‘Drag was always a protest, a political statement’: RuPaul’s Drag Race UK finalists open up

The second season of the UK spin-off has been a huge hit. Ahead of the final, Ellie Diamond, Lawrence Chaney, Tayce and Bimini Bon Boulash spill the beans

On Thursday nights, drag queen Tayce settles in to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race UK with his housemates. “We sit around, get some food, watch the thing, then have a couple of bevs after,” he says, talking from his bedroom in London. The experience is a little different for Tayce than for most viewers; he is also one of the finalists in this year’s competition. One of his flatmates, A’Whora, was also on the show, just missing out on a top-four spot. “She’s upstairs now,” Tayce says, in his nimble Newport lilt. In ordinary times, the queens taking part in what he calls “the Olympics of drag” would be out in the world, watching at viewing parties in pubs and bars, appearing at Drag Race-themed events. But for now, they’re at home, like everyone else. “Live it up,” he says, grinning.

Along with Ellie Diamond, Bimini Bon Boulash and Lawrence Chaney, Tayce is about to compete in the final of Drag Race UK. (The queens use the pronouns she/her in drag; out of drag, Bimini is non-binary and goes by they/them, while the others use he/him, hence the joyous jumble.) This is the anglicised, rough-around-the-edges, wildly spirited spin-off of the US mothership. So far, the second season has been spectacular. The final was filmed in November, but with multiple endings, like Game Of Thrones – meaning none of them know who has won until the episode is broadcast. Alan Turing as a high-concept trouser suit. There was a perfect Katie Price impression, asserting that “nipples are the eyes of the face”. There was H&M-gate, in which host RuPaul berated a contestant for performing in a shop-bought dress, inciting a fierce debate about the economics of drag in a pandemic. Covid tore the season in half, inserting a seven-month break into filming; one contestant did not return after a positive test. The contestants launched UK Hun, a Eurovision parody song and inescapable earworm that became a bona fide Top-40 hit. Bing bang bong. What’s the best version of RuPaul’s Drag Race? It’s UK, hun.

You don’t have to be queer to relate to stories about bullying, mental health issues, and lots of things we go through

British drag is tongue-in-cheek. It’s wink-wink, nudge-nudge. It’s blokes in a wig at Butlin’s making old ladies laugh

Related: Drag Match: a card game that asks you to pair faces in and out of make-up – in pictures

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Category: Mental Health