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The drag scene is not only limited to the world famed and excruciatingly entertaining stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Each year, new queens emerge in bars and clubs in and around London. If you stay under the conventional rock and forget your binoculars, chances are you might miss their onstage debut.

This first appearance is what makes or breaks a drag queen and can transform average into professional. The quest to becoming the most sickening and shadiest queen is one worth pursuing. That is why if a queen cannot remain firmly standing on those 6-inches, and entertain the crowd, they might as well pull off that hair sprayed wig and sashay away. It goes without saying that the lives led by many queens are ones where fact is stranger than fiction. This is the psychological fuel that creates a badass rotate on the finger attitude that makes for some of the most addictive personalities in the industry.

Honing in their artistic skills requires dedication and of course entering as many competitive and even non-competitive stages. Besides going to clubs, gig or live events, some queens opt for the dim lit bingo halls where rolling the balls, quick wit and comedic attributes are a prerequisite.

After all, in the US, drag queens traditionally host bingo nights for charity or profit, and it happens in our neck of the woods too. Through this, they are able to enliven the crowd and give players a taste of tongue and cheeky humour. This also allows the queens to sharpen their sass while having something to base their presentation on – the bingo draw. However, most bingo-playing audiences nowadays end up choosing to play online on one of the many websites that have popped up and also offer bonuses to players, as Oddschecker explains. For such reasons, bingo presenter drag queens have had to up their game, offering levels of entertainment that may upstage the actual prizes.

The road to fame and recognition is not an easy one, and it’s not uncommon for queens to simply untuck and leave their makeup untouched for months, in an attempt to recover from the trauma of a highly critical crowd. Fortunately, competitions are held all over London throughout the year to bring in new shining stars, introduce them to the industry and help them hone their skills.

After all, Mama Ru was not baked in a day! And our queens are making the impossible happen every day!

1. Dolly Trolley


Woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning …

A post shared by Dolly Trolley (@dollytrolleydrag) on

Her first drag showcase was for Michael’s Twait’s drag show. She summed that whole experience as “EPIC!” And indeed it was because that’s how her career started its flow, like an unchecked fountain of creative and charismatic energy. Her actual first stage performance was as a child in school plays.

She still remembers the very first time on stage and no, it wasn’t as a fabulous, naughty drag queen, but as a child. “As a child, I was one half of a two-headed, three-legged alien circus ringmaster in a Beatles jukebox musical. That was weird.” Well, that type of weirdness is not so uncommon on drag stages. Our curious nature makes us wonder what it would’ve been like to be a fly on that wall. Obviously, she also remembers her first night on stage all dolled up and ready to give the performance of her life.

In her first show for Michael’s drag course, she had a slight mishap with her wardrobe but said in true royal sass, “You’re not a drag queen if you don’t struggle with your clothes.” Funnily enough, tap dancing is her most favourite act as it also helps her relieve stress. When asked what her favourite part of cabaret is, she said, “The freedom and the variety. In Michael’s drag course, all 12 of us came up with completely different acts for our showcase which really added to my learning experience.”

In university, she had the chance to throw away her pretty dance shoes and create her own work. It became a serious passion for her, especially when she started making performances to challenge gender roles and sexuality. Naughty girl!

It is an unspoken agreement that a true queen never has any flaws, she is all glittery and perfect just like a well-contoured fairy. Very sassy, shady and darn right feisty fairy. Dolly is one queen that doesn’t mind admitting that she just can’t stop sweating on stage. As soon as those light come on her pores open up and the body waterworks begin. Many fans have witnessed it, especially as she even sweats off her eyebrows from time to time. Some have even regretted hugging her after a performance. Let’s just say she helps make people fabulous by sprinkling them with her organic perfume.

First impressions are something all of us believe in and we try to make a very good first impression on new people that we meet. Dolly for one said people think “I’m a nice boy. You know the nice and sweet boy you will take home to your mother,” and then they find out she’s a drag queen, “then they’re just a bit befuddled.” Oh, and she’s not just any queen, she’s a queen with a maths degree. She’s a hole in one, with beauty and brains.
Laziness is an enemy we all must face at one point or another. Ms Trolley seems to have found a way to battle this demon. It seems that the word yes holds more power than we mere mortals ever thought.

By saying yes to most opportunities that come her way, she has found a way to be productively busy all year long, leaving little to no room for the whispers of laziness to be heard.

You can find her performing on stages across Edinburgh and London.

2. Felix Le Freak

Felix was born in North London but grew up in Hertfordshire. She decided to go back to London as soon as she was out of those outdated short trousers. She loves London, “One of the few cities in the world where it feels like anything is possible if you just believe. Unless you want to believe in a world free from Pret A Manger.” Fortunately, she has a generous waiter roommate who always brings home her favourite Japanese dish of gyoza. In fact, it is her daily staple when she is not beating her face and layering those lashes.

The first gay bar she visited was where she went from a rookie looking for a hook-up to becoming a veteran in all things dirty and sexy. Arguably, it can be said her baptism by fire was the start of phoenix-like resurrection. “There are no grown-ups. It’s all an illusion. Life is terrifying and pointless and you just have to make it up as you go along.” A saying that represents her sentiments about the challenges that queens face every day. She finds inspiration from her LGBTQQ heroes like Quentin Crisp and The Babadook. The aspirational great beings that everyone looks up to for guidance and inspiration.

