- Review: Laugh Riot @ Refract:21, Waterside Arts - 30 July, 2021
- Preview: Refract Festival, Waterside Arts, Manchester - 5 July, 2021
- Review: Manchester Jewish Museum - 4 July, 2021
Of the 98 drag acts (97 when we initially published our coverage earlier this – although Cheddar Gorgeous’ slipped through at the 11th hour) who submitted videos to TruTV’s search for a RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Ambassador, 21 finalists have been chosen. Of these drag acts, just one will win the title of RPDR UK Ambassador.
So who made it through? Who was cheated? Who will win?
First of all, what was evident was how well some of the queens managed to pull this shit together on such a tight timeframe and with literally no budget. But these are drag queens – if anyone can make a £1 outfit look like it cost £1,000, it’s a drag queen, am I right? Kudos.
I’ll admit I didn’t watch all 98 videos. I was harsh and judged half of them by their appearance alone before clicking skip. This was a mistake, probably, but life is short and I’m impatient.
Thankfully, by trimming the numbers down, I only had to watch 21 videos this time around. I’ll admit to some fastforwarding through chit-chat, but mostly I watched them all the way through.
There were a few queens I wondered, but mostly I was if not impressed then at least entertained. And really, it’s very hard to judge a whole queen’s career off one short video produced without either time or money.
I was disappointed to see that two of the best videos (we’ll go into other factors in a moment) didn’t get picked. I was a big fan of Cheddar Gorgeous‘ video, which was funny and smart (it was also polished despite probably being made on a smartphone).
Liquorice Black‘s video probably had the best production values of the bunch. But it’s not all about the videos, I know.
I suspect Cheddar was too genderfuck to get selected. She’s all bulging muscles, tweed suits and shorn temples. Her make-up is spot on, but she’s not ‘fishy’ – and I love that. Her face is femme, and her body is like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s – if Arnuhld glued more flowers to his body.
Liquorice, meanwhile, probably just lost out because of numbers. With her monochromatic face, she bears a family resemblance to her drag mother, Anna Phylactic. Their styles and outfits are otherwise very different – but I guess they opted for more femme queens rather than have two B&W faces. I guess it could also be that they didn’t want to fill a quarter of all the slots with all five of the #manchesterqueens and all four entrants from the Family Gorgeous. Fair enough. *grumblesbitterly*
Two out of three ain’t bad
I predicted three of the #manchesterqueens would get through, and I was 2/3 right with those choices. That’ll do for me.
I’m glad to see that Lill got picked, because I loved her video. She wasn’t in the three I guessed would go through, but that’s primarily because I was trying to second-guess Ru’s choices, rather than assessing them on their own merits. In terms of merits, Lill’s video had plenty. It’s actually still giving me glitter-speckled nightmares of taloned toes and burger-fuelled bubble baths. Plus, that queen made Sachas Hotel in Manchester look glam – which is some feat indeed! Bravo!
Anna Phylactic also got picked – which was just good sense. Anna’s video wasn’t as complex as some of those that were submitted, but it’s clear to see that Anna knows her shit, and that she has a fiercely loyal following. Oh, and she has that face on the side of The Molly House.
Grace ‘The Face’ Oni Smith was almost an obvious choice for me. She’s certainly ‘The Face’ of UK drag, and she has the kind of look that would work well on RPDR. She’s high concept, high fashion and high style. While Lill is the alt-rock face of drag, Grace is the catwalk face of drag. She’s a bit Grace Jones, a bit Roisin Murphy and a bit Grace Kelly. I’m so thrilled she got picked – this girl is TALENTED.
So who else got picked?
There are others who I’m glad to see on the list too. The Vivienne, for instance, has a very bold look. Her outfits are fierce – full of couture and bespoke flourishes. The Vivienne drips class. And yet, she has an edginess too (check out those tatts) – she’d easily be able to read a queen to filth. I also hear great things about her from the #manchesterqueens who know her personally, so I just know she’ll get far whatever happens.
The Prince of Vanity looks like a great choice too. Her make-up is flawless, and she showcases a range of fantastic and fabulous looks – from animals to femme to the Grinch – which reveal a dedication to craft and, most importantly, to character. There are those who say we all have a cast of characters inside of us – well, The Prince has utter control of every one of them. That makes for one key thing: versatility. She’ll go far whatever happens.
(The Prince is also representing my sisters of colour, which I’m glad to see, because it’s an otherwise pretty white list. EDIT: And so is Miss Cairo, who wrote this fabulous article.)
Dinah Lux is also something of a steal. A male model-cum-drag queen, her determination to be her (bringing her drag to Fashion Week, for example), is great, and she does a really great lipsynch. I think Dinah also has the ‘RPDR look’, so she’d be a strong candidate for the UK Ambassador.
I’m glad to see La Voix in the finals too. It’s almost a shame she had to lipsynch, though, because we know her talents lie elsewhere. This is perhaps one of the areas where the very limited format of RuPaul’s Drag Race doesn’t allow for the diversity that our UK scene has – we’re about more than impersonation and lipsynch.
But whatever. I find it very hard not to be endeared by La Voix – she’s very welcoming, and I love that she even lisps when she lipsynchs.
Perry Cyazine is a very charismatic alt-queen from Glasgow. She manages to rock a beard without looking at all like whatsherface off Eurovision. Like Cheddar Gorgeous, her video is witty and funny, and she looks very comfortable in front of a camera.
I also like her faux-product placement and the nebula background (it reminds me of Vada‘s banner – maybe we should get her to write for us?). Finally, there’s a very clever lipsynch, where even her fingers get away with miming for a bit. I think Perry needs to perform here in Manchester!
These are probably my favourites of the bunch, but there are others too. It looks like an interesting mix. You can check them all out on YouTube.