BBC has unveiled the cast of queens for the first-ever season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
The cast was handpicked by RuPaul herself and includes a West End performer, a make-up artist from Belfast, a Girls Aloud impersonator and a queen inspired by Grace Jones.
As BBC ru-vealed the queens, they said: “This eclectic group of queens are the perfect showcase of what the UK drag scene has to offer.”
RuPaul added: “Each of the UK queens is so unique, so courageous and so special. I can’t wait for the UK – and the world – to fall in love with them the same way I did.”
Introducing the ten competing Drag Race UK queens: Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, Crystal, Cheryl Hole, Divina De Campo, Gothy Kendoll, Sum Ting Wong, Scaredy Kat, The Vivienne, Vinegar Strokes.
“I’m a very British drag queen, very fish and chips, mushy peas,” says Midlands icon Baga Chipz. “I love Coronation Street, northern humour. I like naff things, Martine McCutcheon, SuBo, Hear’ Say, all that kind of stuff.”
Baga entered Drag Race as they wanted to see a resurgence in old school queens who can hold their own on a mic.
“You will get references from me about Liza Minelli, Tina Turner and Bette Davis, so I bring the humour and the camp to the series,” they reveal. “You need to be a performer; you can’t just look good. I’ve seen queens who look like Naomi Campbell who go on stage and the audience are like, ‘What can you do?’”
Hailing from Belfast, Blu hopes to be a “beacon of light” for Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community.
“Queer culture in Belfast is oppressed,” Blu says. “You still have violence in the streets against homosexuals, it’s a scary place to do drag, but I want to show kids growing up that it’s okay to be gay in Northern Ireland.”
Blu hopes to gag the children with their cosmic cartoon aesthetic and to showcase their Irish sense of humour with “a lot of shade!”.
Crystal is 34 and originally from Canada and has been living in London for the past ten years.
Crystal is a gender-bending, ‘mess with your brain’ kinda drag queen. They stand for tearing down gender constructs using creativity, looks, and fashion and crazy performances.
On getting the opportunity to be on Drag Race UK, Crystal says, “Being in Drag Race is insane; it’s such an opportunity to be in the first season of Drag Race UK. I feel such a responsibility to do a good job and show people what the UK drag scene has to offer. It’s just blowing my mind.”
From the land of “spray tans, vajazzles and the GC [Gemma Collins]”, Cheryl Hole describes themselves as “glam on the go” taking inspiration from Girls Aloud star, Cheryl Cole.
“I am the performer queen, I am the one that people want to see on a stage,” they confidently tell Gay Times. “You know you’re going to get a show and you know you’re going to get production!”
They have always had a passion for drag, but it wasn’t until witnessing Paul O’Grady’s iconic Lily Savage on ‘Blankety Blank’ and the success of Drag Race in the US, did they consider it as a viable career option.
“It showed a more contemporary take on the art-form, and I realised that I could create the craft that I wanted to. So here we fucking go.”
Davina De Campo
TV veteran of the drag world Davina De Campo appeared on The Voice UK in 2016 and also as a judge on All Together Now but spills the T about their hate of competition.
De Campo says they have worked with almost all of the Drag Race US queens (but not all the Drag Race UK queens).
“I hate competitions, hate them,” they laugh. “They’re not my schtick at all. What was the question? I’m just me babe; I’m just me. I disappear in a competition, but I think I make an impression! Maybe that’s just my butt cheeks in the werkroom; I’m not sure.”
The drag queen and opera singer reveals, before adding of their relationship with their fellow contestants: “There’s very little catfighting. We’re very supportive of each other and everyone wants each other to do well. In the US, people take themselves more seriously than they take the work.”
Gothy is 21 and describes their drag as “dark, contemporary, striking and unique, and everything that is cool and fresh about UK drag now. The fact that my name is Gothy lets me bring in those darker elements; especially when it comes to wigs and makeup.”
Being inspired by the likes of Grace Jones and Annie Lennox, Gothy prides themselves as being good at coming up with concepts and executing them in a unique and striking way.
Sum Ting Wong
Sum Ting Wong, 30, is from Reading. They say they were a little emo kid at 12 years old and loves to sing. Wong says they are living their fantasy in drag:
“I am a Chinese male who’s overweight and losing his hair. I’m never gonna make it like that so drag helped me, and the 12 year-old me, finally live out my dream of performing and singing.”
Wong is looking forward to singing challenges:
“I think I’ll excel in the singing challenges. Dancing is not my forte. I like sewing; I think I’ll be alright in that. This is a fluke – I don’t know why I’m here. This is incredible. I feel like Willy Wonka with the golden ticket to go to RuPaul’s magical chocolate factory. So many people would kill to be in this position!” they tell the BBC.
Scaredy Kat is from the small village of Wiltshire which they say is “literally in the middle of nowhere and to ask if they have a drag scene is a joke in itself. There was one close nearby, and even a gay bar but it got shut down.”
The 20 year-old is the youngest queen to ever appear on Drag Race.
Their drag name reflects their personality, “I came up with my drag name because I’m just a bit of a pussy really, and I’m scared of everything from answering the phone to going on Drag Race. It’s all the same to me.”
27 year-old The Vivienne is from Liverpool and says their style is like “a scouse wife who has come into money, they moved to LA and blew it all and then they had to move back to Liverpool.”
The comedy queen says their trump card is impersonations, “I do everyone from Kim Woodburn, Cilla Black, Donald Trump – you name it, I’ll do it – for the right price!”
Four years ago The Vivienne was crowned by RuPaul and became a UK Drag Race Ambassador, which is someone who makes noise about Drag Race in the UK.
“Being crowned by RuPaul was the most crazy experience, I’m a huge fan of the show and RuPaul himself. He’s the absolute queen of the world, so being crowned was the most nuts experience.”
Vinegar says that they think viewers will describe them as the heart of the competition.
“I embrace who I am. I’m a working-class girl and I like to put that in my act and celebrate that and wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s really important to me because we live in an age where so many want to be something else and actually it’s great to celebrate who you are.”
Vinegar has been doing drag for four years and their first gig was at Halloween.
The US Series of RuPaul’s Drag Race is a cult global phenomenon and since the announcement of the first UK adaptation of the show, there has been frenzied fan speculation about the line-up.
All ten queens will be taking part in Manchester Pride on Saturday August 24 for their first official appearance. While we wait for the show to hit our screens in October, find out everything else we know so far and check out this video all about the Drag Race UK queens!
Start your engines, and may the best woman win!
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