GURL: It feels strange to ask since you host our podcast, but could you give us a little introduction to yourself?
Velvet: Oh GURL, a regular read of the lates- oh an introduction to me? Well, that’s a little less well rehearsed… I’m a North East UK drag queen that got my proper start back in Drag Idol 2019 but I’d been doing drag looks and helping with other people’s performances a few months before that. I’m mostly known for being a bald comedy genderfuck queen with desirable oral skills (more “diction” than just “dick” sadly) so if you’ve been following Drag Idol or other local shows since 2019 you’ve probably heard voice-overs or track edits done by me for other performers.
GURL: When and what inspired you to begin your drag journey?
Velvet: Going bald. When I began going bald after years of having crazy long hair it broke me a little bit and when I finally bit the bullet and shaved my head I had to find ways to embrace these new cards I’d been played. I’d met Sam aka fabulous local queen Momma Tina Coladas at a party a few months prior and because we were all drunk we thought it would be fun if she did make up on us. We all kinda remarked at how I suited it and I immediately started falling into this bizarre character. Having seen and already fallen in love with Sasha Velour on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, who along with Leigh Bowery, was probably the first bald queen I’d seen, I knew that it was possible to do drag without wigs and embrace the new me.
GURL: It’s so unusual picturing you with your long hair these days, you’ve been a beautiful bald lady for so long now. You’ve got some great inspirations though and we love that you went for a route of drag that explores a less common side of the art form.
GURL: Didn’t you enter multiple local competitions almost immediately – what was that like?
Velvet: Yes! The first time I was ever “on stage” was the final of Baron LaVey’s Vamp As Tits 2018 competition being a backing dancer of sorts for Tina Coladas. It was a bit weird as in the judge’s critiques of the performance they were all a bit “who’s that?” about me which was kinda flattering. The first time I was properly on stage doing my own thing and performing for myself was week 1 of Drag Idol 2019 and I got all the way to the semi-finals. It was very stressful if I’m honest as (for people that don’t know the competition) each week you get given a theme for the performance you need to do next, then you have a week to work out a track, edit the track, get an outfit, props, extras organised, and all rehearsed ready for the performance on the following Sunday night. I was working full-time and still kinda finding my feet with doing drag so it was very stressful. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without the help of Team Penni (which that year consisted of fellow contestants Tina, Cher Noble, Choriza May, King Kitt, and competition judge Penni Tration) and the incredible help of drag legend Megan M’Dei who basically gave me feedback on my ideas and even made props for me as well as all the performance advice you’d expect from an experienced drag mother, I couldn’t have done it without her.
I didn’t get to the final which kinda irks me now as I think my planned performance idea would’ve blown people away, but at the time I remember sighing with relief when they called it for me and fellow contestant Risqué as I was already so exhausted and the idea of having only a fortnight to design and edit projector screen backdrops, organise and rehearse with backing dancers, create two full performances and get the appropriate outfits made, and get my lipsync tight while still having to go to work each day was something that might have killed me! What Chozza pulled off that night in addition to her performance throughout the competition was nothing short of miraculous.
GURL: What has been your favourite thing about doing drag so far?
Velvet: Three things really stick out to me. Obviously getting to do the GURL podcast and meet and chat to so many amazing guests and form our little friendship group amongst the hosts is in there.
The second is being able to perform at Lindisfarne Folk Festival in 2019, where a group of us put together by Latrine Lurka of Drag Idol 2018 fame literally camped in a field and got to perform in a big tent to baffled folk music fans – and they LOVED us, it was so crazy. Also Choriza May will probably never forgive me for that weekend but you’d need to ask her about that one!
The third thing was pretty early on, like a few weeks after Idol had finished, where I got invited to a youth group to talk about LGBT issues and it was really eye-opening for me, like seeing these early teens questioning and still finding themselves, and them getting to ask me anything they wanted felt great for me but also made me realise how different it is growing up LGBT+ now than when I was a kid. Hopefully I didn’t give them all terrible advice!
GURL: It’s great to see how many fabulous opportunities you’ve had so far and we can only imagine there will many more to come in the future. We’re totally jealous that you got to do such a unique festival and bring the queer culture to people that get very little chance to experience it. It’s always important to educate and entertain….and to pose by a field.
GURL: You’ve also created a sister character of Velcro, did you plan this from the start?
Velvet: Bizarrely yes, from my earliest appearances as Velvet I’d mentioned my sister (who’s a bit more abrasive) so it was always planned to have a second persona. In my head she was a brattier and more punk character to rival Velvet’s very controlled wit and wink-to-the-side style of performance. When I decided to enter Vamp As Tits 2019 and to do it as Velcro she got fleshed out very quickly and became this different thing, she’s still the angry, punk character I’d planned, but the monochrome horror makeup and unhinged mute aspect of her were kinda guided by what I expected the competition to want. The fact she’s now probably more popular than Velvet is equal parts scary and hilarious. There’s more characters coming and they’re all to fit different styles of performance, the newest is Candy Snatch who is essentially just my way of embracing a more surreal and stupid Kenny Everett style of comedy that never sat quite right with Velvet or Velcro.
GURL: It goes without saying that we’re big fans of Velcro, especially when she’s getting up to some mischief and making us question our sanity. Oh and that Candy Snatch? Well we’ve heard she’s a right tart with a heart!
