This week, the queens of Drag Race UK truly looked camping right in the eye, creating iconic looks from a pile of camping materials.
The sewing challenge always produces high drama: some queens create wearable art, while others struggle without being able to rely on a pre-made costume or flawless makeup. The Met Gala truly wishes it could match the chaotic energy.
Season three of Drag Race UK was no exception: after the queens sashayed down the runway in front of RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and guest judge Nicola Coughlan, there were spellbinding critiques. Back in the work room, we even saw thinly-veiled accusations of cheating. The scandal!
Sadly, it was Veronica Green who was sent home, after her festival-inspired looks made the judges want to Glaston-bury their heads in the sand. Veronica was the only queen not to have to lip-sync for her life in season two, before she had to withdraw because of COVID-19. But she had her comeback cut short this year by Vanity Milan (who is already emerging as this year’s lip-sync assassin). So how does Veronica feel about her second stint on the show now?
PinkNews: What was it like returning to Drag Race UK for another season?
Veronica: Coming back into the workroom was a dream come true all over again. It just felt wonderful to be on set and get back to my home-from-home. The four walls of the workroom were all the same, the judges were the same, the runway was the same. But the queens are what made it different. The 12 different personalities created a completely different dynamic and really turned the competition on its head for me. I wasn’t expecting it to play out the way that it did, but that was something that really surprised me. I didn’t realise how a different group of queens can change the feel of the experience so much.
Were you always 100 per cent sure you wanted to come back for season three?
There was always this sort of voice in my mind, saying: ‘You probably shouldn’t’, because I was never going to be ready. I was virtually bankrupt – and when I say that, I couldn’t even put food on my table. My fiancé was having to support me through the toughest time of my life, because I couldn’t afford anything.
So going back was probably a mistake, maybe? But for me, I had to say yes, because there’s no doubt about it: people like me do not get these life-changing opportunities like this every day. I have to grab every opportunity with both hands and walk through every open door, because I’ve wanted a successful career for so long. And this show can catapult you into superstardom, so I was willing to take that chance.
I’m so thankful to RuPaul and the producers and everybody involved in the show for what they’ve given me and what they’ve done for me. The change in my life is already taking shape: I performed on the mainstage of Manchester Pride to 10,000 people. Without that global platform I wouldn’t be talking to you right now, so for that I’m eternally grateful!
Which queens did you know before the show?
Kitty [Scott-Claus] and I have known each other for a few years. We did the same drag competition circuit together before Drag Race. I’ve known Ella [Vaday] for over 10 years, I think we met touring Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I do my research, I’m a bit of a drag fan, so I’ve been following a lot of the queens on social media before I even came to the competition.
Who did you clock as your biggest competition on day one in the workroom?
Immediately my eyes were drawn to Victoria Scone, Charity Kase and Krystal Versace. Charity does a style of drag that I could never! Krystal’s got this amazing makeup artistry that is unmatched in this season’s competition. And Victoria is sort of doing camp at a completely different level to how I do camp. So I was very much wary of them. Then there was Ella, and I thought: ‘We do pretty much similar things and we’re both performers, so there’s going to be a showdown at some point for sure.’ But that never came to fruition, unfortunately.
The other queens made quite a few comments about Krystal Versace getting help from you, this week what did you think about that, watching it back?
I think in terms of competition, it’s everyone for themselves. You’re judged on your journey and your art, so I don’t think it’s shady for people to call that out. But I help people when they are in need! I don’t know if they showed it in season two, but I famously refused to help Tia Kofi, because I was so much in competition-mode. But the experiences I’ve had over the last 18 months changed me as a person. The season three queens, they really looked up to me and they were constantly asking me for advice and constantly asking me for help. They looked up to me as a bit more of a mentor than a competitor, so I did kind of feel like I was a little bit of an outsider in the cast in that in the competition aspect of it.
