On May 30th, just before Brighton’s 2018 Fringe Festival drew to a close, the Spiegeltent was blessed with it’s first ever pageant, the “BRIGHTON BIG DRAG PAGEANT”. The sold out show was hosted by local drag prince, the fabulous Alfie Ordinary and judged by a panel of diverse cabaret and drag show haunters, starring Julian Caddy (managing director of Brighton Fringe), Kathy Caton (LGBTQ radio host), Dolly Rocket (cabaret legend) and Rubyyy Jones (queerlesque queen). The entire night was completely electric, with three rounds and a final lipsync. The twenty two entrants ranged from drag queens, kings, burlesque performers and everyone in-between. The first round was a runway, category: Best Drag. The runway was graced with everything from Disney glamour to gothic glam, banana reveals to Bowie and clown chic to fembot fantasy (complete with sparkler machine gun tits). The twenty two entrants were then narrowed down to a top ten, leading us to the next round; talent!
The top ten contestants (Count Addiction, David Klowie, Fruit, HERR, Lydia L’Scabies, Nosferatu, Rococo Chanel, Smashlyn Monroe, Violet Valentine and Zayn Phallic) then wowed the packed out Spiegeltent with an array of diverse and unique talents. This round really allowed the contestants to show to the judges and audience exactly who they are and what their drag embodies. After ballet, bananas, boom boxes and ballon animals, the talent round was drawn to close, with a final five (Fruit, Lydia L’Scabies, Nosferatu, Smashlyn Monroe and Zayn Phallic) making it through to the next round.
The next round saw the question and answer portion of the pageant. Quick wit and hearts of gold were exposed, allowing a more personal side to the incredible spectacle the contestants had put on that night. The top two (Nosferatu and Smashlyn Monroe) were then chosen to compete in two final lipsync’s, one each of their choice. After two spine tingling performances, the winner was crowned. Arran Shurvinton’s Nosferatu was crowed the winner of the first Brighton’s Big Drag Pageant, and presented with a light up crown (courtesy of Bam Hatter), a cash prize and a further incredible range of prizes.
Here’s a look book I complied (with help from my gorgeous photographer Jack Ball) of the stunning looks the contestants and judges brought to the Spiegeltent:
Your host for the evening, Alfie Ordinary! Local award winning drag prince Alfie was there to guide us through the evening, as fabulous and sparkly as ever.
Dolly Rocket, local cabaret legend was on the judging panel.
King of Cabaret, Joe Black made an appearance to perform with host Alfie Ordinary with a camp rendition of “Spice Up Your Life”.
Canadian Queen of Queerlesque, Rubyyy Jones popped down from London to be on the judging panel.
Anchovy, Under the Sea, “Are you ready to witness the shitness”?
“I entered this competition because I didn’t believe a silly thing like a lack of talent should stand in the way of my dreams”.
“Drag to me is a right pain in the fucking arse”.
Cilly Black, Chichester, “I was there”.
“I entered the competition to be a part of this fabulous celebration of everything the South Coast has to offer drag”.
“Drag to me is the ritual summoning of everything about me that shouldn’t be brought to light”.
Count Addiction, Brighton, “The drag ghoul of Brighton”.
I entered this competition to show just how sickening and disgusting I am”.
“Drag to me is whatever the fuck I want it to be”.
Daphne The 10 Year Old
“Daphne The 10 Year Old, Uncle Steve’s Basement, “I would do anything for a Yazoo”.
“I entered the pageant to have an opportunity to show off and be obnoxious and normally I do that at the local Tesco Metro, so I thought I’d do it on stage”.
“Drag to me is looking shit and making out that you look amazing until everyone buys it”.
(Not available for comment).
Dick Day, Brighton “She’s wacky, she’s tacky, she sometimes wears a nappy”.
“I entered the competition because I love doing drag and I’m my best self when I’m performing on stage, no matter where I am, no matter what I’m wearing, I feel alive”.
