all the diverse performers you won't see on rupaul's drag race uk
While we're excited for the show, that doesn't erase the fact that the UK scene is *way* more interesting and inclusive than RuPaul could imagine.
Photo via Instagram, Katayoun Jalili and That Ray for Louche Magazine.
There are very few things we can be sure of in this world. Climate crisis, for example. Political idiocy. Spider brooches appearing on next season’s runways. And of course, the ever continuing expansion of the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise.
Much like Greta on a boat, arch capitalist RuPaul has packed up her wigs and sailed across the Atlantic to the UK where a bunch of fierce queens will compete for the title of the UK’s Next Drag Superstar. Now, one might be expecting a diatribe against the show to follow this flabby opener, but no: not today Satan. There are plenty of brilliant people further excluded from this show than myself, who have written fantastically on the topic of RuPaul, capitalism, exclusion and cis-only-obsession, all of which you must absolutely read.
So instead of focusing on the show and how it isn’t representative, why not bring you a list of Brilliant, Rad, Queer, Inclusive Things You Won’t See On RuPaul’s Drag Race — because these are the artists and performers who are changing the face of drag. These are, and always have been, the UK’s Next Drag/Queer/Performance Superstars.
Woof x Louche Magazine Anti-DragRace Revolution
Chiyo, possibly the best drag performer out there, is presenting a line-up of performers that you won’t find on RuPaul’s Drag Race. As the show both currently, and historically, only allows cis-male drag queens (with some rare exceptions) to appear on the show, Chiyo and Louche Mag present a lineup of the best non-binary, womxn, king, in-between acts out there for your nerve. “We believe the UK Drag scene is too punk to conform to these discriminatory norms,” they say. “We are diverse. Beautiful. Revolutionary.” They really are.
Catch them at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on October 3.
Good Judy, ShayShay
East London living legend Shay Shay presents their ode to the icon that is Judy Garland. Judy continues to inspire queer people with joy and love in the face of adversity some fifty years after her death, and ShayShay’s show is here to educate and celebrate her contributions and her story. Look to ShayShay to provide platform and talent to those who are unheard on the drag scene.
You’ll find “Good Judy” at the Glory on October 4.
Not an event as such. but iconic drag king Georgeous Michael is about to drop issue one of their new zine: Louche. An ode to drag and queer performance in all forms, Louche is an anarchic and independent place to celebrate, interrogate and create a living archive of drag today, as well as the iconic, unheard and varied histories of drag in the past. This is the magazine for, and by, the scene.
The Cocoa Butter Club
Showcasing and celebrating performers of colour, The Cocoa Butter Club runs the best, most iconic cabaret in London. They’ve just taken over the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank and, in their words, they offer “decolonising & remoisturising treatment” in everything they do. From kings to live music, aerialists to acrobats — this is the kind of talent Ru wishes she could get.
Andro and Eve
Based out of Sheffield, Andro and Eve create a wide programme of inclusive queer events — from club nights, to film screenings, to drag king workshops. Their focus is on voices often marginalised in the LGBTQIA+ community, and they create joyful, playful spaces for the community to come together and develop their understanding. This is proper community led stuff, which means there are options, baby.
The Bitten Peach
A queer Asian cabaret — The Bitten Peach is exactly that. Fresh off their Underbelly Southbank takeover, these performers can give you everything from Burlesque, vocals, flawless dance and even better looks. Not only is this about platforming Asian queer voices and bodies, it’s about pure, unbridled talent and brilliance. Take a bite…!
For those of you in the know, you’ll know Rose Wood is a queer legend, pan gender genius and performance icon. Most often found on stage at The Box, where she takes great delight in pushing conservative customers past their limits, Rose is the kind of performer who helps you escape the everyday simply by being in the same room. An oracle to another, better, world — Rose plays with the body and its fluids with such skill, everything she touches becomes a work of art. To get a glimpse of Rose, you can find her recent documentary — Miss Rosewood — which came out in 2017, and it is, trust me, better than every episode of Drag Race combined.
East London Cool Dad Katayoun Jalili is the progenitor of nights which serve the community like few others. From Femmi-Errect, a POC led, trans and non-binary and femme party, to Spice Boys: an all trans boys go-go dancing group, created in collaboration with artist Krishna Istha, “for queer parties, hen dos, stag nights, museum displays, weddings, divorce signings and more”, Katayoun is a performer and producer for the nights and events you wish you’d been to.
An absolute superstar - Ray is the drag exhibitionist of dreams. Whether lip syncing academic texts or towering in the highest wig possible, Ray’s work is deconstructionist and critical of binaries in a way that other drag performers can only dream of. You can find them performing everywhere from South London’s Chateau — where they’re stomping at CHER FOREVER on October 19th — to the aforementioned Louche launch, to the Tate. They are currently writing a novel on work, sex, drugs, criminalisation and queer bodies.