Read an excerpt from Bimini Bon Boulash's new book
In 'Release The Beast: A Drag Queen's Guide to Life', Bimini shares their Y2K fashion inspirations and bringing back the 90s' Pamela pencil brow.
Credit: Roisin Murphy
“Bimini Bon Book Author? You’d better bloody believe it, babes,” the opening line of the new book from Drag Race UK season 2 star Bimini Bon Boulash reads. Titled Release The Beast: A Drag Queen’s Guide to Life — a reference to the queen’s iconic verse on the song “UK Hun?” — the book shares insights into Bimini’s life growing up queer in Norfolk before finding drag in London in 2017. It also delves into their life learnings on that journey, which brought them onto our screens as a finalist in the beloved BBC drag competition earlier this year, and into the nation’s heart as the UK’s favourite drag star.
With chapters giving advice on everything from having a PMA (that’s a positive mental attitude) to embracing the femme, Bimini also delves into their fashion origins and style evolution. It was an on-screen trajectory that gave us a rowdy football fan, rhinestone zits and a sexy amoeba on the Drag Race runway, and quickly turned them into a breakout model at London Fashion Week. Below, read a segment of the chapter “Life Lesson 5: Suffer for Fashion” on their Y2K sartorial inspirations — Britney, Pamela Anderson and Juicy Couture — and the queer punk street styles they fell in love with.
“The psychology of style and fashion is incredibly fascinating to me. Even the way I dressed in my early teens in order to fit in and be like everyone else represents a basic human desire to be liked. When I think about all of my style icons now, they all share a similar unapologetic approach to being themselves, which I’ve learned comes as you cue sick bucket find yourself. I wasn’t ready to be myself so I happily accepted Lynx Africa and a JJB Sports voucher for Christmas because it was a lot easier than telling everyone that I actually wanted to be in a perfume advert for Britney Spears’ ‘Fantasy’.
What’s funny is how much of a sponge I was for the style I grew up around. I may not have been able to wear a Juicy Couture tracksuit back then but I sure have made up for it now. I guess I looked at everything that was going on during this era in pop culture, suppressed it until I was ready to live it, and here we are. Fourteen years later and I’m one pencil thin bitch brow away from being a true nineties groovy chick. Fun Fact: Grazia recently did a trend article about the revival of the nineties Pamela pencil brow and I was referenced in it as a bitch brow trendsetter. Sorry, people, but a bushy brow is so last year. Get those tweezers out!
I had my first queer real life experience when I was 14. It wasn’t sexual, it was… magical. I was stood outside the battered Hollywood cinema in Great Yarmouth, probably having a fag with my best mate who silently knew I was queer but who humoured my confusion about it until I was ready, and there they were in my sight line. A vision in studded tartan and leather, a stylised bleached mullet with complementary sunglasses and a platform shoe to boot. It may sound like I’m describing my own style… but it came from somewhere else.
I had never seen a visibly, unapologetically queer person in the flesh before and behold, here one was right in front of me. Like a true Ray of Light (never one to pass up a Madonna reference), they shone. To me, anyway. I think to the average person living where I grew up this person would have looked like a weirdo, a freak. But it was the most punk thing I’ve ever seen and frankly I couldn’t work out if I wanted to be them or I wanted to fuck them, a similar feeling I got when I saw Pete Burns on Celebrity Big Brother. The likelihood is that it was probably a bit of both. It was in that moment that I knew one day I was gonna be as authentically myself as this person was. I have no memory of what I saw at the cinema that evening, but this person, whoever they were, is etched into my brain whether I like it or not, a bit like U2’s album on every iPod Nano in 2010.”
Release The Beast: A Drag Queen’s Guide to Life will be available to buy from all major book retailers on 14 October 2021. You can preorder your copy here.