The ‘Queen of Christmas,’ Nina West, kicks off the holiday season with her new video for ‘Cha-Cha Heels.’ She talks EXCLUSIVELY with HL about this John Waters-inspired song and what YOU can get her for Xmas.
There has been a push to make Die Hard officially a Christmas movie in recent years — because the Bruce Willis action epic takes place during the holidays. Under that logic, John Waters’ Female Trouble is also a holiday flick. The biggest argument for this can be found in “Cha-Cha Heels,” the new video from drag queen and holiday aficionado, Nina West. Born out of the iconic scene where Dawn Davenport (played by the patron saint of drag herself, Divine) doesn’t get the shoes she wants, Nina lovingly recreates the cinematic temper-tantrum, all while celebrating the joys (and aches) of the holiday season.
“That scene with Divine and that Christmas tree,” Nina said when speaking to HollywoodLife in 2019, right after releasing her holiday EP, The West Christmas Ever, “and throwing that Christmas tree on top of her mother is to me and has always stood out to me as one of them, more like the most memorable moments in a film about the holidays.” To jingle your bells even more, the “Cha-Cha Heels” video also includes elements of John Waters’ other work, including Serial Mom and Hairspray.
Nina took some time out of her busy schedule of setting up her own North Pole (she loves Christmas so much, she has at least five trees in her home) to talk EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about the new video. She also lets all those Secret Santas out there know what she wants them to slide into her stocking come December 24 before delivering a special holiday message.
HollywoodLife: “Cha Cha Heels” celebrates the work of John Waters, not just Female Trouble but also Serial Mom and Hairspray. With the song taking its title from Female Trouble, what inspired you to include these other movies in the music video?
Nina West: You know, we were wanting to do a full Hairspray The Musical treatment and concept with the classic John Waters film Female Trouble, and that was the actual intention when we wrote this song last summer, in 2019. But, when it came time to storyboard and film this video, during COVID, we were met with many obstacles, including the need to be responsible. This meant smaller to almost non-existent casting, COVID testing, and a keen awareness of restrictions and accessibility. So, like everyone else trying to create during this time period, we had to pivot and imagine a new story for the video, and this allowed us to celebrate 3 of my favorite John Waters films.
Do you remember your first John Waters movie? Like, when and where you were introduced to his work?
I do remember watching my first John Waters movie. It was Hairspray, starring Divine, Ricki Lake, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono…and it changed my life. It was the soundtrack that I remember most distinctly. My oldest sister, Emily, was a big fan of this movie, and she somehow had a cassette recording of the music of the soundtrack, and I would listen to the opening song on repeat…I would sing into a hairbrush…”hairspray, my mama told me not to use it…”
I don’t think it was until I was in college where I was introduced to the full John Waters collection, and its fabulous QUEER voice…films like Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Cry Baby…all of them…classics.
John Waters, like you, is a proud, devoted celebrator of Christmas. Let’s say you had access to Michele Visage’s credit card — what would you buy John for Christmas?
I would buy John the new Chia Pet in the shape of RuPaul. It is fabulous, camp, chic. And affordable!
What can people get Nina West for Christmas this year?
If you are a Georgia resident, you can register to vote right now and prepare to vote in the Senate run-off on January 5th. That would be the best gift. And if you are not in Georgia, you can reach out to family and friends that may be and express the importance of this vote and taking back the control of the Senate. MERRY CHRISTMAS! LADY BUGS!
What is your Christmas message for 2020??
I know that Christmas this year looks very different from any Christmas of memory, but I say, turn on my holiday EP, THE WEST CHRISTMAS EVER, and make new traditions…and include in that staying safe and healthy, masking up, and getting us all safely into 2021! PLEASE, take care of yourselves this winter, and in turn, take care of each other.
The West Christmas Ever is out now.