*disclaimer: the opinions expressed within this blog are mine and mine alone and are in no way affiliated with Drag Idol*
Sunday night on Newcastle’s gay scene saw the beginning of drag competition Drag Idol. Moving into its eleventh year, the annual drag competition draws viewers from far and wide both live on the night and then later online through the Drag Idol website. this year there’s an added chance to tune in on Made in Tyne and Wear on Friday at 10pm.
The competition invites local queens who want to get their names out there, as well as brand new queens who just want to give drag a try, to compete over seven weeks in the hopes of getting to the final at Boulevard Newcastle. The prize? £250 and a slot on the main stage at Northern Pride.
Drag Idol alumni tend to fall into two main categories: those who use the competition to spring board their drag career and start to get regular work and those who fall back into obscurity the moment they are kicked out of the competition (and in some cases return every year to try, and fail, again)
The competition is hosted by Ophelia B along with a panel of judges who, after week one, take a group of the drag hopefuls under their wing and mentor them through the competition. This years panel is made up of Middlesborough’s own Penni T, Made in Tyne and Wears Peter Darrant, a new addition this year who pleasantly surprised me and of course, Newcastle’s very own huge but humble star Miss Rory. It’s safe to say that, particularly for the first few weeks, most of the entertainment comes not from the acts but from the judges critiques with Miss Rory leading the charge with her quick, and let’s face it often cutting, wit.
But enough about that, what about this years contestants? Usually by the time the competition starts most of the entrants are common knowledge, new queens wanting to build their following and gain support before the competition starts but this year I only knew of one person who was definitely entering. I found out on the night that there were two surprise double who’s names were being kept a total secret along with another 12 acts. Week one can be long!
Cheap as Chips were the first double act of the night, two members of Switch staff who had never done drag before. Slow to start but quickly improving the campy double act have potential if they stick with the comedy. The challenge, to top the vibrator on a drill in their prop selection next week.
Rachel Rear had the fortune of following Misty Gold onto the stage, anything she did at that point would have been better than what came before, but what she did do was stunning and earned her best performance of the night. The look was flawless executed well to creat a beautiful overall effect, Rachel is one of this drag queens who easily confuses my tiny lesbian brain by being very much my ‘type’. The number was well put together and although not my favorite in the competition definitely one to watch as the weeks go on.
I found Wendy Towers to be very middle of the road and I find that I don’t have any strong feelings about her. She gets points for giving the audience presents, a distraction if anything, to pull focus away from her less than perfect number, but she needs to pull something more out of the bag if she wants remain safe as the weeks go on.
I always feel for the first queen up on week one but Elle Uminati seemed confident as she lip synced through Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend. The look was stunning, the number, middle of the road, the wig reveal, I don’t know. I admit that when Roxxxy Andrews did her wig reveal on season 5 of drag race I lost my shit, but I think my issue with Elle’s was that I didn’t feel like it served a purpose. I found out afterwards that Elle had planned to do a burlesque style strip number, the wig reveal being a part of it, but due to a wardrobe malfunction hadn’t been able to do it and I think maybe I would have enjoyed the wig reveal more if that had been the case. Elle definitely gets points from me for putting on a decent show despite last minute changes and also for kicking off the competition properly where usually you’d wait a few acts for the talent to kick in on week one.
Strawberry Chan is a faux queen who describes herself on her Instagram bio as an ‘anime drag princess’ and on her Drag Idol application as Kawai. There was a lot going on, from the hair, to the face, to the outfit, topped off with flashy trainers and I have no earthly idea what the song was. I must admit that after her performance Strawberry was on my list of girls to go home mostly because I just didn’t understand it, but she was knocked quite far down the list by some of the acts that followed. Who knows, maybe she’ll surprise me next week.
We love an alternative queen in this house and Mary-Jane Holland is very much that. While the name maybe brings to mind a very prim and proper lady Mary-Jane couldn’t be further from that and is definitely the most alternative of this years competition.
