Lights, camera, drag
Hello and welcome to a new series on Proudly.blog. We will be given the chance to speak to the biggest and the best that the UK drag scene has to offer. Our drag culture thrives on being unique, uncensored and unexpected. When you go to a drag show here you will never know what you are in for.
As a country we posses a certain ‘charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent‘ unlike any other making us quintessentially British. We promise you that what you saw on the first series of RuPauls Drag Race UK was just a little snippet of what the true drag community of Britain is like.
Across the country there are phenomenal trans and non-binary drag queens, DragPunk queens, monster queens, bearded queens and genderf*ck mavericks from all sorts of backgrounds that will challenge your ideologies of what a drag queen should look like.
It is an honour to showcase these phenomenal performers and share their incredible stories here on Proudly.blog. Drag for me is a huge part of the LGBTQ+ community and it is time to give them the platform they deserve. So sit back, relax and let us show you the stories about the fiercest queens in British herstory.
Birmingham’s in my blood, Yshee Black
If you are a fan of the drag scene in the United Kingdom then you will have heard of Birmingham’s own Yshee Black (aka James Bartholomew). A true lip sync assassin and new drag host for PopBuzz, Yshee is an award winning drag queen who is renowned for the impact she has made for the Birmingham LGBTQ+ community.
This is why it is an honour and a privilege to introduce Yshee as the first guest of this series on Proudly.blog. One of Birminghams most gifted and knowledgable queens, Yshee is also the only black Drag Queen with a regular residency in the city.
Yshee kindly agreed to share her story with Proudly in the hope to inspire future generations of drag queens and readers to be who you want to be and be proud of what you represent. Yshee conducted a social distanced video interview with Proudly and the first clip will explain the importance of the Birmingham drag scene and what it means to the city.
Church of Yshee
As a journalist from Birmingham I am hugely proud of where I come from and the incredible gay community who represent us. In the interview Yshee made it very clear that Birmingham crowds are one of the hardest crowds to win over as ‘they won’t clap for just anything’ so it is a true reflection of the talent we have on offer as all the shows we put on are all critically acclaimed. Yshee for me is a standout show killer queen who not only puts on a show but creates one to.
One of these shows is the ‘Church of Yshee‘ which is a lip-sync competition hosted by Yshee Black where drag queens can win a £1000 Grand Prize in The Village Inn, Hurst Street. This iconic contest brought the biggest and most exciting queens Birmingham have to offer to one place, to lip sync for the crown.
This concept came to Yshee when she and her drag mother Jenna Davinci performed their iconic double act of CHOCOLATE MILK! Yshee stated that was the first time she had put on a church outfit as it’s all I could get my hands on at the time. After this performance, and being a finalist in Lip-Sync 1000 in London, Village Inn management suggested that Yshee should take over the Sunday night with a church theme. That is how the Church of Yshee began.
There was some famous faces who attended the sold-out final too. Birmingham’s very own, pansexual comedian Joe Lycett was in attendance. National newspaper journalists were also watching the show eagerly, one being the Guardian. They had this to say in the review of the final:
(Church of Yshee) “is the best inclusive drag event in the UK”The Guardian 2019
The final took place on Sunday 11th August 2019 and the winning queen that was crowned was Black Peppa (aka Akeem Adams). Although it was revealed later that Yshee was a winner too as Church of Yshee won the award of Best One-Nighter Event in the Midlands Zone Readers Awards 2020.
Black Peppa discussed his experiences in the competition during an interview with Midlands Zone and has this to say:
“Church Of Yshee is an amazing competition for literally anyone – drag queen/drag king/trans/newbie. Anyone can apply, and that shows just how inclusive it is. All drag is valid!”Black Peppa speaking to Midlands Zone
To the many fans of Church of Yshee we can confirm the drag contest will return in spring next year for its forth instalment.
