Just when you thought it was safe to go back out on the scene – she’s back! Yes, every Tuesday in September, plus the first one in October, the force of nature that is cabaret legend Bette Rinse is back at Halfway II Heaven with another round of It’s a Knockout, the cabaret talent contest with a difference. Dave Cross chatted to Bette plus we hear from this year’s three contestants, Chanel No.5, #Joe and PoppyCock.
Hi Bette, are you excited to be back at Halfway?
Excited? My pussy is dripping like I’m coming home after a wet weekend. All the staff and customers at Halfway are just like one big happy family, and everyone there is so excited about the new show and my amazing talents – sorry, I mean my contestants. Halfway is like a cross between The Waltons and The Royals.
It’s a Knockout is different from other cabaret contests, can you explain the basic idea?
It’s a Knockout is an original competition directed and produced by myself and Marc, aka Kelly Mild. In all other competitions the acts just go on stage, do their bit and get judged. I came up with the idea to give drag queens and cabaret acts a helping hand. The idea is to help them with what to do and show them how to create something special. We encourage them out of their comfort zone and push them into new areas. Believe it or not I was young once and there was no one to help the new acts, and it was very difficult to get onto the circuit. When I first started I was told to give up and don’t bother, but I did bother and that’s why am bothering to help others now.
How is this year different from previous years?
2018 is totally different to previous years. We decided to keep all the acts in all the way through, but kick out one of the judges/mentors. Each week the acts will be given tasks to prove which one can come up with the most original production.
Can you remind us of the people who have won in previous years?
The first year winner was a stunning guy with an amazing voice called Aaron Alexander; he is currently working on cruise ships and doing well for himself, and has also been in some West End shows. The next year we had Bambi Boo, who came up with some fantastic ideas and has gone on to do her show in the fringe. Then we had the amazing talents of Chamonix Aspen, one of the funniest acts I’ve ever seen and is currently on the circuit doing very well. In year four we had the wonderful talents of Ripley, who was amazing. She just finished a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe; I am so proud of her originality and outrageous productions – long live mime! I love it. And last year we had Felix Le Freak and another stunning production every week. Her outfits and props were second to none and I am also proud that she won Drag Idol this year. Felix is a star.
The first heat was earlier this week – how many heats are there to come and can you tell us some of the themes?
The dates for your diary are the 11, 18 and 25 of September with the Grand Final on Tuesday 2 October, at 9pm every week. I will give you a sneaky preview of what’s going to happen this Tuesday (11 Sep): as you can see from the photos in Boyz we’ve gone for a 70s look, so be prepared as task one is It’s a Knockout does Mamma Mia! while task two will be 70s Eurovision. I think it’s safe to say this year’s contest is the dampest one yet. I’m not telling you any more, you’ll have to come and see for yourself.
Each act gets a mentor from the judges, can you tell us about those?
Yes, we have five judges at the start and from those the acts each get a mentor. First up is my number one daughter from hell, Rose Garden; she missed last year but is back this year with a vengeance. Judge number two is previous winner Ripley. Number three is the one and only Daniel Edmunds, sexy school teacher-come-drag queen. Number four is Miss Penny, who says she is going to be vile. This is her first time judging It’s a Knockout and it could be her last. The final judge is coming all the way from Wales by bus, a previous contestant who has done very well for herself, the gorgeous Woe Addams. One of the mentors will be kicked out on Tuesday 11 September, which should be worth watching…
Can you describe this year’s acts in a few words?
Gorgeous and sexy, talented, hilarious and just lovely, but that’s enough about me. You are in for a treat; we have brilliant style, sophistication and quality, and you are going to be entertained like never before.
What do you have planned for the Grand Final?
I can’t give you the details, it’s up to you to come and see what will happen. I’d just like to give a big thanks to Marc and Heather for having the confidence to have me back at Halfway II Heaven. Love you.
‘PoppyCock is like a black widow – she’ll seduce you and you’ll realise she’s a psycho just as it’s too late. With an emphasis on live vocals and camp buffoonery, PoppyCock, much like her name, is utter nonsense. Rated five stars by her mum, and her act has been called “Sensational!” by her grandpa, so all in all, not one to miss.’
‘Chanel No.5 is the newest superstar of London’s cabaret scene. With her unique blend of jazz, musical theatre and burlesque, all with a vintage twist, she has been wowing audiences around the country. Be prepared for insane vocals and a body to die for. What does she wear to bed? Why, Chanel No.5 of course!’
‘Wait, there must be some sort of mix up. #Joe is part of the bar team at Halfway. What’s he doing on stage? Why is he holding a yam? Is he going to sing? Is he doing gags? Bless him.’