On Sunday 3 November, from 6.30pm the cabaret legend that is Ceri Dupree gives a rare London performance in the Club Bar at The Two Brewers. Ceri’s shows take the art of drag to another level, packed with amazing impersonations, fantastic songs and big laughs. Dave Cross had a catch up with Ceri to find out more.
For those who have never seen you perform, how would you describe a Ceri Dupree show?
You certainly get your money’s worth. Someone once said that my shows were ‘Champagne and caviar at beer and chip prices’ and I quite like that. As my accountant will tell you, I spend far too much money on my costumes, but I’ve always tried to do the very biggest and best I can. My show is filled with a selection of amazing women, from Cher, Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Dolly Parton, Dorothy Squires to Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga and even Camilla Parker Bowles.
So it’s not only music acts?
There’s a lot of comedy, I love to pay tribute to great musical performers, I do Edith Piaf for example, but also I look for the comedy in the acts, it’s all very tongue in cheek.
What is it that attracts you to an act to include in your show?
There has to be something that I can work with, their voice, their mannerisms etc. Acts like Cher, Dolly Parton and Shirley Bassey are a dream, there’s so much I can use and exaggerate. There have been some acts, acts I really love, like Kylie, I adore her, she’s a doll, but I couldn’t find anything funny, she’s nice but not funny, there’s nothing really to make work in my act. And of course some acts I do for a while, but then people don’t really know them anymore, so I drop them and add new ones.
When did you first realise you could make people laugh with your impressions?
I know it’s a cliché, but it was at school doing the teachers. I remember one teacher had heard someone did an impression of her and asked the whole class who the comedian was? I had to own up, she wasn’t surprised it was me and she made me do it and was actually OK about it and laughed, thank God.
How did that translate to performing on stage?
When I left school I started performing in clubs doing Shirley Bassey, Mrs Thatcher and other people who were on the TV at the time.
When did you first perform in drag?
That was Shirley Bassey, it was a summer seaside show in Wales and my mum made the costume. Both my mum and dad had been performers and they loved it.
When did you start doing gay clubs?
A friend of mine told me I should go to London to this place called The Royal Vauxhall Tavern where they had all these amazing acts and I did. I loved it, I found it mesmerising, people like Lily Savage, David Dale, Sandra Hush and many more it was amazing.
We don’t see you very much in London gay clubs, why is that?
I would love to do more, but my show is not just me in one dress for an hour, it’s a full show with huge amount of costume changes and it’s physically difficult to do it in most venues, they don’t have the space for all the costumes. Plus I do tend to book up shows a long way in advance; I would love to do more Pride shows, but I’m often already booked.
So you must be looking forward to the show at The Two Brewers on Sunday 3 November?
I’m really excited, it’s a brilliant venue, I’m very happy to be back there. I’ll be bringing my full show and if it goes well it’s something we can do on a regular basis.
Finally, we are living in a world where drag is more in the mainstream than ever before, what do you make of things like Drag Race?
I like the fact it’s colourful and flamboyant in this world which is fairly grey and dull at the moment. What those girls do is not what I do or my thing really, but if it gets youngsters interested and inspired then why not? I do think it’s important that they learn about Danny La Rue, Hinge and Bracket, Lily Savage and the all the rest, but mostly I just want us all to get on and I believe there’s room for everybody.