Times are changing. And there’s no denying that 2018 is the year where the queens will take over. Of course, we’re talking about our favorite type of queen – the drag kind!
Queens all over the UK aren’t only in your local bar anymore, no, they are taking pop culture by storm and we all can see them dance, sing or even tour their own cabaret show across the country. And then, we also can catch them judging on nation-wide casting shows or starring in TV adverts.
One of those multi-talented queens is Vivienne Lynsey from Manchester, who our team got to see live for the first time in Nottingham. We instantly fell in love with her charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent and grabbed a chat with her about unforgettable moments and how drag is going mainstream.
Dragadventures: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Vivienne Lynsey: Classic, Creative and Different.
DA:3 things Vivienne can’t live without.
VL: Music for sure, my family and fiancé as without them I wouldn’t be where I am today and halloumi cheese…
DA: Can you tell us more about when and how Vivienne Lynsey came to life? –
VL: I graduated from Rose Bruford School of Theatre and Performance in London in 2011, I really wasn’t sure what I was looking to do once I graduated but I knew that I wanted to be working in theatre still. I was attending auditions and working in fringe theatre with different theatre companies. One show I was given was with a company called The People Pile. This was a site-specific theatre piece (very much like the work PunchDrunk do) set in an old warehouse in King’s Cross. I had a room transformed into a boudoir with a piano, as I used to play back then. I would have different groups of people come by and listen to me play and sing various songs. When I look back I remember my image still stuck to a vintage theme and I was wearing a 50’s style dress. From that moment I realised I enjoyed the art of drag and 7 years later I’m still here and this is now my full-time career.
DA: What do you like the most/least about doing drag?
VL: I love the process of getting into my character. I have a particular set up when I get ready. I pour myself a large gin and tonic, turn on a fan, set up a ring light by my mirror so I can see everything then I start painting my face. I find that Vivienne starts showing up around about the winged liner stage. My least favorite thing about drag is putting on my body. There is so much more underneath the costume that an audience doesn’t see, and for good reason, a corset, bra, padding, 3 pairs of spanks, 7 pairs of tights. It’s A LOT and super uncomfortable so I really hate getting it all on.
DA: What’s the craziest/funniest/most memorable thing that has ever happened to you while doing drag?
VL: A moment that I’ll always remember is a show I was doing in Nottingham for Kitty Tray Presents at the Rescue Rooms. I was a support act for Morgan McMichaels from season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and All-Stars 3. I had contacted her beforehand as we had performed together previously and I wanted to incorporate a kiss with her into the number…well, Morgan agreed and really went for it, the crowd went absolutely crazy too…obviously.
DA: As a trained live singer and burlesque artist: do these aspects influence your drag and if so, how? Favorite songs/musical genre to perform?
VL: Both these aspects really play a huge part in my act. I mentioned earlier that a vintage and classic style has always been my aesthetic and I try to stick to this as much as possible. It’s got to a point in my career now that I have started to turn down gigs where the venue is wanting a specific look/act. My act is a classic, vintage singer with a musical library of 17 hours of material including jazz and musical theatre. If you book Vivienne Lynsey this is what you’re going to get. I’m a huge fan of the music Post Modern Jukebox perform and I use a lot of their music in my act, my favorite however is musical theatre.
DA: Have you ever had a fangirl moment when meeting/performing alongside another queen?
VL: The only time I’ve ever been starstruck is when I was lucky enough to work with Peaches Christ, Jinkx Monsoon and Cousin Wonderlette with the UK tour of Hocum Pokem in October 2017. I am now lucky enough to call each of these 3 queens close friends and Peaches and Wonderlette are even helping me with feedback on my first play I’m currently writing. I also speak with Jinkx on almost a weekly basis, which as my favorite RuGirl of all time is pretty awesome.
DA: About the Manchester drag scene: are there any particular queens you would recommend us to check out? Where can we see you perform?
