The Duchess is the Boyz Award-winning cabaret matriarch of South London where she has run the George and Dragon in Greenwich for 20 years. She keeps her award somewhere special and would love to be taken up the Amazon.
Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from the northeast of England but moved to the East End at a very early age.
And where do you live now?
I have several homes, but currently reside at Chateau Duch in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, with my ladies maid, cook and butler.
What do you love about London and why?
I love London; I can’t think of anywhere I would rather have my base. It’s such a vibrant melting pot of culture and diversity.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
My first gay venue I visited? It’s that long ago I’m not sure, but it’s probably been turned into a Tesco Metro or flats by now. Thinking about it, it was probably Rockshots in Newcastle.
Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?
My favourite venue other than the George & Dragon is probably Wetherspoons Greenwich; they do a very adequate gourmet burger.
Where are you displaying your recent Boyz Award for outstanding contribution to the scene?
My Boyz Award takes pride of place in my staff executive facilities and is moved to my bedside table at night. Having waited 20 years to get one, I’m not letting it out of my sight.
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
Funny Girl at the Savoy starring Sheridan Smith. The highlight was Sheridan being helped off stage left while singing the second half of the show during act one. Now that’s a skill. Adequate.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
I know this is an adult magazine, but I’m not entirely sure my guilty pleasures can be published. I do like a small malt whiskey, just for the change of weather, you understand.
My biggest extravagance is probably my lead crystal chandeliers, imported from Milan (bought before Brexit). They give me great joy to look at.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
I think material gifts are crass; the best two gifts are health and friends, and my best friend Julian has been a rock and support of over 20 years.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
My career as a publican, drag performer and a manager for a brewery has had many highs, even a few lows. I would say the ultimate high would be receiving a highly sought after Boyz Award. I know some managers live for them.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
In the words of Cher, “If I could turn back time” I would love to go back to the 1980s with the formula for PrEP. We all lost so many friends.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
I think the best party I went to was in Victoria, in a very large house. There we people from all walks of life – politicians, working girls, celebrities. It was out of this world and very unique. Still makes me chuckle now. Sadly Gloria passed away a little while back so it will never be repeated.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I think good advice to a young queen – and which was given to me – is: “You’re sat on a fortune, cash it in, lady!” So I cashed mine in and bought a pub.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
My LGBT hero is and will always be the late and great Phil Starr, first rate and top drawer entertainer, and an absolute gentleman. I miss him so much.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on Twitter and why?
Twitter? What is this modern witchcraft you talk of? Not a clue, dear. I’m lucky enough to have a PA, Pete Shaw, who deals with the modern world for me.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
I have many destinations yet to visit on my bucket list, one of which is to go to South America. I would love to be taken up the Amazon and sit non judgementally in Argentina, then watch the square tango before exploring someone’s Machu Picchu
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I was more appreciative of how precious life is. Live life to the full; nobody knows what’s round the corner. And don’t waste time on negative people in your life who drag you down. This isn’t a dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing, so enjoy what time you have on this planet.