City of Queens (2021) Movie Script

[woman reciting]
My son is gay.
Stands out in a crowd.
Does his makeup better than I.
My son is gay and I am proud.
My son is abused...
[attacker 1]
Back the fuck off.
-[man 1] Back the fuck off.
-[man 2] What am I doing?
[woman] individuals and crowds
[man 1] Delete that.
Are you fucking dumb? Delete it.
My son is my son.
My son has your spit
on his face...
[man 1] Back the fuck off.
Your pint over his head.
[man 2]
Delete that, delete that!
He walks head held high.
My son is my son.
My son bears the marks
of your fists on his face.
Carries the scars
from your verbal punches.
My son is my son
and I am proud.
This is what happens
on a night out.
[classical piano playing]
[piano continues playing]
[drag 1] It starts with getting
stressed out about the makeup
because the eye lashes
aren't gluing down properly.
With some disco music on
and a bit of Prosecco.
No, not Prosecco
because I can't afford it
-Five pounds from Lidl.
You left this lidless.
[drag 2] It's like
a childhood dream basically
living in a house
where you just play dress up
and have sleepovers.
Oh, Disco!
Beauty blender.
Every fucking time.
I'm Tommy, I'm 24
and then my drag name
is Bimini Bon Boulash.
And she jumps into the splits
as well all the time.
There's not much difference
between her
and her character to be honest.
She's always on the floor,
jumping into the splits,
picking up honey like--
No! Get in your bed.
Yeah, so I had
thyroid cancer when I was 17
and then again at 19.
It did give me this attitude
of ?I don't give
a fuck anymore.?
Don't care about making
a fool of myself anymore
falling over,
or having one of my balls
hanging out like,
it's all part of it now.
So I think it's given me
that broader aspect on life
that has allowed me to do drag.
I started drag originally
when I was selling underwear
on Craigslist.
And then I created
this character called Chuck
who was like
a masculine character
so I guess that was
my first experience of drag,
and then I kind of
from that started
from doing the lip sync...
started developing
a female character called Barbs.
Oh my God,
Disco's had that one.
Okay. I'm Luke,
I'm 26, aka Camile Leon.
With the Camile Leon,
it's like the two together
combine to make this reptilian
X-Men mutant thing
that is my superhero.
She's loving,
she's adorable.
We've all got a completely
different style of drag.
It's amazing.
[woman shouting]
Oh ladies, don't leave!
You look fantastic.
[Barbs] We're always
together which is nice.
That helps the confidence a lot.
When you walk out the house
with five or six drag queens
all stumbling down the road
it's a really great way
to build confidence.
[drag] I never really
felt like I belonged.
So I just kind
of like float around.
I usually just get ready
on my own.
I go to the club with Vinny
and Veto who I live with
and they don't normally do drag.
They do now and then
but I normally
just go in drag on my own
and then I'll see people there.
It's really taught me
that you can express yourself
and not be fearful about it
and really be unapologetic.
Because I was always
finding faults with myself
and finding reasons to be sorry
for things I haven't done.
And once you learn
to let go of that
you can really just be you then.
The thing
I've been so lucky to do
and a lot of gay people
and drag queens are the same
you get to choose your friends
and you get
to choose your family.
I think that's
so important as well
'cause I just surrounded
myself with creative people
from all different aspects
and walks of life.
[drag] My name is Jack
but wigs and duck tape later
I am Jacqui Swallows.
I am 21, I've been a drag queen
for coming up three years.
Three years, shit.
I was an annoyingly
cocky little kid.
My sister used
to go to ballet classes
and I used
to sit there in the show
and be like, ?I don't think
that was very good.?
I was probably quite nasty,
I would tell her
I would do things
better than she did.
And then my mum said,
"All right then."
One day and she took me
to ballet classes
and then I was a ballet dancer
for nearly eight years.
I went to
The Royal Ballet School
and then I went
on tour for a while.
I went on tour with the Royal
Ballet Company, that was cool.
And so I've always kind
of been a bit performy.
So I guess drag was kind
of my way back into performing.
It still baffles me
that my parents were shocked
when I came out.
No, he's cute to be fair.
He's got one of those faces
that I'd ride
like a stolen bike,
ladies and gents.
Aggressively and feet first.
Jacqui kind of came about
as an individual I've always
been someone who enjoys...
laughing and funny
and that ridiculously
dirty humor.
I'm the one that sits
on the Piccadilly line
and laughs when it says
the train's going to
Just because it's funny.
So it kind of came about
this kind of...
this slightly larger
than life old dirty mouth
kind of Hyacinth Bouquet
crossed with Samantha
from Sex and the City.
Which is kind of terrifying
when you think about it but...
it seems to work.
Fat queer bearded Muslim...
Child of migrants.
I am The Nightbus,
that's my drag name.
I'm a drag queen
based in London.
I'm a storyteller.
Initially they were stories
to do with myself,
whether it's to do
with my identity
or my mental health
or how I felt about myself
in perspective
of the environment I was in.
As I've gone on over five years
it's more to do
with telling the stories
of other people
who don't have an opportunity
to tell their story.
Paki, Paki, Paki,
Paki, Paki, Paki
[audience cheers]
So there are so many things
that I can say...
in a feminized version of myself
that I wouldn't be able
to say if I was a boy.
And that connects a little bit
to also being a boy
who is Muslim and brown
and often labelled
as a terrorist
which has happened quite a lot
throughout my life.
So my voice doesn't matter
as much as someone else's
because people will dismiss me
as being either a danger
or a threat, or somebody
that they don't want
to interact with.
However if you're
in a feminized version of that
they will listen to you.
This is where it connects
with the idea of misogyny
because it's less threatening,
because it's a female voice
and I hate that idea
but the only way
that I can sort of embrace it
is by championing it.
-[soft piano]
-[indistinct chat]
[Barbs] Today we're going
to King's Cross
to play some piano.
[piano playing
classical music]]
Classical music
is still so inaccessible.
In classical music we're still
having the conversation
about female composers
and whether or not
women can compose
and I think it's disgusting.
I mean I don't think
classical music is quite--
the classical music scene is
quite ready yet for drag,
but I think classical music
as itself has been
quite queer for a long time.
But it's not really anything
that's addressed much.
[piano continues playing]
So I don't really know
what to expect from today.
I remember the last time
I played on these pianos
I ended up spending like an hour
teaching 5-year old how to play
?Mary had a Little Lamb'
which was really cute.
So that may happen today,
who knows.
I don't know, hopefully they'll
be like ?Ah that's nice?
or they might think
it's unusual
because not every day you see
a drag queen in a wedding dress
playing piano
on Sunday lunchtime.
And that's the thing as well,
I'm very used to being
in the dark or being
in a club setting so...
And it's nice to show
people outside that setting
what we do and drag queens
aren't just all vulgar people
that make
jokes and roll around,
which is exactly
what I do as well
but we can do
other stuff as well.
And also I think it's quite fun
because a lot of people
don't expect
a drag queen to be able
to do that sort of things.
Even a lot of my friends
don't know I play piano,
so it's always a nice treat
when I can whip it out
and show people.
So I don't know what people
will take from it
but I think
something positive hopefully.
I always dressed up as a kid
I was always very big
on dressing up.
A really significant moment
within my childhood
is wanting to be a witch,
not like a vampire,
and my mother
dressing me up as a witch.
I was very...
just theatrical,
a very theatrical kid
quite introverted
but really theatrical.
I was just always felt
much more...
drawn or tied to the monsters.
I thought they were cooler.
They, they were more interesting
and the costumes are better
and I look back now
and I know that the women
were so much better.