It’s in my nature to help people. There are a few queens who’ve only been doing drag for just a year. If Drag Race as a show is successful then we are all successful together, because nobody wants to see a terrible season where everybody’s doing poorly! So, it was my instinct to help people, although it was to my detriment and you know I shot myself in the foot. I still wouldn’t change that because I’ve made some really good bonds with the other queens on season three, so I wouldn’t want to take that back for the world.
What went wrong for you in this week’s challenge?
Personally, I feel like my concept was pretty good, it was just the execution that was really poor. It’s no secret: all the queen’s will say that I was one of the last if not the last to be ready for every single runway, both through season two and season three! I don’t have very good time management.
I just took on a bit too much of an ambitious design. And this is because I was a victim of reading too much into what people thought of my series two design look. A lot of people said that it was too simple, and some even debated that I should have been in the bottom for it. So, my thought going into it was I need to be more elaborate. The design itself, I would absolutely change that design because it’s not what I envisaged, but because of time management it was too late to correct it. I just gave myself too much to do. There isn’t really a medium with me, I’m either soaring at the top, or I’m crashing on the bottom, because I take risks!
Victoria Scone also had to bow out this week for medical reasons, what did you think of her performance on the show? Would you like to see her return next year, like you did?
Victoria being the first cisgender woman to compete on Drag Race is an absolutely fantastic achievement that the diversifying of the show is starting to happen. I can’t wait to see more inclusion from other parts of our community. But in terms of Victoria having to leave, it really struck a chord with me. My reaction on the episode was very genuine: I was reliving all the trauma all over again of when I had to go last year. She prepared 35 different looks for the show, but she only got to showcase a small handful of them, and who knows whether what else she prepared is going to fit the categories for the next season that she’s on?
Do you have any advice for her, if she decides to come back next year?
I’d advise her to not make the same mistake that I did and to not go back until you’re ready. If you don’t feel like you can compete, then maybe put it off a little bit longer. But then again, having said that, that could also be flawed advice because who knows when there will be another opportunity?
She’s got the time and hopefully the resources to get a new wardrobe together, because I think that’s something that is one of the most important things to the fandom. For me, I relied on my charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to impress the judges, not necessarily my wardrobe. But my experience of going back should teach Victoria that people can be very unforgiving! Even in the hardest of times.
Do you think drag is inaccessible for queens who can’t afford expensive costumes?
The saying that ‘you don’t need money to do drag’ is 100 percent true, because drag is art, and you can make art from anything. But Drag Race is a completely different beast. They call it the ‘Olympics of drag’ for a reason, and you need to be at the top of your game to be able to be on that show.
There are queens that are priced out of even competing. It’s such a struggle for a working-class person who comes from a very poor family, that has had to work for everything that they’ve got. I struggled so hard to even be in that competition. If you don’t have the looks, you get torn to shreds by everyone. You’re not going to measure up against somebody who’s got a lot of money to spend on amazing looks. It’s just a fact of life that poor people have a very rough time with everything in the world.
Do you think Drag Race should level the playing field in any way, when it comes to money?
I do feel like there is something that could be done. Because art is not about how much you spend, but a lot of the time on this show, I feel like people value how expensive you look a bit too much. I don’t know the best way to put it… I guess, there are some queens that come to the competition, who are runway queens who have those looks. That’s what they do best and they should be celebrated for that, because that’s an amazing thing for them! But drag is more than just the way you walk and the clothes you wear, with all different styles and all different types of drag.
What are some of your favourite ‘types’ of drag?
I love messy queens and genderf**k queens and queens who are a little bit more subversive, spreading a message and politicising things. There are other ways to do drag than looking perfect and pretty.
How has your drag changed since you auditioned for Drag Race?
I was an off-the-rack, H&M queen! While I was auditioning for the show, I taught myself to sew specifically the show, because I knew that would not be good enough. That story was never told on the show. A lot of things get left on the cutting room floor!