Sapphire Blue was last years Miss Congeniality last year and has returned to the competition this year for another go. I had no strong feelings about Sapphire last year and that remains to be the case this year other than finding the pink feathery eyelashes totally abhorrent. I don’t know, maybe I’ll be surprised in later weeks but I’m not holding my breath.
I still haven’t got my head around Copa Feel, I wasn’t sure if she thought she was entering a talent show and was only told a few minutes before she was due to go on that it was actually a drag competition or if she thought that what she had done was actually drag. I think, if we’re being honest, she’s lucky to still be in the competition and really needs to up her game if she wants to stay past next week.
Before Kitana stepped onto the stage I spotted a fire extinguisher and then a very nervous looking drag queen and honestly I would have been nervous too if I knew I was about to unleash two fire fans in a relatively small space. You could see Kitana’s confidence growing throughout the number and the fire work was good but was it necessary? No. Did the song choice match it? Not especially. I am looking forward to see what Kitana does next week but I’m really, really hoping there’s no more fire!
Team Ophelia B
Vee Savi was the only queen I knew was definitely entering but I wasn’t sure what to expect having only seen pictures but to say I was floored would be an understatement. Vee had me laughing from start to finish with her rendition of Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush, from flinging a bag of leaves all over the stage to throwing herself into the choreography from the music video. It’s not the first time the number has been done at Drag Idol, it was one of the numbers that October de Winter brought to the final in her year and as much as I loved it at the time Vee has beaten it out as my favorite. High energy from start to finish and very clearly enjoying every minute, I’m putting Vee Savi up there with my ones to watch.
By the time I got home and watched the snapchat story (@dragidolnewc hosted by the fabulous Jack Plastiq) I had totally forgotten about Vicky Valentine taking on Alaska Thunderfuck’s Your Makeup is Terrible. In part this is because Vicky was the second to go on which meant 12 acts followed her but it’s also because she didn’t offer anything that impressed me. An average at best lip sync where she proclaimed ‘my name is Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 from the planet Glamtron what’s yours?’ and then embodied not a single characteristic of Alaska. It may have been forgivable if the look at been Alaska but it didn’t even have the going for it and this is another queen who I think is lucky to still be in the competition.
Dragon and the Whale are perhaps the scenes best kept secret in years. Made up of previous runners up Plopalina Shitstorm of Swansea and Danni Delonco, they were the double act that literally no one was expecting. We love Plop in our house which is why we had her do a number at our wedding reception and Delonco has the ability to make me laugh in a way that not many people can and is probably best known for getting an actual smile from Miss Rory her first year in the competition by bringing an Iceland trolley on stage. Delonco looked so like Plop on Sunday that for a few seconds I thought it actually was Plop with a pillow (or two) stuffed up her dress and the return of the trolley along with Plop’s signature live singing ensured a truly successful number. These two have definitely made it into my list of ones to watch and I think if they can keep the momentum going we might see them both in the final, again.
And the two who didn’t make the cut…
Drag Idol is, after all a competition with winners and losers and every week someone has to go home, this week, two contestants left the competition and I don’t think it came as much of a surprise to anyone that they were both queens who have entered the competition numerous times each.
Anyone who has been watching Drag Idol for the last few years will have heard the name Misty Gold and never for a good reason. I can’t put my finger on how many years Misty has entered the competition but I know that the number is too many. The number was frantic and badly executed and Dora the Explorer would never be high on my list of people to impersonate so it came as no surprise to me that Misty was one of the first to go home.
Darcy Twinkle is another name that seems to crop up year on year and despite never making it further than week one she is a queen who is never put off. There is a reason why Darcy never gets further in the competition and the flat shoes are just the top of a very long list.
Next weeks theme is Fierce and Fabulous, I wont be there on the night because I’m back at work on Monday and I’m getting totally too old to be playing out on a school night but I’ll be checking in with the snapchat during the night and then watching as soon as the video is posted onto the Drag Idol website so be sure to look out for the next blog around the middle next week.
I leave you with a Drag Idol fact: My very own Sarah-May once entered Drag Idol as a Faux Queen and transitioned to a Drag King half way through the competition, she got to the final and everything!