Dragged into the spotlight

Dragged into the spotlight

Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough as Cissy and Aida, the Two Ronnies as odd-looking Wrens and the classic old dears Hinge & Bracket.

This was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of men dressed up as women for giggles.

Growing up in what was, quite honestly, a pretty sheltered working-class home, I was only vaguely aware of 'Some like it Hot' and Danny La Rue.

My first encounter with Drag

When I was 18 years-old  I moved to Cardiff, and a year later I rather reluctantly came out of the closet.

Imagine how shocked and quite frankly terrified I was, when one evening I ended up in a backstreet club called the Tunnel and witnessed the loud, proud and glamorous vision that was – and still very much is – Marcia Bassey-Jones.

The Mighty Marcia

Marcia appeared to be six feet tall, smothered in sequins and feathers, and was belting out ‘Kiss me honey honey kiss me,’ to an entire room of men who were both as transfixed and terrified as I was.

This was my first live encounter with drag. A few weeks later I would be working behind the bar at the Tunnel and I got to know Marcia a bit better.

"In black tights, a blonde wig borrowed from David Morgan and a dress from C&A, Bev made her first appearance..."

Dr Bev

During my time there, I would see acts like The Tunnel Girls, Ceri Dupree, Regina Fong and Lily Savage perform regularly, and drag was always hypnotic and hilarious, but it was still quite a foreign concept to me.

This is why I was quite bemused a few years later when, while working at The Kings Cross, I was asked to ‘have a go’ at it myself.

Black tights, blonde wig

In black tights, a blonde wig borrowed from David Morgan department store, and a dress from C&A, Bev made her first appearance.

Who would have known that 25 years later I would still be doing it, with regular spots in Brighton, London and Manchester’s Canal Street; or that I’d be classed as the old guard of drag, against a different type of more eclectic drag queens rising up from the world of RuPaul's TV show.

I was lucky to receive guidance from the legendary Dave Lynn who helped point me in the direction of improving my ‘show and look’.

Matriarchs of the LGBT

Working alongside Miss Kitty, Pixie, Amber, Fanny Dazzle and the much-missed Lady Ding in Atlantica, Wow and Exit over the following years helped build my confidence, to the extent that now I’m in the position that Marcia was for me 25 years ago, and I try and help other Drag acts who are starting out in Cardiff.

Watching the likes of Mary Golds, Jolene Dover and Minnie Cooper, over the years as they’ve grown and developed their own style and performances is heartwarming, as the next generation take Drag forward.

Dr Bev (right) and friends
Dr Bev (right) and friends

Recently I worked and performed with many of these ladies at a charity event to raise awareness and funds for a charity that supports mental health.

I realised then why we are called Drag Queens, for queens are what we are and we're often seen as the matriarchs of the LGBT community; leading the way at Pride Events, shouting for equal rights at rallies, taking time to entertain and occasionally nurture those who support the shows we do.

Dr Bev Ballcrusher