Have you ever been so passionate about something that you can’t imagine your life without it? We are certainly feeling that way about Drag and try to attend at least one date of our favorite performers’ tours. However, some of us will literally go on tour with their fave and even put together a whole look for every night. For tonight’s article, we get to feature the amazing Florida, who wrote about her time on Sharon Needles’ BattleAxe tour.
“As I walked into town, platinum blonde lace front with huge space buns (much huger than I thought) glued to my head, very flattering purple plaid covering the ivy-covered bra and extremely noticeable blue starry leggings, complete with red fringe, it didn’t quite feel real that this was only the first of three consecutive days I’d be walking around in drag. I was on my way to London to see Sharon Needles. Dressed as Alaska. What could go wrong?
Sharon Needles’ Battle Axe tour was the first time I’d ever been to more than one show on a tour and I was excited but also slightly terrified. Was Sharon going to hate me for this? Would she think I was weird for seeing her more than once? I honestly wasn’t sure and it made me nervous. Sharon is one of my favourite queens, and the last thing I wanted was to leave feeling like a nuisance. But of course, that was all just my anxiety talking. I instead left with a newfound confidence, a feeling of being loved and feeling far more positive about my drag journey.
My first show was in London, at a venue now close to my heart, the Clapham Grand. I’ve been to several shows there now and it’s become almost a “home” to me. As per usual, I arrived at the Grand hours before the doors opened, talking to friends I’ve made on Twitter or previously met at shows, which is why I do it. My first time at the Grand was the first time I arrived early at a show, and the experience of meeting new people while waiting outside, knowing you have something in common with them, is something I always love. If they’ve met queens before, I love talking about our experiences, if it’s their first show or first time meeting a queen I…probably also talk about my experiences.
I can’t help it. I love talking about them! Of course, there were probably many people confused by my chosen costume, who goes to someone’s show dressed as their ex? And it was yet another reason to get nervous about dressing as Alaska, I’d suggested as a joke a while ago, but wasn’t serious about. It wasn’t until Sharon replied to a tweet of mine, telling me to “just be Alaska”, that I decided I’d do it.
Of course, it was all lighthearted and not malicious at all, Alaska and Sharon are friends But it didn’t stop me from being worried it would be taken the wrong way. Luckily, my friend Lilly was dressed as Lil Poundcake, so I guess I looked less out of place. Or at least wasn’t the only one looking out of place.
After Paul (the organiser of Holy Trannity) told me I’d “really dressed up”, it was time to join the line for my first of three meet and greets. Sharon strutted out in dark blonde hair and red thigh-high boots that were probably taller than me, and of course looked stunning. One thing to know about me? I’m awkward as hell in meet and greets. In this one, I mostly reverted back to my first ever meet and greet, with Trixie and Max. And by that I mean, I giggled. A lot. So much so that Sharon said to me “How are you, giggles?”. Which only made me giggle even more. Great. Of course, Sharon made a joke about me dressing as her “ex-husband that made more money than her.” Only last year, by the way. And she told me about her meet and greet look being close to resembling Alaska’s pants runway look from All-Stars.
What surprised me most was her response to the bow I’d made her; I’d set out to make her three bows, one for each of her albums, with the album cover embroidered on it. Sadly, Taxidermy just didn’t work out, but PG-13 and Battle Axe were successes. When she took out the PG-13 bow in London, she told me it was my “finest bow and the strangest”. I never expect queens to remember me, they meet so many people!
But Sharon remembered my bows and that I made them. I’m not sure which bow she remembers, I’ve so far made two for her, but the fact she remembered at all meant so much to me! Maybe she remembers from social media, I’m pretty sure she reads almost every tweet sent to her.
London was a great first show, Danny Beard and Victoria Secret were amazing hosts, and Ginger Hunter is an incredible performer! I had followed Danny in particular for a while, so I was excited to see her in person! They put on a great show, along with Sharon, and it was such a fun night. I had to rush to get my coach after the show but had enough time to meet Danny who is so lovely. I’d hoped to meet Victoria and Ginger properly and get pictures with them too but didn’t get a chance on the other two nights sadly.
It was this night I made a promise to myself: I’d volunteer myself for the Kitty Girl lipsync (more on that later), and I’d talk to Chad. Or at least say hi to him. Everyone I was with had either spoken to him before or he knew them from Twitter, so they had it easy. Me, on the other hand, I’d tweeted him occasionally but that was as far as it went, and I get so nervous approaching people to talk to them! But I had two more nights and therefore two more chances to make these happen.
