Cabaret sensation Charlie Hides is the first UK based drag star to earn a place on hit American TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race when the much loved RVT resident appears on the show’s forthcoming ninth season. Dave Cross had a catch up with Charlie to talk Drag Race, Melania Trump, the RVT and much more, including getting his thoughts on the other Season 9 girls.
Hi Charlie, congratulations on being the first UK drag act to be a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race! How did this come about?
Well, as you know I’ve got a US passport so I was eligible to apply. I also have a UK passport and an Irish passport. I’m basically the Jason Bourne of drag. Thousands of queens auditioned for Season 9 so being chosen was one of the happiest days of my life. Almost as happy as the day Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
We know you can’t go into details but how was the experience?
A lot of fun – hard work – but a lot of fun. This cast has become like a second family to me. Despite being in competition with each other we’ve grown close. One of the things I enjoyed most was being with this diverse group of like-minded people who are all so talented and incredibly passionate about this art form, which I’ve dedicated my life to. They all come at it from a different perspective and it was inspiring spending time with them.
You also have a large YouTube following and your own channel – did that impact on the show?
The producers knew me from YouTube but part of the reason for doing the show was I wanted to be known for more than just the celebrity impersonation that had gone viral. I’d had a long and creative career prior to YouTube and I wanted to return to focusing on my own persona and my own career, not just creating parodies of divas. My own stand up act is even funnier than my portrayal of stars and I wanted fans to see me in a new light.
In 2015 you did an impersonation of Michelle Visage on an episode of Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, and it turned out she was on the same episode as you. Did that worry you when you faced her on the show?
You bet your ass it did! As you know she can be quite a harsh critic and her imperious sharklike stare can make a grown man cry. I nearly shit my Tena Lady the first time I had to walk the runway in front of her. But she was very complimentary about my impersonation of her.
Drag queens in the US are quite different animals to UK ones – what do you think are the main differences?
UK queens are almost all gifted stand up comics who are quick to be self-deprecating and almost all sing live. In the past US queens tended to be more polished but Drag Race and YouTube make up tutorials have influenced UK queens, so the looks that many of my sisters on this side of the pond are rocking and are now equally as fierce.
Which London queen do you think would do well on the show?
Myra DuBois! She’d bite Michelle’s head off at the slightest provocation and chew up the competition. I’m going to start the campaign to get Myra a US Green Card today.
We love your Melania Trump impersonation – is she too much of a gift? What’s the reaction been?
The reaction on YouTube has been phenomenal, and in my live show she comes on stage to thunderous applause. She’s a joy to perform and the crowds have been going crazy for her. It’s the only good thing to come from Trump’s election.
You are a resident at the RVT – is it important to you to have a London residency? What does it mean to you?
Well, the alternative is homelessness. I adore working at the RVT; I’ve been performing there since before they installed electricity. I’m there the first Sunday of every month and I’ll move mountains to be there. Over the years, the Tavern audience has seen me grow, change, evolve and have encouraged me and supported me every step of the way. Sunday Social is my family and the RVT is such a great performance space. I can’t say enough nice things about the venue, its staff, DJs etc. I love ‘em all.
How important do you think the RVT is to the London LGBT scene?
It’s incredibly important. In many ways it’s our Stonewall. It’s at the epicentre of the political and social movement that has changed our lives for the better, and it’s the beating heart of queer culture and diversity in the capital. No other venue has played such an important role or provides such a wide range of programming through the year.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m getting offers fro m all over the world so I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling. I’ve been booked to do a UK comedy tour in theatres with five of the biggest Drag Race comedy stars and in the autumn I’ll be doing my full length theatre show around the UK. But the Drag Race hasn’t even aired yet and my inbox is full of fun and interesting offers, so who knows what the future has in store for me. There was even a marriage proposal from Saudi Arabia… Can you imagine?
We’ve heard you are doing new music tracks too, with some interesting people – can you tell us about that?
I certainly can. My husband James and I have written an album’s worth of original songs over the past six months and we’re collaborating with two teams: the amazing Katherine Ellis and Marc JB; and with Terry Ronald and Ian Masterson. Collectively they’ve worked with everyone, from The Freemasons, Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud and Sophie Ellis-Bextor to Westlife, The Saturdays, Leo Sayer and Janet Jackson. For the past two weeks I’ve been opening my live show with the first track, Don’t Call Us, and the joy of having an audience sing along to a song I wrote is a new career high for me.
Charlie on the other queens starring in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9.
“More hyperactive than a five-year-old who’s swapped their Ritalin for Skittles.”
“She’s Mame to my Vera.
I adore Alexis. I can’t wait to tour with her and a
big band because she’s a real belter!”
“She’s been compared to Ross Mathews in drag but I call her the BFG. She never says anything in three words when she can say 35.”
“Beneath that sweet exterior lies a dark, twisted and very funny soul. Owner of the world’s ugliest shoe collection.”
“The forgotten Kardashian, has had so many foreign substances pumped into her body, Donald Trump wants to build a wall around her.”
“A pageant queen through and through. Her ass has its own postcode.”
Nina Bo’Nina Brown
“We share more than our birthday in common; like me, she has a knack for totally transforming herself. She’s got mad make up skills and her tenuous grasp on reality makes her fun to be around.”
“As sweet as he is inventive. The most iconic eyebrows in the biz.”
“More talent in his pinkie finger than most queens have in their whole bodies.”
“Courtney Act 2.0.”
“One of the friendliest souls on the planet, so I won’t comment on her ratchet wig lines and basic frocks.”
“A stunning beauty that hurts my eyes to look at. I want to push her down a flight of uncarpeted stairs.”