This Sunday (3 Jun) the multi Boyz Award-winning cabaret sensation that is Charlie Hides is back where he belongs at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Dave Cross had a transcontinental catch up with Charlie speaking to him in the middle of his Australian tour with more big name drag stars.
Hi Charlie, how has your trip to Australia been?
RIPPER! We’ve been having a blast. It’s my fourth tour of Oz and I’m still finding new things to love about this country.
Are there any outrageous stories from being on the road with the other girls?
Well, the bond of sisterhood is strong, so I’m forced to keep secrets by the oath we took at RuPaul’s Drag Race. If I was inclined to talk I would say that one particular member of the tour has been getting a lot of interest on Grindr and there are hotel room doors opening and closing at all hours of the night.
It’s now a year since you were on RuPaul’s Drag Race – what are your thoughts now on the experience?
It was life-changing in so many ways and opened so many doors for me. I’m glad I pushed myself to do it. It broadened my fan base and introduced me to a whole new generation of drag fans. Of course, I wish it had turned out differently but I’m extremely proud of all of my runway looks and that I represented older, more experienced queens so well with each of my looks. I’d do it all over again and am waiting by the phone for the All Stars 4 call.
You wrote a song about getting the call from Ru, can you tell us about that?
It was written from the point of view of being a ‘local girl’ who had been passed over by many venues who were telling me, “We only book Ru girls.” Unfortunately, too many fans only come out to see girls who’ve been on the show, and even worse, their ideas of what drag is and is not, is based solely on what they see on RPDR. “Don’t Call Us” is ironic and the main point is that a queen doesn’t need the validation of a reality TV show to tell them that what they are doing is worthwhile. Our job as artists is to engage with and entertain the audience in front of us for as long as we ask for their attention. In the UK, my local sisters regularly do that for 45-plus minutes and not just two numbers and a meet and greet.
You have been working hard and travelling lots since being on the show too…
Yes indeed. The frequent flyer miles are racking up. I’ve got lots more travel planned for this coming year but I LOVE performing in the UK most of all. There’s no place like home.
Most of your shows around the UK are as Charlie Hides, but you still let Lisa Q Jones out and about. What can you do with her different from a Charlie Hides show?
Lisa is louder, bigger and brasher, far less interested in celebrities than I am, and she has a very different point of view and sees the world in a very different way than I do. Lisa is a single mother of three and a small business owner. She is a fish out of water and is always looking at life in the UK from the fresh set of eyes of a ‘recent immigrant’. For some reason she is also able to be more cutting with her comedy than Charlie is and gets away with murder.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
I’m doing a lot more theatre shows. I’m touring Lisa’s show, I Will Cut You, and you can catch me in London at the Canal Street Theatre on June 24. This summer I’m taking my new show, Filthy, to theatres around the UK. I’m also doing two Mediterranean cruises with Atlantis this August and in the autumn I’m heading back to the US for a massive tour with my Drag Race sisters.
As well as the big tours and shows you also still play smaller gay venues such as Halfway and White Swan. Why is that important to you?
I NEVER want to forget the venues that supported me when I first moved to the UK. I arrived with two suitcases and knew no one. The local bars and pubs welcomed me and encouraged me to keep changing and growing and have been there for me through the ups and downs of my career. I much prefer performing at venues like Central Station, The RVT or Two Brewers for 60 to 70 minutes than flying to Denver to do two four-minute songs and a meet and greet. London is my home and we have a rich tradition of drag that I don’t want to see change or forgotten.
This Sunday you are back at The RVT, what does the venue and the crowd mean to you?
The RVT is my home, the crowds there are second to none. It’s called the Palladium of Drag for a reason; the art form is celebrated and the audience and staff are family. It’s tech capabilities make it perfect for my act and having Simon Le Vans as co-pilot enables me to take risks, knowing he’s got my back. When I travel, some shows feel like work, but my time on stage at The RVT is pure bliss. I’m at my most relaxed and happiest when I’m on that legendary stage.
Do you have a message from Down Under for Boyz readers?
I miss you all and look forward to seeing you again soon at one of my shows. I’ve debuted several new songs here in Oz and I look forward to performing them for you when I see you next.