiday, or you could be a complete atheist. Or you could be like me – a witch who practices à la carte spirituality! But we really run the gamut and focus on what’s universal at this time of year, through a queer lens. That doesn’t mean you have to be queer to enjoy it! You just have to not be an asshole.
DeLa: I think we really make a point to work on any level, so if you just wanna come and have a great time, hearing some fun songs, seeing some beautiful costumes, awesome comedy – we’ve got that for you, we’ve got a packed 90-minute rollercoaster ride of drag and hilarity. But if you wanna come for the heart and the spirit of it, a sense of community, and a fresh look at the holidays, that’s there for you too. We really pride ourselves on being able to get both of those experiences and I think it’s been amazing – we can think we’re hilarious, we can think we’re poignant, but after a couple of years of touring it turns out that other people really have that experience too. So the proof is in the figgy pudding! I hope that our audience will continue to grow… ask anybody, it’s great!
The Return of the Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE! will be calling at Liverpool (Playhouse Theatre 13 November), Edinburgh (Queens Hall, 15 November), London (Troxy, 19 November), Manchester (Palace Theatre, 20 November), Brighton (Theatre Royal, 21 November), Newcastle (Tyne Theatre & Opera House, 22 November) and Birmingham (Town Hall, 23 November) – more information can be found here.