London was strange as it felt separate from the other two. To save money, I went home after London (meaning being sat on a coach for two hours in drag after the show and getting home way after 1am), while Cardiff and Birmingham I stayed in hotels. On Wednesday morning I made my way to London with little sleep and headed to Victoria coach station to get to Cardiff. This was my first time seeing a drag show in Cardiff, so I was really looking forward to it, I arrived in Cardiff feeling rather tired from a 3-hour coach journey and met up with my friends Lilly and Morgane who were doing almost every stop on the tour.
After recovering in McDonald’s for a little while we headed to our hotel which we all happened to be staying in, and I got into my next costume. I swapped the space buns for a black and white wig with a planchette, the blue starry fringed leggings for a green lace dress. I swapped “hieee” for “dieee” if you will. I could go on. I was dressing as Sharon’s crowning look from season 4, a dress I’d made myself, and I was….scared. Again. It may have been five minutes down the road, but it was windy, and my costume was, to be honest, barely there. I may as well have gone out in my corset, pads, tights, and bra because they were clearly visible under the lace, and the lace did little to protect me from the weather. After struggling down the very short distance, my wig blowing all over the place (thankfully glued down) and losing a nail somehow along the way, I finally made it. A little windswept but in one piece, mostly. I sat alone in the bar feeling very noticeable, ended up with a free drink because my coke was below the minimum card spend and the bartender was very generous.
Cardiff was my favourite show by far, solely for the love I felt from start to finish. As more people began to arrive I started getting compliments, and the response for my costume all night was incredible. Sharon herself was impressed, starting off our meet and greet with “what a great replication” and telling me all about the real dress. She told me it was the exact fabric, which my perfectionist’s brain disagrees with because believe me, I tried to find the real fabric! The one I had was close, the closest I could find, but wasn’t quite exact. She loved the Battle Axe bow and told me she’d tested the PG-13 one and it sat on hair perfectly, which made me so happy. I also asked her who I did better, her or Alaska, only to be told she thought I slayed as both and that I was killing it! As usual, we talked about Primark nails, something that’s always brought up when I meet her, and our conversation ended with Sharon telling me to get drunk. I admitted I don’t actually get drunk, so naturally, I was given two options: Have some sprite or do some heroin. I will say I did neither. I had some coke (a cola).
The show had the best atmosphere by far, it was a small venue, very intimate, and the stage was only a small step up from the floor. All the performers were clearly having an amazing time and it really showed. Sadly, I did not volunteer myself for Kitty Girl (in fairness, my dress really wasn’t suitable for it), nor did I get a chance to say anything to Chad, but I had one more chance!
A highlight of the night definitely had to be when Sharon did something she apparently never does. She was talking about people dressing up for her shows and came over to me, gushing over the fact I was dressed in her crowning look. Before I knew it, she’d held out her hand to me and was saying “I never do this, but let me give you the attention you clearly crave.” I wasn’t sure if she wanted me to get on the stage so I kind of just held her hand for a bit until finally I got the message and managed to get onstage (I have little legs so it was quite a step). What I didn’t expect, was the cheers that erupted when I was onstage. It was such an enthusiastic audience and their response was so validating and felt amazing. I posed a little bit, funnily enough in exactly the same way that I did when onstage with Alaska last year, before telling Sharon “this is the attention I need!” jokingly. She told everyone I had the look down “all the way to the old Sharon Needles bad teeth”, before helping me back off the stage. She interacted with me a couple times that night, an especially profound moment was where she held my hand for part of Space Oddity, where she was pretty much singing to me. But my small moment onstage, along with the Space Oddity moment I just mentioned, were the most special parts of the night. Being onstage allowed me to feel so much love I didn’t feel I was worthy of, it was only the second time I’d met a queen while dressed in a recreation of one of their costumes (while I’ve met Alaska as Alaska, they’ve never been replications of a specific costume), and Sharons response to it was wonderful. The Space Oddity moment was an emotional one.
I’d fallen in love with Sharon’s rendition of the classic Bowie song the moment I heard it and while listening to it in Cardiff, I was already getting emotional about the next night being my last night. I was imagining hearing it for the last time in Birmingham and was already getting emotional about my little drag adventure being over. And just as my eyes were getting teary, Sharon held my hand and sang the line “tell my wife I love her very much, she knows”, at me. It felt like a long time but in reality was only a few seconds. It was so special and sadly it seems like there is no footage of the full performance out there. I’d love to relive it. After the show I was approached by several people complimenting my look and my costume, someone telling me they follow me on twitter and I need to start performing, and they’ll be my biggest fan. I was getting seriously emotional and felt on top of the world. It was that night I felt more and more like me performing and me actually having a career in drag of some form may actually be a possibility.
