On Wednesday, July 30, RuPaul’s Drag Race season six cast member, BenDeLaCreme, will be performing her signature brand of entertainment at Jungle Atlanta. Known for her 50’s pin-up look, her optimism and charisma, she is sure to dazzle the crowd with her unique comedic burlesque performance. Last time BenDeLaCreme and I saw each other was when she headlined at a club in Tampa where I was living and working then. I was really excited that my first interview at David Atlanta was with Ben DeLa(Creme if you’re nasty).
David Atlanta: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. How have you been?
Ben DeLaCreme: My schedule has been really nuts since RPDR, but I was able to take a week off to hang out in my hometown of Seattle which was soooo good. It was my first break since the show. But now it’s back to the grind, which also feels so good.
DA: Have you ever performed in Atlanta?
BD: No, I haven’t. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never even been to Atlanta…unless you count the airport?
DA: You’ll love it. It’s a beautiful city and RuPaul and Lady Bunny cut their teeth down here is the early days.
BD: Oh that’s so great! I had no idea. I’m definitely excited about it. You know it’s always weird how the tastes of the crowds are different according to what city or region your in — like how different schools of drag that appeal to different audiences.
DA: Without giving away too much, what do you have in store for Atlanta as far as your show?
BD: Well, I definitely want to leave most of it a surprise, but people can definitely expect the glamor and entertainment that they’ve come to expect from my shows. I love to make a crowd laugh and, of course, keep surprising them with new things. But as far as details, I’m not going to give too much away.
DA: You do have a very particular brand of drag that combines burlesque, funny and TOTALLY thought out! It’s amazing how much thought and prep you put into each number. Where do you draw inspiration from?
BD: When I’m doing a number it’s important for me to be interested. I get bored with stuff pretty quick. My attention strays easily. When I do something, I don’t want to just have one idea for six minutes. I want [the performance] to have new ideas and be surprising. So that’s the kind of thing I like to do.
DA: Where did you get started with the burlesque aspect?
BD: Well I’ve been involved with the burlesque world basically since I started performing. When I was 21 in Chicago and going to art school, I started going into bars and entering drag competitions.
DA: You also performed under a different name back then.
BD: Yes, I did! She was like a very angry “riot girl,” a very different vibe from what I do now. I was going to art school and was frustrated because I wanted things to be more fun and stuff – which was frowned upon in the performance art world. Then I got into the drag world and that was really fun and entertaining, but I wanted people to get more out of my shows. Finally I stumbled upon the burlesque world and it fit so well with what I wanted to do. Plus the scene at the time in Chicago was all about pushing boundaries and very politically-minded. People were making art about society but in a sexy, fun and glittery way. So that’s when I kind of got hooked in to [burlesque]. The marriage of drag and burlesque just kind of speaks to me.
DA: Was the burlesque community very accepting of what you were bringing to the table?
BD: Oh yeah, absolutely. Honestly for so many years I wasn’t even in the “drag” scene. I was performing at burlesque events and venues. The audiences and other performers were so supportive to the kind of stuff that I was interested in doing. It was like the perfect marriage.
DA: I know you’ve stated that you became close to Adore on the show, but is there anyone of the cast that you did not get along with? I mean we all know about the Darienne Lake thing, but is there more to it than that?
BD: Well, you know, so much of the show is about editing to create more of a storyline. There really wasn’t anyone I didn’t get along with. I mean they’re all really talented so it’s hard not to like them all simply for that fact alone.
DA: Do you run into the girls from your season a lot?
BD: Yeah! Actually me and Courtney see each other all the time and have bonded even more since the show. We seem to get booked in the same circles as well. She’s probably the one I keep in touch with most frequently. But I see all the girls around [the country] you know like Bianca and Darienne. I saw Joslyn Fox recently, too. So it’s great connecting with those people because we went through that crazy experience together.
DA: All the girls have contracts with riders on them for things like extra-large cheese pizza and beer for Alaska—
BD: That’s hilarious! Alaska probably just takes only one bite of the pizza and then goes “Thaaank yewww” (imitating Alaska).
DA: What weird things do you have on your contract?
BD: I don’t even know anymore. We wrote that contract up so long ago. When I first started, I didn’t really know what was normal or expected. I mean I was scared because I didn’t want to look amateurish if I didn’t have something on my rider and the other girls had tons of things. I was all stressed out because I didn’t know what the status quo was. So I think I just copied Jinkx Monsoon’s contract and riders. It’s just stuff like hummus and a bunch of shit I don’t need and rarely get anyways. If I were to rewrite my rider now, I would just put maybe a bottle of water, a paper towel and plenty of alcohol. I’m pretty simple.
DA: What projects have you been doing lately? Do you get to do regular gigs in Seattle anymore?
BD: No, I don’t really have any regular gigs in Seattle. I had a show in New York, which I’m hoping to bring to other cities in the future. The show is called Terminally Delightful and it’s a show I wrote which is kind of about the experience of going on RPDR as a drag character and the duality of having my boy-self exposed on TV. Terminally Delightful sold out and was extended in May, so they’re bringing me back to NYC to do the show again in August.
DA: I’d love to see that show! You definitely do have that duality thing going on. Is it hard having your boy-self be exposed on RPDR and now be famous out of drag?
BD: I knew going into the show that that was going to happen. I just had to jump in and commit. I don’t have the privacy out of drag that I used to have, but that’s all part of being on the show. I just had to decide that it was worth that sacrifice to have the experience of being on the show.
DA: Any chance that we might see BenDeLaCreme on RuPaul’s All Stars this season?
BD: They haven’t contacted me officially yet, but you never know. I’m not opposed to getting back on television, but it’s definitely live performance where my heart is. I love the feel of being in a room with an audience and putting something positive out there.
Get your tickets at jungleatl.com as this will most likely be a sold-out show.