It’s no exaggeration to say that Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race has had a massive impact on queer culture. Drag competitions and balls à la Paris is Burning have been appearing all over the country and the slang terms used on the show have entered the popular diction of LGBT+ youth.
The Meth Lab, masterminded by the Familyyy Fierce’s avant-garde drag supreme Meth, has been doing a service to fans of the show, bringing Drag Race contestants across the pond for nights that sell out faster than Glastonbury. It’s a testament to the impact of both Drag Race and The Meth Lab that this year’s winner, Bianca del Rio managed to sell out three nights when the show isn’t even [legally] aired in the UK.
Mercifully, competition for tickets to The Meth Lab Ball was slightly less intense so I finally managed to get a ticket, although it still sold out before the event. Featuring Michelle Visage on the judging panel, alongside drag scene staple Holestar and of course Meth herself, it promised to be a fabulous evening.
The Black Cap, which plays host to The Meth Lab, is a bit of an oddly shaped venue. Fairly unassuming from the outside (I’ve walked past it many times before I knew it was there), the upstairs houses a charmingly traditional style gay pub, while downstairs plays host to clubnights and cabaret. The layout downstairs, with the lengthy bar creating a runway towards the stage, was thankfully well suited for the format of the ball. With the judging panel seated behind the main floor, there was plenty of space left for the talent on stage.
Hosted by the lovely Rubyyy Jones with assistance from Lilly SnatchDragon, the fresh talent took to the stage one by one with performances that ranged between classic cabaret, comedy queens and genderfuck. The most polished look of the night by far came from Ginger, whose performance swigging out of a hip flask along to Thank God I’m Pretty sadly fell short from getting her into the final two.
My personal favourite act came from Kai Kai. Showing she clearly knew her audience well, she performed an energetic lipsynch to a megamix of hits from RuPaul’s extensive back catalogue. Unfortunately, she faced some criticism from the judges for her make up, who encouraged her to check out tutorials on youtube and blend blend blend.
The judging panel whittled it down to the final two: the genderfucking Gender Prince and hairy chested Tiffany Diamanté, whose belting live vocals eventually won out. She won the well deserved chance to perform live as a warm up for Bianca del Rio when she comes to The Meth Lab this July.
The night was rounded off with a truly superb performance by Michelle Visage herself, who clearly still has it even two decades on from the Bodyguard soundtrack.
If you want to head to any of The Meth Lab’s Drag Race events, your best bet is keeping your eye on their Twitter for details of when tickets go on sale as they sell out very fast. They still have a few tickets left for Milk and Tammie Brown on the 27th June available here.