Well it’s been quite a year hasn’t it? In January ’22 I have memories of waiting hours in a basement of near sub-zero temperature at Bar Pop with a host of other hopefuls taking part in Dragtastic - one of which stood in nothing more than underwear and balloons the whole time unable to either cover up or sit down.
At midnight on a Sunday the contest began and so did my first ever appearance at a drag/show/gay/cabaret bar (take your pick, they all mean much the same thing as it turns out.) I’d done it, I told myself, to see if my comedy could work in this setting and as nothing more than an experiment. I didn’t predict I’d make it down to the final two that night. Though I did correctly predict that having never lip synced in my life I would lose at this point. I didn’t even know the song but I now I shudder every time I hear Proud Mary - which I now do on at least a weekly basis thanks to what happened next.
At this point I don’t mind admitting my look more resembled that part in Carry On films when the men inevitably have to dress up as women than a bona fide drag queen. I don’t mind admitting this because nowadays I look, quite frankly, amazing.
Anyway, a few months (and many Bop & Bingos and TikTok videos) later I threw my hairdo in the ring for The Crown at The Brewers. A competition that I thought consisted of a heat and a final when it in fact turned out to be the most challenging seven weeks of my year. Every week a new theme to prepare for, costumes to fashion, material to write, cheese to grate... I made the final but didn’t win. But that wasn’t the point. I’d been in it to learn and I learned a lot. I can’t thank the team behind the competition enough for what they did for me - Rodger, the Tuckshop team, all the judges and the veune. All stars.
Buoyed up by the experience I dived straight into another competition, the (now I realise) premier league of such things - Drag Idol. I progressed from the heats at both venues I entered in, The Eagle and Via, to their own venue finals and placed third at The Eagle narrowly missing out on going on to the national inter-venue round. One judge may have compared me to Honey G but the advice they and others on the panels gave was otherwise valuable. “Always start with a song” she said. And now I do.
Whilst all this was going on I was, of course, bashing out the TikToks at a furious rate whislt also hosting regular Bop & Bingos across Greater Manchester. My demeanour became a little tougher, humorously sarcastic and effectively adapted to the ways of rooms of screaming women from the north. Whilst the competitions gave me inspiration and advice, Bop & Bingo allowed me to put it into practise on a regular basis. One of my TikToks went viral and ended up in front of the eyes of three quarters of a million people. A feat never repeated but very much responsible for my enduring follow-count of over 10k.
August was approaching by this point and I’d been keeping the comedy sets going in parallel to everything else as well as taking one hour shows to fringes in Buxton and Morecambe. This was leading up to me taking two shows to Edinburgh for the full run. My own solo show, “Life Lessons” and the double act, “Annie & Angela’s Disco Divorce Party” with my long suffering other half. Due to one of our venues pulling out at the last minute both shows ended up in undesirable timeslots, 11.30am and 4pm. At the even laster minute (?!) Tuckshop UK made contact and asked if I’d perform in The Sickening 90’s Drag Prom at 11pm up to 4 nights a week. I calculated that sleep was for other people and said yes immediately.
In Edinburgh it was Angela very nearly 24/7. Not only at the shows but wandering the streets of Ed throughout the day and whilst teching a very funny Halloween themed kids show by a couple of American guys who’d contacted me through Facebook. Based a few miles out of town a £50 second hand bike from about 1983 saw me in and out twice a day making drivers double take on a regular basis. Sadly #dragqueenonabicycle never took off. The daytime shows went surprisingly well and the Drag Prom was, at times, full to the point of bursting. My fellow “teachers”, Kate Butch and Crudi Dench were superb and their own show, “Drag Queens Vs Zombies”, was fantastic. See it if you can.
I vlogged throughout the month on TikTok. Which was a mistake and slashed my viewership from an average of 10k a video to less than 1k. It’s gradually recovering but it’s a cruel and rather unforgiving boss.
Back from Ed and Bop & Bingos were back in full swing alongside my own Non Stop Pop Bop nights, comedy shows and a trip down to London to perform Life Lessons at The Kings Head Theatre thanks to a tip-off from Tuckshop. The guys there are legends. I also performed Life Lessons at New Mills Festival and filled the room. I cannot recommend the event and organisers enough. Recent months have seen more bingo, closing comedy nights in places as far flung as Rhyl and Birmingham, a special seasonal performance of Life Lessons in Chorley, releasing my debut album MicroRAVE (find it on Apple, Spotify et al now!), performing personalised messages through Cameo and me joining the team at Funnyboyz for events in Liverpool from next Feb.
What 2023 holds is anyone’s guess. Competition-wise, I’ll be back at Drag Idol with a clearer vision and deeper understanding of the myriad of boxes a drag queen needs to tick. They’ll be endless bingo and brunches to sing silly songs and riff with. Edinburgh is very much on the cards with my new show, MicroRAVE and recently I’ve got the guitar out of semi-retirement playing both parodies and actual cover versions for audiences who like to sing along. I may even, shock horror, start singing some classic to backing tracks, with the occasional twist of course. Much of Blackpool doesn’t understand parodies or original songs but they do love drag. Blackpool I hope you appreciate what I’m doing for you.
Things you won’t see: choreographed dancing (if you’ve seen me dance you’ll know why) and lip syncing (because if it's any good it's accompanied by choreographed dancing.)
To everyone who’s supported me in whatever way they have this year a huge thanks. Happy 2023!