Coming down with a touch of Scarlett Fever

We have to confess something to our lovely readers: we are burning up – but fear not, this fever is actually not going to make you fell like hell – on the contrary! Meet Scarlett Fever, one of our favorite up-and-coming drag performers! We talk her start in drag, favorite performances and how to follow your dreams!

Dragadventures: What originally attracted you to the drag scene, who do you look up to in the LGBT/drag scene?

Scarlett Fever: I’ve spent a lot of my life performing, which is something I’ve always loved, and I study musical theatre, but I’ve never quite fit in with the people in that community. I’ve also always had a recognisable interest in makeup. When I came across the drag scene it was like a light switch went off in my head and I was like “That’s what I need to be doing!” It sounds cringe, because it is, but it’s true. The inclusiveness and the individuality you’re able to express when you’re part of the drag scene was so attractive to me, and was something I’d always been searching for. It always felt like I never had a place, and becoming part of the drag scene gave me one.

DA: You recently performed at Dragonfly drag night in Bournemouth and Chichester how was the event for you and how did it feel to perform with icon Cilly Black?

SF: I LOVE her with all my heart. She’s very special to me. I met her the day I did drag for the first time, and I performed in front of her for the first time just after I’d had a bad performing experience, and she gave me so much confidence and validation that I was really needing at the time! And then I started getting SO MANY opportunities thanks to her and I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for that! She’s such an incredible, charismatic and funny performer and I have so much fun on stage with her! She pushes me to go outside my comfort zone and take myself less seriously (e.g. our performance of Bad Romance she didn’t tell me we were doing until we were standing on stage), which is something I definitely need to work on. It really is an absolute blast every time I get to go on stage with her and I hope I get many more opportunities to in the future. Also, she said she is my drag foster mother and she can’t take that back now because I’ve taken it and ran with it so sorry Cilly but you’re stuck with me now!

DA: What is your favourite kind of performance? Do you have a pre-show ritual?

SF: I’m always very drawn to ballads, whether I’m singing live or lip syncing, so I would probably say they are my favourite. Sometimes it’s really nice to just stand and show raw, vulnerable emotion through performance. It’s liberating and I really enjoy that. Although performances where I take my clothes off are also super fun! I don’t really have a ritual to be honest. What I do before a show depends on what the show is and who I’m with, because that will determine how nervous I am. If I’m in a competition I do like to get there early so I can take in my surroundings because it helps me to feel less stressed about it – I used to do the same with exams (laughing)

DA: What does being a drag queen allow you to do or express when you are performing that you normally wouldn’t do?

SF: Being a drag queen gives me all the creative freedom that, as a complete control freak, I really need and appreciate. What I love so much about it is that I’m in complete control of what I perform, how I perform it and how I come across when I do it. It’s all down to me. As someone who has spent the best part of the last 5 years doing musical theatre, in which you have to conform to what other people want, it’s so freeing to be able to escape that box and do what I want to do, while still being able to incorporate musical theatre, which is a huge passion of mine. It gives me so much more confidence to be able to perform my way as well. There are no limitations when I perform in drag, which uplifts me so much and helps me to create a better, more entertaining performance. 

DA: Are you part of a drag family?

SF: I find drag families very complicated, especially in my case. My friends and I joke that I’m in ‘drag foster care’ right now because I kind of float between families. Like I mentioned earlier, Cilly is now my drag foster mother (she calls herself ‘The Miss Hannigan of Drag’), which I guess would technically make Cherry Liquor my grandmother (she will not like that laughing). I also class the friends I made through drag, whether they do it themselves or not, as my drag family, which, of course, includes my two sisters and best friends Crusty and Tink (who is also Cherry’s daughter). 

DA: Can you tell us a bit about your off-drag life? How do people around you react to you being a drag queen and what would you tell people wanting to get started with drag but maybe being too scared?