“Drag is being the silliest version of myself when I can’t be walking down the street when I’m going to work”.
Fruit, Brighton, “Do you like bananas”?
“I entered the competition to challenge myself in terms of confidence. I’m autistic, so it’s difficult for me to be around a lot of people at once, so it’s a bit of a challenge in that way”.
“Drag for me is about making people think and whether that’s thinking “yes I’ve had an amazing time” or “I’ve laughed so much I’ve wet myself” to whether it’s political or emotional for them, it’s there to challenge what people think about life”.
Fuchsia Von Steel
Fuchsia Von Steele, Brighton, “Brighton’s Secret Society Socialite”.
“I entered the drag pageant to have fun with other drag queens and win something along the way”.
“Drag is creativity, it’s self expression and drag is having fun. Drag is doing stuff in the community and making a difference”.
Glamazon Prime, Brighton, “Subscribe today for only £69”.
“I entered to have fun and explore new talents”.
“Drag to me is expression, having a good time and exploring gender”
HERR, London, “I am a pioneer for education in the drag scene”.
“I’ve never entered a pageant before, I don’t think there’s even been one in England before, to my knowledge or in recent times, so I thought I’d give it a go”.
“Drag is fun, drag is an escape and just a chance to be silly to me. I want people to forget or the worries of the world and have a good night”.
Lydia L’Scabies, Brighton, “I put the fun gal in fungal infection”.
“I entered this competition because it’s down the road and I didn’t have a gig that night”.
“Drag is transformative performance of your inner most beautiful or yucky expression”.
Miss Disney, Brighton, “Never ever underestimate your own abilities”.
“I entered the pageant because everyone needs a bit of Disney in drag and I am THE Disney of drag”.
“Drag is letting yourself go, being free, chasing the wind and having a fabulous time with glitter”.
Mr Wesley Dykes
Mr Wesley Dykes.
(Not available for comment).
Nosferatu, Brighton, awkward pause.
Pickle Mixxx, Worthing, “Pickles are friends, not food”.
“I entered this pageant to build my confidence in drag but also to have a laugh, a bit of fun, get to know a few more queens”.
“Drag to me is expression, it’s silliness, it’s having fun”.
Rococo Chanel, Brighton, “I am the queen of muscovies, my face is made from the finest Indian rubber”.
“I entered the competition to be part of what I believe to be Brighton’s first showcase of all the local drag, bringing all kinds of subcultures together and I’m very excited”.
“Drag to me is a way that we can all express ourselves however we’d like to. It’s a form of self expression and for me it’s a great avenue for character work”.
Sebastian Marmite, Brighton, “I work 9 to 5 in a shop, but I’m still reaching for the stars”.
“I entered to have the opportunity to sing at the Spiegeltent”.
“Drag is trying to see beyond the mundane and trying to find a more meaningful and free life”.
(Not available for comment).
Violet Blaze, Brighton, “People call me the ultimate SASS, which stands for Shimmying Arse Shaking Siren”.
“I entered this competition because I am very confident when it comes to burlesque and recently I’ve been fusing drag elements into my burlesque, particularly lipsyncing. I’m such a big fan of it all and I just thought “go for it””.
“Drag to me is a fusion of all things creative”.
Violet Valentine, Brighton, “Yes, I am a drag queen but I also identify as a mess”.
“I entered the competition to showcase what I can do and show how burlesque and drag can be combined”.
“Drag is an expression using gender, owning the stage and being unapologetic”.
Wonda Starr, military brat from all over the place, “I’m an international celebrity and notorious exaggerator”.
“I entered the competition to win”.
“Drag to me is playing with gender and having fun. To me, it’s entertainment and a good old laugh. It’s political and about having a good time”.
Zayn Phallic, London, “Drag king with a heart and hard on of gold”.
“I heard that there weren’t many people of colour in the competition and wanted to make sure we were fairly represented”.
“Drag is about getting to choose who you are with the world and getting to share that connection”.
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