Film Review: Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special

Reviewer: Helen Tope

Written by: BenDeLaCreme / Jinkx Monsoon

Directed by: BenDeLaCreme

Bright, sparkling and full of festive cheer, Drag Race alumni Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme are set on recreating a television Christmas special. Dela imagines a variety of song and dance; it will be wholesome and pleasant. Jinkx, who has rather different memories of Christmas growing up, can be found drowning her sorrows.

Despite Jinkx’s assurance that this special will be “poppers, not popcorn”, Dela’s whiter-than-white Connecticut Christmases are shaping the show. She is determined to give Jinkx the perfect Christmas, and evokes the spirit of her grandmother, who appears to Dela in a class of eggnog. Nanog, as Dela names her, urges Dela to carry on the traditions of the past, even if they aren’t an exact fit any more.

What follows is a delightfully chaotic rendering of a Christmas show, where the wheels well and truly come off. Performed on a sound stage, Dela and Jinkx remain stubbornly rooted in their corners – one trying to recreate memories, the other trying to forget theirs. It isn’t until one of Jinkx’s casual encounters – Naked Guy, played by Jordan Iosua Taylor – floats the idea that maybe their Christmas experiences are more similar than they think, that the two find a way to get the show back on track.

Of course, beneath the deliberate rough edges and continuity errors, is a dazzling, well-crafted show. The Holiday Special uses the advantage of editing, with lightning-fast costume changes that would be the envy of any drag queen on RuPaul’s Main Stage.  Expectations for costume are pretty high, and Dela and Jinkx’s gowns do not disappoint. Dressed as everything from candy canes to angels, the comedy is loud and outrageous, with innuendo tipping into satire, as Dela and Jinkx question the role of festive tradition.

The performance values are – as you might expect – Camp with a capital C. The song and dance routines reference 1950’s variety shows, but with that all-important element of drag carrying through each number. The songs –many co-written by BenDeLaCreme – are cheeky with a darker edge, in a style that will be familiar to Drag Race fans. They range from a rapping BenDeLaCreme imagining a night in with Santa (‘Santa Fa-La-La’) to a great closing number: ‘Everyone is Traumatised by Christmas’.

While both Dela and Jinkx are seasoned performers, the special highlights them as individuals, not just a double act. The pair have been friends for over 10 years, and they have a natural chemistry that is enjoyable to watch. Dela is given more acting, and Jinkx shows off a stronger singing voice. This allocation of roles – and a hilarious cutaway during dance scenes, indicating that neither considers themselves a hoofer – really works.

The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special may struggle to recreate the Christmas specials of the past, but what emerges instead is a show with plenty to say about making new traditions, and ways of celebrating – or not celebrating at all. With the sequins turned all the way up to 11, this is drag that is bold, generous and warm-hearted

The Jinkx & Dela Holiday Special is available on demand/digital from 1 December 2021.

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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