GURL: So let’s talk about the mini series “At home with Velvet and Velcro” you’ve made following both sisters – how did that come about?
Velvet: I was always planning to do a “TV” sketch comedy series, I’d had plans since the end of Idol but since everything was just a blur of performances and things for 2019 everything got relegated to random notes and gag ideas on my phone. When the 2020 pandemic struck and we suddenly had a lot more time to do things I thought it was the perfect time to start doing a show but obviously it was just me and I wasn’t permitted to have anyone else in my home so like 99% of my sketch ideas became impossible. Comedy queen Gladys Duffy then asked me to take part in a pilot episode for a show she was wanting to do called “Gladyators” and gave each contestant the challenge of recording a performance with certain beats to hit, for that I created a daytime TV show kinda thing, quickly learned how to film and edit video and that was kinda that. Gladyators didn’t get continued for a full season but I took what I’d done and expanded it into At Home With Velvet (& Velcro).
GURL: Which is your favourite episode so far?
Velvet: Probably Gardening. It shows both Velvet and Velcro as their respective archetypes: Velvet as this floppy hat, upper class twit in the garden, and Velcro as this perpetual fish-out-of-water nutter with a mouth full of feathers and blood. It was also the first episode where I didn’t censor my ideas as before I’d always gone “oh no that’s too stupid” or “people won’t find that funny”, Gardening was where I just decided to roll with it and do what I felt only I’d find funny. The record gag, the lawnmower sequence, Mr Tibbles etc still make me giggle like the dumb child I am.
GURL: It’s definitely one of the somehow more ridiculous episodes that’s for sure, but with that comes a whole bunch of giggles and an absolute craving for the next episode. Honestly, some days we get home from work and we just need a bit of stupidity in our lives so the whole series is perfect.
GURL: If you could have anyone guest star for an episode, who would be first choice?
Velvet: There’s a few people I really want to get on for the second series when things open up a bit but even if I could have ANYONE in the universe, the person that keeps sticking in my head is Middlesbrough based queen Dita Von Teeside, we’ve only worked together a few times so far but she’s got that kind of unintentional hilariousness that brightens up everything she’s involved in. Like you could ask her to walk on stage and just pick up a jug of water and she’d somehow make it the funniest thing of the night. For someone like me that gets a bit rigid with characters and scripts it’s exactly what you learn to admire.
GURL: Which episode of GURL podcast did you enjoy recording most?
Velvet: I really don’t know, we’ve been really lucky that we haven’t really had a “well that was a car crash” episode yet, except maybe the one with Plop but we were all drunk by the end and it just made the chaos of it even funnier. Since people have been getting into the podcast from Season 2 now and then going back to the earlier episodes after, I’ve been getting lots of messages talking about how funny stuff like our video games episode with Faux King Dik was, or the aforementioned Plop one is etc, but I think my favourite so far is actually the episode with James Mac from Season 2, he was so charismatic and funny and basically carried the whole show, as hosts we had very little work to do except sit and laugh along and I’m totally fine with that!
GURL: There have been so many amazing episodes let’s be honest, certainly a lot of chaos but plenty of laughter and a whole bunch of interesting stories too. Here’s a little bit of season two:
GURL: Other than fisting, what’s your favourite non-drag hobby?
Velvet: Hahaha well I’m an avid collector and player of Warhammer which is a tabletop miniatures game by Games Workshop. I play both Warhammer Fantasy Battles and the futuristic Warhammer 40,000 and have an unhealthy number of models that I’ve put together and painted myself. For someone like me who’s very cerebral and finds it hard to ever switch off, it’s so good to be able to relax, stop thinking, and paint these little plastic figures.
GURL: What are your aspirations for the future?
Velvet: I’ve kinda got a bucket list for drag. I’m not someone that wants to do it as a full-time career as I think it’d be tough to maintain the creativity and energy that you’d need, but I do want to do a full big stage performance sometime to demonstrate what I can do, I’d love to host a radio show, maybe do a monthly cabaret night where I can let other queens perform and show themselves off etc. One thing I really want to do is to go on a tour of sorts where I go round the country to physically meet all the amazing performers that I’ve connected with over the course of lockdown and hang out with them, do a show with them at one of their local venues, and maybe make the experience into a new video series.
GURL: We’re very excited to see what you get up too moving forward, certainly hosting a radio show would be right up your alley (as long as you don’t bring up fisting too much). You already know we’ll be coming on a little tour with you so we’ll see you there!
GURL: Give us 4 of your local faves to promote as an end to the interview?
Velvet: I’m not gonna mention any of the performers I already have as you should totally check them all out anyway. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention drag king Rex Uranus who is one of the cleverest, funniest, and most unhinged performers I’ve ever met; Sally Trademark who despite being really young exerts more style and professionalism than I think she realises she has; naturally drag queen and winner of Vamp As Tits 2019, Ivy who just keeps evolving and becoming ever more brilliant by the second; and lastly Orla Diss who is one of the funniest and most talented queens I know and frustratingly gets overlooked far too often, she’s a bilingual, multiple instrument musician, that makes all her own outfits, and has a knack for comedy, she should be on every stage there is going.
GURL: Suppose we can get behind this lot since we know them all personally and they’ve got a whole bunch of that talent thing that everyone talks about!
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