Happy Halloween everyone! Ok, we know, you’re all probably busy busting out the Christmas decorations while sipping on your gingerbread latte but trust and believe, we’re here to talk about one of the most fun tours of the spooky season – Holy Trannity’s Heels of Hell. Our own Sparkles went to three dates and recounts the tale of her week spooking across the UK.
It all began back when Holy Trannity announced another edition of their famous Heels of Hell – Tour, which has now entered its fourth year and let me just say, the production is getting bigger and better every year – and I, being a resourceful unicorn, got myself a ticket for the London show, before somehow succumbing to the boringness of adult life and spending my money on the Newcastle and Birmingham shows (now, I know some people like to judge hardcore when it comes to that drag money, but honestly, I don’t care about that because If I have to deal with being a grown-up, I will spend my money, however I see fit). The line-up for the tour included seven very diverse queens and saw even more cities added to the touring schedule so that everyone could at least find one city near them to attend to if they wanted.
Fast forward to October 23rd, the day of the Newcastle show and me getting ready on the floor of my hostel dorm room which I luckily had to myself and completely winging my first look for the show, which consisted of my trusty skeleton bodysuit (thanks Amazon) and a lot of white foundation with some sparkly stuff (shout out to Primark).
When I got to the venue, I ran into some Twitter people (hi Jess, Ivy, Florida, and Perpetua!) and we waited patiently (read: freezing to death because we are rebels and didn’t bring a jacket) until the doors to the holy church of Halloween (ok, the O2 venue) finally opened and we could snatch that good spot right in front of the stage.
For this particular show, the M&G had been moved to after the show due to flight issues, so we could focus all our energy into cheering and screaming for the star-studded line-up we were dealing with. The suspense built and we tried to catch a peek behind the mesh curtain separating the stage from the audience, while shaking our skeleton/zombie/sexy mouse/whatever look we were sporting that night carcass to the pre-show soundtrack – have you ever heard a whole venue scream Katya’s verse in Read U Wrote U? Would have given me goosebumps If I hadn’t been dead – get it?
So, after what felt like the longest time, the show began and oh my Satan, the opening queen squad didn’t come to play – a fierce troupe of queens including our favorites Ginger Hunter, Regina George, Pixie Woo, and co-promoter Victoria Secret, all led by fierce dance captain Paul Ryder. Right during this first number, which gave us Circus vibes, the upped production value showed itself in Paul literally rising like a star all the way to the sky (ok, the ceiling, but still.) As if that adrenaline rush wasn’t enough, Victoria Secret and Regina George didn’t give us time to catch our breath – let me tell you, if you haven’t seen Victoria Secret unleash her inner Lady Gaga, you should definitely try and catch her next time she is on Tour.
Right after Regina slayed the stage all in red with her entourage of dancers (they were obviously having a blast which made it even cuter to watch), out came Pixie Woo and Ginger Hunter to the first notes of Defying Gravity, turning the song about two witches who can’t be together into one of the funniest performances I’ve ever seen, ending right on point with Pixie flying up into the metal beams.
While the last notes of the song were sounding, Sharon Needles appeared on stage like the ghost of Halloween herself, dressed as the other mother from the cult movie Coraline. She launched right into a medley of three of fans’ all-time favorite songs, reminding everyone in the audience that ‘Everyday is Halloween’, before gracing us with a live rendition of Jack-O-Lantern and finishing with Dead Girls Never Say No.
When the screams died down, Sharon, who was also hosting alongside Victoria Secret, announced the next performer, which was Alaska Thunderfuck herself. Now, that queen is not only one of the most versatile, talented queens to ever come off RPDR, she also had us rolling in laughter when she told us she hadn’t gotten the memo that there would already be a Wicked-Number – please imagine a confused Alaska, standing up on stage, all decked out in an Elphaba – gown and painted completely green. Of course, the crowd still cheered loudly and so we got a second performance dedicated to those fabulous wizards and witches.
After Alaska, the show didn’t slow down for one second: we got to witness the rest of the A-list line-up perform at least two numbers each with a short interval between the two parts of the show.
A newly-wed, radiating Latrice Royale lip-synced to a mix including Lana Del Rey’s ‘Young & Beautiful’, while wearing a floor-length gown and a golden crown, honestly giving me goosebumps. Along with Latrice, newest line-up addition, Ivy Winters was for sure one of the stand-out queens of the Heels of Hells-tour, even if I had already known that this one not only excels at singing and performing on stilts – according to a very impressed Sharon Needles, she also pickles her own vegetables! Ivy performed Cliff Richard’s song Devil Woman as well as a very inspiring stilt-number to Little Mix’s ‘Wings”, reminding everyone to be your own kind of butterfly, no matter what others might think about you!
Of course, no Heels of Hells would be complete without Jinkx Monsoon, according to Sharon, this performer was born for the stage and I couldn’t agree more. When she came out on stage dressed in a green gown and a white wig, lip-synching to ‘When you’re good to mama’, she had our jaws dropping when she revealed a Futurama-inspired costume while vogueing to Rupaul’s ‘Call Me Mother’.
