Our UK Editor Emily Meow sat down (virtually) with RuPaul’s Drag Race UK S1 cast member, Crystal. They discuss the launch of Crystal’s new podcast “The Things That Made Me Queer” and discuss everything from Crystal’s own queer influences to the new cast of RPDR UK S2.
E: Hi Crystal! How has 2021 been treating you?
C: You know what, it’s been absolutely fine. I feel like Lockdown 3 has hit me the hardest of all. My friend recommended that I see this period as an input phase rather than an output phase, so I’m trying to not put too much pressure on myself to be productive or create things or do too much. I’m just taking it easy, watching a lot of TV, reading, letting it all come in and then the output period will come when it comes.
E: Something to look forward to this year is the launch of your new podcast The Things That Made Me Queer. What made you want to launch a podcast?
C: It just felt like the obvious choice to me, I guess the things that I wanted to talk about were very verbal. I could have done it with a video segment but I think I would’ve been adding video for the sake of it and the point of it is the conversation. It’s a medium that I feel familiar and comfortable with and I felt that I could add to that space.
E: The premise of your weekly podcast is you asking your guests about 5 topics that associated with their queer self discovery and expression. Could you tell us about these 5 topics?
C: Yes! So each guest brings a person, a place, a film or TV series, a piece of music and a wild card, so that one can be anything they want. So it’s basically running together lots of different kinds of things that helped shape them. Then they send them to me and I put them in chronological order and then we use them as a jumping off point to talk about their life up until now. It’s like a loose structure.
E: You’ve already had Detox and MNEK on your show, who else have we got to look forward too?
C: I can tell you everyone! We’ve got Shea Coulee and Peaches Christ. Then I’ve got JD Samson who was in the band Le Tigre, if you’re familiar?
E: I love Le Tigre! That’s so exciting.
C: I know, totally gooped by that one. Le Tigre were definitely a part of my queer awakening, I remember being 18 and one of my first gay friends saying “have you heard of this band?” and just feeling like I’d discovered this whole new world and this whole scene. So that was really cool to get JD. I’ve also got Juno Dawson who is an author who maybe you are familiar with?
E: I am, I think they’re also Brighton based.
C: Yeah! She’s great, it’s not her first time at the rodeo when it comes to interviews so she had a lot of really interesting stuff to say.
E: And it’s a weekly series right?
C: Yeah it’s weekly! It’s a short limited first series and it’s important to me that I didn’t just get drag queens and especially not just Drag Race queens because I think the space is pretty full of drag queens talking about drag stuff and I just wanted to kind of open that up a little bit more.
E: You mentioned Madonna riding a giant swan as an example of one of the things that made you queer at the beginning of your first episode. What other pop culture icons helped you discover your queerness?
C: Oh god, so so many! David Bowie would be another huge one when it comes to music influences and just visuals for sure. Things like the X-Men comics in the 90s, I was a huge comic book nerd, I still am. So the way Jim Lee drew the women and the men I was like “ughhh, I wanna be a superhero so bad”. As a kid any time there was a sorcerer or a witch, or I don’t know if Duck Tales was thing in the UK, did you have Duck Tales?
E: No we didn’t, I have heard of it being referenced before though.
C: Duck Tales is a cartoon and there was an evil witch in that, so basically name a witch in media and I was obsessed. More recently bands like Le Tigre, 80’s new wave and early goth stuff like Siouxsie And The Banshees. Blondie, PJ Harvey, Courtney Love, the list goes on and on. At the beginning of every episode I’m gonna share one. Maybe one day I’ll do one where somebody interviews me and I’ll talk about my things.
E: You mention place as one of your topics. You moved from Canada to London, what are some of your favourite queer spaces in the UK? Past or present as I know we’ve unfortunately lost a few amazing venues over the years.
C: I have to shout out the George of Dragons and the Joiners Arms, they were responsible for a lot of good and bad decisions when I first moved to London. It was this iconic bar crawl that you could do on Hackney Road where you’d go to the George of Dragon which was open until midnight then you’d wander down the road to the Joiners Arms and stay there until 3am. I lived just a few doors down from that so I would roll home at 3am and be up for work the next morning. It was such a time of self discovery for me but now they’ve gone. We’ve now got The Glory and Dalston Superstore and seeing the rebirth of queer raves has been really fun, so places like Adonis or Chapter 10 which are nights that are really special. And of course Bethnal Green Working Mens Club where I do my shows, it’s an iconic space. They’ve been such a nurturing space for me and my drag career and they’re not specifically a gay venue but we’re basically turning them that way.
E: I loved your runway looks in S1 of RPDR UK, especially your Off To The Races look. Who are your favourite fashion designers that influence your queer self expression?
C: Excellent question! It’s probably to cliche to say Mugler but I’m just obsessed with his vision of femininity. To be honest with you I haven’t really been a slave to fashion designers and it wasn’t something I was hugely interested in as a kid even though I ended up doing a degree in costume design. I kind of ended up following that route but it’s something that I discovered later in life. I tend to focus on characters and music artists and kind of followed from that.
E: Are you enjoying the second season of RPDR UK? Who are you rooting for?
C: Oh my god, I love it so much. It’s just so much fun watching my friends make really fun TV. I’m having such a blast watching it. I’m mates with Bimini, Tayce, Asttina and Joe Black. They’re the ones that I have to stan the hardest but I can’t pick anyone because it wouldn’t be fair. I think the cast is really really strong and I’m just glad I don’t have to go up against them.
E: When it first was announced I wasn’t sure how it would go down, but it’s such a good cast isn’t it!
C: They’re all so kooky. I think our season was pretty kooky but these guys are just like a weird bunch of creatures that are all a different Muppet character. I just love it! It feels like they’ve taken it on from S1, I was worried that the BBC would just try and replicate and have the same kind of characters to fill the same shoes. Like “oh it worked once let’s get the same kind of people in” but it feels like a different cast and I really enjoy that. It has a different energy.
E: Anything else you’d like to plug?
C: I’m on Cameo!
E: Thank you so much for talking to us! We really look forward to tuning into your podcast!
C: Thank you so much!
Check out Crystal’s new podcast “The Things That Made Queer” on Apple Music and Spotify. Make sure you keep up to date with Crystal on her Instagram and Twitter as well as booking her for a video message on Cameo! The Things That Made Me Queer podcast is produced Emmy-winning media company World of Wonder.