The villainous female
was just so much cooler
than the...
the good getters
or the heroines
at least in my opinion.
[Woman] What's your name
-I'm Barbs.
-[woman] Barbs?
Yeah, like Barbara.
[man] I would think
more like Barbarella.
Barbarella, yeah that's it.
That's why you chose it
I assume?
I love the name Barbara
as well
[woman] Do you want some help?
I do costumes?
-Oh, yes please.
-[man] I see what--
I have ruined this dress.
Thank you.
Thank you.
I'm gonna go to the piano
if you wanna come see me play.
Come see me,
in the middle bit.
I mean hopefully if there's
a little queer out there
I think they'd find it great
because if I saw someone
doing that when I was
a bit younger and not out
I think it would've been
really helpful
and quite cute to see as well.
Especially as well,
doing something like this
it's like young people
can't go to clubs
16-year olds can't go to clubs,
teenagers can't go to clubs.
So, often a lot
of that culture is missed
until you're a lot later
and then the whole experience
comes around of getting
fucked or getting drunk.
So it would be quite nice
to have people
who wouldn't normally see it.
or even
older generations of people
who may really appreciate
classical music
but who have never really
seen a drag queen.
I think maybe it would be quite
nice for them to experience too.
'cause they don't often
get the chance
to go to a gay bar every weekend
and see drag queens.
I think it will be nice
a little Sunday treat.
[objects ruttling]
Okay, I'll do mascara last.
You're very beautiful Barbs
and I am very much going
to enjoy you playing
[Barbs] I'm a bit nervous.
For what?
Why are you nervous?
-[Barbs sighs]
-[man] Just drama
just adding to the drama.
It's changed
what confidence is for me.
It's empowering,
it's really beautiful.
I have to look inwards
for confidence not outward.
I don't have to look for
other people's confidence
which is funny because drag
is all about outward
and people looking at you,
and that's part
of the big thing of it.
But in fact it was
absolutely the opposite.
It was drag changing the inside
and just the outlook
of what I needed to be
and what I wanted to be.
You grow up
being told you're wrong
and then you're
always going to have
those inner clockworks
that make you feel bad
and mine are particularly nasty.
I was just brought up
by people
who weren't completely
ready to be parents
or didn't have the best
experience themselves
of parenthood or childhood.
I would never want a child,
unless I was in a really good
place to have a kid.
But I think it's just
the culture of that time
just to have children.
That's just it,
if you get pregnant
you just have the child.
Which I find maddening
but I'm a big sissy, you know,
so what kid am I going
to produce very shortly?
When my stepfather came along
there was a very big brother
little brother relationship
kind of I idolized him.
He was cool,
he had a motorbike,
he was like a big brawny guy
and my early memories
of him are that
and then they're two sided
with his aggression
and like him and my mother
violently fighting.
This is!
I made this from scratch.
This is, I had this--
I was listening to the song
"Lovefool" by The Cardigans
and I was like,
"This is such a weird song."
She's so obsessed
with being
this fool for this person.
Then I was like,
"Oh she's mad.
Oh she's absolutely crazy,
she's batshit crazy."
And so I was like,
"What if she's really crazy?"
I was like, "What if...
Leatherface didn't kill people
but did drag instead
and then later on
killed people?"
I wear this kind of like really
wholesome '50s dress
and I like drop it
and then underneath it is this.
And then...
half way through
the number I take-?
I have a big dummy behind me
and I take it off
and it's like
my boyfriend's face.
One significant moment
is that I heard them fighting
and I heard a huge smash
it sounded like somebody
had been thrown into a wall
and there was
a lot of glass I could hear
and I crawled out of my bedroom,
which was next door to theirs
and I picked up the phone
and I called 999
and I didn't really know
what to do.
So I just put the phone down
and then got back into my room.
And obviously 999
called back immediately
and... my mom picks up
and she's like,
"No, nothing's wrong."
And the next day
I was getting ready for school
and she said,
"You're never to call ever
unless one of us
has like fallen down the stairs"
I think her example was.
I remember being really confused
because it was obvious
that there was something wrong.
It was just like,
that was normal.
That was just what was.
Yeah, it was hard
when you're in that situation
and you feel like you're nothing
and you're being told
by your carer
or at least you're being
made to feel
like a piece of shit
by your carer.
And that the other person,
who is your mother
hasn't got the tools
to help you communicate
what needs to be.
But the end of it was,
we had a massive row
I was just at the end of it
and I packed my car
and I went to stay
with my real dad,
my biological dad.
Two weeks later
the SWAT team came in
and raided the house
that was
when the court case started.
[TV anchor] They both denied
their guilt to the end.
[reporter] You got anything
to say Mrs Rogers?
Anything to say to the victims?
[Woman] They are not guilty.
They were running
a financial business
which essentially
was a loan business
a finance business
and they were loaning out money
at very high interests
in cash to people
often people who were very
in need of money very quickly
who couldn't pay it back.
Basically the violence
that we were seeing at home
was the same
as what they were getting.
Though the charges were rape
there was... GBH?
Grievous bodily harm?
And my mother
got dragged into it
She was working for him and...
she went down
for blackmail I think it was.
I witnessed some bad stuff
he did to people.
The way he spoke to people
and the things he did.
He was a bully.
I'm just surrounded
by a lot of kind of chaos.
I think I'm always
tied towards like...
the dark or like monsters
or just like anything
that was different
because we were different.
They were different,
I was different.
The reason
I'm so interested in...
villains and monsters
from an early age is perhaps
I was trying to understand
the kind of unusual characters
I was around who might look
like villains in some eyes.
Ooh, didn't see you there.
But it made me who I was.
It made me really strong.
I don't know many people
as strong as I am.
I might be an anxious mess.
I might be depressed
a lot of days
but everything I have,
I built myself
and like where I am today
in my career
all the wonderful things
I've done, I did myself.
I did this.
And I'm proud of me.
[Chai Latte] We have talked
about this so many times.
[woman on phone] I know.
I don't know where I came out
of the tube so I got off
at Seven Sisters
Well you got that far
[woman] And I got out
of the train station
and got out into a place
that I've never seen before
and I don't know
how I got there.
Okay, all right well
we'll see you shortly then yeah?
Just knock on the door loudly.
[woman sighs]
[Matt] So your mum's
never seen you in drag before.
How are you feeling?
Ehm, excited mostly.
I know I'm not scared
that much
because I know
she'll accept me for whatever.
I feel like it's going to be
a weight lifted because it's--
I've always had
a bit of a distance
between my drag and my mom.
I've always kept
that little bit of distance
but it 's kind of exciting
because a lot of my drag
and my inspiration
comes from my mom
so it will be like...
where the inspiration
came from almost
those two things
coming together.
So yeah, big deal.
-[Chai] Hi.
-[Alby giggles]
I'm gonna cry.
[Chai] Why are you gonna cry?
[Alby] Look at you.
[Chai] Ohhh.
-How you feeling?
-Yeah, good.
You look great!
I love your eyes.
Can you do
my makeup for me?
Yes, I can make mamma
a drag queen.
-Ah, you're going to smudge it.
-I won't smudge it.
[indistinct chatter]
[Alby] I just want him
to be able to find his niche.
-Found it, being a woman.
-So, yeah.
So long as he's happy
and excited
and can express himself,
in a way?
where my baby feels happy
then that's what counts,
isn't it?
Elric grew up watching
"Priscilla Queen of the Desert."
It's one of my favorite films
[laughing] so yeah...
The inspiration for my drag
comes from my mother
because growing up
seeing her in these massive
platform tweeny shoes
and big fluffy hats
that had like tassels
coming down them.
