A new 10-week-long talent show hits London from this Wednesday (14 Jun) where being being queer is the only prerequisite for entering. Host Silver Summers explains more.
Hi Silver, what is The Q Factor?
When I was at school I was different. I didn’t want to play football or anything that was considered ‘normal’ for a wee boy in Glasgow. Instead I would paint or sing. I was persecuted for this. Bullied every single day of my life for not fitting in. Back then that thing about me that made me stand out was my queer factor. Now, in my adult life, I still encounter bullying, but it no longer holds me back, for I have embraced it! It’s now my super power; my Q factor.
So the queer factor is that light inside you that makes you stand out from the crowd and Ku Bar wants to celebrate it! Being queer is not about race, gender, sexuality or any of the other boxes we are put in to. It’s about releasing your inhibitions and embracing your Q factor, and we are here to embrace this with you.
How is it different from other talent competitions?
It’s not just going to be about talent. We will also be working with Impulse London on a Q Factor blog to encourage people to open up on their own personal queer journeys and we will be holding a Queer Factor panel for Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre, where young people will get the opportunity to pick the brains of our Q Factor host, judges and contestants.
Can you tell us about your new home at Ku?
I love it! I have been going to Ku for 16 years and on New Year’s Eve I DJ’d there and that was such an amazing start to my year! Then the fabulous Jacqui Swallows started her Kabaret on Sundays and I have been her guest pretty much every month and I just love it! Nieko is the most loyal and supportive person you could ever work with and I love the whole team there. It seemed so right to give The Q Factor some Ku factor!
What kind of acts are you looking for?
We are looking for soloists and groups to audition on the 14 and 21 June in front of some of the most diverse and fabulous queer judges we could find live at Ku Bar.
How should they apply?
The Q Factor will not be a popularity contest. This is about supporting and encouraging upcoming artists, so we ask people to be themselves because we won’t be judging anything other than their talent.Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enter and come along to watch the live shows from the 14 June for 10 weeks of competing.
Talk us through what will happen at each heat.
The Q Factor will pay homage to its namesake, The X Factor, with live auditions, queer camp, themed music weeks, and then finals. The difference is that we will not be mocking contestants. We will critique but it will always be constructive and encouraging.
Who are the judges?
The main judging panel will be Vanity Von Glow, Munroe Bergdorf, Sadie Sinner and Jacqui Swallows who will be offering their experience and advice. We will also be switching it up every week with guest judges Nieko Strobel, Mzz Kimberley, Holestar, Louis Cyfer, Virgin Xtravaganzah, Asifa Lahore, Dylan Jones, Sammi, Raven Mandella, Kat Kasisopa, Fat Tony and many more.
What do you hope both performers and the scene will get out of it?
We live in a world where talent shows are saturated with drama, bitchy judges and rules which seem to be there to trip up the contestants for the sake of a cheap laugh. Of course we enjoy these moments on occasion because who doesn’t like a good melodramatic catfight between Simon and Louis, or a drastic critique from Michelle Visage? But in recent years this has all gotten a bit too dark and we are in fact due for some light. Camp and sparkly lights to be exact. That’s where The Q Factor comes in. And I will give the last word to last year’s Q Factor winner, Cazeleon:
“The Q Factor truly was a life changing experience for me. What I learnt and got out of it was so much more than I ever expected. First of all the challenges each week pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me create numbers that I normally wouldn’t do; in turn my repertoire has now expanded and I have a set list to match any type of gig. The biggest thing I am grateful for, however, is that it was a safe queer space and environment that allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin. The comments from the judges were not only helpful and critical but really made me feel like a part of a family and community. My cabaret entity, Cazeleon, was actually born and created through The Q Factor and for that I am forever grateful. For anyone who has ever been curious or wanted to embrace themselves wholeheartedly I couldn’t recommend this competition enough. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Silver Summers and all the judges throughout the contest. Can’t wait to see what the competition has in store this year!”