Nina West is truly the gift that keeps on giving. RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11’s Miss Congeniality is here to make your holiday season merry and bright with her latest release. On November 8, Nina released a Christmas EP titled, The West Christmas Ever.
The EP features 5 all-new original songs – including the ode to her favorite actors, “It’s Chris, Miss” and a tribute to the legendary drag queen Divine titled “Cha Cha Heels” (my favorite song). The EP also includes three interludes voiced by beloved Disney voice actor Jim Cummings (better known as the voice of Winnie The Pooh) that tell the story of Nina West the Elf who loves Christmas.
The first video from the EP, for the song “Jingle Juice” is out and I hope it replaces Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” as your favorite holiday jam.
Nina is a busy queen year-round, but she took some time to talk to us about the new album and what the holidays mean to her – and she answers the “Socialite Seven.” Kick off your holiday with this queen who is surely at the top of Santa’s nice list.
Socialite Life: “The West Christmas Ever” is great! I love all of the songs, especially “Cha Cha Heels”! What is your favorite song on the EP?
Nina West: There’s five different tracks and each kind of represents a really different side of me, which is kind of crazy. I know artists aren’t supposed to do this. (Laughs) But the five songs are so vastly different, and they really do represent very different parts of me as Andrew and as Nina and my love for Christmas and the season.
Although I don’t have a favorite, I really love “Jingle Juice” because it’s super anthem-y and sing-along. It’s like a Christmas version of “Cheeseburger in Paradise”. It just feels like that kind of song. And honestly, Jim Cummings doing my interludes is this weird, surreal dream come true because I’m such a nerd and I’m such a Disney nerd and the fact that I asked him and he said yes, is just mind-blowing to me. I can’t explain it, it’s very surreal.
What’s your fondest Christmas memory?
Well, I grew up in a really kind of WASP-y household, and Christmas wasn’t a big time of year where we were all going to get together. For everyone who celebrates, I know the holidays can be extremely sentimental in good ways and in bad and I’ve been lucky.
There was this one Christmas where my sisters both had the chickenpox so we were all sick at Christmas and my Mom and Dad just tried to make it the best they possibly could. That was a really fond memory. We woke up on Christmas morning and there were Cabbage Patch Kids sitting in baby seats at the breakfast table, waiting for us. Even I got a Cabbage Patch Kid. My parents were not afraid to give me dolls, which I think is pretty awesome.
Every time I think about Christmas, I think about my family. I think about my Mom and my Dad and my Grandma. Every year, I would go decorate her Christmas tree. I’d help her put it up and then I’d decorate it for her and decorate the house. You know, those are the kind of things I love doing and it’s what [Christmas] always reminds me of. If I wasn’t on the road right now, my house would already be decorated! I’m that person. I would have decorated on November 1st and made sure all of my trees were up. Holiday memories, there’s just too many of them and I just hold this season specifically in a really special place.
What is your favorite Christmas song?
Oh my gosh…Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is the ultimate Christmas song to me. It’s more secular, it’s more poppy but it’s that voice, this singer begging this person to spend the holiday with her. it’s just so beautiful and sad and perfect. You don’t want to be alone on Christmas. It’s this perfect, picturesque setting, the snow’s coming down, the lights are on the tree…you know, I’m not going to give you all the words (laughs). I think my favorite traditional or hymnal (song) would be “O, Holy Night.” That’s really gorgeous. Or “Come All Ye Faithful.” I’m also a big fan of “Sleigh Ride” – a Boston Pops version of it. If you want to know about Christmas, you’re talking to the right person!
And you’re also set to host the Christmas Queens tour.
Yes! I’m going to be going on the road with Murray & Peter’s “A Drag Queen Christmas”. It starts in two weeks in New Jersey.
Where will you be spending the holidays this year?
I’m lucky enough to have two days off and I’ll fly home for both of them. I’m off for Thanksgiving, so I’ll go home to see my family and then I’m off for Christmas, and I’ll go home and see my family again, so it will be really nice. I’m so used to airplane travel now that I’m happy to go to the airport, fly a couple of hours, and get home to see my dogs and my Mom and Dad and my sisters and just celebrate.
You released a fantastic single, “Lisa Frankenstein”, for Halloween, and you now have this Christmas album. Can we expect a Nina West Easter album as well?
(Laughs) Look out! We’re gonna do St. Patrick’s Day. We’re gonna do Flag Day…and do not forget about Arbor Day! You know, honestly, one of the ideas I have, I’m actively trying to pursue a career in the children’s space, and to get into children’s television programming. I think it would be really impactful and powerful and some of these ideas do coincide with a lot of the holiday work that I’m doing. It would be fun to do a full album of songs about the holidays and have it be a little more campy, kitschy and child-friendly. It would be a really fun idea.
