With Leeds Pride fast approaching, it's time to 'read for filth'
An art form championed during Pride month and beyond, drag is more popular than ever, beamed into even some of the most conservative households thanks to the runaway success of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.
We’re in the midst of a slow but sure path to acceptance of Queens and Kings using make-up, clothing and performance to experiment with gender in a way that can be political, escapist, outrageous and everything in between.
Within our city, the drag community is alive and well with a huge selection of fierce performers who can death drop, lip-sync and 'read for filth' with the best of ‘em. With Leeds Pride fast approaching (Sunday 5 August), here are seven of our favourite acts worth snapping your fingers for.
CAL THE CLOWN
Where: various venues
A frequenter of Call Lane, Cal the Clown is the very definition of a triple threat Queen. Found compèring, singing and displaying her own unique way with lurid Klub Kid cosmetics, Cal is part of the team behind 'Age of The', an innovative drag night that is easily amongst Leeds’ most eclectic; taking in themed nights, comedy roasts and new event ‘Age Of The Virgin’, which encourages a safe space for new drag acts to test their performances, with specific emphasis on inclusion for POC. If you like Paris Hilton, whip-smart smutty jokes and high-kicking choreography, Cal’s the one.
THE OTHER GISELE
Where: various venues in Leeds and Manchester
A different kind of leggy supermodel, The Other Gisele is pure class. Splitting time between the UK and Ibiza, Gisele is known for aerial performances and serious character embodiment; with looks inspired by Beyoncé, widowed queens and, the pinnacle of any night out, a late-night McDonald’s trip. Filthy gorgeous.
🍟🍔Supersize Me 🍔🍟 Mine and @aleexjb @mcdonalds inspired fast food looks for @filthygorgeousmcr last night. #dragqueen #draguk #ukdrag #canalstreet #gaymanchester #kikimanchester #moschino #mcdonalds #cosplay #costume #creativelife #imlovinit #fastfood #fastfoodcostume #happymeal #pokemon #freedood #freeburgers
Where: Viaduct Showbar
A staple of Viaduct Showbar, Iva Bouquet delivers old school classic drag, with hair that couldn’t be closer to God and a make-up bag you’ll want to steal bits from. Aside from her showgirl pieces, her Halloween looks are also to die for, championing optical illusions that will leave no question of drag as an art form.
THE WITCH BLAIR
Where: various venues
The library is open, and The Witch Blair is ready to read. With a tongue as black as her heart, this is no Queen you want to get on the wrong side of, but if you like your drag acts with a hefty dose of dark comedy, you’re likely to be a fan, especially if she busts out her Theresa May single. Winner of Queen Bee Leeds 2017, Blair is also one of Leeds' hardest workers, popping up at events all over the city and beyond.
Some amazing snaps from when I had the honour to host “A Night of Wonder” created by the amazing @mayasherp Such a fabulous night and cannot wait to see what the next one brings! #dragqueen #gay #lgbtqia #lgbt #ukdrag #draguk #gayuk #ukgay #queer #comedyqueen #dragqueensofinstagram #instagay #instadrag #gaysofinstagram #gaywitch #dragmakeup #draghair #campqueen #drag #comedian #thewitchblair #standupcomedy #standupcomedian #leedsgay #gayleeds #witch
A post shared by The Witch Blair 🏳️🌈👻🎃👻🏳️🌈 (@the_witch_blair) on
Where: Age of The
A prima donna girl just trying to fit in the world…let Orla Pleasures take you on a journey of sensual seduction with a high octane, lingerie-lounging show. Purveyor of all things pink and gorgeous, there is something about her show that is truly mesmerising - and it’s not just the super-hold of all that glitter eye shadow.
DONE!!! FINISHED MY FINAL PIECE FOR MY DEGREE YAAAY!! here’s a shot of our final video as a teaser for you all. 8th June at @leedsartsuni for the full thing 💖🎀💖🎀💖 Thank you so much to my only photographer @ezzawillphotography 💖💖💖💖 . . . . . . #drag #performance #liveart #slag #slut #whore #hunni #camgirl #blonde #performanceart #leedsartsuniversity #degreeshow #makeup #exhibition
A post shared by ORLA PLEASURES (@orlapleasuresxo) on
You can never be quite sure what look up-and-comer Tayris will be rocking - but it's bound to be unashamedly kitsch. Experimenting with bold lines and pop-culture references, she is definitely one for fans of Ru Paul legends Kim Chi, Asia O’Hara or Bob The Drag Queen.
Named after everyone’s favourite budget tipple, Blossom Hill is a queen after our own, high-percentage loving hearts. Along with her drag sister Echo Falls, you can see her batting those killer eyelashes at Tunnel’s regular ‘Werk’ night, with a wardrobe to inspire anybody’s Saturday night get-up.
Our drag event picks
Werk | Weekly
Taking place at Tunnel every Monday, Werk is the best night to sissy that walk; with £2 drinks, £2 entry and opening hours 'til 4am.
Love Muscle X Age of the Virgin | Saturday 4 August
A collaboration between LGBT stalwarts Love Muscle and newcomers Age of The, …Virgin is an opportunity for those new to drag to perform in a low-key supportive setting, with free entry to all.
An Evening with Alaska | Saturday 25 August
Head to the O2 Academy to see Drag Race: All Stars winner Alaska in all her one-woman-show glory. Strictly 14+, VIP packages have already sold out, but standing tickets are still available for less than £30.
Queen Bee | Monday 3 December
The date to define Leeds drag Calendar, this year’s Queen Bee will be crowned at Queens Hotel (where else?) in an extravaganza to end them all.
Main image: Blossom Hill, Josh Wilde Photo