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You can’t keep a good woman down! Or as Bette Rinse said to me this week, ‘Jason, if the public want Bette, they get Bette. And the extra handbag comes in handy too, dear…’

It’s A Knockout at Halfway to Heaven is BACK for its fifth season! As well as her highness Lady Rinse of Ealing hosting proceedings, there are also four fabulous mentors, including last year’s winner Ripley, seasoned queen Diana Mante, Drag Idol alumni Crystal D’ Canter and Tanya Hyde, and most importantly a gaggle of fresh-faced cabaret starlets all eager to rise to the weekly challenges. 

Chatting to me over a cup of sugary tea, Bette said: ‘I’m astounded at the level of new talent that is coming through on the scene of late. The eye-catching looks and sharp comedy is what really makes me sit up, tuck myself in properly and take notice. My favourite artists right now are Tracy Barlow, Ripley and Chamonix Aspen – those three make me laugh like a drain. And not a lot of drag queens do, so that’s a huge compliment.’ 

So, what were Bette’s first impressions of the class of 2017?

Cynthia Seaward 

When Cynthia told me she worked at Madame Tussauds I thought she was one of the waxworks until she opened her trap onstage and played a tune on her… teeth. Absolutely hysterical, dear! I love an artist who is unpredictable and camp to boot.

Felix Le Freak 

Well, I thought after last year’s competition no one could match the lip-syncing of Ripley, but Felix could well prove me wrong. It’s early days but I’m so looking forward to seeing ALL of that scrumptious creativity from this wonderful performer.

Vanity Nightmare 

Princess, princess, princess! I love this queen. That’s why I invited her back. Vanity has got a lot more talent than she is aware of, and I’m hoping this year’s competition will bring her out of herself a bit more – because I know one day she could be a household name. 

Holly Dunn Something 

Her first performance actually blew me away. And to be honest, when I saw her in the dressing room beforehand I didn’t think she was gonna be much cop. It’s true what they say, the quiet ones are the ones to watch – and Holly is most definitely one to watch. 

Veronica Montenegro 

I visited Montenegro last year, it’s a beautiful place. Just thought I’d mention that dear. When I first heard Veronica speak with that strong South American accent I couldn’t believe my ears: I thought it was Margarita Pracatan on acid. Victoria is unique, which is very important, beautiful, and has a bright future ahead.

Aura Jay 

This queen has the voice and look Mary Mac wished she still had… JOKING, MARY! Having said that, Aura’s first performance did remind me of Mary as she too has an incredible voice. All she needs to do now is tweak the banter. Mary, watch your back, dear!


What’s on this week