Deep in the furtherest corner of West London in the suburban district of Ealing was where I first had the pleasure to see the wonderful Mary Mac perform. From hosting RuGirl shows, to cabaret, and to judging naked contestants in a stripping competition (yep, the infamous Porn Idol, ladies and gentleman), Mary Mac can do it all. With her glamorous aesthetic with a dash of Scottish pride, her sharp tongue and show stopping voice, Mary plays a huge role in the London drag scene. I got to chat with Mary, and we discussed her busy schedule, RuGirls and teacakes.
Emily: How long have you been doing drag? How did you first get into it?
Mary: I first performed as Mary Mac just over six years ago as an actor who moved to London who wasn’t working and thought of something that might keep myself entertained. I did it once in a little show I put on myself and kind of fell in love with it immediately!
Emily: Wonderful! You’re originally from Scotland and decided to move down to London, is that the reason why?
Mary: Yes, I’m originally from Glasgow, but I moved down to London after I was in a play that transferred from Scotland to the Hammersmith, and I was there for a month and when I finished that, I just decided not to go home, it was wonderful!
Emily: Could you describe your performance style to people who haven’t seen you perform before?
Mary: Sure, I think Mary Mac’s performance style is very theatrical, she loves a big ballad and she loves to sing her lungs out. She’s very cheeky, but never wants to hurt anyone, but she can be cheeky when she needs to be.
Emily: You’re an amazing singer, were you into theatre before you started doing drag performances?
Mary: Yes, I’m trained in musical theatre. I went to stage school from the age of seven until I was seventeen, so I was brought up singing and dancing.
Emily: Where did the name “Mary Mac” come from?
Mary: Mary Mac is my mother’s name! When we were growing up, I have four brothers and a sister, we hung around with other quite a lot, and we’d be out playing and if we ever met an adult that we knew, they would always say “oh yous are Mary Mac’s kids, aren’t yous”, so that’s how it stuck.
Emily: You have a residency at G-A-Y for Porn Idol every Thursday, could you explain to our American readers what Porn Idol is?
Mary: HAAA! G-A-Y Porn Idol is a competition, a striping competition for people who should probably never take their clothes off in public, but they do. They allow three drag queens, or three judges to judge them on their performance for a cash price. Its fun, it’s outrageous and it gives me a chance to say a lot more than I would normally say in my own show.
Emily: You always have these amazing outfits with a hint of tartan in them. Do you make them yourself?
Mary: No, I’m really lucky, I have an amazing friend called Brett Watkiss, who makes all of costumes, and he only makes for me which is amazing. He designs and makes all of costumes, and also my shoes. Alongside him, with his friend Sapphire Cecil, they also do my hair. So I have a wee little team of the two of them, who do everything. Because other than painting a face, talking and singing, I’m useless at everything else.
Emily: You have a really busy schedule! You always seem to be performing or hosting shows almost every night of the week. Which is your favourite out of those to perform?
Mary: Oh gosh, I am really busy at the moment, and I’m really lucky to be able to go all across the country to perform. So, every city has something different about it, which I love, but I guess I really love hosting the RuPaul girls, because I get to see all sorts of different drag, and how they perform their shows, which is obviously very different from how we do it in the UK. But I would say my Thursday nights are my favourite, because I get to do The Admiral Duncan from 9pm, where I get to do my own show for 2 hours, and then I get to jaunt down the road for Porn Idol, so it’s a mad Thursday night!
Emily: Long night!
Mary: Yeah, but it is fun!
Emily: I saw on your Facebook that you have a show called “Glaswegian Beauty”, could you tell us about this show?
Mary: So two years ago, I decided I wanted to write a one woman musical for Mary Mac and it’s the story of Mary growing up in Glasgow, as the only girl in her family of five and basically her attempt to become a star. She wants to be a West End leading lady, so it’s a story of growing up in Glasgow, and I play her at every age, right up until she’s seventeen and she steps on the Megabus to get to London.
Emily: It sounds amazing! I’ve seen the pictures for it which look like you’re coved in, I could be completely wrong, is it tea cakes?!
Mary: Yes! We did a spoof of the American Beauty poster, and instead of using rose petals, we shot the image with about 400 hundred teacakes.
Emily: Yeah! At first you wouldn’t notice, but if you look closer you can see what they are!
Mary: Yeah, and they were all out of date, which is bizarre, hahah!
Emily: Oh god, like this bulk buy on Amazon or something.
Mary: No, I bulk buy them from Tesco in Soho, I clear their shelves! For a week I kept going back every day.
Emily: I also saw that you do a cabaret night in Southampton once a week, is that correct?
Mary: Yes! Every Sunday I go down to Southampton to a wonderful venue called the London Hotel. I do my own show there for like an hour or so, then I bring on one of the other queens from the UK, which is great cause I just get to stand and enjoy watching their show as well. So I get to see all of my friends performing and sometimes queens I haven’t seen perform as well, so it’s great fun.
Emily: It sounds wonderful! This night is more cabaret as well, isn’t it?
Mary: Yes! Down in Southampton they really like old style cabaret, lots of singing, lots of show tunes and good friendly banter. It’s very different from, I guess the London scene, and it’s certainly different from the Rupaul stuff that I’ve done.
Emily: With the RuPaul nights at West5, who’s been your favourite RuGirl to work with?
Mary: Oh my gosh, it’s so difficult to decide my favourite queens, because every time I see one, I love them a bit more each time I see them and things. Obviously I have a mad fascination and a love/hate relationship with the wonderful Willam, who I adore. Every time he’s over I love to see him and I so enjoy watching the shows, because you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth.
Emily: Aw, I love him too.
Mary: I also love the theatricality and the madness of Jinkx Monsoon. I think she’s just an incredible queen and a real real true talent.
Emily: Would you, or have you ever performed in the US? Would you like to?
Mary: I’ve never performed in the US, I’ve only been to America once and I’d just turned eighteen, so I couldn’t even go out, I couldn’t go to bars in New York, I’d just gone to see a friend. But yes, it’s certainly something I want to do next year, and I’ve spoken to quite a few of the girls, and their happy to get me into places, so hopefully that will come together for next year. I know it might quite different, because a lot of them obviously lip sync, and do it so well, and I sing live, so we shall see how that goes down, and hopefully it’ll all come together!
Emily: So what’s next? Have you got anything planned for the rest of this year or next year?
Mary: So basically, the rest of this year is planned out with lots of gigs, lots of different shows and obviously lots of appearing with the RuPaul girls and then I do a panto every Christmas.
Emily: Ah, you do a panto!
Mary: Yeah! So I kind of disappear for six weeks, but I come back and forth to do a few things in London, but I disappear up to Royal Leamington Spa to do panto. This year I’m doing Jack and the Beanstalk which I’m very excited about!
Emily: Thank you Mary!
Mary: No worries at all! I’ll see you soon!
Check out Mary Mac on her social media: