It’s fair to say we’ve all waited a very long time for Rupaul’s Drag Race UK Season Two to grace our screens, however, no one waited longer than the queens of this season. With Covid-19 halting production halfway through, no one knew if the season would ever get on air. Alas, the season two girls blasted onto our screens giving us the happiness we’ve all needed during the last year. Each queen is unique, talented and all are set to be winners! In the second episode we said goodbye to the wonder that is today‘s queen – she brought us fashion, comedy, rat extravaganza, and don’t even get us started on that incredibly infectious laugh guaranteed to brighten everyone’s day. We were fortunate enough to grab Cherry on her whirlwind press run via the most Covid way possible… a good ole zoom chat! We talked new fans, juggling drag and Covid, and of course RPDRUK. So – without further ado – we welcome Cherry Valentine to Dragadventures…
DragAdventures: Hi Cherry, first of all, congratulations! You were fantastic on RPDR UK and the whole team was extremely sorry to see you go – but we’re all the more looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you! But first, let’s take a step back – what was your initial reaction when you got the call that you’re part of the cast for season 2?
Cherry Valentine: (laughing) Well, there was no pandemic at the time…
DA : What no pandemic, can you imagine?
CV: I know, right? (laughing) Actually, they rang me out of the blue after I applied. The next thing I knew, the producers rang me to say ‘condragulations you’ve made it on to the show.’ I’m screaming on the phone going this must be a joke, I can’t believe it and the rest is history I suppose.
DA: So when did you actually start filming the show?
CV: Oh god like the beginning of last year, it’s been a really long time. I look now and go ‚who is that person on that stage‘, I’m just a completely different person. I feel proud that I went through what I went through, so I felt like I’ve achieved something, and everyone’s been so supportive and so nice.
DragAdventures: COVID-19, unfortunately, hit your season during filming – did you do anything special to prepare yourself in that situation or did you rather decide to “go with the flow“?
Cherry Valentine: When the pandemic hit, it was halfway through filming so we were halted. Then I went back home, put my nurse uniform back on and went out to work. There was no drag work on at the time, all the clubs were shut, and no one knew what was happening. So I went back to nursing for a couple of months, then we got the call to say it was resuming and then I dropped nursing to go straight back to drag.
DragAdventures: Another thing that the virus has taken away from you was the premiere party or any big gathering to watch it together, really! Do you guys get to see the episodes before the general public or anything like that?
CV: Because of Covid, we didn’t get to see any premiere or anything, but of course the girls all talk before every episode. Last year, Season one got to watch the first 45 mins but due to the pandemic, we didn’t get to do any of that. We’ve not seen anything either, so we see it when everyone else is seeing it.
DragAdventures: Looking back, how did your time on the show compare to your expectations? Did you have any expectations when going in?
CV: No, I really didn’t have any expectations, I knew it was going to be a completely different world than I’d ever been in, in my life. So I dropped and left all expectations at the door, and was like right I’m going in to be myself and see how it goes. I was in my head a bit, I was always conscious about what I was saying on camera. That’s when I had a bit of a breakdown on stage, that’s why I said to Ru you have lit a fire under my arse because it was true. It changed me, and I’m so happy I did it it was very beneficial for me.
DA: For you, what was the most memorable moment on the show?
CV: Has to be walking in to the work room! (laughing)
DA: (laughing) But you saved it so well, we felt bad laughing, what a way to make an entrance though it’s iconic now!
CV: (Laughing) Thank you, I thought it’s fine I’ll walk out and do it again, they won’t keep it in, but it did make me laugh. I should have thought about how high the entrance would be, but never mind.
DA: Do you have any helpful tips for any of your drag sisters thinking of taking the leap to audition for season three?
CV: The best thing I can say and advise is to leave your expectations at the door. Be 100% yourself, also learn how to sew. I’m so surprised how many still go on not knowing how to sew! (laughing)
DA: Everyones talking about Covid, so even though we hate it, let’s talk about doing drag in a „“Covid World“. How are you coping with having to miss out on meeting your fans, and enjoying the regular viewing parties for your season, etc.?
CV: It has been difficult as it has been with everyone, I feel even though we haven’t been able to be sociable in person, it‘s been so sociable online. Everyone‘s been flooding my dms, it’s been really overwhelming but everyone has just been so lovely! I feel like if someone takes the time out of their day to tell me a story, or how they appreciate me, I feel it‘s nice to reply – it‘s just kind isn’t it.
DA: Do you feel you’re missing out on the fun of viewing parties? As everyone gets together to watch the episode with a drink and get to see the queens perform along with M&G.
CV: Yeah, I guess so, it would be absolutely incredible to attend viewing parties and do all these things. We’ve not been able to do those, but I try not to think like that. As I know events will happen again, amazing things will happen in the future. We’re just working with what we’re given at the moment really.
DA: The good thing is the amount of support you’ve received online especially Twitter has been crazy, people seem to be coming together more to celebrate the show which has been really lovely to see.