Growing up and seeing
my mom wearing that
and watching her get abused
like not physically
but verbally from moving cars,
in front of her child...
So to see her doing that
and to still go out the next day
wearing an even more
ridiculous outfit
with bright pink hair
or short black and green hair.
To see that, that power
and that not willing to give in,
is what I draw on when I go out.
What would mamma do?
[Alby] I've been
a firm believer of...
not letting people
put you in a box.
So like he says,
the more people shout at you
the more I used
to dye my hair and stuff
wear my velvet flares and?
-[Alby laughs]
-I loved it.
I forgot those.
[Alby] It never affected me
when I was being shouted at,
I never had it to the extent
that Elric says he had it.
I always worried about
the effect it had on Elric
so I was always very
conscious not about myself
but the fact
that people are doing that
to me in front of my child
and how he viewed or saw that
and what he would
take away from that.
I didn't ever want him
ever to growing up
feeling that he had to be afraid
of what other people
were saying.
So I just used to say
that they were jealous
[both laugh]
...because they didn't have
the courage to wear
what I was wearing.
I said they probably
looked at it and thought
?That looks really cool
but I haven't got
the guts to wear it
so I'm just gonna
shout at her?.
So that's what I used
to tell him
and I hoped that that
would help and sink in?
-And now I'm a drag queen.
-And now you're a drag queen.
So it obviously did.
Yeah, it did.
I always wear football socks
with my heels because...
when I started I definitely
didn't get paid enough
to be spending a whole night
in heels without any protection
So I would always wear my socks
and it makes
the world of difference.
I try to make everything
as easy as possible
for me in life and...
So I just try and brand myself
on being like a shit drag queen
where I don't really tuck or pad
or... wear heels
without sports socks
and then
try to make that my brand
so that I can do--
Oh fuck!
Look what I just did.
I'll just cover it up
with some brown.
So as well yeah,
it's a bit of a homage
to my former life.
When I was younger,
when I was at Uni
I used to sell used socks
and underwear on Craigslist.
I always thought,
"there's money to be made
and if I don't do
it then someone else will
and I don't care what they do
with my underwear."
And also I found it really
really interesting
being part of someone's
most intimate secret
and then for like ten minutes
when I'd meet them
and give them the underwear
and then I leave, that's it.
That's the only interaction
I had with them.
I found it really fascinating
and I kept a little journal
of all the interactions
and people I sold underwear to.
Taxi drivers,
Uber drivers, teachers...
I created this guy
who was like super masculine
called Chuck.
So he was like
my first ever...
drag experience or my first time
exploring gender
in terms of performance.
So people liked football socks
or I'd tell people
that I'd worn the socks
in the gym for ages?
which I hadn't.
Yeah, that's what seemed
to sell more
so I was like "Okay, well
I'll create this character."
And then
I became a drag queen.
Because being more feminine
is more fun than being masculine
and the clothes
are nicer as well.
[Camile] Everyone
is a chameleon.
You know Camile is
just my feminine subconscious
that I bring to life
when Luke's not always needed
but she's given Luke the balls
to do what he does as well
because when I take this off
that was all me
you know,
that was all me all along.
Working as a hairdresser
with clients
how just giving someone
a blow dry can set them up
for a whole good day.
Obviously your hair
is the first accessory
you wake up with every day
so like being able
to give someone
the time and the effort
to give them
that kind of self promotion
and look at themselves
through that whole time
and through this service and go
"You know what?
I'm gonna make it."
Hairdressing grounds me
because I can always
relate to someone.
There's always something
that someone's got
that is relatable.
Doing someone's hair
it's not doing the root
of their hair problem
it's getting to the root
of their actual problem.
The left frontal cortex
holds a lot of emotions
It's that why people
recede, you know?
Is that why people
have emotional barriers?
It takes a very special skill
and that's my superpower
at that root problem,
at that hair
and just make them
feel beautiful
because they are beautiful,
everyone's beautiful.
[gentle music]
Throughout the past year
drag has been a great influence
because I didn't do any like
dance training or like acting.
It's nice to work
on the aesthetic
and its nice to work
on what your face can do.
I think it's a good form
of escapism.
It gets rid of those barriers,
barriers that we put up
on ourselves
that we don't realize we have.
Even if we wanna
keep the barriers up
let's just paint them,
or decorate them.
My aesthetic is
to really feminize
who I am as a person
to show myself as a flip side,
my masculine and feminine.
I just put my dial
all the way up to max
and just go, "This is it."
But some people only go to seven
or three and that's fine.
But I have had,
I think, an argument
with probably
every drag queen on the scene.
[indistinct chatter]
Drag drama, which is
a double D not for me.
Margo was telling me
the other day
that she works very hard
from Thursday to Sunday
and gets to sleep
Monday to Wednesday
at least you know
until 2pm in the afternoon
[Camile] This bitch is--
Shut up!
You're ruining my story, bitch.
Okay, edit that bit out.
And scene.
I said some
would call that depression
but we just call it drag.
Oh wait we, you know what?
Something's wrong
with this community
and it's like we want
to say that our lives
are in the best places.
At least we can say
we do what we get to do--
Oh she's getting sentimental.
We at least get to do
what we really wanna do
and enhance
other people's like emphasis.
We just emphasize,
we just got the stereo player.
Do you know what I mean?
That's what's good,
that's what isn't good--
I just love wearing no clothes.
That's Margo hears
walking down the street
?Fuck off Margo.?
They hate talent,
allergic obviously.
Look at them all.
You know what drag's taught
especially me with Margo?
It's that you learn how to build
bridges because you love someone
just as much
as you hate someone--
Are you listening to this?
No, because it is... it is--
It gets me to relieve
some of my sensitivity
because I wouldn't
have been able to hear that
from anyone else's mouth.
But I love it
because it comes from an angle
where I'm striving
for every much position
that we can just excel
with each other.
I got lost
in that 9-year essay but--
-Ying yang!
-...I loved it.
Ying Yang, up and down,
in and out.
Just the way I like it.
I'm here to support
every single person
because every person is unique.
Everybody have fun,
Yeah, yeah
A lot of trans women
would not like
to be called a drag queen
would not like to be
put into the same category
as a drag queen
because we're very different
but I want to prove
that you can be trans
and visible trans
but also be visibly
in drag as well.
When I first started
to transition
I struggled with maybe
looking like a drag queen
or being confused
as a drag queen
because they are very different
but as much as they're separate
they can be intertwined
and that's what I like
to try and prove.
I suppose I came on the scene
still struggling with drag
because I really wanted
to do drag but I still felt
that I had transitioned
for a reason
so why would I do drag?
I was a freelance
makeup artist at the time
and I was bored of giving people
the opportunity to be amazing
and not giving myself
that opportunity.
So I assessed the situation.
I had met drag queens
and I decided
to just say "fuck it"
and go for it and do it.
It was a total escape
from my own gender
and my own worries
about who I am.
When I'm in drag
I'm really not worried
about coming across
as a woman
I'm just there to have fun
and sometimes before I did drag
I felt like
when I was going out
I almost was setting myself
a rule book.
How I have to sit,
how I have to talk
how I have to present myself.
Just because you are a man
you don't have to be masculine,
just because you're a woman
you don't have to be feminine.
You don't,
you can do as you please.
We are the voices and faces
of the LGBT community
and I'm proud to say that.
[Envy] My drag character
or personas
will mix and fleet
and the kind of Johnny character
that has many faces
can be any gender,
no gender, can be an alien,
can be a monster, can be
just me wanting to dress up
in some women's clothes
tonight and act sultry.
