an interview with the witch blair
queen bee 2017 winner
7 months after winning
queen bee 2017
we caught up with
the witch blair
How & when did you first get into performing as a drag artist?
Oh wow… you’re asking me to go back through the mists of time a bit there. When I was at university an undisclosed amount of time ago I ended up being in a production feature Drag Artists, I was semi-hooked at that point but then I landed a gig hosting a burlesque night and this monstrosity started to slowly be born.
What is it, about performing in drag that you really enjoy?
I love the freedom it brings. Half the jokes I tell go down like a lead balloon when I’ve tried them out of Drag. It gives you the freedom to be who you want to be. For me it allows me to showcase the parts of myself that aren’t acceptable in polite society! And I love the inspiration it gives to others to be true to themselves. Even if you have to put on six inch heels, 3 inches of makeup and tuck your junk away to do that.
Where are you from originally & what are your fondest memories of growing up?
Loaded question here as we moved around a lot. I was born in Portsmouth but we moved to North Yorkshire when I was very young and then onto Lincolnshire when I was starting secondary school. My fondest memories are with my family. I have a large family on my mother’s side and every summer my grandad would have us all over for a barbeque. Everyone brought food and my Auntie Liz’s lemon meringue pie would knock your socks off!
How did you find out about Queen Bee and what made you want to enter?
As I am down with the kids I found out about Queen Bee via the social medias! I’d been living in Leeds for about 3 months when I applied and I thought this would be the best way to present my Drag to the community. I never in a million years thought I’d win but I thought it would be a fantastic way to get to know people and show what I can do.
What themes or inspiration did you draw on for putting together that winning performance for Queen Bee?
Evil and Campness? Hah hah! I honestly don’t know how to answer this one. The thing that inspires me to perform is that I love to make people laugh and if I can, think. My material is often political which in some circles makes me unpopular. But the way the world is run is something everyone should be aware of and I think comedy is the best way to get people to engage. Like when my mum puts her dog’s medicine in a block of cheese. Goes down a treat!
What did it feel like to win Queen Bee 2017?
I’m sure you know it takes a lot to make me speechless, but that’s what happened. I didn’t expect to win at all and am still waiting for the call to say you made a mistake! But in all honesty it was exhilarating, to have something that you pour your heart and lack of soul into validated like that is something I can’t even put into words. I was actually considering giving up Drag at that time, it seemed like Drag comedians weren’t something people wanted to see and I’d be passed over time and time again for a pretty Lip Sync Queen. That’s not me being shady by the way, I love a good Lip Sync I just can’t do one! But to find out that what I do is still something people hunger for was exactly what I needed to keep going and that’s what Queen Bee gave me.
It’s already 7 months since you won Queen Bee 2017, what have you been up to?
Mostly sitting at home wearing the crown and plotting world domination. But I’ve also been pretty darned busy! I’ve been travelling up and down the country for gigs, charity events and all sorts! The bar in Lincoln where I really honed my craft have been dragging me (pun intended) back down regularly and I’ve been shooting off to Great Yarmouth, Doncaster and London as well. It’s been insane! Not to mention finding myself dashing all over Leeds and Yorkshire, I’m going to need a new broom at this rate!
On August 5th you will perform at Leeds Pride as Queen Bee 2017 winner, with an audience of 20,000. Are you prepared and is this the biggest audience you have ever performed to?
This is definitely the biggest audience I have performed to and as I sang at Queen Bee last year “Be Prepaaaaared!”. My parody songs are what people know me for so clearly I had to create a new one just for Leeds Pride, and after three months of messing about with it I’m ready! There is a fear that as I am not what people always expect to see at a Drag show these days that I might not be everyone’s cup of tea and the fact that I have to scale down my material to be family friendly is always an interesting challenge. But Pride is so important and such an amazing movement, so I’m not going to let concerns like that hold me back. I’m bringing the best I can do to Leeds Pride, this community has accepted me and treated me like family since I rocked up in my pointy hat last year, so I am honoured and excited to be a part of this Pride celebration.
Looking to the future, what do you want to achieve and how far do you want to take your drag artist career?
I want to take my Drag career as far as I possibly can. As for what I want to achieve, as long as I am making people laugh I am happy. But I am working on trying to get comedy Drag firmly back in the limelight. There’s room for everyone! I want to keep shouting and screaming about the problems our community faces and laughing at the things that scare and threaten us. And finally on a selfish note, I want to take my show to the Edinburgh Fringe at some point, be discovered and take the world by storm as the next Lily Savage. But I’ll happily settle for spreading laughter wherever I can.
What would you say to anybody considering entering the competition this year?
Stop considering and do it. Queen Bee raises money for an excellent cause and being a part of that is truly amazing. More so than winning, seeing how much money last years event raised made me so proud. And speaking of winning, that’s not what to focus on, in any contest. Turn up, do the best you can do, carry yourself well, treat the other acts kindly and whether you’re crowned or not your career will benefit. That may seem like a weird thing to say as last year’s winner, but I didn’t enter Queen Bee expecting to win. I wanted to show the Leeds Scene who I was and what I could do, more than anything it comes down to luck. Every contestant last year was incredibly talented and so wonderfully different. It’s all down to what the audience are up for on the night! But I’d definitely recommend making them laugh. Worked a treat for me!
So don’t think, don’t consider, sign up. And if you’re nervous, come chat to me, I’m only a monster when I have to be!
thank you to
the witch blair
don't forget you can catch her on stage at leeds pride on sunday august 5th!
interview by J Springthorpe