She’s terminally delightful: BenDeLaCreme spills the T in this exclusive interview with IN Magazine…
Many Drag Race super fans will remember BenDeLaCreme from her run on the show’s sixth season. She bounced into the werk room second, her personality so over-the-top bubbly. It was the perfect juxtaposition to the season’s first arrival, the grungy, blasé Libra Adore Delano. Dela was the fifth runner up from her season, and crowned Miss Congeniality. Flash-forward a few years and Dela returned to the Drag Race stage for the second time on All Stars 3. So it makes perfect sense that Dela is now touring her solo show Inferno A-Go-Go, and it’s making its way to Canada’s east coast at the beginning of September.
IN Magazine caught up with Dela to get the lowdown on her solo show, her proudest moments from her All Stars run, and why speaking out is so important to her.
IN: You’re bringing your Inferno A-Go-Go show to Canada’s east coast at the beginning of September. Previously, you’ve brought different acts all over Canada. What is your favourite part about performing in Canada?
BenDeLaCreme: Oh gosh, I feel like Canadian audiences are always really excitable, and on board. I feel like in the United States maybe there’s like a little bit more of a preconceived notion of what a drag show has to be. Where as in Canada I see a lot more different types of queens, and the audience really always seems to be excited to see new varieties.
IN: What can fans expect to see at an Inferno A-Go-Go show?
BenDeLaCreme: Well, Inferno A-Go-Go is my third solo show. I’ve done a lot of club touring obviously where I get to do shorter numbers, but this is a show that is essentially a full-on, one-person play. It’s based on Dante’s Inferno, but super high camp, and you get to see the character of Dela go through all nine circles of hell. So it’s a little bit more like narrative theatre than people are used to seeing at a drag show.
IN: And is that something that you prefer to perform instead something shorter?
BenDeLaCreme: Both of them are fun for different reasons, but this is definitely my passion because I get to have complete control over everything. I’m not just part of a night, I get to take people on my own journey which is really fun for me.
IN: You competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6, and most recently competed on All Stars 3. What was different about competing the second time around?
BenDeLaCreme: I’d say the biggest difference would be experience, and kind of knowing both myself, and what the experience of the show is like. I had at that point, already been through it, and really understood how the competition runs, but also had been touring constantly for 4 years, so I really had a chance to hone my skills. It was way less intimidating the second time around. I kind of felt like I was in more control and more confident. Dela’s run on AS3 was a little different than Season six. By the second episode Dela was established as a frontrunner. Her consistency, and razor sharp attention to detail with each new challenge brought her many wins, and had her competing in almost every lip sync for your legacy.
IN: And watching it back, what was something you were most proud of?
BenDeLaCreme: I mean, I’m really proud of a lot of the individual challenges that I did well on, but it’s hard not to be most proud of breaking the record for the most challenges won. I mean that was obviously very exciting for me.
IN: Drag is starting to gain a lot of mainstream exposure, now more than ever. What do you want people to take away from your performance whether they’ve seen you before, or experiencing live drag for the first time?
BenDeLaCreme: I think that it’s awesome that Drag is becoming more mainstream, but the way that it’s becoming mainstream is mostly through Drag Race. So people have kind of one specific idea of what drag might look like, or what a drag show what they might expect. But drag has been around for so long that I hope that one of the things that people take away is that you can go into a drag show and come out with all sorts of different types of experiences.
With more mainstream exposure comes a bigger, and brighter platform to speak on. Whether it’s fans sending hate to fellow queens online, or speaking up for other performers, Dela isn’t about to shy away from speaking out for what’s right.
IN: You’ve spoken out about issues within the drag community, most recently standing in solidarity with queens that didn’t get paid for previous shows in Australia. Why is it important for you to be so outspoken on these issues?
BenDeLaCreme: I think that anybody who has a big public platform has the opportunity to really bring attention to subjects that are important and to open people’s eyes to things that they might not otherwise be noticing. I kind of see it as a responsibility, and I am very passionate about a lot of these things. I think sometimes when you get in the spotlight you think that you have to kind of go along with whatever, and it sometimes feels like it’s harder to take a stand on some issues. But the reality is, is that when you do, it’s amazing. Every time I speak up about something and I’m like “should I say something or not”? There’s so much support for it that it just makes it easier and easier. And it feels more and more impactful. I have a lot of people reach out to me and say “thank you for speaking up on this mater, because it’s something that’s important to me” or “Thanks for speaking up about this matter because it’s something that I hadn’t really though of before, and now I’m thinking about it in a different way”, and those are both amazing things to hear.
Though she sheds light on very real issues on her social media platforms, Dela is known for her camp-meets-glamour act, over-the-top, and colourful outfits, and “terminally delightful” attitude, a catchphrase she used for herself on Drag Race.
IN: Your drag has a distinctive style that is signature BenDeLaCreme. What influences you when you’re coming up with new looks or acts?
BenDeLaCreme: I definitely draw a lot of inspiration from all the things that inspired me as a child. I always really loved the glamour old MGM musicals that were glamorous, but still really colourful and exaggerated. I think a lot of my drag is very influenced by old Warner Brothers cartoons, and Peewee’s Playhouse, and The Muppets. All these kind of silly, over the top forms that are funny and silly, and can also appeal to different generations. You know all of those things don’t really exist within the rules of our day-to-day life. They all get to be bigger and grander, and more fun and more colourful. That’s what I love about doing drag.
IN: It makes for more diverse drag too.
BenDeLaCreme: Exactly, yeah. We all have such a difference influences. There are a lot of drag queens that are really excited about more contemporary pop divas and stuff like that. And all of those different kinds of influences mean that we’re all doing really different things. Dela already has other productions in the works for when Inferno A Go-Go wraps up including an October-long Halloween show in Seattle titled Beware the Terror of Gaylord Manor. She’s also working on a holiday show with fellow Seattle queen Jinkx Monsoon, and another show she’ll be premiering in the spring.
Catch BenDeLaCreme in Inferno A-Go-Go at Halifax’s Spitz Theatre on September 8th, and Newfoundland’s The Holy Heart Theatre in St Johns on September 9th.