Drag Idol is the UK’s most successful cabaret talent competition open to acts of all kinds, not just drag. Previous winners have included Danny Beard, LoUis CYfer, La Voix, Baga Chipz, Martha D’Arhur, Kelly Mild and more including the boys and girls on these very pages. We had a catch up with four previous winners and Crystal D’Canter, from CK, who are this year’s organisers and hosts, to find out more about this amazing contest that happens in 19 venues across the UK.
Crystal D’Canter – host and organiser
Hi Crystal, how is Drag Idol UK 2018 looking so far?
The website and applications have been live only a few days and already we’ve got heats filling up, with the changes made to make Drag Idol UK more open and offering a lot more flexibility we can see that it’s going to be a great competition already.
For those who are new to the competition, how does Drag Idol work?
It’s straight forward and simple. An act, and by act we mean LGBT+ performer, applies to a venue, or venues, the venues have a heat or series of heats and a heat final. The winners from the venue heats go forward to one of the Semi Finals, the winner of each Semi Final will join the winner of the Wild Card, making the final four acts.These go into the Final and from there a winner is selected.
There’s been a few changes this year for contestants, can you talk us through them?
We wanted to make Drag Idol UK more inclusive and flexible this year and we want the venues to have a bigger say in what happens at their venue and we wanted to make it a lot easier for an act to enter Drag Idol UK. So, this year, you don’t ‘have’ to enter via the website (dragidoluk.co.uk) and you aren’t limited to three venues. You can use the application form online to apply to several venues at once, or you can apply directly to the venue, either by email, on Facebook or at the venue itself.
The venues then control everything that happens in their venue. It couldn’t be any easier.
It’s called Drag idol, but any kind of act can enter can’t they?
Someone famous, I forget who (of course I don’t.. but we’re not a Race) said that “We’re born naked, the rest is drag…”, and seeing as the rules don’t allow nudity (see website for details) we’ve taken on that mantra – anyone, at all, can enter – from the whole LGBT+ spectrum. If you have a talent and want to enter – go for it. flat shoes or high heels, we embrace it all. I could list the multitude of genres and acts that are included, but it’s so much easier to just tell you the two things not allowed – nudity and fire… done, and dusted.
And what does the winner get?
Aside from joining the alumni of fantastic winners from the past, the winner receives a gig in all of the venues that are hosting Drag Idol UK – not only is that worth £4,500 but it gives amazing exposure to the cabaret scene up and down the UK. Previous winners have also gone on to enter other mainstream competitions such as Britain’s Got Talent and the X Factor, performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and other UK fringe, international gigs and opportunities and even become a West End star.
But it’s not only about who wins is it?
Good Lord, no! As you know, I was a finalist from Drag Idol One – and I’ve worked ever since – and there have been many other acts who have had very successful careers off the back of Drag Idol – Topsie Redfern and The Vixens are great examples and there are many more.
What advice would you give people who want to enter?
Just do it. Take a deep breath and do it. You’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. Whether you’ve never performed before or have been doing so for years. You’ll not regret it. And… enjoy the experience, take it for what it is and have a great time. Respect all the other acts as they should respect you, listen to what advice the judges give you. You’ll make some great new friends and the world’s your oyster.
And what’s happening at the launch at the Two Brewers next Thursday?
It will be a brilliant fun night, myself and Kelly will be hosting and performing plus last year’s amazing winner Tracy Barlow and probably some surprises.
(intro) We asked four previous winners of Drag Idol Tracy Barlow, Vileda Moppe, Son of a Tutu and Tanya Hyde what winning meant to them and what advice they would give if you wanted to enter this year.
“Before I entered Drag Idol I was a homicidal cannibal zoophile with syphilis and now I have a prolapsed anus as well! Life is so different now that I’m wearing adult nappies! And if I’m feeling camp, I’ll shove on a pair of pampers just for the lols.
The key to success is believing in yourself. Nobody believed in me and now I am BRITAIN’S MOST WANTED WOMAN! No, but seriously I am so SO busy! Busy, busy, busy! If only there was a social website where I could post screenshots of my diary just to remind everyone that I, Tracy Barlow, am just SO. BUSY. Did I mention that I was busy?”
“Competing in Drag Idol gave me the confidence to know that I can really do anything I set my mind to. It got me in the door to audition for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and it has pushed me every single day to be a better and better person. It’s also opened my eyes to all kinds of drag and pushed me to explore new pathways in my own act. Watch out for my new comedy show Dirty Blonde: Confessions of a Celebrity Cleaner coming later this year.
My advice is: be yourself and relax in it. Being on stage is all about natural charisma and an audience can tell in an instant if you’re not being genuine. Always let your true self shine through the make-up and the hip pads.”
Son of a Tutu
“Winning Drag Idol changed everything. I swapped a suit and tie for gloss and glamour; a final salary pension scheme and private healthcare for, £zero cancellation fees and NO paid holidays and a life of financial security and annual pay reviews for one of stagnant and in some cases deflated gig fees and complete uncertainty. Would I go back though? Not for all the money in Goldman Sachs.
I wish the class of 2018 all the luck in the world. Follow your own artistic vision and impulses and if you don’t know what they are then you’re either not ready or not suited to it. Be fearless, daring and supportive of your co-competitors and what is yours, will find you. It’s a good time to be a drag performer of any gender construct. Much Tutu Love.”
“Drag Idol was the only platform to get yourself seen when I started, this was before RuPaul’s Drag Race and getting on to the circuit was near impossible, this competition opened doors.
I would say to this year’s contestants: just be yourself, don’t try and think ‘This is what the judges think I should do’ as long as you come off stage and think ‘I’m proud of what I just did’ that’s half the fight won.”
Drag Idol venues across the UK
Drag Idol 2018 is happening in 19 venues all over the country from London to Manchester, to Birmingham, Liverpool, Brighton, Cardiff, Bristol, Margate and Plymouth and much more. Here’s a complete list of this year’s venues. If you want to enter, you can contact venues direct this year via email, social media or the usual methods. Good luck and snap a lash.
020 7437 5300
Kings Cross, London
0207 278 3294
Charles Street Tap
0121 622 1953
Or via Facebook
Halfway II Heaven
0207 484 0736
Or via Facebook
Or via Facebook
0207 790 4082
Or via oldship.net
01493 851 572
The Royal Vauxhall Tavern
0207 820 1222
The Two Brewers
0207 819 9539
0161 236 6523
Lime house, London
0207 780 9307