On Saturday 19 October, four of the scene’s biggest cabaret stars will be taking to the stage at The Two Brewers, but leaving their famous alter egos in the dressing rooms for Drag Undressed. This fundraising event for Oxfam is making a welcome return to the Clapham venue and Dave Cross spoke to organiser Debbieanne O’Donovan to find out more.
Hi Debbieanne, so what is Drag Undressed?
It’s a cabaret show starring cabaret stars we all know and love from the scene, minus their drag. They all remain on stage together throughout, each with solo performances, but also helping out with each other’s backing vocals and the odd group sing-along. There’s plenty of banter between songs too. There’s no rehearsal, it’s basically an organic camp jamming session. The performers involved all give their time and talent without fee to raise money for charity.
Where and when is it?
The show is at The Two Brewers in the Club Bar 7-9:30pm on Saturday 19 October. It’s a ticketed show with all of the funds raised going to Oxjam Clapham.
What is Oxjam?
Oxjam is a network of voluntary local fundraising teams across the UK who raise money for Oxfam through music and performance. There is an annual multi-venue live music festival in each local area and a series of other fundraising events, Drag Undressed being one of them for Clapham. I’ve been part of the production team at Oxjam Clapham for the past six years and Co-Festival Manager for the past four, working with both The Two Brewers and Royal Vauxhall Tavern over the years to bring LGBT offerings in our fundraising events calendar. Everyone involved works without fee throughout our events to raise money for Oxfam.
Where did the idea come from, and how many have you done so far?
The idea for this show literally came to me in my sleep one night. I had been thinking about a concept to approach Jimmy Smith at the Two Brewers with to involve them in Oxjam Clapham. Jonathan Hellyer (The D.E. Experience) and I were living together at the time, I went downstairs and told him over breakfast that I’d had this idea for a show called Drag Undressed, a kind of ‘unplugged’ session for drag queens. He loved the idea and immediately said ‘I’ll host it’. This is the fourth one we’ve done now over as many years. Mary Mac has been part of each one – in the second year Mary took the reigns of hosting and has been leading the show since, which I adore. As a boy, JP is an outstanding performer, a complete delight to work with and has been fully on-board since the beginning. Each year we’ve switched up the other guests slightly so it’s always fresh and unique.
Who have you got performing at this one?
Mary Mac hosts with guests Gareth Joyner, who Boyz readers will know is the man behind Myra DuBois plus Mrs Moore and Tanya Hyde. Mrs Moore and Tanya have both been part of the show before and have great chemistry with Mary. It’s Gareth’s first time both being part of the show and singing without being Myra in front of an audience like this. Gareth has a really strong army of Myra fans, I’m looking forward to them coming along and see something different from him and I’m thrilled he’s putting himself out there to do this for Oxjam.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between the guys singing in ‘civvies’ to being in drag?
It’s quite beautiful to see that shield of drag stripped back and see a deeper raw emotion and I guess a bit of vulnerability. The guys taking part have never made any secret that it’s a nerve-wracking experience for them without that armour.
Are there any stand out moments from previous shows to give us an idea of what to expect?
Last year John Moore brought the crowd to tears with a rendition of Shirley Bassey’s Almost There. I remember watching Mary Mac do Elton John’s Your Song in the first show stealing the hearts of the room. I think it’s an exciting opportunity for these guys to perform material that wouldn’t necessarily always fit into their cabaret shows. We still have a total laugh but it’s definitely a chance to see a softer and different side of these performers. I couldn’t be more grateful for them doing it. It’s really special, you won’t see this show anywhere again.
Tickets via wegottickets.com
The Two Brewers, 114 Clapham High Street, SW4.