When she’s editing a dialogue for one of her shows, she says “They are happy accidents,” and it rarely occurs that one of her mixes are actually good when she forces herself to work on it. The best present she has ever received, which was not a make-up kit full of her favourite colour or a yummy guy in skin-tight leotards? Suffice to say, it was a practical gift – a bicycle. Now, for those fantasists, this might seem out of context especially considering how out-there and barely mortal the personas are that queens so easily portray on stage. True, they may be larger than life but also extremely practical. In Felix Le Freak’s own words, “Cycling is about as close as one can get to flying without breaking the bank or enlisting the help of illicit substances.” Sure, it can feel like you are flying when going downhill, but uphill? Well, that’s a battle of the fittest.

The party scene that Felix really enjoyed was the Secret Garden Parties that were held for flamboyant and artistic beings to bring out their special powers of seduction and humour. But sadly they stopped it because the parties were overrun by stupid people, like princesses and jocks.

Lip sync is her all-time favourite act, “I love the power that lip sync has to transport you between worlds in the click of a finger and allows you to inhabit iconic characters,” Felix says. “There’s nothing like that buzz of feeling a pop-cultural moment flowing through you!” She says she is not doing drag to create the ultimate female illusion but to fight against the illusion that men always have to be fiercely masculine. Which is quite an interesting point.
Even though she loves performing and getting that high from the applause of fans, she feels that promoting shows and arranging the event gives her more satisfaction in the long run and it’s one of her career highlights. Paying people money also seems to satisfy her in an uncanny way. If you need money and want a nice boss who loves giving it out, then you might as well slide into that latex dress, dash yourself with glitter and go work for Felix.
When she is not working behind the scenes you can find her performing at her favourite bars The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Old Nun’s Head and naturally, Le Freakshow.

3. Ruby Wednesday

This is a Gemini queen who embodies the duality of this star sign with natural ease. Perhaps that is why she is able to be so confident, excessive and extremely quick-witted. London is her home as it is also the very city she started out her ‘accidental’ career. It surely wasn’t planned, but she needed something to brighten up her fine art work and breathe new life into it. She decided to create a sexy and feisty alter ego that would allow her to embody this personification of her art. Andy Warhol’s photos of drag inspired her own look and made her take that first step to glitter and awesomeness. Surely, once you go drag it’s hard to go drab.

She says she’s not very competitive when it comes to shows, only on board games and video games. Who can resist the urge to be a victor? She further added, “I’m not very good at losing… Yeah, I’m competitive.” We all thought so, honey! Because there is not a queen that goes on that stage, without being ready to obliterate the memory of the previous.
Her unique name actually has a meaning not only to her but also her family. The name Ruby was chosen because most of the females in her family have it as a middle name. Which, she concludes would have been given to her was she born a female. Wednesday, on the other hand, was chosen, because she was born on a Wednesday. Sure, so not a play on the names of popular American restaurant chains. Does anyone need a kleenex?

Ruby has her own personality apart from the person underneath all the glitter and lavish eyeshadow. “Ruby Wednesday always looks miserable just because she kind of hates everyone for no apparent reason. I’m not as miserable as she is, less confident maybe.” She is kind of the badass warrior queen that doesn’t give a crap about what anyone thinks. She has quite a unique singing voice too. Throw in the seizure, heart attack, dancing movements she does, and there you have her talents. “I like to think that when I perform I fucking perform. I don’t like doing anything half-hearted.”

She is a hateful, button pushing maniac that loves to sing live and compete in lip-sync battles. Her songs always seem to have a story behind them and a meaning that the audience can take home with them. “I want an audience to feel something. If they love it, hate it or are baffled by it, they’re all good things,” Ruby said, provocatively.

Music is, however, her main focus at the moment by developing her own album and helping others achieve their dreams. You can find her in Her Upstairs where they remake tv shows like Buffy and American Horror Story. It’s definitely something to look forward to. Oh, and one last thing from the queen: “Tip your fucking waitress!”

4. Vinegar Strokes

This queen started her flamboyant career on a scary Halloween night back in 2014. As an actor and comedian, she’d never thought about doing drag before, until someone asked her to do one of her stand-up comedy shows in glitter dresses and loads of makeup. It was weird, she says, but once she saw the money rolling in and realised how fun it is to entertain people as a queen, she was infected.

Its safe to say, the drag bug bit her hard and there’s no antidote for it. On stage, she’s a powerful queen seducing her audience with every word that leaves her mouth. Making them weak and in love! “It’s a great feeling when you are commanding the room and making people smile.”

Creativity flows out of her best when she’s up there, with lights shining down on her. She shows off her flair with big Texan hair, and her signature costume, a bedazzled jumpsuit. Her makeup can consist of only three things if she has to choose it would be base, “To cover up the boy-face,” eyelashes to bring everything together – because what is a look without lavish eyelashes to top it all off? – and last but not the least, eyeliner to contour the best parts of her face. Her performances are accompanied by a pianist, but she loves to switch up now and again with a good pop and rock number, something her fans appreciate and admire. Her favourite place to perform is none other than The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.
Vinegar is one of London’s finest drag queens and is widely known as “The female Whoopi Goldberg.” She quite looks like her, doesn’t she? You can also find her all over London at venues like Her Upstairs and The Apollo Theatre.

Folks, in the words of movie directors, “that’s a wrap!”

We meet the drag queen reading group that were victims of The Sun’s poisonous anti-trans campaign

Outings at the Kings Head Theatre for Pride Month.

What’s on this week

cruise event at Vault 139
horny at Bunker gay Bar in London.
SHE bar in Soho is London's only queer women's bar.
Buff naked cruise at Bunker bar
Punishment Block is a CP night at The Lord Clyde gay cruise bar in South London.