From an early age, the stage seemed inevitable for Chris Constantino. Better-known today as Bosco and nicknamed “Seattle’s Demon Queen” for her signature spiked eyebrows and witty, devilish persona, the West Side-based drag performer is currently a contestant on the 14th season of the Emmy-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Bosco, who uses she/her pronouns in drag, identifies as transgender and prefers she/they pronouns out of drag. Born to a pair of professional touring musicians, Bosco grew up surrounded by creatives in Great Falls. She started dance lessons at age 7 and at 11 graduated to competitive dance. When she performed in musicals and plays along the way, she lived for the dance numbers.
But, as anyone can see from her performances on “RPDR,” she hasn’t let her first love stop her from developing other talents. “I’ve just always been deep in it … around music and on the stage,” she said. Add to that her natural aversion to gender norms, an eye for fashion and a dry sense of humor, and you have a recipe for drag.
She just needed that final push, and she found it in Seattle. While backup dancing for a drag queen at a celebrity illusion show in 2018, something clicked – and she dove right in. “I said, ‘You know what? I can do this – let’s take the two things that are making me happy and making me money and get out there,’ ” she said.
The drag scene, she explained, has changed since Seattle performers like “RPDR” season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon and season 6 top five and “All Stars Season 3” contestant BenDeLaCreme were on the reality-TV competition.
“But I think the through line that is always prevalent in the Seattle drag scene is that drag is so closely interlaced with other art forms,” she said. “I work all the time with photographers, video editors, burlesquers, comedians – immediately, it’s an art form that doesn’t just exist in the bubble that is drag.
“And because a lot of us have to learn how to do drag in a way that will be received outside of a drag show, I think it really makes us versatile and powerful performers.”
Of course, it also helps that “Seattle is chronically unimpressed by anything anyone’s ever done,” Bosco quipped. So, while her drag community has been supportive and happy for her, she’s in very little danger of developing an overinflated ego, she explained. “Everybody was just like, ‘OK, she’s back, she’s just one of the girls I’m gonna work with.’ ”
Borrowing her name from a childhood pet, Bosco took makeup inspiration from anime characters like Carmilla in Netflix’s “Castlevania,” and the result has served her well. In a room full of drag queens, her spiked eyebrows are a simple but immediate identifier.
“I’ve always been a bit of an escapist – I like to be able to kind of leave this world for a little bit of time and just exist – drag gives me the ability to do that and to do it for other people,” she said. “Like I’m inviting somebody to come into my fantasy world with me.”
That world may only last as long as each lip sync, but the experience and escape are worth it nonetheless. Drag is not the most comfortable artform. But in spite of all of the makeup and corsetry and the wigs and costumes and heels and nails and jewelry and tucking, Bosco finds her drag much more empowering than restricting.
“It’s like a uniform you’re putting on – it gets you in the mindset and centers you like, ‘OK, this is what I’m going to do – I need to get in the mindset of performing for people, giving my energy to an audience,” she said. “There’s something about putting on all the pieces – as uncomfortable as they are, they’re kind of like battle armor.”
After performing in Seattle for a couple of years, Bosco decided that it was time to audition for “RPDR.” She nearly made it onto season 13, but 14 was her golden ticket (which, if you’re watching the current season, makes for a mildly amusing joke).
“ ‘Drag Race’ is kind of like the ultimate proving ground,” she said. “If you feel like you’re the best at your craft and you want to show the world, it is the platform to go on and show people what you can do.” Especially when the coronavirus pandemic hit Seattle, competing on the show seemed like her last tether to the artform.
“COVID really took the wind out of everyone’s sails in the drag community, especially in Seattle. We were like ground zero, so we all lost our jobs in early March, and then when I was on TV – that was the first time I’d been doing drag in about a year and a half … it felt like the only way to get back into the life and to establish some semblance of stability.”
Seven episodes into the current season of “RPDR” and one maxi-challenge win behind her, Bosco has already shown herself to be a strong competitor. “My drag is equal parts evil … and naked,” she says in her preseason “Meet the Queens” interview, inspired by a comment from her season 14 sister Lady Camden.
From what we’ve seen so far this season, the “naked” comment is often close to true, but where past contestants have had points docked for relying too much “on that body,” as “RPDR” judge Michelle Visage iconically said in a previous season, Bosco has plenty more to offer.
“I have a point-of-view that comes through with my drag, but I think what’s most important is I’m … smart … , and that’s really helpful on ‘Drag Race,’ ” she said. “All you’ve got to do first and foremost is make RuPaul laugh, and I had a pretty good game plan on how to do that.
“I’m pretty quick with my mouth, so getting Ru to laugh on the first episode was like, ‘OK, all right, we can do this.’ ”
The next episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” season 14, airs at 8 p.m. Friday on VH1 and Saturday morning on several streaming platforms.
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