It's multi-gendered,
if non-gendered,
if anything that comes up
in the future
or anything I fancy doing
it's all come like organically.
Sometimes I don't know.
Sometimes I'll be a character
and I don't know
what the gender is.
It's just how it feels.
I think those would probably be
more likely non-gendered.
But the more I go on
and the better skilled
I become in drag
the more I find I can do
more feminine looks
and so there have been
more feminine personas
or facets of this Johnny persona
that comes on when I'm in drag.
And I can create a feminine
or hyper-feminine face.
But I love to make something
that's really sexy ugly
or something
that's really ugly sexy
or... really blur.
It's kind of like
that blurring the lines.
[screaming] I don't know
how to take this anymore
I don't know what to do.
Oh my God!
And then that's really fun
to do and it also in?
in a very small sense
that might go
"Wow that person was sexy,
but was also kind of confusing."
And maybe
that's a lesson for them.
[people cheering
and applauding]
[Camile] It was like
when I was a kid
all these eyes
would look at me and go
?Oh, okay
something's different.?
When I used to play
Tekken as a kid
I used to love
playing the girl roles.
It was like they were amazing
because they moved better.
You know, the Tekken boys
were just like "punch, punch."
No, I wanna see some like...
hair flips and like dodges,
[Jacqui] It's sad that there's
still such a weakness
associated with femininity
and embracing
any form of femininity.
We see the divide
between gay guys, between...
these camp kind of effeminate
voguing round G-A-Y late twinks
who are feeling their fantasy
and the butch kind
of gym bunnies
that don't want to be
associated with that
because it infringes
on the masculinity
they think they need to perform
and inhabit to be safe.
But I think so much
of drag now is...
It's almost like a middle
finger up at what everybody says
you should or shouldn't be.
It works, you know,
because it's not conforming
to a set of rules
that people think it should be
and that makes people nervous
when you can't be put
easily in a box.
I think the moment
I popped out my mom
I was never going to be ignored
and I would never allow
myself to be ignored
and school was no exception.
I was lucky.
Well my school was lucky
to have someone like me there
'cause I definitely taught them
a good many few things
about being a young gay person
but then also becoming
a young trans person.
I was very feminine.
I mean I wore makeup
since I was 13, I would say.
13, 14, pre-transition
I wore makeup.
Because I was back then
a boy wearing makeup
I stuck out like a sore thumb.
However there was girls
wearing makeup in my class,
probably even more
makeup than I was
but because I was
the boy wearing makeup
I was the one,
"Wipe that off your face now!"
I was sent to like
the headmaster's office
because I was wearing
a BB cream once, you know.
I was sent off because I wore
a little bit of blush
turned into bronzer
and then I had a full face
and that was a huge
giant explosion of teachers
saying how wrong it was.
And I just sort of walked
in there and said
"I don't have any expectations
I just want a long
and really big
and birthday vibes."
And they sat me down
and they literally just did them
and I was so happy with them.
I mean my nails
have always been extra
but these are
really fucking extra,
they're really something else.
-[Matt] Who's birthday was it?
-[Matt] When?
-Wednesday actually.
-[Matt] Ah, happy birthday.
-Well, yeah.
When I had come out
as transgender
I was no longer
allowed to go to the boys
but they refused to let me go
into the girls toilet.
That made it
really awkward for me
because I could no
longer comfortably
just do something
as simple as go to the toilet.
I wouldn't take back
all the hardships
that I went through at school
because they have made me
the woman I am today.
[Envy] When drag came along
and I realized
I had this platform
to really expand
on the ideas of what I do
and I'm still doing it today
I was able to finally
play the villains
and play
the psychotic individuals
or the twisted individuals
I've always dreamed of playing.
I always idolized in a sense.
Being so overtly queer
and so overtly what some people
might call "wrong"
I find really empowering
and kind of anarchical and punk.
It gives me a platform
not only to do performances
but kind of like explore
anything within me
that I might not be able
to explore in my day to day
with friends or on the street.
Just anything that I wanna feel,
I can feel in drag.
I can draw it up
and I can be it.
Humans transforming
into monsters
or into something else.
I think that comes
through a lot of my--
especially makeup designs
I've always had
this really strong urge
to kind of want to be
something else.
Well maybe as a kid
that's what I felt
and through
this platform of drag
I get to transform
into whatever I want to be.
I get to transform
into something that's strong
or better than life
or better skilled
or had a better shield of armor
like any of that.
[Nightbus] If there's something
disarming about being feminine
then that's great.
I actually use that
to my advantage
because my drag
can be quite glamourous
or quite beautiful
and you know I pad
and I wear breast plates
and you know
have dresses made and stuff
and people see that and go,
"Oh my God, work."
And then when I'm like,
"Yeah, you know...
Trump's putting
in a Muslim ban."
Or, you know,
"32 people were killed this year
who were trans across the world
and that's just registered
in the UK and the US."
And I can do that on stage.
So you're disarmed
by the immediate presentation
of something
that's very feminine,
which people see as being
less of a threat anyway
and then I think it has
more of a real impact to go
"This is the form that I am
but this is the story
I'm going to tell you."
[Jacqui] There's something
about being a drag queen
that almost breaks the ice.
There's something humorous
about it anyway
that kind of adds
a bit of a diffuser I guess.
There are so many things
you can get away
with saying as a drag queen.
Part of our job
is to poke fun at things
kind of...
maybe add a bit
of humor to things
that don't necessarily
come with humor
because what our community,
I guess,
is founded out of slightly
is moving forward
to a kind of equality
and glum kind of feel.
So it's nice to have something
that's entertaining
and a little bit different
that you can make light
out of situations.
If I'm an asshole to you
then it means we're friends.
If I'm nice to you,
fucking panic.
It never ends well
or it ends in sex
which equally, doesn't end well.
[audience laughs]
Really it ends up
in one of the two of us
being disappointed.
It's usually you.
[Johnny] Okay, this is...
my, ehm...
Yeah, when I can't store
anything on a shelf
or on a rail,
I shove it in here.
So I've got wigs, like,
schoolgirl outfit.
Oh my God, yeah.
Early like...
Nineties school,
little schoolgirl outfit
that I thought was really cute.
Can't bare to let go
and if anyone asks
for a schoolgirl number
I've got the costume, but no.
[Carmen] Erm, it's just like
really quintessential drag.
It's a leotard so I can add
things on top of that
but it's just camp as tits,
isn't it?
It's got asymmetrical sleeves
it's taller than I am
and then it's leopard print
and I'm not
a fan of leopard print
but there's something
about that kind of? trashy?
It's a trashy drag look,
isn't it?
My first ever dress
was a wedding dress
and I got it
for a Halloween costume
and was like,
"Oh my God, I love it."
And I wore it as a house dress
for about two months afterwards
and my housemates
were sick of it.
I was just constantly
in this fucking wedding dress.
It was like a dressing gown
I wore it everywhere.
Whenever I see
a good wedding dress
I'm like, "Whoe yeah
I've got to have that"
until I found
this particular dress in Trade
and I got it for eight quid
or four quid
or something
and it was huge
and I had to have it.
So I got it and it's been
the best thing ever.
Although I keep getting
booked to wear it
and it's really heavy
and really awkward
to carry around.
I'm thinking...
It's got lots of ruffles
and it's long.
And we're looking for?
Well a starting point
would be red
anything red because...
that's what the BAFTAs
is all about.
It's old Hollywood
but I think you can tipple
a little on old Hollywood
as long as it's glam.
You can't get more fab
than feathers really, can you?
A flap...
a spin, wooh!
Has movement.