SF: My life outside of drag is so boring in comparison to my life in drag. I’m a uni student which means I’m poor and I work in a bar which means I’m tired but I spend a lot of my time around alcohol. In all honesty, I think of everyone my friends and acquaintances know, I was the most likely to become a drag queen, so I don’t think it was too much of a shock to anyone.

I think people are probably sick of me talking about it more than anything. But, something that makes me feel good is when people come up to me and tell me that they didn’t know a woman could be a drag queen until they saw me doing it. It makes me feel like what I do isn’t as selfish as I’d once thought. Doing what I do is changing perceptions and opening the minds of people who know me, and that makes me feel really proud. If you’re wanting to do drag literally just do it!

Don’t be scared of how people will perceive you, because for every person that thinks badly of it, there’ll be two or three who think it’s super cool and will be really interested. Don’t let narrow minds get in the way of your happiness. If doing drag will make you happy and improve your life and perception of yourself then that’s all the decision making you need to do – go out and get started!!

DA:Your make-up is very recognisable – how did you come up with it and what’s your favourite look you’ve done? Is there any look in particular you still want to do?

SF: Oh god, I don’t even really know to be honest. It just kind of happened. I was going to a show in Brighton and I really wanted to try drag with my eyebrows (back when I had them) covered, but I also didn’t want to draw eyebrows because at the time I didn’t know how to. I scrolled through Instagram for inspiration and saw all these huge eyeliner looks and was like ‘that’s the aesthetic for me’ and went from there.

My drag has definitely evolved over time, and by Christmas 2018 my eyes were so huge and weirdly shaped that I started to hate the way my drag looked. I brought her back to her roots, but better, for 2019 and I’m a lot happier with it now. My favourite look, or what I would say is the best I’ve ever looked in drag was my purple look I did when I performed at the Portsmouth Pride Launch, and went to Polyglamorous in Brighton on the same night.

I felt really good in that look!! As soon as I can afford to buy some new makeup, I think I want to start experimenting with different coloured bases to match the way I colour my contour, just because sometimes I think my drag base is a little boring compared to the rest of my look.

DA: Like us you are big fans of legendary Brighton queens Lydia L’Scabies and Rococo Chanel, for you what makes them stand out in particular?Do you have a favourite performance of theirs?

SF: Oh I could talk about those two ANGELS for HOURS honestly!! (DA Editors note: Same)

They are literally my favourite people in the whole entire world, and they fully know it because I am not subtle about it in the slightest. They’re both my two biggest inspirations in drag and who I aspire to be like the most. I think their minds are incredible!

The concepts and characters they come up with are so creative and unique and really resonate with me. There is no performer I can name that is anything like them. They are so talented and amazing and beautiful and I feel so honoured to know them! I have seen A LOT of shows in my lifetime but their show History of Horror stands as my favourite, and the best, show I’ve ever seen!

The whole plot is just so good and the characters are just incredible! They’re so funny and sweet, and so cleverly written! It’s such an engaging show from start to finish and I highly recommend for everyone to see it if they bring it back this year (I’m praying they do because I NEED to see it again). I just love them with my whole heart and they deserve the absolute world!

DA:In amongst the drag scene in your area who do you recommend our readers check out?

SF: I whole heartedly recommend you check out my best friends and sisters Crusty (@crustythequeen) and Tink (@tinkharvey) because they are wonderful, beautiful, incredibly talented angels who I love with all my heart! I also recommend you check out my ‘mother’ Cilly (@thecillyblack), as well as EVERYONE who performs in Brighton because they are all incredible!!!’

DA: Where can our lovely readers find you next and do you have any future projects coming up?

SF: You can catch me at Flirt Cafe in Bournemouth on the 9th March for Dragonfly, which I’m super excited about, especially because I get to reunite with Cilly and Tink! And Crusty and I might just have something exciting to announce very soon so keep an eye out for that!

Tickets for the upcoming Dragonfly event can be found here.

Keep up to date with all things Scarlett Fever on the following Social Medias:

Instagram: @scarlettfeverdrag

Twitter: @_scarlettfever

Facebook: @scarlett.m.ellis

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