Christmas-colored stage lights set the mood for Seattle drag queens BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon’s second annual holiday show, but it was the charm and hilarity of these queens that truly lit up the stage last weekend. Appearing at San Francisco’s historic Victoria Theatre on the “All I Want for Christmas is Attention” tour, DeLa and Jinkx put the pro in improv.
Two end tables topped with cocktail fixings sat like bookends on either side of the stage. In the antiquated theater, it seemed as if decades of drag history swirled at the bottom of either martini glass — with each poured, a new memory and a new sketch was sure to make the audience roar.
At the start of the show, a video montage to the tune of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” showed the two queens packing their bags for the tour. Because of the opposing nature of their characters, DeLa was shown trimming tinsel and decking the halls in glittery Christmas cheer while Jinkx took a more drunken yet sobering approach to the holiday.
And this was all obvious once the queens hit the stage, both in glamorous, shimmering holiday outfits. As DeLa beat her drum and Jinkx nailed the triangle solos, the banter between stars went from DeLa’s idealistic holiday cheer to Jinkx’s quips of “I want it to be a white Christmas all over my chest, am I right ladies?” in just a blink.
Continuously annoyed, DeLa would respond “Not in front of the savior, baby!” one too many times. But somehow, the repetition never got tiring — the chaos of contradiction between what DeLa’s character wanted for Christmas versus what Jinkx really thought of the holiday was a whole different kind of unending merriment.
The theme of the show was Christmas, but DeLa and Jinkx’s approach to the subject was much deeper than just bells and whistles. The queens recalled how holiday traditions have lasted decades over, “despite being monotonous and dull,” as DeLa said. They often mixed traditions together into comedic hits, like DeLa asking Jinkx if she ever prays to Santa Claus “with that mouth.”
Alongside what was scripted, DeLa and Jinkx pulled tricks out of their sleeves left and right when it came to getting the audience involved. At one point in the show, the queens scanned their audience, coming across and befriending James, probably the only audience member under 10 years old, whom they called “a literal child.”
But aside from the sketches and scripted jokes, DeLa and Jinkx also broke into song more than a few times, launching into elaborate musical numbers filled with backup dancers and flashy costumes. Almost every song was a standout, but Jinkx’s remix of “Royals” by Lorde, with the lyrics completely changed to Jinkx talking about what the holidays are like when you don’t have a lot of money, outlined the Hallmark fantasy with equal parts humor and humility.
To incorporate some other holidays into the mix, an extravagant performance of “Juice” by Lizzo was transformed into a Hanukkah paradise, complete with a mini purse like the one Lizzo sported at the American Music Awards. While the lyrics “Blame it on my Jews” might have been a little abrasive, the comedy of the rest of the song soon won over hearts and laughs all across the room.
Both DeLa and Jinkx stayed well in character throughout the whole show, peppered with expert comedic timing, stellar choreography and DIY glory. The night ended in several beautiful musical numbers, one from Jinkx about adopting fresh holiday traditions that were “new and gay,” as well as a dazzling lineup singing about how everyone is traumatized by Christmas.
As BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon said while taking their bows, this show was “for us, by us,” thanking their wonderfully queer cast and crew members — and, of course, “James, the 8-year-old in the crowd.”