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Martha D’Arthur interviews FruitNFibre, the reigning champion of Drag Idol.

This year’s competition is in full swing, showing the UK that LGBTQ+ performers of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds are everywhere and want to be seen. Queens, kings, non-binary, trans performers, and even a male vocalist (how rare!) are performing up and down the country, hoping to be crowned this year’s champion.

Our roving reporter, Martha D’Arthur, sat down with FruitNFibre, the reigning champ, to find out about their year so far.

So lovely to see you again, Fruit! (May I call you Fruit?)

Fruit giggles and nods

So this is it! Your year as reigning champion of Drag Idol UK is almost over. What was it like for you to hear your name announced as the winner last year?

Surprised!! The whole experience was so huge. I started out for the competition, and I just wanted to see how far I could go. At each stage, I just focused on that stage! I thought I had to come up with a concept for each round (no one told me differently), so I just kept going, but it was A LOT. I didn’t think for a second that I would win. It’s only recently started sinking in properly, and now I think, “Well, that was F*%@ing cool!”. I’m so proud and grateful for it.

FruitNFibre, the reigning champion of Drag Idol 2023.
FruitNFibre, the reigning champion of Drag Idol 2023. (Photo Rhodri Gwyn Brooks, image supplied).

Were you fully prepared for the madness and chaos that came after?

NO! There was a massive amount of imposter syndrome that took hold. I was quite honest about doing the competition to try something out. I think people expected me to be seasoned, but I’m still learning how the industry works. It’s a lot of change to cope with – becoming self-employed, getting on the road, suddenly being expected to know how it all works. You learn on the job, so it’s all quite recent experience, and I’m embracing it.

Some venues get you, and some don’t, so there’s been A LOT of learning and new experiences, but I’m starting to hit my stride more now and be proud of my win.

What advice would you give to this year’s winner?

Enjoy it. Don’t worry about perfection. Do what you want to do. Ultimately, if you win, you want to be true to yourself. Be a genuine reflection of who you are artistically. You’ll never be loved or understood by everyone, so accept and embrace it.

How has your style evolved over the last ten months?

In my first heats, because I was starting out, I watched a lot of tutorials while I was getting ready, so I’ve definitely become more confident and developed more characters. My overall confidence has massively grown, and I’ve taken time to develop new concepts and ideas.

In the beginning, I started out with a costume made of loads of gloves, doing glove/love songs, and then I had my swamp monster and my Maltese pup Crufts entry. Now, I’m putting more of myself into my characters. Most recently, I’ve been having fun with a broken heart who is literally a heart with crutches, bandages and stitches.

What’s been the highlight of this year for you?

I was in a music video with my Maltese dog character (for the band Melin Melyn, directed by James Bobbin, who directed The Muppets Movie and Flight Of The Concords). I also wrote, directed and performed a Christmas show with some other drag artists and queer comedians in a spoof we called “Love Apparently”.

I also got to go to Norway, to begin development of a show about my own experiences in Drag Idol and the discovery of my own femininity.

I have struggled with my own femininity and did the competition to really push myself out of my comfort zone. Which I absolutely did! But it took a toll on my mental wellbeing. I kept lots of voice notes from family and friends who supported me, and we’ve started developing a piece of theatre based on this experience and discovery.

What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve faced then, given your reasons for entering?

The win, while I’m VERY proud of it, played quite heavily into my insecurity and fed the “imposter syndrome” quite heavily. It affected my mental health and did result in me having to cancel some gigs which I do feel very sorry about. But it was necessary for me at the time, and now I’m taking things at a more organic pace, enjoying the process more and more, and giving myself the space to enjoy and learn.

I also want to thank the other artists who have supported me and told me their tales. I bought into the idea that drag queens weren’t nice to each other, which didn’t help at first, but it really is much more of a support network than I ever realised.

FruitNFibre, the reigning champion of Drag Idol 2023, interviewed by Martha D'Arthur.
FruitNFibre (Photo Rhodri Gwyn Brooks, image supplied).

Given how wonderfully different you are, I would like to know what inspires you.

Music, a lot of the time. My ideas tend to come from a song I want to sing or find funny if you change this word or that word. OR if I want to make a particular costume.

The Crufts dog came from me singing Tina Turner’s “You’re Simply the Best (in Show)” around my kitchen over and over, so I thought to myself, “I want to do that!”

My most recent look, the broken heart, is because I’d just gone through a breakup and I was struggling with it but decided not to be defeated and to use it, which I’ve found very therapeutic and a lot of fun.

Take your broken heart and turn it into art!

Finally – what’s on the horizon for FruitNFibre?

I’m doing the Green Man and Latitude Festivals and still gigging around the country, which I’m looking forward to.

And because I’m still growing and developing (Martha—aren’t we all!), I really want to collaborate with other artists because I especially enjoy that process.

FruitNFibre will be performing at the Grand Final of this year’s Drag Idol 2024 competition on Thursday, 20th June, at The Two Brewers. And follow them on social media for details of upcoming performances.

Stay tuned to the socials for Drag Idol UK and QX magazine, where Martha will keep you abreast of all the news each week. There’s a special announcement coming up about an additional prize for this year’s champion and judging panel!

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