CV: Yeah twitter is very intense, it’s really good though, there’s been a huge buzz around the show and just drag in general. But oh my god, the cast is so good it’s phenomenal and especially with Joe Black leaving first – that shocked everyone.
DA: Don’t get us started on that…
CV: Oh my god I know, with him going then me, and whoever goes this week- it feels like it’s going to be a shock for everyone. It keeps it exciting doesn‘t it, it’s just a really good platform, and at the end of the day we don‘t really win much, do we (laughing).
DA( laughing) We cant believe the Rupeter badge is a thing, you all work so hard and you get a badge.
CV: It’s more for us well me, I can’t speak for the other queens, it gives us all such a huge platform to showcase our drag, and although it sounds cheesy that is a prize in itself.
DA: Okay, we promise the last question about RPDR, who would you love to see in the top three of this season, as we’ve said it’s a really good season!
CV: The ones remaining in the competition? Well I would have said Joe Black (laughing ) of course I love them all, and it is really tough this season. But I will have to say Bimini, really flexible (laughing) and A’whora’s really fabulous, and of course, Tayce is one hell of a performer. I also have the biggest soft spot for Ginny, I do love them all it‘s a really strong cast.
DA: Hopefully this year, we’ll get to see our favorite performers live again. Imagine you get to put on a huge show, time and money are no issue – what vibe would you be going for, and what would you perform in it?
CV: Oh my god if I could do a dream show, I’d have to do a huge world tour. It would have to be immersive, I really love fully immersive performances, it would be like a 4-D experience, similar to a theme park ride. I’d have it sat and have like a hurricane, wind fans everywhere, and a very conceptual visual show.
DA: We do have to say we loved your runway homage to Freddie Mercury in the ‘I Want To Break Free’ Music Video it was one of our favorite runways. We would love to see a performance of it, do you do many Queen numbers?
CV: Aw thank you, that would definitely be a good number, I’ve never actually done a Queen number even though I’m obsessed with them. I love their music, I don’t know why I haven’t but it’s definitely something I need to do in the future!
DA: Now is the perfect time to get thinking of a number for ‘I want to break free’ maybe call it ‘I want to break free from Covid‘ (laughing)
CV: (laughing) Oh my god, I’ve got a pen I’m writing that down now that’s a good one!
DA: Whilst we wait for that break-free post Covid world tour, we’ll instead look through your Instagram which is filled with absolutely incredible looks!
CV: Thank you, I love to create, one minute I can paint a really nice soft pretty face and the next I am dunking my face in fake snow!
DA: That’s great though as no one wants to be boring and playing it safe, it makes it much more interesting who wants to be boring when you can be a unicorn!
CV: (Laughing) Always be a unicorn, I love that!
DA: Can you tell us how long a look can take, how do you go from a concept to the finished photo? Do you have a particular favorite look?
CV: I don’t really have a favourite look, I’ll shoot the look and post it, and then look at it like eugh, I should have changed this or that. I feel like that’s part of being an artist, we love to scrutinize our own look and what we’ve created. I don’t have a method for how I create my looks, I like to see something that inspires me then sit in my drag room and create something that comes out.
DA: That sounds like Sparkles, she’s a bit on the ‘crazy’ side and you’ll always find her talking to everyone, whereas Kirsty is the organizer of the team: she’s the one bringing the notebooks and the multicolored highlighters to actually keep us sane while working press at conventions like Dragworld UK!
CV:Oh my god, no that’s what I’m like, I just love stationary (laughing) it’s a good team though you working like that!
DA: Are there any looks that you’re still looking forward to doing?
CV: There’s always something I want to do, and I’m actually working on something right now, I’m working on about 6-7 outfits at the same time, or between one or the other and fluttering around always creating.
DA: Which leads us to your Instagram looks, is just us or are you a fan of horror-inspired SFX looks? Do you go with the flow on the looks?
CV: Yeah, I just wake up and go with what I’m feeling like on that day, if it’s Easter I could feel really pretty and soft, using pastel pinks. Then other times I just want to smush mushy peas on my face, honestly (laughing) it’s how I feel in the moment. The horror looks definitely comes from my love of horror films, I just love getting scared!
DA: Are you a big horror fan, what kind of films are your favourite?
CV : My fave horror is proably Insidious, and I love all the Saw films.
DA: Oh my god, the Saw films we can’t handle, the supernatural stuff like The Exorcist films we can do. The Saw films are way too ‘gorey‘ and psychological, imagining it actually happens is just too much (laughing)
CV: I think that’s why I like it though (laughing)
DA: (laughing) Oh my god, you’re a psychopath!
CV: (laughing) I just really love films like that make you question things.
DA: That’s what shows in your looks is the shock of the puking pictures to pastel princess!
CV: Yeah and that also comes across in my shows and my performances, I can be performing a lipsync Beyonce number doing hair flips and wig reveals. Then can switch numbers to a conceptual piece to demonic possession.
DA: Oh demonic depres-possesion.
CV: (Laughing) oh my god demonic depression, great drag name!
