Lights, camera, drag
Welcome to a series on Proudly.blog where we will be given the chance to speak to the biggest and the best artists 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 in the UK you will never know what you are in for.
As a country we possess 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, spooky 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.
Our aim is to share these incredible stories from these amazing queens to hopefully inspire the next generation of drag queens. We have already shared the story of Birmingham’s own Yshee Black, Jenna Davinci and London’s Coral DeVille.
My drag evolution
With over 38 years’ experience between them (Bev has been performing for 27 years whereas Mary has for eleven years as she kindly pointed out she was only four when Bev started) on stage touring the UK. It is clear that both of these drag artists have well earned their spot at becoming a household name within the LGBTQ+ community.
Dr Bev BallCrusher origin story
Dr Bev BallCrusher started doing drag for a local HIV charity event where she impressed the pub she was working for as a barman. This ultimately led to them asking Bev if she would be interested performing for £15 a week to host on a Wednesday and Sunday night.
One of the first people Bev hosted for was actually Dame Dave Lynn who gave her some really helpful pointers that in the world of drag technically makes Dave Lynn Bev’s drag mother. Sometimes there is nothing more confusing than a drag family tree as that technically makes Dame Dave Lynn Mary’s drag great grandmother.
Focusing mostly on the comedic style of drag, early icons for Bev was comedians Victoria Wood, French and Saunders (Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders), Carol Burnett and the wonderful women from the Carry On franchise who are all caricatures of themselves which is how Bev feels that she is of all the women she loves and admires. Bev made it clear that she does not consider herself a female impersonator but as an old-fashioned drag queen.
‘I’m like that naughty gossip down the road, everybody’s aunty that has a nice kind streak’– Dr Bev BallCrusher on how she considers her drag
Whereas Mary summed up Bev’s drag very short but unsubtly with ‘Mary is like sandpaper with makeup.’ No matter how people may describe Dr Bev BallCrusher they all know her name and always will respect the legend that she is.
Baroness Mary Golds origin story
Starting off as a host at her student SU in Ravensbourne during the summer came back home and started working in a pub who were looking for a drag queen to stick stickers on customers for a dating game (Shag Tag) they had going at the pub during that time.
That was really the first gig that Mary got before she got asked to do ten minutes on stage at a charity night which escalated from there. Mary started doing nights across different bars and it snowballed which lead to Mary never returning to university.
Now eleven years later Mary has become a well-established drag artist and is a part of a very loving and supportive drag family community too.
Sadly for both Covid-19 has affected their performances and bookings due to bars and nightclub closures across the UK. Even now with the 10pm curfew it will limit the opportunities available for both drag artists. It does not matter your prestige, experience or quality, coronavirus has affected everybody in the arts and hospitality sector. Although they both did mention their love for the ‘fetching’ face masks they now get to wear.
Aspirations and achievements in Drag
These two drag queens are amongst the best in Cardiff but what were there aspirations when they began and what will it be once we return to the new normal?
We have a short clip of the iconic duo of Miss Kitty and Dr Bev at the ‘Cymru Big Weekend‘ event in 2017.
A year later the two (Miss Kitty and Dr Bev) were approached to be part of the headline act for that year’s festival whilst helping arrange the Cabaret tent. As the years past the more involved Dr Bev became as she was then named the entertainment manager, then the chair whilst doing charity work for the local community. Bev is Now a trustee for Safer Wales.
Here are a few photos of Dr Bev and Baroness Mary at Pride through the years.
Most recently Bev was asked to do a performance centred around the worldwide Big Sleep Out. Dr Bev takes part in the local Cardiff homelessness campaign Llamau alongside well-known Welsh people such as Charlotte Church and Ruth Jones.
The charity Llamau named Dr Bev their LGBTQ+ Ambassador. With 1 in 5 homeless people being a part of the LGBTQ+ community Dr Bev’s role is crucial and can be life changing for so many people who need it most.
“One of my greatest claims to fame is I have been on a poster alongside Ed Sheeran, Dame Helen Mirren and Will Smith”Dr Bev BallCrusher speaking about appearing on a poster for the Big Sleep Out campaign alongside a-lister famous names.
What will the future hold?
Following this interview Mary,Dr Bev and her other drag grand-daughter Joanna Bumme will be filming for this year’s Big Sleep Out event.
Although since returning to stage, like everybody Bev and Mary have had to adapt to the new safety measures put in place for performers. here is a picture of Mary performing on stage behind a Perspex screen,
Wanting to be able to travel once again Dr Bev wishes to return to the big stages across the UK such as in the Queens Arms in Brighton and The 2 Brewers in London or Via in Manchester as she really has really missed travelling and performing in these venues.
The importance of drag to the LGBTQ+ community
Being a part of a large drag family tree, Mary is the first-born child of her drag mother Amber Dextrous (Dr Bev’s drag daughter) Mary is titled first-born because she is ‘the one with a career.’ Amber is a well-known drag artist who is called ‘Scrooge McDuck of the drag community’ because of being an amazing agent making sure the commission is fair for all performers.
Mary is very thankful to be a part of such a supporting drag family and community. Alongside this Mary is accepted and loved from her actual family, something some drag queens struggle to find.
Being a drag queen is very important to the LGBTQ+ community not only in Wales but worldwide. Known as the face of the community, wherever you visit an LGBTQ+ village you will always see a drag queen front and centre of all entertainment and really the poster girls of the community.
Performing for charity events, drag queens have the power of when they speak, people listen. A drag queen on stage can find a way to sell ice to an Inuit.
Dr Bev believes it is because they are used to appearing on stage mainly for a comedic and entertainment basis. So, when drag queens speak from the heart about something serious such as homelessness and HIV within the community the audience know when to take notice.
Being involved in a lot of charity work over the years, even just before lockdown Dr Bev and Baroness Mary raised over £4,000 for flood victims in Cardiff. Even in lockdown Mary and Joanna raised £4,000 for charity too by taking part in lockdown virtual shows. Another lockdown event Dr bevelled and Baroness Mary took part in the event ‘Dragged to Church‘ which has raised over £12,000 and the event is currently being made into a feature film.
Advice for the future generations of drag
This is the last question we ask all drag queen who participate in the ‘Drag is my destiny’ series. We feel it is very important that we have now read their stories, we would want to hear what advice they would share as well. Not only to the future generations of drag but any advice they wish they could have told their younger self too.
Proudly will quote Baroness Mary answer to this question first followed by Dr Bev BallCrusher’s answer.
‘Enjoy yourself, learn to not worry about what other people think, because at one point I cared too much. Just live and let everybody else just live around you and don’t stick chewing gum in Elizabeth Anne-Davies’s hair in year nine because that got me in a lot of trouble’Baroness Mary advice to her younger self and aspiring drag queens for the future.
‘Be more confident. You are loved, you are cherished by your family, trust them and trust yourself because when your drama tutor tells you are on the wrong course and do you want to go to Welsh College of Music and Drama to study to be an actor say yes you f*****g idiot.
‘I would have trusted my instincts, don’t believe everybody, there are people who will take advantage of you physically, mentally and financially. Always look for the light, find the joy in the little things and cherish your friends and family because they are not always going to be there. Treasure your friends, your family and treasure the good times but relish the bad times too because you will always learn from them.’Dr Bev BallCrusher advice to her younger self and future drag queens
If our readers wish to listen to the full audio interview Proudly conducted with Dr Bev BallCrusher and Baroness Mary Golds you can listen down below: