I returned to the Powder Room, one of Brighton’s best drag nights, to talk to the girls of the House of Grand Parade, Lydia L’Scabies, Rococo Chanel and Crystal Lubrikunt. It was the night of Max’s headline show, and the trio performed a dazzling group number; then in turn performed as Little Red, with an Into The Woods number (complete with bread basket), a street urchin (seriously, search this one up, it’s must see) and a lipsync spectacular . I spoke to them before the show and we discussed the differences between UK and American drag, complete with tipping theories!
Emily: Where did the “House of Grand Parade” originate?
Lydia: We met at University, I overheard those two talking about Paris is Burning, and I thought “oooh, common interest.” We all expressed a want to do drag differently, we all had our own critiques and knowledge on it, and how we wanted to do things. Originally I had this night – it was going to be a platform for people on our (university) course to show their work – then it ended up being us three putting on this fucked up drag night with baggies of sugar hanging from the ceiling and racked up lines of glitter on mirrors. We called it “Drag Disgrace” which was sort of a double entendre of “Drag Race” which was going on at the time. We thought “nah, this isn’t going to be clean at all, this is going to be filth.” So yeah at the end of it, it birthed us three like “this is really cool, let’s do stuff.”
Are the “Powder Room” nights with the Ru Girls different to your shows with local queens?
Lydia: Absolutely, obviously people are attracted to see the headliner, but I’d say we do have a bit of a following. Our own nights seem to attract different people, we’re quite student-y with our crowd, keep it accessible; whereas here (The Powder Room) it’s like a name, so tickets are bigger.
Do you think RuPauls’ Drag Race has impacted UK drag?
Rococo: Yes absolutely, I think having the exposure of Drag Race, having the kind of visibility of American queens shows the diversity of what’s going on. I used to have a bit of a stigma against drag, because I thought the only thing that was going on was the kind of northern sequin man. It’s opened a lot of doors and showed there is a lot of versatility in the community.
If UK Drag Race happening, do you think it would differ greatly to the US version?
Rococo: I’ve heard rumours that they were going to do it with a live audience, like an elimination sort of thing, like X-Factor or whatever. I think that would be pretty terrible. I hope that they use the same format as the US show.
How do HOGP as a trio differ from the AAA Girls, and Haus of Edwards? Do your performances differ from theirs?
Crystal: We started HOGP to support alternative theatre colliding with the drag stereotype, so the westernized style of drag, colliding with the dark cabaret alternative theatre side of things. Slowly but surely, the alternative drag took over the UK, you see it with the “Family Fierce,” you see it with the “Family Gorgeous” in Manchester. We’ve all sort of turned alternative drag performance into commercial drag performance in the UK. That’s why when a lot of western performers like Michelle Visage come over, she always discusses how UK drag is very “gender fuck.” It’s all about the performance, we can command an audience, there’s always something going on because we don’t have that sort of tipping scenario that happens in America, here we make sure we command the audience.
Lydia: Theatrically motivate.
Crystal: That’s a great way of putting it. I think one thing that I love to make sure we’re doing is not only presenting a great performance, but a great chemistry on stage between us. We are these sisters, twisted sisters, but not only that we are best friends.
Crystal: Yes, Twisters!
Ro: We’re always telling a story, we don’t just go on and do a song.
Emily: Yes, you do find that American queens’ performances differ to those of UK queens. You find a lot of UK queens perform a mashup of spoken word and song in their acts. Why do you think a lot of American queens don’t do that?
Crystal: I think it’s down to tipping. The fact that they have tips, when there’s a gap between the verse and the chorus, they can go get some money. Whereas we don’t have that.
Lydia: Every single second counts.
Crystal: If we’re doing a group performance, we can’t be like “let’s all walk around,” its like, “no, we have to get something done at this point.” I think there are very major differences between the Western and the UK style of drag.
What have you got planned for the future?
Ro: I’m also co-director of Bad Habit Theatre, and we’re touring China Doll, a new opera in full seasons at the moment, which is the new opera that I’ve written and we’ve been shortlisted for Les Enfants Terribles award. We were offered a place for the run at Edinburgh Fringe that’s what we’re planning for right now.
Lydia: We’ve never hosted our own Pride party before, and this year with special thanks to The Funky Fish Club we’ve been given the opportunity! We’re selling it as a pre-Pride warm up show and party to initiate celebrations for the Saturday (we’re going to die) and we have a smoking hot line-up of old favourites and newbies (including Ginger Johnson, Cherry Liquor, Alfie Ordinary, Coco Deville and Aurora Galore) at HOGP! We’ll be doing our normal show format with a MINE after party so dressing and behaving audaciously is essential!
Get tickets to Priday here!
Catch HOGP at The Powder Room @ Revenge Brighton on Monday 3rd of August, where they’ll be warming up the crowd for KATYA!
Grab tickets for the almost sold out show here!