But that is not all of Yshee’s involvement in Birmingham’s drag scene, Yshee also hosts a ‘OH HOLY’ event every single Sunday at The Village Inn.
If you decide to visit Birmingham to experience the alternative ‘absolute punk’ styled drag we specialise in and I’m sure you will be made aware of who Yshee Black is.
Yshee is no stranger to helping out others and is one of the biggest supporters to upcoming drag queens. Yshee states that:
‘When they are successful I’m successful’Yshee Black talking about offering help to drag beginners.
This was made difficult for Yshee and all the performers in Birmingham as popular events such as weekly shows like ‘Mothers Meeting‘ and club nights at The Nightingale Club and even Birmingham Pride was cancelled this year due to Coronavirus.
These testing times would be very daunting to performers who rely on these events to earn a living wage. Although all it has done is made drag queens think of more creative and exciting ways to perform for an audience. This dawned the new era of virtual drag shows. Even for the first time in history the series 12 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race had to be filmed at each of the finalists homes.
Yshee is one of these people who have took to the internet to host some incredible events that have kept many like me entertained during lockdown. One of which is a new series called Blessed + Highly Flavoured which Yshee explained will be a way for people to connect with other performers of colour around the UK. This event took place on Yshee’s Twitch channel which you can subscribe to by clicking here.
‘As performers of colour we don’t connect as much as we should compared to our white counterparts so implore artists who are featured and even those who watch to reach out to each other and talk and discuss, especially those who live in cities or towns where performers of colour are the only ones in their scene.’
Yshee Black speaking about Blessed + Highly Flavoured
Another big event took place during lockdown was the Black Lives Matter show put on by famous drag promoters Klub Kids. This show had the most talented black performers from across the UK performing to raise money for worthy Black Lives Matter charities.
Hosted by Ru Paul Drag Race UK royalty Vinegar Strokes (aka Daniel Jacob), this ticketed event had an all-star feel about it with performances from Yshee Black, Tayce, FreidaSlaves, Miss Micah, Asttina Mandella and Cyro. Making special features in the broadcast were more Ru Paul royalty but from across the pond it was Ru Pauls Drag Race season ten and All-Stars 5 member Mayhem Miller. A special message was recorded for the event also by the legendary Latrice Royale.
The event was a huge success as they raised over a whooping £7,000 from the broadcast. Yshee even announced that this show will now be set to go on tour, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled ready for the dates. With the slogan:
‘Educate. Donate. Raise Awarness. Entertain.’Black Lives Matter event slogan 2020
We at Proudly promise you this show will be like no other and it is for an incredible cause. Always remember, Black Lives Matter isn’t just a phase or a trend it is a reality that we should never shy away from. If you haven’t yet we highly encourage you to play your part and inspire change which is why we have a section of our site dedicated to the Black Lives Matter campaign. We may not understand your struggle but we stand with you to fight it.
Here is what Yshee had to say about the Black Lives Matter show:
It is clear to see how impactful Yshee has been to the LGBTQ+ community in such a short amount of time. There is no denying the sheer talent, charisma and kind hearted nature that Yshee possesses.
Whether it be by putting on an iconic lip-sync performance, hosting the hell out of a show or by offering guidance and support for the next generation, Yshee is your go to queen.
Proudly would like to once again thank Yshee for letting us write about her incredible story and getting involved with it too. There is so much information we could talk about but we wanted to highlight all the key areas of which Yshee represents which is performing, creating and making a difference.
We hope you enjoyed reading all about Yshee Black’s story. We hope you will be looking forward to a second part of this series dedicated to another iconic drag queen making her mark in the UK.
Or if any drag queens are reading this article and would like to get involved, please feel free to contact us here.
Lastly, here is the final words of advice that Yshee would have given to her earlier self and any up and coming drag queen looking to find their place:
Thank you once again Yshee, you are a credit to drag culture all around not only in Birmingham but the UK LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Here’s to you Yshee Black.
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