For all of five months, getting cast in “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was, by Bosco’s own admission, the worst-kept secret in town.
“Most of the queer community has known since I’ve gotten back in June,” the artist said in a recent phone interview. “In true Seattle fashion, no one’s that impressed by anything anyone’s ever done. So it was very much like: ‘That’s cool. What’s next, girl?’ ”
The immediate answer, she discovered, would be little else beyond a wholesome, uneventful return to business as usual. After filming for the show’s 14th season wrapped, the Emerald City’s self-anointed “Demon Queen” beelined for her Central District apartment and picked back up with the regulars over at Capitol Hill’s Queer/Bar, a place she affectionately refers to as her home base. (Bosco recently started co-hosting a recurring late-night show there called “Mothership” with fellow drag performer Irene Dubois.)
“Really not much has changed since the announcement,” the artist said. “It looks like we will be able to tour through omicron, fingers crossed. However, it’s still a bit slow … Nothing feels very tangible quite yet.”
This, of course, will likely change as the season debuts 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7, on VH1, officially elevating Bosco and her signature eyebrows into the national spotlight. “I am looking forward to, yet very apprehensive of, the exposure,” the artist conceded. “I’m really excited, though, to just kind of be boosted up to the next level.”
Bosco, who identifies as nonbinary, is the stage name of Chris Constantino. She grew up in Great Falls, Montana, a city of 58,000 generally noted for its proximity to the Roe River (which, for its part, the Guinness World Records briefly recognized as the world’s shortest before terminating the category altogether). There, at the age of 7, smack dab in the middle of cowboy country, Constantino would begin an ardent, lifelong education in the performing arts, starting with formal dance training at a local studio that her grandfather’s partner ran. Constantino acknowledged that her creative pursuits benefited from the support of her parents, both musicians.
In 2015, Constantino moved to Seattle and didn’t look back. The original plan, she explained, was to learn the ropes of city living before graduating into a bigger metropolitan area like Los Angeles or New York. But a three-week stint in the City of Angels left Constantino wanting, after which she decided to dig her heels in and lay permanent roots in Seattle.
“The first time I performed in drag was January 2018,” Constantino explained. “I was part of ‘Fresh,’ which was a new drag artist show curated/produced by Arson Nicki at 18th & Union … The crowd was super receptive and the videos of the performances made their way to Stacey Starstruck and I ended up [getting] booked at Queer/Bar shortly after my debut because of her.”
Bosco now joins the ranks of a small albeit mighty pantheon of prominent, highly acclaimed Seattle-based drag queens to grace the small screen, including Robbie Turner, Jinkx Monsoon, BenDeLaCreme and Monikkie Shame. But in Constantino’s observation, Bosco represents a different, more current version of the Seattle drag scene, one that has evolved out of the theatrical, pageantry-heavy and often celebrity illusion-focused acts of her predecessors.
“We can’t talk about the scene now without talking about the venues that either influenced or cultivated certain types of drag,” Constantino said. “There’s a very cool mix of popular, bar-based drag: Top 40 types of drag that’s about entertaining the masses, which is really fun and the girls in town are really good at. But then there’s also a very big dive into performance art [that] has been happening over the past few years here. The Seattle queens have found a cool way to make those two lanes meet in the middle.”
Constantino adds that the pandemic has also accelerated drag into unexpected, sometimes even unprecedented territory. Participating in a handful of “Dungeons & Drag Queens” podcast episodes, which the artist described as an almost uniquely “West Coast thing,” is just one of the ways she and her contemporaries have been experimenting with the art form.
But when it comes to constructing the Bosco persona, Constantino is deliberate and discerning, typically unifying elements of succubus imagery, fictional anime villains and real-life drag legends into something of a “millennial Elvira.” A recent promotional video for “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” for example, sees Bosco in a red latex bodysuit — an ensemble that the fictional character Vampirella might arguably wear to a glam punk show. The common denominator: Be the scantily clad villainess everybody wants to be.
“I am planning on being as naked and as fabulous as possible for as long as people will allow me,” Constantino mused. “So I’m hoping to make a huge splash doing just that.”