It's kind of hideous
but I love it.
I mean, come on!
I can hardly move,
but why would you need to?
Something like that
is all those layers
and all that movement.
I love chiffon, anything
that moves all by itself
with little to no effort.
[music box tune]
I always like the idea
of a jilted woman
or a woman who's had
lots of husbands
and has gained
all of her wealth from them.
I suppose that it's
because I used to feel
quite jilted in my past
so I kind of relate to that.
That would be perfect.
It's like a little accoutrement
to the dress for tonight.
I can just imagine how many...
how glorious it looked
to have all the girls lined up
in the same costume
and they all look fab.
This one belonged to Emily,
it's in the boob.
Why do one thing,
when you can do lots of things?
Especially with like style...
and taste...
like I can be a monster
and I can be
a full female bodied woman
or as some might say
a suspiciously large woman.
[music box tune]
Unfortunately not.
[tailor] I think I can pull
a few more for you.
Yeah, honestly,
you're the expert here.
I'm just the drag queen
with the big eyes.
[tailor] Step into.
[music box tune playing]
[music box tune continues]
[Matt] Do you do a lot
of drag queen costumes?
To be honest I have to say
a lot of drag queens
can't afford the price
Yeah, it's not the most
well paid industry.
Which is why "Everybody is
talking about Jamie"
and RuPul is brilliant
because they're now
kind of getting more money
into the industry, you know.
Well, actually this would fit.
[tailor] Let me
have one more scower.
Yeah, of course.
Give this a go
or is that too red?
[tailor] If you saw the lady
that this was made for
you'd never know
this would go on you honestly.
[Envy giggles]
Full of surprises!
Oh that's perfect!
-We do have to tuck, just so--
-[tailor] Yeah.
[Envy] ...we don't have
our little friend...
[tailor] That's it,
that's your dress for the night.
[lively music]
[Matt] Filming with Shaz.
Fuck off, fuck off.
Oh my God,
you look so good!
-[Envy] We're having a bath!
-[Nightbus] Why?
[Envy] We're having a bath
at the BAFTAs.
Margo doesn't bathe.
-[Bimini indistinctly]
He's not listening,
don't care.
God you look fab.
[Bimini] We've got
the break now.
[Nightbus] Until when?
What are you talking about?
-[Bimini] I'm not in the bath.
[Envy] Hiyaa.
[Nightbus] Hiyaa.
[all laugh]
Full disclosure.
Margo is just like
Only the crumbliest
flakiest chocolate.
[Bimini] They are melting.
You're all ridiculous.
Where are you?
I'm getting a cab.
Tonight I'm performing
a Tina Turner number
"Private Dancer".
Actually when I was younger
I used to hate it
because it was something
that my parents would play
and it wasn't cool,
but I loved the song so much.
So tonight
I'm doing it at The Glory.
It's actually the first place
that I ever performed pole
and it was actually
the first place
I ever performed
and they're so great at giving
drag queens an opportunity
and a chance to get on stage
and show their art,
show their creativity
so yeah,
I'm looking forward to it.
Disco, come on!
I mean when you first
interviewed me a year ago
I'd only been doing it
for about six months
but I'd focused more
on performing
and started doing pole
and kind of been taking that.
And elevating and trying
to evolve my drag as well.
Kind of figuring out
Bimini as a drag queen
and as a character.
When you first interviewed me
I was kind of going
through a bit of a rut
social anxieties
and kind of depression.
I was teaching yoga
and I had to stop teaching
because I was going
through a lot of mental health
issues myself.
To start with it was fine,
it was just
what everyone was doing.
I'd moved to London
and it was exciting.
We were taking drugs.
So I would take
a lot of G, GHB,
crystal meth, mephedrone,
and just party for days
and days and just keep going.
You just get wrapped up in it,
caught up in it
and so many people do.
So many gay people
and queer people do.
You grow up
not accepting yourself
and then you find
acceptance in these people
and people
are doing these things
and you think it's normal
and then it's fun,
but it's not fun when you're on
day five and you haven't slept
and then it's becoming
a regular thing.
I remember going to sleep
and waking up
every hour shaking
because my body needed it,
my body craved it.
If I hadn't got out
of it when I did
and deal with the consequences
which came after,
yeah I would probably be dead.
Come on.
I witnessed people
overdosing regularly.
I used to go under
all the time
and I never took it
as a big deal.
I remember people
were put off by seeing it
and it never did for me,
it just didn't.
I just became...
so used to being
in the situation
and relying on it
in social situations
to just kind of perk me up.
And when I did decide to stop,
my social anxiety
was just completely awful.
I used to walk
in a room and think
people were talking about me
that people hated me.
Now I don't care
if people do hate me
like whatever
or people talking about me,
but then it was
such a big thing.
With drag, when I first
moved to London at 18,
I started going out in Soho
and I met drag queens in person
for probably the first time
and I remember thinking
"I'd love to do it."
And I did a form of drag
but it wasn't anything
I took seriously.
When I first got back
I think I was back
for about a year
before I was like,
"No, this is what I wanna do
and this is what I'm gonna do."
Then that's when I started
[Jacqui] We're in my home town.
We're on the Isle of Wight
which is bizarre
considering that,
you know, I grew up here.
I wouldn't say the Isle of Wight
was stuck for a little while
but I think we're now starting
to see things move forwards
on the Isle of Wight
like accepting a big old
seven foot man
in a wig like me.
Can you imagine
a gay club in Camp Hill?
It would be amazing
So what kind of kick started
Isle of Wight Pride
was a local MP
for the Isle of Wight
saying something incredibly
homophobic and disgusting
and yeah, kind of pride came
around in a response to that.
It's nice that, as the only gay
kid growing up in the village
when I was growing up here,
it's now nice that there's
a huge celebration every year
and that dogs come to my show.
It's a rowdy crowd
of 12 tonight, isn't it?
Good Lord.
I'm gonna draw this out.
It kills five minutes
of my hour showtime.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I just popped a bollock.
Please welcome to the stage...
Jacqui Swallooowwws!
Turn it back up, dear!
[audience cheers and applauds]
I think this kind of show
is very new
to the Isle of Wight, you know.
It's different, isn't it?
Different parts of the country,
and well the world.
They catch onto things
at different times.
I suppose after a drag
race craze, or after any place
where they are used to drag
they have expectations,
they've seen it before
whereas on the Isle of Wight
everyone thinks I'm great
because they haven't seen
any better.
But no, they're great fun
and they're always up
for a laugh.
It's nice.
I have a bit of pride
that it's nice
to see my hometown
going "Yeah, this is really cool
and we want more of it."
[Nightbus track plays]
Paki, Paki, Paki,
terrorist, terrorist Paki...
[screams and cheering]
Yeah, so I've had abuse
in drag on the streets
from cars passing by
but I also know that I'm
quite ignorant to a lot of it
because actually even in drag,
although it's quite
a feminine form
like I do still look
quite manly with a beard
so I probably get away
with a lot more.
Also because I'm brown,
people are a little bit...
skeptical of coming
and saying something to me
which is quite interesting.
I've had some abuse
from Asian people in cars
and it's been about things
like, "Allah will punish you"
and I'm just like...
"We're not getting
into this right now"
because we could definitely
have this conversation
for days."
And then I've had
some really horrendous things
said to me in Berlin
when I lived there for a year.
People asking me how...
what proportion
of the N word I am,
which has been quite...
sort of,
"Did you just say that?"
and trying to understand
what that means.
So the abuse has mainly
come from being...
and then there's an element
of being queer in there as well.
[Matt] And how do you deal
with abuse when you get it?
I don't really rest on it.
