Drew Caiden is the man who stands just behind the holiest of cabaret performers, the mother of Christ aka Virgin Xtravaganzah, who is back at The RVT on Wednesday (14 Nov). When Drew is not #DoingSomethingWithChrist he’d love to be in a room with Ariana Grande and Elvira or watching the end of the world.
Where are you from originally?
Originally I’m from Bethlehem. No just kidding, actually I’m from Talent, Oregon.
And where do you live now?
I now reside in quaint and exorbitantly overpriced Stoke Newington with my husband Dusty Payne. He owns a shop just down the road from us, POST N16, so the location is good for him, and it’s a safe neighbourhood for me coming home at 3am dressed as The Virgin Mary.
What do you love about living in London and why?
London is a chaotic mess of beauty, ugliness, opportunity, rejection, love, and hate. It’s just a melting pot of everything, every emotion, every good/bad thing, it has it. You can either grow to love or hate it depending on your perception of it. Listen to Cocknbullkid’s ‘Asthma Attack’ and that’s what London is.
What was the first gay venue you visited in London?
I was twenty, and had just moved here from the States, and I went to G-A-Y with a group of German female opera singers. I wore a string vest, harlequin corduroy draw string bell bottoms (yup, get your head around that there), and a brown smokey eye, with a shimmer. Oh, and a turquoise fake fur coat. Every guy who talked to me started the conversation with “Wow, that’s an interesting outfit…”
What can we expect at your Bright Lights Xtravaganzah at The RVT?
The brightest lights! I’m in LOVE with this line-up: Lolo Brow, Evelyn Carnate, Romeo De La Cruz, and Carrot. I strive for my shows to be a true variety, so you don’t just get a drag show, you get side show, burlesque, dance, singing, and whatever else happens on the night. It’s always full of surprises, for me as well as the audience… Ha!
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
Honestly I can’t remember, but the greatest play I ever saw was at the Barbican years ago called The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. A one woman show starring Fiona Shaw, all about The Virgin Mary’s perspective on what happened to her son. It was by far the most beautiful piece of theatre I have ever, and I think will ever see, and inspires me to this day. I don’t think Virgin Xtravaganzah would have happened if I didn’t see this piece.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
Get ready to floss your teeth with all this corn I’m about to serve you: anything my husband Dusty gives me, especially a tiny glass bead he gave me when we first started going out. I had to go back to England, and he lived in America at the time, and he gave me this bead, and I still have it and I think it’s probably my most secretly cherished possession.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
Performing my solo show Virgin’s Unholy Night at The Soho Theatre last year was a dream come true, but I’m so proud of the shows I do, and the people I work with. It’s an honour to be able to put on my own work at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and I am so humbled to be a part of its historical lineage of performers. Performing at Happy Paradise in Hong Kong is always a huge joy for me as well. She loves being international!
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
Ummm… I don’t want to go back in time. I’m nostalgic and sentimental enough as it is. I would want to go into the future about 3 billion years when the sun blows up and the earth and everything we know will be incinerated. Dark, I know, but I think it would be amazing to actually witness the end of the world. #ApocalypticWithChrist
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
I hosted at Giovanna Englebert’s (fashion editor, works for Vogue) wedding party. It was on a huge ship off the island of Capri, and the decor was designed by Roberto Cavalli. Everyone in fashion was there, and I was paid to drink champagne and lounge on a sofa wearing a beautiful Mark Fast dress. It was lush AF.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t give a fuck what people think of you, or say about you. Don’t let anyone mistreat you, or bully you. Be proud, stand up for yourself, and always just stay true to what you know is right. And that advice is advice I give to myself every damn day of my life!
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
Ahhh too many! Um… I hold the spirit of Freddie Mercury with me all the time, and it’s always the biggest compliment for me when people tell me they think Virgin looks like him. Also Klaus Nomi. Also Travis Alabanza because watching them soar into the stratosphere of legendary-ness is such a beautiful thing to witness.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media and why?
Well… obviously I’m going to say Ariana Grande because I love her so much, and I love how genuinely playful she is with her social media. It’s rare for a star that big to stay as authentic as she has online. Also Gina Harrison is a Goddess and I love everything she posts. And Elvira. Obvs.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
Any room in the world that contains both Ariana Grande and Elvira just so I can tell them to their faces how much I love and adore them and how much their existence in this world helps me keep up the faith to keep going with life.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
That a bully’s only power is the power you give to them. That’s some hardcore tea right there for ya.