With a gulp, I ask the fabulous BeBe Zahara Benet the one question I’ve been dreading.
Who was she going to send home on RuPaul’s Drag Race – All Stars Season 3, when BenDeLaCreme famously quit the show? Whose name did she write on that damn lipstick?
‘Why are you curious about it?’ the Jungle Kitty singer replies, with a knowingly clipped tone, as I’m reminded of her ferocious Grace Jones on Snatch Game.
‘Well…my colleagues want to know,’ I say.
And with that, BeBe directs her thunderous energy – and always, to be clear, with tongue planted firmly in cheek – elsewhere.
“My love – why do you need to know?”‘
‘Ask your colleagues, why do they have to know?’ she instructs me. ‘Is it a thing of being that entitled? They have to know everything, see everything, be part of everything?
‘It doesn’t have to always be like that. You say “My love – why do you need to know?”‘
With that, we both fall into fits of laughter.
Don’t mistake this Minneapolis star for a diva. During our chat, I find BeBe – who won SE1 back in 2009 before returning to All Stars this year – warm, open and above all, hilarious.
Furthermore, the 37-year-old is more than forthcoming on a range subjects, from her plans to visit her native Cameroon this year, to her relationship status and her appearance at London’s DragWorld UK this month.
As will be explained, BeBe may not consider herself a queen, but still, we’re bowing down…
Where are you BeBe?
I’m in Minneapolis. I don’t know if you know where that is?
I do! Are you excited to be visiting England?
I am. Very. I’ve never been there. I’ve always wanted. The timing’s never been right.
Do you like British men?
Wow. Are you serving British men on a platter? What are you doing? What kind of flavors are we talking about?
Fish and chips flavor…?
What is this fish and chips thing I keep hearing all the time? Does it have something to do with the UK?
Yes, it’s our favorite dish. Deep-fried cod and fries, but thick.
Oh my gosh. That;s yummy.
What’s been your strangest encounter with a fan at a convention?
I haven’t had a really super strange encounter yet. I hope I don’t. I’m sure other girls have stories. One thing is fans get really touchy-feely. Certain parts that are not supposed to be touched, in a way… It’s like: ‘What? Are you trying to find out what’s going on?’ But I’m also always really surrounded by people who protect me and stuff so it’s never been anything so weird, thank god.
From fans to trolls – what’s your tip for dealing with them? It seems everyone in the public eye gets trolled a bit?
Oh, we all do. No matter how good you are, you can never be Mother Theresa honey. Those trolls are sitting there waiting to pounce. I don’t know if anything really gets to me. I’m comfortable in my skin and unapologetic of who I am.
There are things that have been said, especially when I was on All Stars 3. Some people were not excited about me being in it. People feel they can be very, very disrespectful. I don’t engage. I use my social media for positivity, to uplift people. If you bring that sort of energy, you’re deleted, blocked.
What these trolls are looking for is to antagonize you. You kill them by not giving them any attention.
How do you feel about the possibility of bio queens and trans women competing on the show in the future?
One thing I would say is I believe drag should be all-inclusive. I think aspects of drag have changed over time. Therefore, I was just saying, even I don’t like being referred to as a drag queen. Not that there’s anything wrong with the words drag queen. The only reason is because I feel it has evolved. The art of drag has evolved.
It’s become so inclusive. A lot of artists are using that to enhance their careers. If you can embrace and celebrate it, and create some aspects of illusion and entertainment, then yeah, go for it honey! Doesn’t matter who you are, just do it well. Make sure you respect the craft, and respect the creative process.
If you prefer not to be referred to as a drag queen, what term do you prefer?
It’s not the ‘drag’ that’s the problem. It’s the ‘queen’. We are artists. We do a lot of what mainstream quote unquote ‘artists’ are doing, if not more.
So ‘drag artist’?
Call me a drag artist. Call me a drag performer.
Jujubee was telling me the queens from her season have a Facebook chat group. Do you have that with any of the drag artists you’ve worked with?
Yes, there’s a drag group called The Sisterhood. It’s not just for SE1, it’s for all the sisters.
That’s on Facebook?
It’s on Facebook I think. You cannot join us, I’m sorry. It’s very private, honey!
Is there any romance in life?
Is this matchmaking, is that what’s going on?
I’ve got some British men lined up for you.
If you’ve got the lineup, I’m going hold you to that when I come to the UK. I’ll hold you accountable. I, I have no… I am single, how about that? I’m happily single. Is that a good answer?
Is it a thing for drag artists to date each other? Does that happen on the scene?
There are some situations where drag artists date each other. As artists we are complex. Imagine putting me, with all the layers that I have, with another drag artist who has all these layers. An explosion!
In every relationship you need a gardener and a garden.
Exactly. So a lot of the time, artists won’t date each other. But sometimes energies do merge together.