I think it's about looking
at the wider picture
where that comes from
and where it stems from
and why people say that.
It's only when someone
will outwardly say something
and I feel comfortable enough
to shout at them
because what's
the worst they can do.
Even if you kill me
that will be on TV
and people will know about that
and you will never
be the same again
so you can't do that.
You're the one who's always
gonna come worse off.
I don't really shy away
from having arguments
but I don't like them.
I'd rather have a conversation.
But actually, to be honest,
I find it exhausting,
I find it exhausting
trying to explain
these things to people.
I don' t need to sit there
and tell you every day
why I'm not a terrorist
or why Muslims are not all bad
or why queer people
aren't disgusting.
Paki, Paki, Paki
Oh yeah, we got mugged.
[Camile] We nearly got stabbed.
-That was in view.
That was well funny,
we turned--
We used our drag to advantage
because it actually
scared them off.
We were rolling a jazz cigarette
down the canal in Haggerston...
These two people came up
and was just like
?Give us your phone and money"
and we were
?No, not giving that?
and I had fifty quid cash
in my pocket as well
just did a gig at The Glory,
so I was like,
?No, you're not having that.?
And then he got this seven inch
hunting knife out
and it was like, "Eugh!"
especially when you start seeing
a lot more queer performance
like things don't shock you
as much
and when he got this seven inch
hunting knife out
he's not gonna
hack us apart with that.
"No, still not giving you
my phone and money"
and then they didn't know
what to do at that point.
-The other one grabbed me
and punched me in the face.
And then we got up
and he, the other one
just threw me back.
He'd opened me up
and was like, ?Right.?
All the prosthetic boobs
came out, the fishnet leggings,
the thong, he was like,
"Oh my God, what's going on?"
Now it's like bulge,
bulge, bulge, bulge.
And then he tried
to get on to Carmen
and Carmen has
this massive suitcase.
-She was like "No".
-He tried to grab her suitcase.
It had makeup in it.
she's like 6.2 foot, gorgeous,
just like picked up
her suitcase full of make up
and was like, ?Fuck off!?
All her possessions.
-And just pelted it.
-Then all of a sudden
they just started to run
and we were like
"You better run."
-Yeah it was--
-Would you say that was
a homophobic attack?
Oh no,
it was more of a mugging
but they shat themselves
when they saw us.
[Bimini] I was in Ley Fest,
it was down in Kent
and there was a guy,
I think he was coked up
or he was on something
and he was just like
"What the fuck is that?"
I was in a bikini,
I looked great
and he was like,
"What the fuck is that?"
He was all riled up
and his friends were laughing
and saying "just leave it"
and it was,
"Why am I ruining your festival?
You're at a festival,
just enjoy yourself.
Don't see the drag queen
and be like,
"'what the fuck is that?'
just because you fancy me?"
It says more about them.
It's like, "Okay then
you have got a problem."
You're meant to be at a festival
to have fun. What's it about?
That's all it does when people
give homophobic abuse
it's just like,
"Look at yourself babes."
And then genders
very black and white
and very well blue
and pink I guess.
Like you are told from a young
age what you should do
this is wrong, this is wrong,
so when you do see
someone playing
with the boundaries
I think it shocks a lot
of people and intimidates people
as much as they probably
wouldn't like to admit
that they feel
intimidated by it.
Our job is to then determine
okay how do we seed that,
where is that coming from?
And I guess I do that
outside of my job
in the hair side
of things as well
like you see it every day
people don't actually know
who they're looking at
when they see themselves.
It freaks people out a bit
but I think that's even more
reason to do it to be honest.
Every time I see someone getting
attacked for homophobia
it makes me feel...
In a way it's a form of activism
It's like I am here,
I am doing this
and you need to get used
to it, kind of thing.
I'm not going to stop doing
drag because of it, if anything
I'm going to put
more lashes on, more blusher on
every single time
someone looks at me funny.
I went to school
where we were forced to pray
to God every morning
and it's like I'm not religious
so you know,
why is it that all of a sudden
a child is exposed to drag
and it's a bad thing?
What is bad is teaching
your children attitudes
where you don't accept people
a lot of the thing
I've got out of doing drag is
how lovely drag queens are
to each other as well.
Of course you have
the bitchiness as well
but in general we are a family,
we are a family.
I would much rather
teach children
the value of finding
friends and family
and exploring yourselves
rather than teaching them
to hate people and be ignorant.
Of course, I don't think
there's been one drag queen
that's not had abuse
whether that be traveling
to the gig
or going home from the gig
or in the club itself.
I think you've got to be doing
something right for people
to have a go at you
and I've always believed
in that.
They might be across the road
and shout at you
but you walk straight up to them
and they nothing to say
to your face
because they never do.
Because they have nothing
to justify themselves with.
There could be a group
of like what?
Five young boys?
But still five of them
and I'll walk straight up
to them
and be like, ?What??
And then they go
all quiet and they're like
?Oh well I didn't say it,
he said it. Oh no he said it.?
It doesn't matter which one
of you said it,
it was one of you,
it was all of you probably,
but now that I'm in front of
you don't want to say
anything, do you?
You don't want
to be put in that position
you don't want
the confrontation.
I suppose when I'm in drag
I'm more sort of like
"Yeah, I am.
I am a faggot, I am a tranny,
I am this, I am that,
because I'm in drag
and those are my words
and I'm not going
to give you that power.
The moment you say
you are the words
they're shouting you at
you've taken, you've snatched
that power away from them
and you've snatched
the opportunity
for them to poke at you
and to make that situation.
Just don't whimper
and don't panic.
Because if you show them
the weakness
then they'll want it more
and it's a drug
to people like that
and they want more and more
and they'd want to see you
get more uncomfortable
and I'd just say,
"Put your headphones in
sit there like the bad bitch
you know you are
and just ride it out."
A funny story,
I was walking back home
to Whitechapel, walking down
one of the side streets
I'm in half drag, I've taken
a bit of my drag off
I'm in boy clothes
I've got my headphones in
and I'm probably
listening to some musical
or some sissy, sissy something
and I'm having a little jolly
because I'm a little bit drunk
and a car pulls up
to me and I can hear
something shouted
behind me
but I keep walking
because that often happens
or someone is shouting
at someone in the street.
And the car pulls up
to me and I realize
that they've been shouting at me
and I pull my headphone down
just to catch
"What the fuck are you,
you fucking faggot?"
And, I am like...
[funny voice] "Cool dude,
yeah you caught me
I'm a faggot, whatever."
And he reaches down
for something
and I, you know, I tense
because I'm ready
for something to be thrown at me
and he throws and it hits here
and it's a chocolate cake.
And it splats, it misses me
and splats against the...
the shutters next to me
and I go, I'm just like aghast
I was like...
"You threw a chocolate cake
and you missed?"
And then it gets worse.
He looks at me
and then he's like...
He reaches down again
and throws
another chocolate cake
and misses again,
and I'm like
"You throw like a girl,
you big faggot!"
Obviously I don't believe
in those things
but, you know,
I wanna twist his nipple
I wanna twist his titty
at this point.
And his, I'm like,
"You wasted
your chocolate cake"?
And he's just so angry
with himself
and is in such a spat
that he drives off
and speeds off into the night
and I'm like [applauds]
"Thank you for that,
that really perked up my night?
and then I turn around,
look back and there's
two splats of cake
slowly slipping down like,
you know, his sense of worth.
[laughs loudly]
Fucking idiot,
what a waste of cake.
I've been abused
I've been physically assaulted
five times since March
twice in one night.
In nightclubs,
outside of nightclubs
getting into Ubers.
