Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme truly are the Queens of Christmas. From their hit traveling stage tours of holidays past to making a memorable drag cameo in Happiest Season (the year’s hottest Christmas movie), what else could this dynamic duo have up their sequined sleeves? Why, their infallible chemistry and irrepressible talents in the form of a holiday musical, of course. Directed by BenDeLaCreme, The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special is on a mission to hit you right in your funny bone, your holiday season feelings (be they nostalgic or filled with dread), and to be a part of your annual December viewing traditions – and I daresay their mission is a success.
Harkening to Christmas variety shows of the 1960s, The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special seamlessly incorporates clever wordplay, gorgeous set designs, campy costumes, slick cinematography, and two ends of the holiday enthusiasm spectrum – the suffocating, sentimental cheer from DeLa and the jaded, inebriated unease from Jinkx. Just about every aspect of the special works, driven by the reverberating comedy magic that happens when the two come together.
Best known as the Seattle queens on back-to-back seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Jinkx won season five and DeLa was crowned Miss Congeniality on season six and then controversially dropped out of All Stars 3 after being the favorite to win), the special’s co-creators and co-writers are powerhouses of drag. While DeLa brings her signature “terminally delightful” persona, boundless energy, and whipsmart irony to the special, Jinkx showcases her range as she laments over the holidays, pours herself another drink, and sings her praises to Hecate (remember, not everyone celebrates Christmas).
Adding to their flawless comedic timing, the costumes and looks that Jinkx and DeLa wear are nothing short of breathtaking. In a tap-dancing number, DeLa delights in a campy costume that turns her torso into Santa Claus’ face while Jinkx gets stuck as “Santa’s Sack” as DeLa is the one pulling the metaphysical narrative strings and forcing a “perfect Christmas” onto her red-headed counterpart. Each queen goes through multiple costumes and wig changes (each one more fabulous than the last) and thanks to the skillful editing by Amy Enser, the special brings some movie magic that just can’t be replicated on a stage.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a bit of crunchiness – like DeLa‘s pantyhosed toes crying for help in her mule pumps or Jinkx‘s beige bra peeking out throughout her minibar number – but this ultimately adds a bit of charm to the campy drag that helped put them on the map.
Music Makes the Yuletide Gay
In the public domain or completely original, the music is the real crowning jewel of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special. Composed by Major Scales, Jinkx Monsoon‘s musical partner, the songs are catchy, hilarious, and supremely well-done. Setting the stage with “That Kind of Holiday Show” and “No One Played Santa For Me”, we become privy to the parts of Christmas and the holiday season that keeps folks from enjoying any cheer. Adhering to antiquated traditions, boozy coping mechanisms, or growing up poor surrounded by a highly commercial environment or, as Jinkx croons, “we had a plastic Christmas tree and we said fuck the bourgeoisie” are common reasons that folks have a hard time at this time of year and there’s something in the music that just about anyone who’s been touched by Christmas traditions can relate to.
Other songs take a turn left and right, like the horny parody “A Gay In A Stranger” (a major highlight) or “Santa Fa-La-La”, where DeLa lusts after St. Nick. And with the special being a film adaptation of a drag show, you know that there’s some slight sacrilege like “God’s Own Child”, sung to the tune of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, where God is singing to the Virgin Mary about “birthing a King” and looking at the Nativity story in a more reality-based lens.
There’s a lot of back and forth between DeLa and Jinkx over what Christmas should mean and what it ultimately means to the both of them; DeLa, who talks to the ghost of her dead, racist, homophobic, Christmas-loving grandmother via an egg nog puppet, worships nostalgia while Jinkx complains and rolls her eyes. However, in an all too familiar and hilarious turn of events, DeLa loses her spirit while Jinkx sees the light after a talk with a sexy naked man who is more than he appears. It’s a holiday special, so the story isn’t going to get TOO crazy with its messaging, even with references to marxism, witchcraft, mistaking anal beads for a rosary, or getting down and dirty with any and all of your beloved Christmas characters.
Thanks to the closing songs “Passive Aggressive Christmas”, “New And Gay”, and “Everyone Is Traumatized By Christmas”, DeLa and Jinkx come together and give us the moral of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special: the holidays can be tough, especially for LGBTQ+ folks, and traditions can be stifling but we can make things better by creating newer, better, and gayer traditions and events.
The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special is a labor of yuletide love that – despite being filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the restrictions that came with it – ascends the art of drag in a way that shows the raw creativity and determination of queer performers. As director BenDeLaCreme puts it: “If there’s anybody who knows how to adapt with the times and create art while facing adversity, it’s drag queens.” If you love comedy, musicals, astonishing costuming, and/or the art of drag, then please consider adding this little treasure to your Christmas viewing queue.
What did you think of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special? Do you want to see more drag film projects? Please let us know in the comments below!
The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special is available worldwide December 1st on Vimeo On Demand, and the soundtrack will be available on December 11th.
Watch The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special
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