There are long-running reality shows, and then there's RuPaul's Drag Race. The competition series started on Logo back in 2009, and has grown into a massive Emmy-winning franchise that has given Drag Queens a national platform and plenty of fans. Two of these fan-favorite contestants are BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon, who both had very strong showings that proved showcased acting chops. This pair of friends and collaborators are bringing the Christmas Cheer with their new movie The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special, and I had the privilege to speak with the terminally delightful DeLa myself. And during this chat she revealed how Judy Garland herself influenced the new special.
BenDeLaCreme produces and stars in The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special, so she's intimately connected with the material. The movie is an adaptation of the Drag Race alums' touring show, which was reworked to become a filmed holiday special. The design is similar to classics like the Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby 1957 special, and DeLa shared with me how the great Judy Garland factored into her vision. I brought up Sinatra/Crosby in our conversation about the classics, to which she responded:
It’s funny you mention Frank and Bing because the score composer and I spent a lot of time watching that special. I would say the number one touch point in this, which is true for many queer content, is the Judy Garland Christmas Special. That entire premise, that is just one of my favorite Christmas classics. We really play into the thing that’s happening there which is that she’s fourth-wall breaking as if you’re a guest in her home. And she’s inviting you into her home with her family. But her home is clearly an enormous sound stage that still is trying to fool us that it’s her actual living room. Which can fit a kick-line of 20 Santas in the middle of it.
This makes a great deal of sense. Because while The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special is obviously contemporary and poking fun at classic specials, it truly does invoke the same spirit as Judy Garldand's special from back in 1963. During the run of The Judy Garland Show, the episode featured the late icon "at home" and had musical numbers and her children Lorna and Joey Duff.
As BenDeLaCreme mentions, Judy Garland has had a long history as a beloved icon for the LGBTQIA+ community. As such, her Christmas Special has been treasured and passed down. And it's this same over the top premise that helps fuel The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special. And with Jinkx Monsoon often serving as a foil to DeLa's cheer, the project also feels very contemporary.
The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special being a filmed drag show is also appropriately heightened, even from Judy Garland Christmas Special standards. Shade is thrown, copious amounts of drinks are had, and there's a naked man thrown in for good measure. There's also some hilarious puppet work involved, which feels akin to Pee Wee's Playhouse. Later in our same conversation about influences, she did name drop Pee Wee, saying:
The Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special is my other favorite holiday film. And it really is just the most bonkers, absurdist, wacky extension of that original Judy Garland concept. And just bring it to the most insane extremes. Those are such pivotal, influential things for me that I had so much fun digging into as reference points.
Clearly The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special is a labor of love for BenDeLaCreme. In addition to being an immortalized version of her stage show with Jinkx Monsoon, she was also able to be influenced by holiday programming that she shared a personal connection with. Add the pair of RuPaul's Drag Race favorites, and you've got a recipe that is sure to make the yuletide gay.
Jinkx Monsoon and BenDelaCreme became household names thanks to their appearances on RuPaul's Drag Race in Season 5 and respectively. Jinkx won, while DeLa went on to give a great performance on All-Stars, before being the first queen to eliminate herself from the competition. The two Queens hail from Seattle and have been friends for over a decade.