Ever wondered how some of your favourite drag queens like their eggs in the morning? As much as we guess they’d prefer them fertilised, you can now find out by heading to West-End London’s drag brunch.
Commonplace in the States, drag brunches are a rarity across the Atlantic ocean. Setting the stage and serving up scrambled eggs and avo realness, drag brunches are exactly that; brunch + a drag show. The practice is burgeoning out in the gritty streets of East London, but George Simons is out to change that. We quizzed the organiser of one of London’s upcoming drag brunches, ‘It’s a Drag Brunch’, about what to expect from the morning and just how much prosecco is on offer.
For those who may not have necessarily hit up a drag brunch before, what can we expect to see?
The quickest way to describe it is West-End camp fun. Expect camp from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. Loads of us do brunch on the weekends, so we’re mixing that with a sparkle of drag into one superstar experience. As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by one of the drag queens and corralled to your table. You’ll get to pick an item of brunch off our menu in which are all named after shows from the West End.
Do you have a favourite from the menu?
I’m gluten-free, so I always have a limited selection, but if I could have anything I would have the Mamma Mia Nutella Pancakes. There’s also 2-hours of prosecco fill-ups on the menu!
About an hour in, the show will start. Mary Mac, our host, will be singing live and the rest of the show is all West End-inspired. Think musical numbers alongside a few extra bits thrown in such as an Adele and Gemma Collins mash-ups. Mary will be walking around and interacting with the audience. No one is safe.
What was it about the drag brunches you saw in New York that inspired you to launch one in London?
Last summer, I graduated from university and I saved up and went for a four-week travel around the U.S. Hitting up a few drag brunches, it’s difficult to articulate, but the brunch and the drag show together was amazing. When you go to a drag show in London, it’s odd as it’s mid-way through the night and you’re already drunk! With a brunch, you get to really see the show. You get an opportunity to interact with the drag queens on a personal level as you have a drag queen that hosts your table that you can speak to. It was the campness that drew me in, so when I was back in London, it dawned on me about a year ago “Oh my goodness, why don’t we just bring this to London? How much fun would this be in Soho?” Obviously, there’s a lot less happening in Soho nowadays, so it’s positive to bring something back to that hub.
If you look at the London drag scene you’ve got the East London lip-sync-type drag, which is great and I love watching it. You then have the West-End, Soho, and Clapham drag scenes. Think You’re-Walking-Along-Old-Comptons/Admiral Duncan-style drag, which is more sequinned and glittered and cabaret inspired, which I love! But I think there’s a lack of cross-over between the two.
When I was thinking of what I wanted the show to be, I was immediately thinking of Mary Mac hosting after watching her for 3 years now. I first met Mary through her fiancé, who was my manager at the time when I worked in a pub in Soho. She’s phenomenal. Working back from there, it was easy for it to unfold into something very cabaret, or I could shoot for a different route. I then saw Cheryl Hole at ‘Not Another Drag Competition’, and it was way before when I had started to plan ‘It’s A Drag Brunch’, but when I was thinking about what the show can be I remembered Cheryl Hole and thought she was hilarious. She’s much more choreography based, I’m talking high-energy and death drops. She then introduced me to Herr, a more quirky queen. She could take anything and do a hilarious spin on it.
The final inspiration was Crystal Lubrikunt, someone who I saw 3 and a half years ago when the Black Cap had opened. Fast forward three years, I was organising a work function, and I got in contact with Crystal to see if she could gig. She came along and was incredible with her spoken-word lip-sync executed in a really funny way. Off the back of that, she mentioned she really wanted to do a brunch in London which she felt the scene was missing. I was keen to rope together different queens; each with their own energy and USP. Mixing the different types of drag from around London. East meets West-End.
Your initiatives often aim to blur the lines between the LGBT+ Community and their allies. What can an ally do beyond identifying as one? How can they act their solidarity?
With the audience of this show, I don’t want to limit it to just LGBT+ people, I want to open it up to allies. I want as many people as possible attending! The biggest thing for an ally is visibility. It’s being several things, such as understanding issues facing LGBT+ people, not just LGB people, and proactively trying to understand those issues. If you’re an ally and you see something happen to the LGBT+ community and standing up for them. Saying “I disagree with this”, it’s locally standing up against those things. And in day-to-day life, people can be called-out and verbally abused for being visibly queer, such as holding hands walking down the streets. Not all the time will an LBGT+ person respond to that, they may potentially try to ignore it and not cause a scene out of fear of their own safety. But as an ally, you potentially have less of a security issue so it’s a prime opportunity for you to not just walk past but say “No, that’s not ok.” Identifying as an ally is great, but if you can do just one thing, that’s making yourself visible.
It’s a Drag Brunch will be setting their tables November 4th. Tickets can be bought here.