Words: Thomas Stichbury
Feeling down in the dumps about potentially not being able to travel abroad this year? Stop sobbing into your budgie smugglers, Baga Chipz is here to make you feel “much betta!” about your holigay plans.
The RuPaul’s Drag Race UK favourite has became the face of a special travel agency with a difference: it is only taking bookings to one destination... Great Yarmouth, Britain's very own Seychelles (in this writer’s oh-so-esteemed opinion).
This week, Baga launched The Hoo Travel Agency with the help of fellow Drag Race UK star Ellie Diamond – who was on official ribbon-cutting duties at the site of the pop-up at Box Park in London's Shoreditch –to encourage would-be travellers to ditch far-flung, sun-drenched, Insta-approved retreats for more hidden hotspots on home turf; forget the lapping waves of the Caribbean, nothing beats the sight of an empty beer can bobbing along British waters.
Ellie Diamond dazzles in London's Shoreditch
In an exclusive catch-up with Attitude, Baga gave us the lowdown on travel booking site Hoo – which allows punters to make their own offers on hotel rooms and haggle their way to great deals – her most memorable travelling moments, the dos and don’ts for Pride season and (of course) whether she’d be up for competing in an international All Stars spin-off.
One things for sure, when it comes to Baga, the Chipz are never down.
Baga raises a glass to staycations - cheers to that!
You’ve just launched The Hoo Travel Agency, but there is, um, only one destination available… Great Yarmouth. Put on your best pitch face and sell Great Yarmouth to us.
Great Yarmouth is an absolute jewel in the British crown – it’s a bit like me, very underrated. If there were Oscars and Grammys for destinations, Great Yarmouth should be up there with Paris, Milan and New York, it really should. When the weather is nice, oh my god, it is like you’re walking through St Tropez.
They’ve got an amazing Greggs there, and I love the boats; I actually jumped on someone’s boat once to get a picture [even though] I wasn’t allowed to. I felt like Jane McDonald on a cruise, it was amazing. [It also] has a fabulous culture and brilliant chippies.
If you love a can of Stella on a park bench, Great Yarmouth is your place. If you’re lucky enough, you might get a bit of seagull s**t on you – and you know what they say, if a bird s***s on you, it’s good luck!
So, tell us about the hotel booking site Hoo…
Hoo is brilliant because you can get a bargain. Some rooms are shockingly expensive [but] you can ask for a cheeky tenner off an amazing room, and a tenner goes a long way… Hoo is going to be the best platform for hotel booking; it is a bit like car booking services but for hotels. You can refresh the page, try your luck, and get a better deal.
All the hot people are going to want to use it and, I mean, I am involved, so you’re talking about absolute royalty using it. People love luxury and Baga Chipz is known for luxury!
Great Yarmouth has a cracking beach. What is the most surprising thing that has happened to you at the seaside?
I had a drag show in Brighton, and I went to meet my mates on the beach after. I was in full drag, and somebody asked me, "Are you dressed as Baby Jane from the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" I said, "No, I'm not, you cheeky bastard!" Besides this, I think everyone has had sand up the crack of their arse!
After Drag Race, I was in Mykonos on a sun lounger on the beach and somebody took a picture of me with my gut out, with a massive cheeseburger in my mouth. I’m such a messy eater.
Ellie wants to know what all the Hoo-ha is about
What is your most treasured holiday memory?
Six blokes had to carry me out of the sea in Mykonos at four in the morning because, apparently, after a certain time you’re not allowed to go in the sea. I was trying to do a Page 3-type photo shoot with my knees in the sand, and next thing you know I’m being picked up by my hands and [feet]. I also got told off in New York for jaywalking; I didn’t realise it was illegal there [and] a policer officer said, “Excuse me, Ma’am, you need to press the button and wait, even if no cars are around.”
How about the scariest encounter you’ve had abroad?
I went to Slovakia and it’s not the most LGBT-friendly place in the world. I was told I couldn’t act like ‘me’ – you know what I’m like, I couldn’t go, “Oh, hello love!” But other than that, I ordered a seafood paella in Rimini, Italy [once] and there were actually little baby octopuses in it; they were wriggling. It put me off octopus for life – I don’t think they were still alive, it’s just the nerves that move when you pour the sauce on it.
When were you last left awe-struck by something you’d seen on your travels?