Before long my friend Griffyn and I headed out on our way to the venue, myself dressed in Sharon’s devil costume from the Frenemies episode of Rupauls Drag Race. Walking through Birmingham literally dressed as the devil with a rather short skirt was…interesting, and I got slightly harassed by a guy on the way, but again I got a great response from people at the show. Sharon asked if I could do the “flash” move she did in the lipsync, and told me about how she’d wanted to do the Vida Loca lipsync that Willam and Jiggly did, to the point that she almost threw the competition to do it! I then asked her to sign a drawing of her and Alaska wearing their Death Becomes Her costumes, so she told me about the costumes and even did a little Alaska impression which was hilarious. This was the longest meet and greet I’ve ever had, totalling roughly 4 minutes (I only know this because my friend filmed it for me!), and it was so chill and casual.
I thanked her for an amazing three shows and she told me that she couldn’t come to me for the infamous candy corn tattoo joke because I already knew it and she hoped I’d had fun, before telling me to “get out of here”. With love, I hope. As I went to leave a whole bunch of feathers fell off my costume, to which Sharon said it’s “definitely a Sharon costume”.
This show was great fun, it wasn’t as interactive due to the barrier keeping us back from the stage but it was still a great experience. Sharon came down to us a few times, and low and behold, involved me in the candy corn joke! After asking my name a couple times and settling on calling me Jennifer, she asked me what her tattoo was. Now, I could have ruined the joke right there and then and I could now, but being a nice person I played along and gleefully yelled “its candy corn!” Maybe she was testing me to see if I’d ruin it, I don’t know, but to be involved in the legendary joke was so fun.
I previously mentioned having set myself the target of volunteering for Kitty Girl and talking to Chad. Sadly, the latter did not happen as such, but the former, I will tell you about now. For those who don’t know, during the show, Victoria Secret would bring four people up to the stage to compete in a lipsync battle to win tickets to the 10s Across the Board tour, each person playing the role of Kennedy, Shangela, Bebe and Trixie. I decided Birmingham would be the night I’d volunteer, I knew every part but if I could, I’d choose Trixie. The time came and nerves washed over me, and I decided that I’d have more fun simply doing the lipsync from the audience as I had been doing the last two nights. My friend Lilly had other ideas and kept trying to put my hand up for me, but I’d bat her hand away. The four were chosen and that was my chance gone, or so I thought.
The thing is, if someone didn’t know the words, they’d be sent offstage and a replacement would be picked. And this happened twice. Once with Bebe, and once with Trixie. By the time they were looking for a replacement for Trixie, Lilly had become too smart to get me to put MY hand up, so instead, she pointed at me. I went through the crowd to get up onstage.. I was met with cheers, I did a little pose or something, it’s all a blur, to be honest. It was then that I kind of wished I’d just volunteered myself in the first place. If I’d done that I’d have been able to stand onstage for the entire song and prepare myself. Instead, I had half of the chorus before I had to start. I did my thing, I’m not a big dancer so I’m more of a gesturing, silly lipsyncer, and I’m told I did it well. My over-caffeinated self-was in tears laughing at my flailing arms watching it back after the show. I’ve actually filmed a much calmer, more prepared lipsync of Trixie’s part of Kitty Girl, that I will feature in my upcoming vlog about my experience (Subscribe to my YouTube to find out when it’s up!).
I didn’t win, I didn’t even make top two, but the fact that I’d done it was what was important to me. My goal for this year was to perform on a stage and while this was more intended to be a bit of fun than a performance, I’d say it counts. As someone with huge stage fright and fear of being judged I’m so proud of myself that I got up on that stage and just had fun with it. I got offstage to see Chad smiling and applauding me, and when I got back to my spot my friends said how proud they were of me and how good I was. Safe to say I felt a bit emotional after that! Apparently, the best way to get me on a stage is to have someone else volunteer me because that’s pretty much how I got onstage with Alaska too! Mainly because I’m too scared to say no once selected.
Sadly, Space Oddity was cut from this show, perhaps due to time, but the show ended on Ouija Board which meant I was too busy having fun singing along and dancing to get emotional. I got a bit teary as I left the venue, but otherwise I managed to keep myself together.
I arrived at work the next day having just got off the coach from Birmingham, half asleep and exhausted from the last few days but also so happy from experience. It’s honestly been an experience like no other, it couldn’t have gone any better and I’m so grateful for it. It’s only made me more excited about my upcoming tour experiences! I can’t wait to see how the others go, I’m counting down the days until I venture off to see Jinkx next month, and my long tour with Alaska in July is getting closer and closer. I can’t wait!