I've had people spit on me,
but I've faced them down
every time
and I win and I carry on
and I get brighter and louder
and er?
if? [sniffs]
if I stop doing it
they win basically.
That can't happen,
that's not acceptable,
that's not an option.
So we just had a great night
at Cirque Le Soir.
It was such a good night,
it was such a high.
Everyone was getting along
and then,
I said goodbye to everyone
I got on the bus
I went up to the top, back,
that's where I always sit,
my favourite seat
and as soon as I sat down
there were three girls
who started shouting
so I put my music in,
blocked them out
just ignore them,
hope it goes away...
and it didn't.
They started
throwing stuff at me
they poured Coca Cola
on my hair
threw chips at me.
[attacker] Film me
and see how that goes.
Oh my days!
It was the words that hurt
it wasn't just being assaulted
because I've got thick skin,
I can take it.
It was the words that they used.
[Chai] Back the fuck off!
[attacker 2] Are you fuck--
Pervert, pedophile...
-[attacker 1] Chill, chill.
-[attacker 2] Delete that.
"You're a disgrace,
[indistinct insults]
You know horrendous, horrible,
unthinkable... things
and for them to see me
on the same level
for being positive
and for expressing myself
that was the one
that shook me most.
"Forty five pairs of eyes
but not one statement
from a witness
all the footage is out of date
because they acted too late
so tell me
how do I forgive this?"
Well I've been bruised you know
I've bled, that was the worst.
As anyone does when they're
another human being
they don't see
beyond that, you know,
that's someone's child
they're attacking
and that's the other aspect.
Someone's brother, sister...
They just see a target
-and that's not what they are.
- No.
I would never not
stand up for myself
or my friends or my community
and I feel, especially
if you want to be a drag queen,
that's what the essence
of it, it's the core,
standing up
and defying odds and boxes
and breaking down walls.
So for me to run
and hide would be
to me defeat the purpose
of a drag queen.
So I stand my ground
and then...
I phone my mum...
and cry.
Because I'm just so tired
of having to fight all the time
to be accepted.
There's relief when I know
he's physically safe
but I fear each time
the phone goes.
I didn't know.
I should have brought a tissue.
[both laugh]
-You've got sleeves.
-No, I haven't.
I fear each time the phone goes
that it's something worse.
People say to me about
having my son living in London
we've got family in America
and their fear is
terrorist attacks
and that's not something
I ever worry about generally
because my reality
is the day to day fear
that my son is going
to be abused or beaten
for who he is,
not for hurting people,
but for expressing himself
in a manner
that makes him happy
and I fear
every time the phone goes.
But I don't want him to stop.
[both laugh]
I don't want him to stop
because I don't think
he should stop being
who he is for anyone.
Because that just
makes the world a smaller
and a sadder and darker place.
Drag is definitely a protest.
Ehm, it's a protest,
it's subversive, it is...
[sighs] I mean it feels
so... trite to just say
?sticking it to the man?
but it really is.
It's a disruption
that I think
even in a microcosm like London
we just take it for granted
that people are liberal
and understanding
but actually...
the people living in London
are from so many
different backgrounds
where they haven't been exposed
to even the slightest bit
of queerness
for them to even see
a drag queen
especially a brown bearded one
who's fat and takes up space.
I think that is a huge
disruption for me.
I do sort of toy with the idea
of if I do want to perform
for straight audiences.
if I want to be doing something
that's so mainstream
because one thing
that other people
who are drag queens
or work within queer circles
would say is that actually
sometimes it can feel
like you're preaching
to the converted.
If you're queer and you're
talking about queer issues
to queer people then
what are you ultimately doing?
Yeah you might be
queer but if you're white
there is an element
of privilege in that
and I'm going to point that out.
And that in itself
is a protest, I think.
Saying ?No, this is
what your normal is
this isn't
the norm of everyone."
Yeah, I would say
it's a protest
both in queer circles
and outside in the mainstream.
People walk away
from my performances
with their minds
changed about something
because actually
that's the primary purpose
I make something to make people
change their minds about it.
And at the same time
it can be a desperate existence
just doing this day in day out
and thinking what is the fucking
overall purpose of this?
What am I actually trying to do?
Am I just doing this
because I want to be famous?
Shockingly I don't really
enjoy drag in the same way
that I get a thrill
from doing it all the time.
I enjoy being able
to be subversive with it.
Yeah I think in the last year
I've definitely evolved a lot.
Grown to understand
myself a lot more.
I'll always carry
that addictive personality
but now I try to become
addicted to things that I enjoy
like yoga or pole dancing,
or fitness
and I become obsessive with it.
For my drive
and what I want to do
and my ambition
and my creativity
it's done wonders for it.
Disco, come on!
Good boy.
This year something just changed
and I' ve really worked
my ass off
this summer performing...
Done many festivals,
done cruise ships
and it's been amazing,
and I'm so blessed to be booked
and I'm blessed to be
doing something
that I really enjoy doing.
So pole dancing is something
that I've really always loved
because it's always been...
kind of soaked
in this femininity.
Dancers and sensual women,
strong women as well,
like you've got to be strong
and you've got
to really work at it
to be able to build
yourself up on the pole.
I've always aspired to it.
With yoga it helped,
they kind of go together,
even though
they're polar opposites
in what people would expect
they really
do compliment each other.
I mean you don't often see
people performing pole anywhere.
I like bringing
something a bit different
to my performance.
[dance music]
[audience cheering]
I don't feel the urge to do
the things I used to do.
I feel a lot stronger,
I can say no.
Yeah I can't ever see myself
going down that path
I think I've worked too hard
to get to where I am now
for me to slip back
into my old ways.
[disco music playing]
It went really well.
The first time I've performed it
so it's gonna be my new number,
I really had fun
and I think everyone else
enjoyed it as well
which is always good
to get good feedback.
But it was very impromptu
like no introduction
just like walk on the stage
and everyone's like
everyone's looking,
yeah, it was good.
[disco music]
[audience cheering]
[music continues playing]
The power of makeup.
Then a little bit of brown.
Oh yeah look, gone.
[piano playing]
For me being in school was never
a place I could be queer.
So for me to now
be visibly femme
and being in nurseries
and schools is quite nice.
I went to a really posh
conservatoire and hated it.
It was amazing
and the education was amazing
but it was just
such an alien world for me.
I love classical music
but I'm from
a working class family
and like it's very,
I was always the odd one out
because I like classical music
and it was really weird
and I wanna make it
more accessible
and basically I just want
all of the communities
I've experienced and met
through being part
of the queer community
and artists I've worked with
drag queens, performers,
poets, strippers,
I want to include everyone
within the medium
of classical music.
So it all kind
of stems from that idea
of taking things out
of perspective and putting it
into a place it wouldn't
normally be seen.
The classism and elitism
and ableism
around classical music.
Ehm, I was getting frustrated
so I started going
to the cabaret scene
out on the cabaret scene
and I was seeing things
like in pub basements
that were blowing me away
just made with cardboard
and tinsel
but the performance
and the passion
and the emotion behind it all
was so overwhelming
so I want to broaden
the audience accessibility
of classical music.
It's so exclusive.
So yeah I just want to try
and change that somehow
in my own little way
and give people the opportunity
to work in classical music,
because I love it,
and I want
to share that as well.
Please go mad
for my very good friends
one of the reasons
that I'm here
on the Isle of Wight so often.
They're wonderful,
they're talented
if not slightly sagging
from the waist down.
Ladies and gentlemen,
please go mad
for the Camp Hill Coooookies!
