There’s only one way to open the Lipsync 1000 final at The Glory superpub in East London, and that’s with host John Sizzle as The Little Mermaid alongside musical director A Man To Pet in full Sebastian the Crab drag miming to ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin (the Katie Price and Peter Andre version, of course). The stage decor consisted of Finding Nemo inflatables courtesy of Ikea. The only way to go after this loopy Disney mash-up worthy of an off-Broadway toilet cubicle, was up!
Sixteen budding entertainers, drag queens and kings took their turn to deliver a onslaught of lipsnycing that proved how queer performance art is alive and chomping at the bit for stage space. Amid the gloomy headlines of unrelenting gay scene closures, it’s beyond awesome to see how venues like The Glory can pull in packed houses.
Queues snaked around the block with people keen to embrace this culture of social commentary called drag, which has been part of our community since those Ancient Greeks learned how to throw a towel over their head and sashay away after a quick buggery session in those early bathhouses.
Following my stint as judge at last year’s final I was glad to be sitting back in the company of such luminaries as Panti Bliss, Jonny Woo, Princess Julia, performer Miss Behave and milliner Thelma Speirs. Oh, and Dalston doll Olive’s mum (obvs.) And just when you think they could never better last year’s storming night of insanity, they go and deliver another run of four minute miming bangers.
If you thought lipsyncing was a bunch of wannabe RuPaul try-hards, think again. These queens proved that London likes a brain under its wigs. Maxi More flirted on Grindr, complete with photo exchange with a random bearded hottie, plus token crotch shot. Gingzilla gave us a lipsynced medley of Ginger rights moments spliced together from the world of entertainment.
TV TV did a Mary Poppins pulling out a series of looks from a tiny bag, switching effortlessly between Donald Trump and Boris Johnson cutting their comments on immigration together into a topical and entertaining performance, with added Elton John for glam. And Bourgeoisie delivered a lightning costume change from Tory suited drag queen to gold sequinned poppers-sniffing trans-superstar.
Special mention to the Basic Witches combining a Hocus Pocus tribute with a hot boy in a jock strap set to a Little Mix backing track. (They sure knew how to hold our attention on all three counts there!)
However, the judges were overwhelmingly moved by Rodent DeCay’s stark and dark warning about the threat of climate change, made all the more powerful when it’s delivered by a demented seventeen foot tall drag queen channelling ANOHNI’s ‘4 Degrees’, Britney Spears ‘Til The World Ends’ with Caryl Churchill’s speech from the play ‘The Skriker’. Rodent took first place and won a giant cardboard cheque that promised £1000, eternal infamy on London’s gay scene and social media praise for the next three days.
Huge congratulations to ALL the contestants who served true drag lipsync fierceness. We are in awe of your werq.
Words: Cliff Joannou