In addition to recording and touring, you are also appearing on Celebrity Drag Race. If you could makeover any celebrity you wanted, who would you choose?
Oh my goodness…if I could make over any celebrity…I’ve got two and this is absolutely coincidental…no, it’s not, because I just wrote a song about Chrises for this very reason, but I am so in love with Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth. If I could just have one of them, I would be happy. Chris Evans has a gay brother, so I think that maybe opens the door a little bit more…(laughs). I think it would be fun to see this actor identified and idolized for playing Captain America strut his way down the runway. I think that would be epic and powerful. I think the statement alone would be amazing. So, Chris Evans, if you’re up for it, let me know.
Nina West Attends the Frozen 2 Premiere
Other than your drag family, who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Hmmm…I mean it’s RuPaul, easily. Well, that’s really a basic answer, so let me think about that for a second. Varla Jean Merman. She’s an incredible drag queen from New Orleans who has toured around the country. She’s just brilliant and amazing and reminded me that you can be funny and be a big dude in a dress – and I think that’s a really good reminder for people like me who aren’t necessarily the Aquarias of the world. If you get the chance, see her live because it is sidesplitting and one of the best nights you’ll ever have. I’m not even joking, it’s so worth it.
If you could be any Disney character, who would you be?
Bing Bong! Are you serious? I am a walking, living Bing Bong. You’ve got to love a character that’s part dolphin, part raccoon…I don’t know what else he is. He’s so great. I just think Bing Bong is the best Disney character ever. I think there’s something so beautiful about the idea of your imaginary character coming to life and I really love him.
What would people be surprised to hear that you’re a fan of?
Oh gosh, well I am a self-professed nerd, so I don’t know if people would be too surprised about me being a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sarah Michelle Gellar. I’m a major fan of Murder She Wrote. Angela Lansbury can do no wrong in my eyes. Maybe people would be surprised to find out that I’m a big fan of Mumford and Sons, but I love them, and I love Vampire Weekend. I listen to all kinds of music but I’m low key obsessed with Mumford. I just love them so much.
If you wrote your autobiography, what would the title be and who would you want to play you in your biopic?
(Laughs) I think the title would be…oh goodness…why do I feel like this is the most important question? (Laughs) If I had my own autobiography, maybe it would be called “We Went West for This?” (Laughs) I don’t know! For the movie version of my life…I think Josh Gad. He’s so great.
What are three things you couldn’t live without?
I probably couldn’t live without my cell phone, easily. I probably couldn’t live without my best friend Patricia who has been through everything with me for the last 22 years. She’s been pretty remarkable. And I probably couldn’t live without like a journal or a book. I’d have to write something. If I was on an island all deserted and alone. I’d want to get my thoughts down.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is – and it sounds trite, but it’s simple. There’s only one me and only person can do what I can do, and I just have to focus on that and not get caught up. People trying to define who I am and what I do…I think that goes throughout your entire life. When you’re in school and then you go to college and through your work life, people want to tell you what you’ve been put on this planet to do and I have just been reminded time and time again I’m here to do what I believe kin and what I love – and I think that’s a valuable lesson.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry. I am a worrier and I picked that up at a really young age – being insecure. I think partially maybe because being gay and closeted causes a lot of insecurity. So, stop worrying and don’t sweat the small stuff. That also sounds trite but it’s so true and of course, in the moment, you don’t know what’s small and you don’t know what’s big. In the moment, everything is big, and you have to try to identify what has value to freak out about and what doesn’t. Not everything warrants a five-alarm fire and I sometimes revert to that and I have to tell myself, hey, slow down. Don’t worry so much and enjoy it.
Last question, if you could sit on Santa’s lap, what would you ask for this Christmas?
If I could ask Santa for what I want this Christmas, it would be for everyone to register to vote and actually physically go to the ballot box in November of 2020 and cast their vote. There are five things I’m constantly thinking about and one of them is the state of our country and what can I do to help make it better. What do I need to be saying? What do I need to be doing actively? How do I promote open, fair dialogue but still maintain this idea of wanting progress and everyone to have a seat at the table? That means you have to hear everybody, but you also have to be actively doing something about it. There has to be action behind it. I think that’s so important. We need to make sure we are all actively going to vote.
The West Christmas Ever is now available wherever you get your music and on Nina’s website. You can follow Nina on Twitter and Instagram and if you want to see her and the other “jingle belles” on tour this holiday season, you can learn more about “A Drag Queen Christmas” and get tickets at dragfans.com.