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A drag stalwart, and all round lovely queen, Bette Rinse celebrates another year of fabulousness with a huge birthday bash at Halfway 2 Heaven this February. Bette’s ‘drag hubby’, and close friend, Jason Reid caught up with her this week, and also squeezed some choice words out of her drag family who will be performing on the night..

 


Firstly, happy birthday dearest, how does 70 feel?

[Laughs]. I feel fabulous, 52 and proud of it. And not a wrinkle in sight. (Thank god for photoshop!)

How will you be celebrating?

I’ll be having two celebrations. One at Halfway 2 Heaven on 4th February with my drag family. And then another with my partner at the Marriott Marquis revolving rooftop restaurant in New York’s Times Square. Not camp at all, dear…

Sounds amazing! You’re a very nurturing person, and you often take acts new to the scene under your wing. What do you think of how your protégés have progressed? 

I taught Mary Mac to be more assertive and now she’s got one of the biggest gobs on the scene [laughs]. One day her name won’t be in chalk, it’ll be in lights. Stephanie Von Clitz is doing well, but needs a kick up the arse sometimes. I coach her privately at my house. If she continues in the direction she’s going I’m hopeful she’ll do well in this year’s Drag Idol.

Would you ever consider setting up your own drag academy/school? 

Possibly, but it’d have to be the right time and the right place.

After almost 25 years as a drag performer, what’s the most important thing you’ve learnt? 

It’s a job! I do my show, take Bette off and go straight back to being Kevin. Never let it take over your life and always respect people. Someone once offered me money to sleep with them…

And?

I told them to ‘get fucked, I’m a drag act’ and to stay away from me. I do, however, have a very good orange friend who goes to the sauna.

Annnnnnd moving swiftly on, if you had three birthday wishes, what would you wish for? 

For the world to live in peace and harmony, a lifetime of good health to my family and friends… And to learn how to sing [laughs].

 


Rose Garden

Bette Rinse is a force to be reckoned with! The first time I met her was when she was in a home for bewildered drag queens and I was doing some community service. Don’t ask…

I could see that her talent was still there, hidden by pills, booze and the pungent smell of stale piss. So I paid the fine (she still owes me the money) and she was released back onto the cabaret scene once more, to the disgust of some and delight to others.

Watching Bette perform has taught me two important things: 1. Stand for no shit 2. How to suck a dead dog’s dick. Happy Birthday, drag mum.

 

Topsie Redfern

She is a fabulous talent and the ultimate drag mother to the baby queens of London – me included. Thank you for all the support, care and advice…. DEAR!

 

Mary Mac 

Bette Rinse is the reason I am Mary Mac. Though she’s still a dreadful singer.

 

Aaron Alexander

Watching one of Bette Rinse’s shows is a masterclass in audience interaction, comic timing and quick wit. The first time I met her, I was blown away by her warm attitude and caring nature. She’s been a constant source of advice for me in my first year of working the scene. She is, quite simply, a legend.

 

Stephanie von Clitz

Bette Rinse is Soho’s sweetheart; a dear friend and the best mentor I could ask for. One of the most open and genuine queens on the scene.

 

Trindy

To me, Bette is bonkers! She is such an integral part of the London scene and without a doubt one of the most golden hearted people I know. She rings me every week and her first words are always, “Everything alright?” I adore working with her, she is one of the old school. And one of the best.

 

Mrs. Moore 

One of the warmest, most giving and generous queens on the scene. She is so very supportive of other acts and will go out of her way to help in any way she can. A wicked and dry sense of humour, and, oh and what a voice. It’s like gravel meets Benson & Hedges – a lot like myself.

 

Vanity von Glow

Bette is the first cabaret performer in London to give me space on her stage to perform, so I have her to thank and you all have her to blame.

 

• Bette Rinse’s Birthday is at Halfway II Heaven (7 Duncannon Street, Charing Cross, WC2N 4JF) on Tuesday 4th February.

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