The Vivienne on getting into drag, ‘old lady’ hobbies and the advice she’ll never forget

Abi Jackson caught up with the former Drag Race UK winner…

“I always say I got into drag to perform on stage, so I miss all that, and seeing all the smiles on people’s faces,” says The Vivienne, reflecting on the impact of lockdown.

The Drag Race UK series one winner feels “super lucky” she’s been able to “work to some extent and keep busy” through it all though, doing various stuff online. She also recently released a single, and all being well, plans are afoot for live shows to return.

In the meantime, we caught up with the Liverpool-based star, 29, to chat about getting into drag, self-care and the importance of having a good support network.

On getting into drag…

“My biggest [piece of] advice to anyone who messages me saying they want to get into drag is, even though it is super fun to do and you can have an absolute ball and a great career, it’s just like any other job, you’ve got to really treat it as a craft. I always call it a craft rather than a job.

“And there’s such a rich history to drag – learn where it came from, learn the legends, learn about those sides of it. And the performance side of it, learn, get on stage – you’re going to fail but that’s kind of how you learn. Because of how popular drag is at the minute, some people do think, ‘Ah, I’m going to do that’.

“I’ve been doing drag for 12 years and I’m still learning today. Every time I go on stage [I’m learning]. You can’t go and fix someone’s washing machine without being trained, you know? Drag is a job, it’s a business if you start doing it professionally. You’ve got to treat it as a business and do it properly.”

On soaking up knowledge…

“[Drag] is definitely one of those things where you kind of get taken under people’s wing. We don’t necessarily have drag families here like in the US, but I would stand in the DJ box, with Lady Seanne and Miss Tiara on stage, and just watch what they were doing, you know?

“You can find everything online more easily now, but when I started doing drag, it was about the more secret ways you can get stuff – like where you can find a nice size-12 heel instead of big man shoes? Where do you get the best make-up from? So you learn as you go along.”

On surrounding yourself with good people…

“So many people are vital [to my wellbeing]. David, my husband, my mum and dad, my family – I love my family so much. Once you get older and start losing people, you realise how important family is. So having a good family unit around you – whether it’s your biological family, your chosen gay family, the people you went to uni with, whether it’s just a friend circle – just having that great community of people is so important.”

On self-care and keeping busy…

“I’ve just discovered something called diamond painting – I’m turning into an old lady! It’s basically like rhinestoning photographs and posters. I never thought I’d be sat doing that! I’ve just been trying to keep busy – it doesn’t have to be renovating the house or anything big, just little things. Colouring books – that’s great for anxiety.

“When I get in bed, I’ll go on YouTube and find something, maybe an audiobook and I love a podcast, and I listen to meditation videos as I go to sleep. And I love a bath, love a pamper – a good podcast in the bath with a bath-bomb.

“I’ll eat anything, but I have been on a weight-loss journey. You definitely don’t realise until you start eating a bit better, just how much of an impact how you eat can have on your mental state and feeling lethargic. So, eating well, having a pamper, trying to keep busy, and trying not to sweat the small things too much. I’m quite into the law of attraction. I know we’ve heard it a million times but it’s so true, what you put out is what you get back. So, trying to stay positive and manifest good things.”

On great advice…

“One of the best saying that always stuck with me is from my Aunty Kim. She always says, ‘Never put anyone else’s light out to make yours shine brighter’, and that’s always stayed with me. It’s so true. We all love a good b**** and a moan every now and again, but sometimes you need to take a step back and think, ‘Do you know what, why am I actually moaning?’ So live and let live.”

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