This Tuesday (5 Feb) there’s a special birthday party at the Admiral Duncan and we are all invited. Hosted by Martha D’Arthur it’s the 30th Birthday of West Country cabaret babe Stephanie Von Clitz and it’s also a fundraiser for Cancer is a Drag. Dave Cross had a jolly good gossip with Steven Banks, the man behind the birthday girl.
Hi Steven, for those who have never had the pleasure, how would you describe Stephanie Von Clitz?
Stephanie Von Clitz is the ‘Dorset tart with a heart’, a country girl sharing the love wherever she goes. Think; a red-headed Linda La Hughes meets Vicky Pollard.
Can you give us a brief history of how she got started?
She first appeared eight years ago at CXR where I met the legend that is Bette Rinse and she mentored, supported and encouraged me. I entered Drag Idol and then performed guest spots with Bette every Tuesday at Halfway to Heaven. That’s where I met the fabulous Oliver Blatherwick who gave me my first residency at the Admiral Duncan and it all went on from there. I am always so grateful to everyone that has supported me on my journey including Jason Reid, Daniel Zippy Martin, Kevin Calladine and Lee Cockshott to name but a few. Gosh there’s so many others to mention too, I’d need to write a book.
What are your regular gigs and venues now?
I now live in Brighton and regularly host the Drag Open Mic Night at the Marine Tavern on Sundays. I also perform at other venues such as the Admiral Duncan, Queens Arms, Affinity bar, as well as quite a lot of venues around the country such as the OMG chain.
You are celebrating your birthday with a gig for Cancer is a Drag at the Dunky, why do you think this is a good charity to support?
Yes, I can’t wait for it. I am very honoured to be an ambassador for Cancer is a Drag. Alan Bugg and the team work long and hard to care for and support people and their families living with cancer. They provide financial support when it’s most needed to stop cancer being any more of a drag than it already is, hence the name. It’s a brilliant charity to support because we are all affected by cancer in some way and they aim to raise people up and put a smile back on their face by using the camp element of Drag. You can go to a fundraiser and see lots of drag queens entertaining you to raise money, it’s unique and brilliant. Many acts on the scene have been part of their charity evenings, which I think is so fantastic. Also, I’m releasing a single early in the Spring to raise money for Cancer is a Drag. It’s written by Tony Power and produced by John Springate, called Come Fly With Me. It’s projects like this I feel very proud of and to know you’re making a difference to people in need is brilliant.
What can we expect at the Admiral on Tuesday?
On the night the fabulous Martha D’Arthur, who is a patron of Cancer is a Drag, will be performing and hosting which I’m thoroughly looking forward to. It’s usually called Anything Can Happen Tuesday, but Martha has kindly dedicated the night to the charity. There will be fun games and the audience in control of Martha’s jukebox. I’ve been told there will be some surprises and very special guests but it’s being kept a secret from me. I’m obviously hoping for Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Paul O’Grady, but who knows? There’s also going to be a super tombola with amazing prizes such as London theatre tickets.
It’s your 30th Birthday, if you could have anything what would you want as a fantasy birthday pressie?
The ultimate present would be to find a cure for cancer and HIV. Also, to end racism and homophobia for good.
That’s lovely, but what about something a little bit more selfish?
OK, my fantasy would be to have a couple of those gorgeous Bel Ami boys come round for a coffee and a sandwich… with me being the filling!