So this evening,
some of my good friends
from the Isle of Wight
a group called
the Camp Hill Cookies
and they're burlesque
chair dancers
and they're probably
the campest women
I've ever met.
They're ladies who--
Some of them have never
performed in their life
and they come and they do
these classes, and some of it
is about exercise
and weight loss and all kinds.
But they perform
and they're absolutely amazing.
You know if you'd have said
?Oh well there's a drag queen
performing on Monday night?
people would go ?No.?
And if you told them
there was a group
of 15, 20 middle aged women
performing burlesque routines
in a social club
next to a disused prison
to have fun
make friends, lose weight,
you'd say exactly the same thing
but it's amazing,
they're so talented
and it's lovely to see
and I resonate with it I guess
that look of pure joy
of just having fun doing it
and just thinking balls
to everything else.
[piano plays classical music]
[Barbs] Oh, thank you.
Absolutely wonderful ma'am.
[Barbs] Thank you very much.
-I'll do another one.
-[man] Oh, thank you very much.
Ruining the illusion.
[Matt] I thought it was
all your normal hair.
Oh really?
I wish.
-[Matt] It's getting there
-It's getting there
[Lucas] I was going to say
the colors almost match.
I know! I'm so lucky,
because that's
a really cheap wig as well.
Yeah, it's like 8.99 each.
I'm very low maintenance.
-[Matt] Shit drag.
-[giggles] Yeah, shit drag.
Do you want me to undo it?
[Barbs] I think it is...
There we go, ta-da.
[Jacqui sings out of tune]
I should have been a singer.
[woman sings more out of tune]
You shouldn't of.
There's nothing more than I love
than a sing along up here.
[woman] Can I just have
a look at your makeup?
You can,
I've taken my eyelashes off.
-[woman] Unfortunately.
-I'm very sweaty.
[woman] You look so gorgeous.
[woman] Oh my God.
[Jacqui] This has become
some sort of weird family
self help group.
I'm certainly not being paid
enough for this.
[laughs loudly]
I got grandsons
in their thirties
and yes, they talk to me
just like that
and I talk to them back
just like that.
He uses
all the swear words I do
and... all the filth.
I reckon he's gorgeous.
I'm 76 and if I was younger
I would go for it.
[laughs loudly]
We are the superfans.
I'll give you my address
so you can do the injunction
when you need to.
[all laugh]
-She's not joking.
-I'm not, I'm so not.
He's probably the only one
on the island
that we've seen, ever.
But it's amazing
because we've got quite
a closed community on the island
so it's something different.
The island is a bit reserved
and the island needs Jack.
[Matt] Do you still live
with Tommy and Dan?
No, I don't live with Tommy
and Dan anymore.
So many big personalities
in a house.
It was beautiful,
we had all these ideas.
Tommy taught me
so much about discipline.
While I was living
there I just felt...
"This is a really good
There's so many people that...
have so many things around them
that we can build on.
But it wasn't really teaming.
It was just like,
you had a gig, this had a gig,
Tommy had a gig,
Dan had a gig
and we couldn't live
in a house together as well
and not become family.
Come on darling,
come on Barbs, get that down.
And that's where I learned,
where my family weren't
so supportive of the drag.
They always have my back
in some sort of sense.
Whereas the drag family at 66
didn't always have my back
but they were supportive
of my drag
and I had to balance that out
between two families
and it wasn't
like Luke was in one place
and Camile was in the other.
Every time I go back home
it's a little bit more warmer.
Me, my sister...
and my two nieces.
It's like my sister
doesn't want them
to see anything
that I do like that.
I need to come as an educator
if I'm going to do anything
because when the kids grow up
they're going to go to school
with it, that, this, she, him.
I don' t want them to feel
like they're like I was
very sheltered and very shelled,
because it takes years
and I think it's going
to take a few more years
until I can completely come out
because its not just coming out
as a gay sexual,
bisexual or whatever I am
masculine, feminine,
trans, you know, "it",
like this.
If I can do it round them
if I can be who I am
around them
then I can be myself
around anyone.
I would cry, it would
overwhelm me so much.
That's where I get to
in my dreams
if something makes me
feel that much
it means I want it that bad.
It's just the fact
that I want to be able to sing
and be able
to not be scared of this.
This is the worst thing I fear
and I have to get through it.
If I don't get through it
I'm not going to find that peace
that I was looking for.
-[soft music]
-[car engine revs]
[Chai] So we are
at Byline Festival
which is a poetry,
literature and music festival.
I've been partying
doing drag,
because I stopped drag
for a little bit
before the last interview
due to the abuse
I was receiving
and it sort of gave me a refuel
after doing this a year ago.
Since then
I've hosted at Homehouse
which is the fashion house ball
which I did for New Years Eve,
and then Amsterdam
and then we've done
performances together as well
spoken word
which I've done in drag
so yeah, this will be
my first drag performance.
-I think I've grown a lot.
-[Alby] Yeah.
I think you've become
a lot more confident
and I think you've learned a lot
about yourself through drag.
Who you are and the persona
you want to present to the world
and how you wish
other people to perceive you.
There will always be people
who don't have the same opinions
or perceptions, and that's okay
for people to have that.
It's when they attack
your child multiple times.
That doesn't leave you.
She is the most wonderful star
sometimes called Chai Latte,
sometimes called Skinny Latte,
sometimes just Latte with Cream.
[Chai] Bricking it mate.
Oh my god, I'm shitting it.
But I 'm also just so excited.
This will be the first time
I've rapped the poems.
It's a pro-drag queen,
It's about being different
and not accepting
the responsibility
of other people's thoughts
and views
in their small mindedness.
[soft music]
Desert sands over London
Cast a crimson sky
I saw a mother pointing
Covering her daughter's eyes
I walked right by
in my rose gold satin thigh
Highs they,
They said it was a sign...
[Chai] Fucking exhilarating
and nerve wrecking
and emotional.
I can't describe the feeling
you know, it was great.
To be able to get
to that stage of your life
where you can get up
on stage in front of people
and perform your own work
it's been
like a five year journey
that's culminated now
and I can't describe
how proud I am of myself.
It's great.
You've got to remember
is gender is learned
and what we're doing is
un-learning it
breaking it down.
Making it
what we want it to be
and not what somebody
tells us it should be
If you're masculine
you've got to be angry
or if a woman's angry
it's seen very differently
It's in everything,
marketing, advertising,
it's male and female,
it's split up
so it's just
getting rid of that.
I often have people thinking--
mistaking me
for being trans or something
and it's like, "No, this
is all a performance
this is all a character"
but it also allows
me to go out of the house
and explore my gender fluidity
a bit more.
It's a really great way
to build confidence.
You know it takes a lot of guts
to go outside in drag
in day time.
I think it's very important
to be visible.
[Camile] A lot of people
wear masks all day
they work their 9-5,
they don't come out
of that mask.
Even though you don't change
people change around you
because they have to adjust
to what they see
Putting on a wig and a heel
you feel invincible.
As ridiculous as it sounds
but it's more like a mask
[Camile] You go into it thinking
that the fear comes from you,
but the fear
is coming from them.
And it does have a benefit
especially for 15, 16,
17, 18 year olds
who grow up in small town
and are not exposed to this.
Especially to being queer
which is different
to being gay
so you know
I think it's really important
in that kind of setting.
I have a lot of hope
for the generations below us.
I think there's so much
happening now already.
[Camile] They're going to be
like our X-men.
[Barbs] Brilliant,
so they're going
to pave the way
for the generations after them,
It will always be changing
and developing
so I think in that sense
it will always be relevant.
We're all odd.
That's what makes us all even.
[giggles] Yeah, yeah.