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RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series two: First look at the queens

Meet the 12 British rising drag stars hoping to follow in The Vivienne's footsteps when Drag Race UK returns next month.

By Will Stroude

The arrival of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series two may have been delayed due to coronavirus, but the 12 queens entering this workroom this time around are certainly putting the fashion into fashionably late.

After filming was paused earlier in the year during the first lockdown, it was confirmed this week that Drag Race series two will begin airing weekly on BBC iPlayer from 7pm on Thursday 14 January.

With the premiere less than a month away, the queen who’ll be following in the footsteps of series one champion The Vivienne and be crowned Britain’s Next Drag Superstar have finally been ru-vealed.

The twelve competing queens are: Tayce, Joe Black, A’Whora, Tia Kofi, Ellie Diamond, Sister Sister, Veronica Green, Bimini Bon Boulash, Ginny Lemon, Asttina Mandella, Cherry Valentine, and Lawrence Cheney.

Judging by the Pride flag-coloured lewks being served in their promo images, they certainly seem like a colourful bunch – though whether they’ll share Divina de Campo’s ability to sing in five languages and four-and-a-half octaves remains to be seen…

RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Garham Norton and Alan Carr are all confirmed to be back on the judging panel for Drag Race UK series two, with reports indicating that the likes of Dawn French of Gemma Collins will be joining them as guest judges this year.

BBC bosses have also confirmed a one-off special episode, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK: Queens On Lockdown, will also be broadcast mid-way through the series charting how the series to queens spent their break in filming due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But we know what you’re here for, and that’s to get to know this year’s crop of queens better. So without further ado…

Asttina Mandella – London, 27 

“I’m from East London where we love to play on being trashy and be a mess. That’s my drag scene. I love to get ugly and be silly. East London allows you to explore and go crazy with no rules.

“I’m not a gown queen or sequin queen. I’m an everyday streetwear fashion queen. I like to wear hooded stuff and trainers. I don’t believe that you need big hair and expensive gowns. As long as my legs are out!”

A’Whora – London (Via Nottinghamshire), 23

“I’m a fashion designer and A’Whora is my muse, best friend and alter ego. She is well known as a fashion queen, but I’m here to prove she’s so much more than that. She is different to anyone you will ever meet. She is striking, she has presence, and you will never see her in a High Street dress. I’m gagging at the thought!

“I’ve been doing drag for under two years, but you can’t put a timeframe on talent. At the end of the day, if you’re dedicated, talented, and immerse yourself in your craft, you can do anything.”

Bimini Bon Boulash – London (via Norfolk), 26 

“My drag style is ever changing. I like to be super feminine and incorporate many sources of inspiration. I would never fit my drag into one box! I like to mix the ridiculous with a bit of topical news. I’ve got a lot of different acts. Some are burlesque, some are political, some are me being covered in oat milk, with a strong vegan message behind it. I’m mainly silly, which is what I love about drag. Expect the unexpected!

“I am a non-binary creature of the night. I’m from the East London drag scene, where the drag is so diverse, so vibrant, so colourful you can be who you want to be and there’s no judgement.”

Cherry Valentine – Darlington, 26 

“Cherry Valentine is everything. She is glamour, she is a club kid, she’s dark, she’s gothic, she’s a dancer, she’s flippy. Look at me, I am a queen. I’m a high fashion queen. I look fierce, and my body is hourglass perfect – as there’s nowt worse
than a saggy boob.

“I like to say my drag is insidious glamour – a beautiful lady possessed by the devil. I’m not always a drag queen, I’m a drag artiste, there’s a subtle difference.”

Ellie Diamond – Dundee, 21

“The Scottish drag scene isn’t very big at all, and the Dundee scene is tinier, so I’ve got more of a presence on social media, but a girl’s got to work to look this good, so by day I fund my drag through my work at a drive-through fast food
place, but believe me, my uniform is customised and I sashay to that counter! I would love to be dressed like this 24/7.