Another beloved Heels of Hell resident queen is of course the latest silver screen queen Willam, who wowed the crowd not only by her fabulous rendition of ‘Shallow’ (one of the most famous songs from the A Star Is Born – OST) but also gave us a sneak peek into her latest album release when she performed ‘Derrick’ while floating around the stage on her famous hoverboard – a feat that would be difficult to accomplish for most of us, and I haven’t even mentioned she was wearing high heels while doing this!
Last but certainly not least, Brooklyn resident and fierce queen Aja came on stage, launching right into a fierce tirade, showing us why they are considered one of the top rappers out there. When I say that this queen set the fire on stage, I’m over here, still wondering why the fire department didn’t show up at the end of their set, which included, of course, a breathtaking live performance of ‘Demons, Witches & Bitches’, a song that should be a staple in every decent Halloween playlist. Aja also gave us some lessons in how to deal with annoying cu – eh, people – let’s just say this one is not only kawaii but also a fierce warrior queen who will cut you with a katana if you strain their last nerve.
After one last energetic lip sync delivered by Latrice and of course, all the performers reuniting on stage welcomed by our frantic screams and cheers, lights went back on way too soon and all the little devils and demons in the audience were struggling as we were catapulted out of our Halloween bubble by the show ending.
But wait! Of course, at least in Newcastle, we still had the M&G to look forward to after the show. After a short wait, queens started to come out and it was time for us to mix and mingle. Personally, I managed to meet three queens – the hour that the m&g was supposed to last was over way too soon. It was so adorable and heart-warming (again, if I had one) to see people meeting their favorite performers and I remember one girl standing in front of me in Sharon’s line who was meeting her for the first time that night and I still can feel the moment I saw her finally getting to interact with her idol (shout out to Annie!). For me personally, this M&G was the reason I absolutely fell for Aja, a queen I had, of course, followed before, but they were just so down to earth and chill – it felt like running into a friend and for a change, I wasn’t absolutely deer-in-headlights-starstruck (if you’ve seen me meet Willam and Sharon for the first time at West5, you know what I’m talking about ).
Finally, the doors were closing behind us and we found ourselves in the streets of Newcastle again, ready to go home (read: to the hostel), take off the make-up and get some sleep before doing it all over again twice for Birmingham and London.
The next two days were spent traveling, feeling like a proper drag groupie and getting ready as soon as I had checked in to my room. I must admit, I hadn’t planned out any looks for this tour (shout out to all the twitter beauties who actually do!) and so I just completely winged it but it came out rather ok, even if Ivy was reading me lightheartedly for me wearing my trusty skeleton bodysuit to all three dates (Hi girl!).
Both shows, Birmingham and London, marked a nupward evolution of the performances in my opinion – when I told our contributor Soph in Birmingham that the show that night was even better than the night before, I couldn’t have imagined that the London one would be even crazier – which was probably also due to the more than double the people in the audience, but still – we could see how much energy, love and passion – and most importantly – fun – the seven queens on the line-up were having on stage.
In both cities, there were some major stand-out moments – one of them being for sure Sharon Needles coming on stage wearing a prosthetic face and skeleton body (of course, made by Chad O’Connell), bringing the zombie woman from ‘The Return of the Living dead’ to life, sending our emotions into a rollercoaster. Of course, there were many more amazing moments during the show, which I don’t want to take importance from, but I figured you guys wouldn’t want to read a Shakespearian Novel.
As for the Meet & Greets for Birmingham and London, they were pre-show and if you were not fussed about making barrier, you definitely could meet all the queens. The whole thing was very organized and the Holy Trannity team gave us updates on how much time we had left to meet everyone, which was very appreciated, although one might say it also sent us into a bit of an emotional stress situation (but of course, it’s not their fault that drag makes us turn into big emo balls).
I got to meet so many of my faves, and especially Willam, Aja and Ivy have a special piece of my (un)dead heart, now – Ivy is just one of the most adorable people you’ll ever meet and I still smile whenever I look at the photos we took together, with her having my phone in burst mode and me standing on my tip toes (the girl is tall!).
Of course, all the other queens were just a pleasure to meet too and I can’t wait to hear all of your guys’ Heels of Hell stories, so please hit us with them as soon as you’ve finished reading this!
Last but not least, let me draw a bottom line under this review/diary of this week of hellish fun. I think that Heels of Hell is one of the shows I look forward to the most every year, just because the line-up is always so good and even if I know that some drag fans have their reservations against certain promoters, which, of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion – I will just say I’ve never had a bad experience with their shows and organization style – which is not something I can say for every promoter whose shows I’ve been to. At this point I’d like to give major props to the whole team for putting this hell of a show together and making sure it ran smoothly – it takes a village to make Halloween dreams come true, so let’s not forget about the people behind the scenes!
All in all, Heels of Hell was a show giving you your moneys worth, bringing a diverse line-up and giving fans the opportunity to meet like-minded people to escape our non-drag lives and relish in our own fabulous fun Halloween bubble for a while.
Bring on next year!