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Britain’s Got Talent? Forget dancing dogs and wailing divas, there’s only one UK-wide talent search that’s actually delivered real stars and it’s called Drag Idol!

The annual cabaret/drag contest has given our wonderful gay scene a whole new swathe of performers to enjoy. (And yes, even the odd dancing dog and wailing diva – mentioning no names!) Drag Idol celebrates its 10th momentous year in 2014, and QX is proud to have been involved with it since the very beginning. This week, our resident Cabaret expert Jason Reid profiles some of the winners and notable entrants that have gone on to become well-known names on the cabaret circuit. And where better to have a good ol’ natter and gossip with such illustrious performers than in the bogs backstage at this year’s launch night at the famous Two Brewers. The glamour never ends at QX Towers!

 


TANYA HYDE
2008 winner

You’re the ice queen of the Drag Idol family; can you give me some pointers on how to be one… 

What are you trying to insinuate? [Laughs] I thought I was a total pussycat, apart from the odd Facebook rant.

Who would like to play the part of you in the film of your life? 

Emma Watson, but she’d have to really find her inner bitch.

Your favourite piece of drag?

A green dress that Sandra gave me, which was older than me. I wore it until it practically fell apart.

 

BAGA CHIPZ
2010 winner

Everyone knows you’re a huge Coronation Street fan, but who from the show do you think would make a good guest judge? 

Rita from The Cabin (Barbara Knox), because she used to work as a showgirl in Blackpool, and on the cruise ships. She won’t be able to stay out all night, mind, because she has the paper’s to do in the morning.

What’s been your proudest career highlight to date? 

Doing five hours of cabaret every Sunday for over a year at the Admiral Duncan and transforming it into Old Compton Street’s campest knees-up. Performing as Amy Winehouse in Hyde Park to tens of thousands of people comes a close second.

What do you look for in a fella, Baga?  

I’m not fussy to be honest, love, I’d give Norris from Corrie a wank for The Weatherfield Gazette. If I did settle down I’d probably want to be one of those dogging swingers. “Ooooh, take me to the moors, throw me on the bonnet of ya Fiat Punto and take me up the Gary Glitter!”

 

TITTI LA CAMP
Drag Idol Host

Did you ever imagine, when Drag Idol first began, that it’d become such a huge success? 

Not at all. In fact, I honestly thought it would be a one-off event, so to finally reach year ten is something everyone involved can be very proud of, and its certainly a team effort.

What’s the secret to that success?

It’s all down to the acts who have taken part, and the feedback on their experiences during the competition. The fact that we have produced a cabaret scene star almost every year is a testament to everyone’s efforts.

What are your personal highlights from those ten years? 

The Grand Final of 2011 when Son Ofa Tutu and Alexis Carrington battled it out for the crown is my favourite moment. Usually acts are guarded about their desire to win, but these two were honest enough to say they wanted it, and it was an amazing contest to watch. Not only did they deliver a great contest, they showed real style and sportsmanship when the result was announced. The semi-final at Halfway to Heaven last year comes a close second, mostly because of the audience and the incredible atmosphere they created.

What do you love most about being involved? 

To be involved in something that I can look back on and say, “I’m really proud of that”, is ample reward for all the blood sweat and tears that goes along with running an event this big.

How do you think this year is going to shape up? 

Not sure, I always start off fearing the worst and then being pleasantly surprised. What I do know is that I have great venues and great judges, so once again it all goes back to the competing acts. Make it a good one boys and girls.

 

MARTHA D’ARTHUR
2013 winner

What’s the best way to win over a Drag Idol judging panel? 

With money, alcohol and sexual favours. Suzanne Shaw, who was a judge at last year’s final, was a good kisser but a bad drinker.

How would you sum up the UK cabaret scene right now in one word?

Diverse.

What’s your motto in life? 

Men and me are like pianos. When they get upright, I feel grand.

 

LA VOIX
2012 winner

Talk us through an average day in the life of La Voix…

It begins with a healthy muesli breakfast followed by a light face pack and yoga. Then I answer as much fan mail as I can before dealing with the endless bookings and constant press requests from QX. I always fit in a full vocal warm-up, too: gargling with Dettol.

You have some sensational bespoke frocks. Where are they made and what’s the inspiration behind them?

They are made by a guy called James Kelly, from the Royal Opera House. Their inspiration comes from 1950’s Hollywood glamour and film icons of the time such as Joan Crawford.

 

KEVIN CRUISE
2009 winner

How does it feel to be the only ever non-drag winner?

Well, it goes to show, the competition is open to all. Being caked in slap, wearing a dodgy wig, in costumes too tight for me, most people thought I was Rose Garden anyway.

Whenever I see you I get serious tan-envy, how do you keep yourself looking such a polished shade of, errrrrm, mahogany? 

I always enlarge your profile picture on Facebook to check the colour against that, Jason. The moment I’m a few shades lighter than you, I know I’m just right! [Laughs.]

You reached the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2010, which must have been quite an experience? Did you meet Simon Cowell? DISH IT! 

I didn’t meet Simon, however his Main Producer did tell me he loved the fact that Kevin was a character and not really that ‘nutty’. It was the first time anyone had played them at their own game: parodying bad acts. The first line of my audition: “I was abandoned at earth”, I mean… really!

 

KELLY MILD
2007 winner

Yourself and Crystal D’Canter became a double act shortly after your win, but if you hadn’t have bunked up with her, which of the other winners would you opt for as a stage partner? 

I love all them all to bits, but I would have to come out of the competition and go with Rose Garden. We have a fabulous relationship, that explodes sometimes, when we’ve had a drink, but we have wacky ideas of bible stories in drag; there’s a show in there somewhere.

Which three cabaret songs would you banish to Room 101 if you could? 

‘All That Jazz’ – There’s a great story in this song that rarely gets told properly. ‘Get This Party Started’ – it’s really long, and once you get through the first verse and chorus it really is done. And, ‘It’s Raining Men’ – Yes, I know Crystal and I sing it, but when I hear it my heart sinks. It’s been done to death!

 

SON OFA TUTU
2011 winner

As well as being a winner you’re also a huge enthusiast of Drag Idol, what does the competition mean to you?

I love drag and have always said I’m firstly a fan of drag, then a student and finally a drag queen. I won on a Friday and didn’t go back to my day job on the Monday. It changed my life.

What’s the best and worst feedback you’ve ever received?

Worst: don’t give up your day job. I was told this all my life. Best: you’re in the wrong job. I was told this in the run up to Drag Idol.

 

 

BEST OF THE REST

And it’s not just winners who reap the rewards of Drag Idol. These artists carved out successful careers, too…

 

Crystal D’Canter
2005 Runner-Up

Connie Conway
2008 Finalist

Adam All
2009 Finalist

Mitzi Macintosh
2012 Runner-Up

Asifa Lahore
2012 Finalist

Vanity Von Glow
2012/2013 Heat Finalist

Topsie Redfern
2013 Finalist

Miss Cairo
2013 Semi Finalist

Meth
2013 Heat Finalist

 

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