La Voix is the all conquering cabaret sensation who won Drag Idol six years ago, was a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent, was in the Ab Fab movie and won a Boyz Award to boot! This year she is undertaking a huge UK tour and Dave Cross had a catch up with her to find out more.
Hey sweetie, we’ll talk about the tour in a moment, but first of all, you were on stage with Dawn French last week…
Yes, I was with the legendary Dawn French – isn’t that amazing?
Please tell us more?
It’s a new idea for a show I’ve been doing. We’re all used to seeing chat shows on the television, but I wanted to do a live version where people weren’t coming to see someone such as Dawn French do a performance, but, La Voix sat on a sofa with a big celebrity chatting to them. And the great thing is that the audience can ask questions too.
To get Dawn French, she’s a megastar, so that was brilliant and you’ve done others too…
Oh it was amazing. The first high profile one was with Jennifer Saunders. I did that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the Ab Fab film, and you’d think that that would be that and they’d never remember you, but she was amazingly supportive and I asked her and she said ‘yes’. On the night I thought she’s not gonna turn up and I’ve sold all these tickets. But she did and she was fabulous, and that opened the door for people like Joanna Lumley and Dawn, we’ve got Vanessa Feltz in May. And I’m so grateful that they’ve all said yes.
I wanted to quickly cover some history, and a question I’ve never asked you before is: what were you like as a child?
I don’t think I can remember that far back! I was… it sounds very cliche, but I was one of those child performers who was in every school play, putting shows on for my family, dressing up as Karen Carpenter and doing Top of the World – I mean how I knew of Karen Carpenter I don’t know, but I think it all came from my father’s record collection. He had the biggest collection of Barbra Streisand and Shirley Bassey – which does raise a certain question I know. But I was that child who had a dressing up box and would never be out of it.
When did you first become aware of female impersonators, as we used to call them?
I remember Dame Edna Everage had her own TV show, although I don’t recall being aware what it was. I think the first drag queen I ever saw live was Regina Fong at the Two Brewers, although I didn’t realise till later it was her I’d seen, but she was amazing, so funny.
What were the first professional gigs you did?
The first professional thing I did would’ve been when I left college. I got an agent and I was in Honk: The Musical. I played a frog and a duck. There is footage somewhere…
Honk: the Musical…?
Yes, Honk catapulted me into stardom, I think that goes without saying. Then I toured in Boogie Nights with Shane Ritchie, then I was very much into pantomimes all over the place. And, 2012 was when Drag Idol hit.
And that’s when we first became aware of you really. How did Drag Idol impact on your life?
Oh my God, it changed everything. I went from one little show that I arranged myself every six months to six, seven gigs a week. For Drag Idol you only had to do 10 minutes and all of a sudden I was being booked for 40 minutes or an hour. Whenever I was on the judging panel in the years afterwards, Jimmy Smith would always say ‘Remember they’ve got to be able to do a 45-minute show!’ And I’ve never told him this but I never had that! It was a huge learning curve and I think I probably did every venue you could ever want to do up and down the UK, from The RVT to the gigs in Scotland, I went all over. I cut my teeth from playing to a gay crowd and learning how to deal with heckles, when the sound was terrible, when you’d forget your words, when you couldn’t tell jokes because the crowd was drunk, everything really.
If there’s someone sitting at home thinking should they enter Drag Idol, what would your advice be?
If you have the smallest inkling that you would like to do it as a career, Drag Idol is the biggest opportunity for launching yourself in many venues to many people on the cabaret scene. Half these venue owners don’t answer emails or look at CVs. You can send them endless pictures but they haven’t got the time; they’re running these cabaret venues and you’ve got to be there, dressed, in the flesh, ready to perform, saying ‘This is what I do’. Drag Idol is a huge job tryout, really.
You won Drag Idol six years ago and then a couple of years ago you went on Britain’s Got Talent, what are your memories of that?
I think if it had come before I did all those gigs on the cabaret scene I wouldn’t have been in any way prepared for it. It was amazing and it got me a lot of work abroad, and I never thought that would happen. In America they think I won it, and I don’t correct them obviously. It was great to do the show with the London Big Gay Band, which started in the back room of the Two Brewers to playing main stage at Trafalgar Square for Pride and more. Then a couple of years after that I got a phone call saying that Jennifer Saunders had seen the YouTube clip of Britain’s Got Talent and she’d like to see me for the Ab Fab film.
Your scene in Ab Fab: The Movie was filmed at The RVT, and it looked crazy…
It was, and to be working on something that your grew up watching, it was a ridiculous, crazy day, amazing fun, giggles galore. We all got invited to the premiere, which was bonkers, because it was free Bollinger but the popcorn was £3. I loved their priorities. I was on a flight a couple of months later and the Ab Fab movie was playing, and I was thinking ‘Oh wow, I’m in that film, that’s me’ and that just blew my mind.
You’re about to start this new UK tour and it’s quite unusual for a cabaret act to do a tour like this. It’s more like a comedy tour in terms of the number of dates you’re doing, what’s the idea?
It comes from when I did the summer season in Blackpool. I did the North Pier, and they hadn’t had a show like that since Lily Savage in ’98. I did every Saturday in August, and that’s when the Live Nation promoters came to me and offered me a UK tour. I thought it was amazing because I came from a theatre background and then went on to cabaret and I’m taking that knowledge and going back on to the theatre scene, which is amazing. It is very much like a comedy tour and I think that’s something that has really grown since my Drag Idol days. I feel more confident with the comedy now and to say I’m a comedian and singer, whereas I wouldn’t have said that a couple of years ago. We’re going to go around all these wonderful regional theatres – Preston, Hull, Lincoln – I’ll be there. I had to Google some of them though, I had no idea where they were. We’ve got a live band, costume changes. I’m trying to bring as much glamour to places like Eastbourne as I can.
What are some of the new songs that we wouldn’t have heard from you before?
There’s some Alison Moyet in there, some Whitney Houston, all sorts. Petula Clarke. Who sang Wrecking Ball?
Yes, Miley Cyrus. I actually do a Joni Mitchell/Miley Cyrus mash up, so there you go. There’s two women you didn’t expect to see paired up.
Final question: what are your longterm goals? Or what would you like to do that you haven’t done yet?
Do you know what? I’m enjoying the journey of it massively. I want to push my theatre shows more, I would love to do a show at the London Palladium, I would love to have La Voix Meets… as a TV chat show would be an amazing dream. I don’t really want to ever go too political, or too heavy, just keep that good old variety, whether it’s live or TV. I want to bring that genre back and keep it going.