Question: Hi there Ben….DeLa…wait! Let’s get a definitive answer on this once and for all. What is the proper way to address you my dear?
It depends on who you’re trying to talk to… there’s a couple of personalities in here. I’m “Ben”- that’s the guy, the performer – “DeLa” is the lady part. If you’re really curious, you can youtube the song “DeLa with a ‘D’ (Not Ben with a ‘B!’)” It’s from my first solo show, “Terminally Delightful,” and it explains the whole dynamic in excruciating detail- to the tune of Liza Manelli, of course.
Question: I was fortunate actually enough to see “Terminally Delightful” when it was at the Laurie Beechman Theatre and that was the absolute definition of truth in advertisement because it was impossible to describe that show without saying how delightful it was! Now you have a new show titled “Cosmos”, should the audience expect delicious cocktails popularized by Miss Carrie Bradshaw, your take on the brilliant Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s show about the inner-workings of universe or perhaps something in between?
All of the above! Essentially, DeLa has shown up to do a cabaret adaptation of the television series “Cosmos” without ever having seen it. Her assumption is that it’s much like “Sex and the City,” but she quickly learns she is actually supposed to explain all of astrophysics, quantum mechanics and biology. It’s probably never really occurred to her before that the universe extends beyond her press-ons, but she’s got a ship of the imagination and a talking martini glass named Neil DeGlasse Tyson, so she’s gonna be okay.
Question: Where did the inspiration for this show come from? Do you feel “Cosmos” is a logical extension of “Terminally Delightful” or is this something completely different?
Well, “Terminally Delightful” was about my life before and after “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and the tension between DeLa and Ben. At the time, that was what was on my mind and that was the show I had to make. But once you’ve made that first solo show, and it’s all about you and a specific experience you’ve had, you have think about how this character is going to grow and what else she’s going to do. You have to think bigger.
At that time I was FASCINATED by the Neil Degrasse Tyson reboot of “Cosmos” – and I started to realize that part of that fascination was that it was about these same questions- where do we come from? Where are we going? What is our place? The idea of a dingbat like DeLa grappling with these huge concepts seemed both hilarious and conceptually exciting.
I started thinking- ok, well what if we traveled through space in a lipstick tube? What if evolution were a strip tease? What if atoms created molecules by cruising each other in a filthy gay club? It all kind of to fall into place from there.
Question: You’re bringing “Cosmos” to San Francisco this week. What does it mean for you to bring your show to a city with such a diverse LGBT history and such a unique drag scene? (Shows this Thursday- Saturday! Head here for more info and tickets!)
Such a dream! I’ve been enthralled with SF’s drag scene since I was living in Chicago back in the early 2000s- Hearing tales through the grapevine about Heklina and Peaches Christ, stalking them on the internet. The history and diversity and boldness of SF drag is, of course, legendary. The first time I worked with Heklina I was beside myself- I’m honored that she has asked me to bring this show to “Oasis.”
Every time I have had the opportunity to perform in front of a San Francisco crowd (most notably in two of Peaches’ productions at the Castro theater) I’ve been so impressed with your energy and excitement. There’s a real sense of fun and a willingness to go for a ride. It’s a town that knows how to have a good time- and that always makes for a great show!
Question: You came to national prominence on Drag Race obviously. Now that you have some distance from your season, how do you feel things changed for you in terms of how the fans reactions to you and perception of you? Do you feel there are any misconceptions about you still?
Hmmm. That’s hard to say. Of course, a lot has changed since Drag Race. Mainly I that I get to travel all over the world doing exactly what I love. I don’t know that there were real any misconceptions about me- but I will say that now that some time has passed I’m enjoying getting to move away from being a reality tv character and getting to focus on being a Drag Queen. I never wanted to be a famous guy- I wanted to be a famous Drag Queen, but I always liked the anonymity of drag. Post Drag Race people get really interested in your boy self. I’m really happy now that that is subsiding and the attention is getting refocused on the performance.
Last Drag Race question, how many times have you been asked if you were on All Stars 2 in the past few months?
Question: After San Francisco, where else will you be bringing “Cosmos” to?
I’ve got a few cities lined up but the only one that’s announced is Puerto Viarta in 2016. In the meantime I’ll be keeping busy with my burlesque troupe, The Atomic Bombshells, my Christmas show, “Homo for the Holidays,” and writing my NEXT show!
Question: Thank you so much for your time tonight honey. Best of luck this week in San Francisco. Do you have any final words of wisdom to leave us with?
My wisdom’s tapped out. Besides, DeLa’s ineptitude is more fun- but you’ll have to come to the show to see that!