Drag Race UK’s Tayce on RuPaul’s ‘mind games’ and which queens were playing up to the camera

Reiss Smith
·4-min read

Of the Drag Race UK finalists, Tayce’s route to the top four was the trickiest.

Despite bringing it to the runway week after week (no, we’re not talking about that copper scourer abomination, and neither should you be), Tayce has found herself in the bottom two not once, twice or even thrice.

She’s earned the title lip sync assassin, becoming one of just three queens in Drag Race herstory to survive four lip syncs in one season (joining Kameron Michaels and Miss Abby OMG from Drag Race Holland). And she wouldn’t have it any other way, truth be told.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better time,” she says over Zoom, just days before the finale airs. “I’ve lip-synced four times but I see that as my best and worst moments. I think there’s something to be said for a bad old lass who can knock four girls out of the park.”

It’s clear that RuPaul is a fan – he saved her four times, after all. “Honestly, it’s the mind games of it all,” she says. “To lip sync a fourth time, it’s like, do you want me here or not? Or do you just want a show, do you like the performance?”

Win or lose, Tayce walks away a fan favourite. Though she entered Drag Race UK a fierce fashion queen, it’s her genuine warmth and comedy chops that won the public over – and made her the meme queen of the season. If you haven’t spent the last month rehashing her “the cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity and the gumption” line in the group chat, then what have you been doing?

Tayce
Drag Race UK star Tayce. (BBC)

“This is just me on the daily,” she laughs. “There is no drag character. My real name is Tayce, it’s just me with make-up on. All this stuff just rolls out my mouth.”

Though she’s confident she was herself throughout the competition, Tayce isn’t against playfully calling out those who acted up for the cameras – Drag Race UK is a reality show, after all.

“You’ve got 200 cameras around you, they want you to play up to it,” she says. “They want you to break down, they want you to cry, they want to get emotional.

A’Whora, she loves a good read, she likes to play up to the camera, the little drama queen,” she laughs. “Sister Sister I think was playing to the cameras, giving her little shady quips and stuff. Ginny Lemon was just Ginny. Tia was shady, but she was only shady off camera! I would have loved for her to be that girl in the werk room, I would have lived!”

On A’Whora, who Tayce moved in with during lockdown, she’s keen to set the record straight. Throughout the season the other queens gossiped about what had or hadn’t happened between them, but “it was all fun”, Tayce says.

“Miss A’Whora loves to run with this story,” she says. “We got together once before we even knew each other, when we met in a club one time, as people do. They made it bigger than it was. I was like, ‘Let me try to deflect it’; she was very much like, ‘Oh, this is camp, let’s go with it!’ I’m down to play up with it. But we’re just very, very, very, very, very good friends. She’s an annoying sister to me.”

Going into the Drag Race UK final, Tayce is trailing Bimini and Lawrence statistically, but doesn’t count anything out (the queens film multiple endings and don’t find out who’s been crowned until the episode airs).

A win wouldn’t be validation to her – she already feels valid enough. “But I think it would really show anybody who was out there back in the day – and I know there was a lot, especially back in Newport – who thought I was too gay, too feminine, too outrageous, too outspoken.

“I’ve had that hustle and drive from day dot to get to where I am now. And it didn’t happen overnight. And there is part of me that thinks well, if any of these other girls lip-synced four times, would they have stayed? I don’t think they would. So there is something to be said in that. If I was to win, I’d be over the moon, but honestly at this point I’m happy, win or lose.”

The Drag Race UK final drops on BBC iPlayer at 7pm.