Le Fil barelled into the Drag Race UK competition this year determined to shake up the system and bring a brand new perspective on gender entirely. With an emphasis on the art of drag and stunning runway looks, Le Fil has departed the competition, but with a brand new EP and a mission to showcase the gender spectrum and her own artistry, plan to see much more of this UK superstar. I caught up with Le Fil post-elimination to chat about her Drag Race UK run, her new EP, and why it was crucial for her to shatter the gender spectrum that many subscribe to.
Michael Cook: While your Drag Race UK journey has ended, your lip sync to the Spice Girls anthem Stop is now legendary. You had the girls doing the full choreography behind you as you both battled it out!
Le Fil: I love Stop! Stop is the most pure, joyful song. I did the choreo a little bit in the beginning also, but then I started twisting the narrative and doing different bits, emptying my shoes of the leaves and grass, all of it!
MC: Tell me about your Drag Race UK journey as a whole.
LF: It has been a wild journey, I liken it to a roller coaster. You go to the theme park, you know about it, you think “this is what it looks like”, then there are all of these twists and turns. For me, all I wanted to do was to be able to go on and to show things that I was good at. The music challenge I really loved, design stuff, Ru-sicals, I really just wanted to show off my artistry and bring that to everyone. That is what I wanted to do and to have a good time.
I never wanted to feel like I had regrets or there were things that I could do better, because at the moment, I could only do what I could do. It was the same with the Snatch Game. Each of the runways has been a special part of my heart and a part of my story. To be able to share that with people and to show off different elements of my humor has been such a nice part of it, to be able to give my art to the world!
MC: It was incredibly refreshing to have a contestant on Drag Race who had their own distinct gender perspective who in turn, showcased that to the viewers as well. Did you want to make sure you showed that to the viewers as well?
LF: I did and in fact, I think it is so important to talk about. Growing up, I was always misgendered. There are lots of ways of being a man, and just because I paint I am any less of a man? I deserve to be in those men’s rooms, peeing at a urinal if I want to, to reshape what someone else’s daily experience of gender and to increase visibility. I don’t think people see enough so they have a restrictive idea of what gender is. I say “no smash that”! If you maintain a stereotype, then by default the other stereotypes stay existing as well. If you want equality, you have to smash it across the board. I will grow my hair, cry if I want to, and I am still a man!
MC: Other queens from across the Drag Race franchise have spoken with me about their experiences growing up in the Asian culture and how masculinity was strictly defined. You are showing from your own perspective, that Asian kids everywhere can be anything that they want.
LF: Thank you. Yes, growing up there were very rigid ideas of what it was. Already at five, I knew I was gay. I would ask “why is that rule there, why can’t I play with that”. More and more, there were rules about the hair I could have or the trousers that I had to wear, those rules as a queer kid you start questioning a lot more. It’s like The Matrix, you can choose the pills and once you see the gender constrictions in your day to day lives, you see just how fake they are and you want to dismantle them.
MC: Some of what makes Drag Race UK so amazing is that the competition mixes in fresh new names in drag with veteran U.K. queens. What was that like as part of the competition?
LF: It is so daunting, when we go in on the first day it’s like “okay well we’ve watched them on tv”, so there is already that power dynamic at play there. What is interesting about the show though is that it all depends on the challenges. Each week, there is a different set of challenges and you might show a different strength. Each gets to showcase a different thing, which I think is really good so we are all on relatively even footing I think; and then things happen (laughs)!
MC: What do you think your rose and thorn both are from your Drag Race UK experience?
LF: My rose is definitely being able to platform our stories and share our arts. That is all I ever wanted to do, was to have a platform and a window for me to see you and for you to see me; I wanted to connect with people. I’ve been making work for so many years and I love to be able to share that with everyone and that has been such a blessing. I think the thorn has been the lack of sleep! Like with anything being filmed though, there are time constraints. It does teach you though, to be decisive about everything , not even on the show but prior to the show. You only have a certain amount of time to prepare for the show so you can’t dilly-dally so you have to be really decisive about what you want to say and what you want to do.Luckily for me, because I have had an art background, I automatically saw and am drawn to certain concepts that I want to talk about, so that was the easy part. The timing of trying to get everything done though, is crazy!
MC: When did you know that drag was going to be much more than a hobby or a passing fancy and was going to be your career and passion?
LF: For me, drag has always been about art. It has never been about impersonating women, it was always about the amplification of an authentic self. As an art form, I’ve explored music and gender, how do I push that and make that bigger and bolder? Drag just gradually began to overlap with the stuff that I was working on in terms of gender expression, gender identity and art, so it all just combined; it really was a natural progression. The moment I started growing my hair out of rebellion, I knew there were different roles and conversations to be had, so it was natural. There are always discussions on what is and isn’t a drag queen, which I love…break all the rules!
MC: Are the rumors of music coming from Le Fil true?
LF: Yes! I have released my EP called LE FILOSOPHICAL and all of the songs were inspired by the runways. Each runway I’ve written a whole new song and I’ve teased a bit on socials, but now the songs are out as full length songs! The lead single is called This Is My Culture and it’s dedicated to my queer fam, my Asian fam, my creative family and all the new fans and support that I’ve had recently. As a queen on Drag Race, you need help you cannot do it my yourself. Photographers, designers, someone supplying nails or eyelashes, everyone is helping us out and I wanted to pay respect and homage to that and the song is a dedication to them. It takes a village to raise a queen!
MC: RuPaul typically says that drag doesn’t hide who you are, it reveals who you are. What do you think your drag reveals about you?
LF: That I am unashamedly me and authentic to me. I never played it to the cameras and I always wanted to be purely me and enjoy myself. Throughout all of the challenges and the critiques that were thrown out me, I wanted to maintain my sense of optimism and keep on going the way that I would do it and not change. Did it have to please someone-no. I wanted to stay true to myself and I think that was the real challenge for me.
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