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Drag was more popular than ever in 2018 – what impact did this have on London’s scene?

By Alim Kheraj
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Drag in London has changed immensely in the last few years. This year, especially, has seen the proliferation of drag-themed brunches, drag bingo nights and even a drag karaoke venue. But with the artform more popular than ever, what impact is this having on the capital’s scene itself? Four queens sound off…

Ore-ho (above)

‘It’s easier to get paid good rates, and it’s good that we’re visible and more respected, but I’m not sure it’s doing that much for the queer scene. Maybe that’s because everything is going to be super-open and anyone can go anywhere, rather than having a specific scene. The thing I want to see more, though, is performers of colour. ’

Crystal

‘The popularisation of drag has changed a lot for me – I've even got a book, ‘The Diary of a Drag Queen’, coming out – but a lot of people that I know in the drag community have remained, if not become more, politicised at the same time. There’s this constant battle of wanting to make political work, while also having to pay the bills. [The band I’m in] Denim did a fucking OBE party. We are all anti-monarchy, but we got paid a shit ton! What’s amazing about being a drag performer is that you can be savage and critical from within the structure, go in and take the piss.’

Rhys’s Pieces

‘I think people are trying to make a living off their performances and their artform. To that end, it’s a good thing that there is this interest and that people are able to work more. Those gigs are all well and good for the individual, but you’ve still got queer spaces shutting down. For the scene as a whole, seeing spaces flattened is weird.’

Crayola the Queen

‘A lot of my jobs are not in queer spaces. I’m thriving thanks to them. Before, if you were a drag queen, you were relegating yourself to a poor lifestyle and social stigma. But there are costs. It’s become commodified and I often find myself dumbing performances down. Perhaps because of my name, people think I’m going to be family-friendly. It’s not the case. A lot of my numbers are about dicks.’

Read our full list of ways London changed in 2018

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