After capturing the hearts of millions on Season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ben DeLa Crème, or DeLa to her friends, is touring the world to fabulous acclaim. As she gets ready to for an explosive performance at Dublin’s Break for the Border on March 27, DeLa speaks to Alan Finnegan about bitchy queens, her forthcoming project with bestie Jinkx Monsoon, and clothing-optional antics with Zac Efron.
Hey DeLa! Tell me, what first got you into doing drag?
Birth, I guess? The divine calling of some two-spirited deity? Mental instability? I’ve been dressing up and playing with gender since I was a tot. I don’t feel like I ‘got into it’ so much as I couldn’t have fought it if I tried.
How has your drag career changed since being on Drag Race?
Holy crap! Drastically! Amazingly! I mean, I’m still getting to do all the same things I was doing before, but I get to do them even more, and all over the world, and without worrying about whether I’ll be able to pay my electricity bill each month.
It’s truly a blessing to get to travel, create art and meet amazing people for a living.
Where did the character for Ben DeLa Crème come from?
I was always wrapping myself in dresses as a young one, but I never just did it as a fashion thing, I was always trying out other characters. I would try on different personas and affectations, and see which ones stuck. When I first started performing in clubs, like many young queens I relied heavily on the whole bitchy catty thing.
But it never felt right. I never understood why so many queens and gay men thought it was fun to be rude to each other.
I’d say DeLa really started to take shape in the mid-2000s. All the ‘bitchy’ parts fell away and I just pushed the kitschy, manically positive outlook as far as I could.
Since your appearance on Drag Race, how have your fans reacted?
I still get messages and letters from fans everyday, and every time I go somewhere new it’s like I already have friends waiting for me. It is such a thrilling and fulfilling feeling. I started doing this because on some level I just felt I had to. I never dreamed it would resonate with so many people.
How has it been to be a viewer again and watch the new season of Drag Race?
So relaxing! I bit my nails the whole time I was watching my sister Jinkx Monsoon’s season, and then again during my season. This time I don’t know any of the girls and I don’t know anything about what’s going to happen. I just get to watch my favorite show like a normal person!
Have you any favorites?
I think all the girls are awesome, and I’m sure they have a lot more to show us, but Trixie and Ginger definitely both appeal to my campy/glamour sensibility. I can’t wait to see more from them, on or off the show.
What is next for DeLa?
Well, immediately after this tour I head back to the states to open my new cabaret show Cosmos in New York City, then I’m off to San Francisco to perform a stage version of Drop Dead Gorgeous with Jinkx and Pandora Boxx, under the leadership of the legendaray Peaches Christ. And then I’ll be doing my annual summer run in Provincetown MA with my burlesque troupe The Atomic Bombshells!
What’s your dream gig?
Honestly, I kinda feel like I’m already doing it. I never wanted to be on Broadway or play Carnegie hall; I just love drag and I love cabaret. I want to continue to perform in cabarets and nightclubs until I’m old and grey. That’s my dream for the future. That and a private, clothing-optional show for Zac Efron.
Which queens from other seasons do you see the most?
Jinkxy, for sure. We’ve been friends for almost ten years and we get together whenever we have a minute.
You all have been touring and working so much, what do you do when you get to chill out?
I can’t remember! But the next time I get to chill out I hope to marathon watch all the TV I’ve missed this year, with frequent breaks for Thai food.
Have you been to Ireland before?
Are you excited to meet your Irish fans?
Ecstatic. I get so many tweets and messages from Irish fans, but I never dreamed I’d get to go there. I can’t wait to meet everyone and bask in the glow of those sexy accents.
What can we expect to see when Ben DeLa Creme is onstage?
DeLa always brings equal parts glamour, spectacle, and goofiness, and my burlesque roots guarantee her high-camp hijinks always have a touch of sex appeal.
What is your favourite aspect of travelling around the world performing?
Seeing beautiful locations I never thought I’d see, meeting beautiful people I never thought I’d meet.
Do you get some downtime to do some sight seeing?
I hope so! As I’m travelling I’m also writing and rehearsing my next couple projects, but I’m definitely going to carve out some time to see the sights – especially if my future Irish husband offers himself up as the tour guide.
Ben DeLa Crème plays Dragged Up at Break For The Border, Friday March 27, 11pm, €20/12, booking here
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