DA: So as we said you create some strong Dragula vibes, cliché to say we know! Do you watch Dragula would you consider applying for a season of the show if there was a UK version?
CV: Yeah I love Dragula, I watch it every season, but I also watch Drag Race every season (laughing) A lot of people have actually said oh you should apply for Dragula. But I just wanted to apply for Drag race, if they offered me a chance to appear on the show I’d do it. I’d do anything offered to me if it’s creative and drag artist related, I love to be surrounded by other creatives.
DA: We have talked a lot about your drag persona side, but we wanted to ask about your other side, your profession. We always find it really interesting when our fave performers have such a hands-on job, you’re a mental health nurse can you talk to us a bit more about that, as right now it’s more important then ever to talk about mental health.
CV: Yeah so I’m a qualified mental health nurse, I qualified in 2015, it’s something I’ve been doing as part of my job. I really love it, I love talking to people and I love getting to know people’s stories, I do a lot of therapy, medication a lot of things. I think it’s really important to have that other side, as humans we are multi-faceted we are not one thing we are an array of things and I think that’s a wonderful thing to tap into.
DA: That’s a really beautiful way of looking at it, also do you feel that more people have come to talk about mental health issues, especially during the pandemic do you feel its more highlighted?
CV: I do, I find people are recognizing it more, they recognizing the pressure their mental health can be put under. I don’t think people are fully comfortable talking about it, I’m all for sitting down and talking to someone I will get their life story out of them you know (laughing)
DA: That’s such a good quality to have, as personally being British, people don’t like to admit when there struggling, or have a cry they bottle it up.
CV: It’s definitely a British thing with a stiff upper lip, but I do think now more people are coming forward and recognizing they feel all the better for it.
DA: Speaking of putting the pressure on, we feel during the first lockdown everyone was made to feel like they had to be productive. Suddenly everyone had to learn a new thing, now during this one, everyone seems to be more chill, what are your thoughts on that?
CV: I feel the same, we cant constantly put ourselves under such pressure all the time. We need to take time to relax and be like you know what I got up this morning that is good enough for me today. We shouldn’t have to put ourselves under pressure all the time we are who we are. We’re the only ones who can judge ourselves in the mirror and choose what to do.
DA: Especially as creative people the first lockdown we felt we had to produce more content as we have more free time, you feel you have to do more and you end up beating yourself up for essentially wasting that time. I think we’re all learning that it’s okay to just watch Netflix. Do you have some tips on coping with that?
CV: Yeah, I would say exactly that, do focus on what makes you happy and what’s good for you mentally as well. Even if it’s making a cup of tea and sitting with a blanket, don’t put pressure on yourself.
DA: This leads quite nicely to our next question, we admire how you speak and the advice you give. In the latest interview you gave with the BBC you said “I hope the message that comes across is to accept yourself first and then don’t really care about what other people think.” and we 100% agree with that! What would you tell your younger self (or any young person, really) that is struggling with accepting themselves – be it because they are expected to live their life a certain kind of way or also because they feel pressured to present themselves a certain way on the internet?
CV: I would say you are not alone. There are always people out there that understand where your coming from and can really help you, and vibe with you. The same thing I would tell adults really, which I don’t put so much focus on what everyone else is doing. Focus on you, it’s easy to say but difficult to put into practice, it takes time. I’m a big fan of taking time for mindfulness, I’m about meditation and yoga, stuff like that is really helpful.
DA: We tried the headspace app and self-help books during the lockdown, and it’s working slowly. Do you think people who have struggled to find their tribe, stick to shows like drag race as they can relate to the people onscreen, similar to how everyone’s taken to ‘It’s a sin?’ They can see other people on television and not feel so alone.
CV: Absolutely, growing up I thought I was the only queer person in the world, but drag race highlights there are people out there like you, people who are thought to be seen as weirdos. I’ve watched It’s A Sin and it’s something you have to sit down and watch all the way through (laughing) it‘s incredible.
DA: You’ll be happy to know we’ve arrived at our last question, we can imagine you’ve been on a whirlwhind of press and interviews lately. So let’s be positive, as 2020 was a complete shit show, so hopefully this year will be better. Do you have any sneak peaks you can share to get us excited?
CV: Im currently editing a YouTube video, I am going to start a Youtube Channel! It’s going to be Q&A based and mental health work whilst doing my make up. Why not combine it all? And I’m working on some of my music, producing some new shows, literally everything at the moment. Lockdown will end have faith, it will end – eventually (laughing).
DA: Well thank you for stopping by for a chat, we can imagine you’ve done loads of interviews this week and are over us asking loads of questions (laughing).
CV: (Laughing) No, I absolutely love doing interviews, I love talking to people, I love chatting away and hearing what people want to know from me. I’ve done a few interviews today, and a few podcasts – I’d love to start my own.
DA: Well, thank you again, and hopefully we get to see you at a show this year!
CV: You will, thank you girls, lovely talking to you and stay safe!
BBC Three series RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is streaming now on BBC iPlayer, with new episodes every Thursday
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Official Website: https://www.snatchedmerch.com/collections/cherry-valentine