The Women Smashing Glass Ceilings in the UK Drag and Nightlife Scene

Today we celebrate international women’s day, a day of reflection on the struggles that women have faced throughout history and the ongoing fight for socio-economic equity, but also to celebrate the achievements of women in the face of adversity.

In the spirit of this day, we’d like to offer praise to several artists and nightlife goddesses who are crossing boundaries, changing preconceptions and shattering the glass ceiling that everyone forgets is there: Drag.

Victoria Sin

Doin the Abfab premier right dress by @maxallenbabes A post shared by Victoria Sin (@sinforvictory) on Jun 29, 2016 at 11:27am PDT

Victoria quickly gained a name for herself on the London drag circuit, and quickly cemented herself as an eloquent and outspoken advocate for women and their validity in the drag scene. Their musings on gender performativity have been featured in i-D and Broadly and they can surely be considered the artist that launched a thousand female drag queens. Everything from their Instagram posts to her performances offer a commentary on the performative nature of gender, and their drag is formulated to constantly question the gender binary. Forever political, Sin donned a red carpet gown that rallied for fair representation for Asian actors in cinema and was a score for the intersectional politics that they champion at the Absolutely Fabulous movie premiere.

Rusty Von Chrome

King Henry VIII declared in 1537 by Royal Charter that all England would celebrate February 14th as Saint Valentine's Day.(This was after his marriage to Jane Seymour.) I wish you a Happy Valentine's day from Henry VIII! Photo credit Neil Kendall #dragking #kingofthecodpiece #valentinesday A post shared by Rusty Von Chrome (@rustyvonchrome) on Feb 14, 2017 at 3:05am PST

Rusty is arguably one of the most imaginative drag kings on the British performance scene, with a brilliant repertoire of burlesque acts that satirise masculinity as a construct. Rusty’s ‘King Henry VIII’ act is possibly the most brilliant piece of burlesque on the scene, a cheeky Tudor striptease that presents the audience with a cartoonish image of historical machismo and the bejewelled swagger of King Henry, in order to hold a mirror up to the ridiculous performativity of contemporary masculinity. The other acts under Rusty’s belt are just as tongue in cheek, thoughtful and hilarious.


Lacey is a drag queen and event manager who has been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the boys in Birmingham for years. After discovering drag three years ago, she became a strong advocate for women and their place in queer nightlife. Her event GLITTERSHIT! was the first Birmingham-based nightclub event that sought to provide an inclusive, DIY, anything-goes atmosphere, with a portion of the proceeds from every event donated to local charities specifically chosen for their work with marginalised people.

Rubyyy Jones

This lady is a fiery stage performer with one foot in drag and the other in burlesque. Everything about her stage persona is a delightful subversion of everything that the layman has come to expect from a burlesque star. I was delighted by her Angelica Pickles-esque voice peppered with profanities and literal demands for attention, and her high-energy ‘pottymouth princess’ number, both witty and searing, a lip-sync to a scalding feminist critique that addresses everything from the gender wage gap to sexual assault, punctuated with striptease that reveals her unshaven, overweight body in all its glory.

Grace Oni Smith

Who is coming down to @banditmcr on Sunday for this weeks gorgeous Sundays for games performances and a healthy dollop of Sunday sass? #showgirl #manchesterqueens #graceonismith #gracetheface #transgender #trans #transdrag #genderfuck #dragmakeup #cosplay #motd #makeupartistworldwide #gender #genderplay #artist #photography #portrait #instadrag #ukdrag #art #theatre #performanceart #costume #fashion #makeup #makeupartist #artist #drag A post shared by grace oni smith (@grace_oni_smith) on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:32pm PST

Grace is a powerhouse of talent and beauty. One of the founding members of the Family Gorgeous, she has been instrumental in the new nightlife boom around Manchester, founding nights like Bollox and Drunk At Vogue. She has utilised her skill as a make-up artist in her role as style director of Born, a studio committed to helping trans women find their confidence through bespoke make-up and hair classes, vocal training, social mixers and more. The brand reflects her identity as a proud trans woman at the vanguard of Northern nightlife.

These are just a few of the women making big strides to make queer nightlife more femme, utilising drag as a tool for a political message, and look bloody chic doing it. To all women, we salute you!

Photo Credit: Jody Hartly

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