Oh, I was in Newcastle, sitting down eating a meal deal on the floor, waiting for the train to London, and Rula Lenska was just there on her own on another train – I wish I could’ve sat next to her and talked about Coronation Street. I don’t get starstruck very often, but when you’re at a gig doing a show and people like Kate Beckinsale or Mel C walk into your dressing room to come see you backstage, it’s incredible.
If we were to open your hand luggage, what items would we likely find?
I love a tonic spray for if I’m feeling a bit grubby; the smell wakes you up. You’ll probably find 200 fags from duty free as well as a travel size bottle of perfume (I wear Tom Ford Soleil Brûlant at the moment)… I also have a bag of crisps or Scampy Fries in there, in case I get peckish.
What a Scream of an outfit
Pride season is upon us – yay! Can you remember your first-ever Pride experience?
My first one was Birmingham Pride. I wasn’t a performer then, I was just going out in drag and trying to get into the business. I’ve done so many Prides since and I’m actually on the main stage at this year’s Birmingham Pride with Chery Cole!
What is your most memorable Pride moment, for better or worse, and why?
I love the cabaret tent in Brighton. You get to meet all these drag legends, like Sandra and Maisie Collette, people who have been doing it for 40 years. I’ve only been doing the main stages since Drag Race, so it hasn’t been that long – but if you ask me next year, there will be all these amazing new stories.
Hit us with a couple of your dos and don’ts for going to Pride?
Always take water with you if it’s a hot day; the shops and bars are packed, there are big queues everywhere, and you need water so [that] you don’t faint.
Also, look after your drinks – Pride is a good time, and everyone is out there to have fun, but unfortunately you do get the odd knobhead who’ll ruin it for people. Don’t fight with anyone, and if anyone is trying [to get a reaction from you] walk away and don’t retaliate. Make sure you and your friends stay together and go home together [too]. I don’t want to sound morbid, [but] stay safe and watch your pockets; it’s a crowded event.
Be yourself, have fun and be kind to everyone. [Pride] is not just for gay people, it’s a celebration of acceptance and equality for all. Treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s the message.
Looks like Baga just heard about the Frock Destroyers' new rivals, United Kingdolls
Now that you are totally famous and everything, have you had awkward run-ins with fans, or received anything strange in the post?
They don’t have my address, so nothing weird in the post. It’s more online messages, people saying they can’t live without me… But also, all my life, drag was more of an adult thing; you’d only really see a drag queen if you went to a gay bar, and you had to be 18 to get in. Ever since Drag Race, I get children in the audience – which is great, but I have to be careful about not saying “minge” and “bollocks” in front of a 10-year-old and adapt [my material] depending on what type of event it is, to avoid an awkward moment!
Obligatory RuPaul's Drag Race UK question that you’ve no doubt been asked a gazillion times… would you be up for taking part in an international series of All Stars? And if so, what would you do differently to your first run on the show?
Like I’ve said before, I went on Drag Race with 500 quid. I had no money. The thing about this show is, you could look like a supermodel [but] if there’s no wit or personality, humour and entertainment value, you’re basically a walking clothes horse. I’m not known for my fashion and makeup. I’m known for being a comedian; when people come to my shows, they want to laugh. They’re not coming to see what I’m wearing.
But now I’ve done a few bits, put it this way, if I ever did an All Stars – and I’m not saying if I am or not – I’d look much better. I didn’t look bad before, but I would have the outfits properly made with all the rhinestones, better wigs… and my makeup looks 20 times better now.
You want some memorable runway moments [whereas] I was more remembered for my challenges, like the acting challenge, the Snatch Game and the Frock Destroyers. I was known more for what I did than what I wore. But if I did it again, I’d be probably known for both this time. If I ever do anything like [it], I’d only do it to make it to the end!
What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment since competing on the series?
Performing ‘Let It Go’ on stage with Idina Menzel – I was dressed as the Green Witch [Elphaba] from Wicked. Also, being on Celebrity MasterChef; Celebrity Pointless; chatting to Lisa Rinna on the phone; working with Gemma Collins and doing ridiculous things all the time; performing with Jane McDonald; Jennifer Hudson; meeting and finding out that Russell Tovey is a huge fan; and chatting to Kim Woodburn twice a week.
Hoo is an innovative new hotel booking site which encourages Brits to make an online offer for a better deal on hotel rooms.