VL: The Manchester drag scene is so vibrant it’s literally a UK hub for drag and continues to be celebrated as such. My best friend here would be Miss Blair who is one of the ‘Family Gorgeous’ and she is an incredible performer she hosts a quiz at Tribeca here in Manchester and also performs alongside me at Albert’s Schloss. Other than Blair I would always recommend the members of the ‘Family Gorgeous’ this includes, Cheddar Gorgeous, Anna Phylactic, Liquorice Black, Lill and Violet Blonde. The exciting thing about Manchester though is that there’s always some kinda drag going on so you’ll always find something to entertain you.
DA: In 2015, you were one of the finalists to be RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Ambassador and you also did very well in the UK Drag Idol format. How was it to perform in front of RuPaul herself? Would you ever do a TV show similar to Drag Race if there was a UK version?
VL: (Laughs) Well, the Ambassador competition was an experience. We never actually got to meet RuPaul, he wasn’t in drag either so it was a bit disappointing. The best part of the event really was going out afterward and seeing Pearl from Drag Race season 7. I remember hanging with her and telling her about what we had just done. She seemed excited about the fact something like that had come over the UK but at the same time, she gave me a word of warning against doing Drag Race if it came to the UK. Having said that – I would completely enter if it came over the UK, I think it would be stupid not to given how much press there is around Drag Race. Not to mention as long as I did well it’d give me a platform to show the world what I’m about, as in honesty there aren’t many queens like me.
DA: Speaking of Drag Race UK, what would be a challenge you would love to see on that show (or on Drag Race in general)?
VL: I would love to see how UK queens do on Snatch Game. Impersonations aren’t huge over in the UK in my opinion so I can imagine it would be quite interesting…I really enjoy watching the Lip Synch Extravaganza performances such as Glamazonian Airways. I think a challenge around playing musical instruments would be really funny…an absolute wreck…but really funny.
DA: You recently appeared in a TV ad for Kellog’s Cornflakes. Do you think this is an example of how drag is becoming more mainstream? How was the experience for you and would you like to do more TV appearances?
VL: I absolutely loved being part of the Kellogg’s campaign ‘My Perfect Bowl’ I had to audition the same as every queen that auditions so to be chosen this was a huge thing for both Blair and I. I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction for drag becoming more mainstream however of course when you look at some of the comments you can still see that there’s an awful lot to do before we can feel safe and free. I would definitely do more TV, this is my 3rd appearance overall and you never know I may have something in the bag coming up soon…keep your eyes peeled.
DA: You’ve also started a YouTube channel. What can your fans expect in terms of videos? What are your favorite type of videos to do?
VL: My YouTube channel is a way for me to share my thoughts, feelings, and ideas to the world. I’m really enjoying just finding a topic that interests me and talking to the camera about it. I’ve had really great feedback so far so it seems to be going well. I want to do more backstage vlogging so that people can see what goes on when we’re not on stage performing for the masses.
DA: Any future-related goals or projects (i.e. performances, appearances …) for Vivienne you’d like to share?
VL: I mentioned that I’m currently writing a play that has just gone through a 2nd draft so I’m excited about that as I have been speaking with a couple of London Producers around my ideas too and they seem really keen so I’d love to be able to focus on that. I have also just entered Drag Idol UK again for this year.
I told myself I wouldn’t enter again but my act has come on so far in such a short space of time I think it’s a smart move to show some of the UK’s biggest cabaret venues what I’m about. Other than that I’m just really lucky to be doing what I’m doing. I have some great venues that have taken me on and appreciate the kind of drag that I put out to the world. My current favorite venue is Oscar’s Bar on Canal Street. I am the first ever drag queen to perform at this venue as the previous owner didn’t seem to understand that I’m different to a lot of drag. I am there every 2nd week of the month and I sing a variety of Jazz and Musical Theatre.
DA: Last words: Is there anything else you would like us to know about Vivienne that nobody ever asks?
VL: I’m quite an open person, I consider drag as a career and I intend to be around a long time which is why I’m so passionate. I hope that drag continues to progress with the future however still manages to keep an essence of what we stand for and we keep entertaining.
We here at Dragadventures highly recommend you get to see Vivienne perform, be sure to follow her on all her social media below:
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5NckIxFkZSjpqYGBvyw8mQ