“I’m still developing my act, and I have only every performed out of Dundee once, so I am slightly intimidated from going to only performing in Dundee to performing on the world’s biggest drag stage.”

Ginny Lemon – Worcestershire, 31 

“I’m basically a drag troll. I’m the hairiest woman in show-business! I’m the only non-binary drag queen in the UK…with a sense of humour! I don’t do traditional drag; I am a character. My look is a 90’s daytime TV presenter. I wear my face which suits me. For me, it’s not about makeup. It’s all about the performance.

“Someone once said I was too fat and ugly to wear yellow, so I thought well I’m going to make it my signature colour! For me it’s a spiritual sign of happiness. Plus, I like to look absolutely bat shit crazy… I’m an improvisational comedienne so you’ll get high energy, you’ll get madness, you’ll get the unplanned. I never ever repeat a show.”

Joe Black – Brighton (Portsmouth), 30 

“I come from the world of cabaret so it’s all ostrich feathers, glitter and burlesque. What a lovely place to come from. Oh, and I am the first person from Drag Race to hail from Brighton.

“I bring all the wonky eyebrows and eyeshadow of the traditional seaside drag with a bit of haunted glamour, I sometimes think I’m a bit too much for people, but the nannas love me.

“I love silent movies and old 1920 and 30s films. I love it when more is more, and I adore the grotesquely glamourous. I love Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard and Marlene Dietrich.”

Lawrence Chaney – Glasgow, 23

“I am a mix of Rab C. Nesbitt and Susan Boyle! I take a lot of pride in my appearance. I want to look fierce! I make most of my own costumes. I do my own hair and makeup. I even make my own hip pads. I do it all, and I take huge pride in being literally self-made.”

“And my drag is always silly. I started drag about six years ago, I loved seeing RuPaul looking so glamourous, but also so funny and ridiculous. I wanted to emulate that. I love walking onto a stage looking fabulous and then being daft. I’m here to bring you comedy and tinkle your funny bone! It brings me so much joy.”

Sister Sister – Liverpool, 32 

“I think I am the underdog, lowkey, multi-tasker. I know I can turn a look and my makeup is strong. I know I can hold attention in a room because I’m funny. I can dance (not well), but I can dance! I have personality in abundance and that’s one way to keep the cameras on you at all times.

“My game plan is to just be cheery. You can’t battle with someone who is smiling.”

Tayce – London (Via Newport, Wales), 26 

“I am a larger than life character that always looks stunning. You can expect long hair, some of the longest hair in the game. I am the life of the party!

“I’m from the Welsh lands of Newport. Newport can be a bit grey, dingy and so I just love to bring a bit of colour to the world. Since I was born, I have been prancing around in little skirts and wigs. I’ve always been full of life and energy. I’ve always got a smile on my face and I have been wearing crazy looks from day dot.”

Tia Kofi – London (via Essex and Nottingham), 30 

“I’m giving you end of the pier, Blackpool. I was raised by older queens! Keeping old school drag alive is very important to me, and so you can expect anything. She’s doing live vocals, she’s all dancing, she’s camp, she’s glamour, she’s also a mess – an expensive mess. Honestly, she has been known to stretch to as much as five pounds on a dress.

“I think of myself as a comedy queen, so I’m looking forward to Snatch Game. I think I’ll smash it and as I often perform with a girl band, I hope there’s a girl group challenge – but I’m here to Beyoncé myself now!”

Veronica Green

“I’m not one-note. Veronica is a sweet and innocent Lancashire rose, with many petals and a few little thorns. If you come to one of my shows, you’re going to get gorgeous, goofy and professional, multi-skilled and multi- layered.

“As I’ve been a professional singer and actor for the past fifteen years, you will get live vocals and maybe even a bit of opera.

“I like to Veronica to be kind and gentle, but with bite if necessary!”

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series two arrives on BBC Three on BBC iPlayer on Thursday 14 January at 7pm in the UK