Tanya Hyde is one of the busiest and most popular performers on the London cabaret scene. Dave Cross had a catch up with the Lewisham girl who won Drag Idol nine years ago and who they call the ‘Ice Queen’ to talk about her career including her gig this Friday (22 Sept) at the Two Brewers and the Golden Girls musical next week.
Hi Tanya, are you looking forward to being back at the Brewers on Friday?
Yes, of course, I love working at the Brewers, they sure know how to party. For my part I’ll be pulling out all the hits, you can expect The Vengaboys, Kylie and of course Steps. I’m the cabaret scene’s unofficial Princess of Pop.
You have been there a lot recently, what is it you like about the Brewers?
I do seem to be there a lot, don’t I? I think the audience knows what they want; as a performer it can take some time to work them out but when you do they are just a joy. Also Jimmy Smith is a master of his trade and has steered it to be a venue that acts want to go to even if they are not on stage, also the Clapham boys are pretty hot to look at.
We saw you at the RVT recently as well for Mary Mac’s Drag Roast, how was that?
Oh my god, I felt like I was going to my execution. As I said on stage at the RVT “when you think of me, the word ‘comedy’ isn’t the first to spring to mind.” I was also on the bill with queens famed for being funny Lola, Myra, Miss Jason and Mrs Moore and I didn’t want to look like the weak link and die on my arse, but after the first few laughs I thought “OK I got this!” It’s one of the few times in my career I’ve actually patted myself on the back after.
We first got to know you when you won Drag Idol a few years ago, but how did you get into drag performing?
It’s quite a few years now, 2008 I won so next year is ‘Ten Years of Tanya!’. I actually entered the year before but bottled out of my first heat. Before that I did a charity night at the George & Dragon in Greenwich and a few guest spots with Mrs Moore and Trindy at the Black Cap. I learnt everything I know by doing guest spots. It was like an apprenticeship learning about the queens that had come and gone before me. To this day I still love listening to tales of Regina Fong, Adrella and Lily Savage.
How would you describe Tanya?
Oh Christ! I’m like a Venus Flytrap, good to look at but I bite. I got given the nickname ‘The Ice Queen’ a few years ago because my shyness often gets mistaken for arrogance and makes me look stand offish, so I took it and ran with it and I use it as my armour when things get hard. I love performing and if people walk away from my show saying they had a great night, that’s my job done.
We’ve always known you as great singer and entertainer but in the past six months or so you seem to have really been working on the comedy, taking it to another level, was that something deliberate?
Honestly? I hadn’t noticed I’d got funnier. I think patter is something that improves the older you get, you get to find your rhythm. I have always believed hand on heart that I’m a lot funnier off stage then on it. I think it’s the pressure of not having to ‘get a laugh.’ If I could get the laughs on stage that I get holding court at the end of a bar, I’d put an extra fiver on the invoice.
Next week you are in the Golden Girls musical at the Brewers, what can you tell us about that?
I am THE biggest Golden Girls fan. I watch every episode on DVD on rotation. I’m playing Blanche who is my favourite character so I love getting to recreate the genius of Rue McClanahan. The show is produced by TwoBox Productions and they had asked Rose Garden if she’d persuade me to join the cast, I’d accepted before she’d finished the sentence.
Can you talk us through the cast?
Rose Garden as Dorothy, Mrs Moore as Sophia and Stephanie Von Clitz as Rose, we also have Daniel O’Donnell (Morag McDuff) as Mr Gordon and Craiger Bell as Chuck the TV Presenter. What’s lovely at the moment is because we all get on so well when we fluff a line we fall about laughing, its like watching the blooper reel.
And what are your goals and dreams for Tanya?
To keep doing what I’m doing and enjoying it, I’m the happiest and most comfortable in myself than I’ve ever been, so I think the next step is to continue touring the UK then maybe start taking the show abroad and seeing the world. No one will be safe… Winter is coming!