We see you shivering with antici…pation, dear readers as we present you our chat with another fabulous drag artist – we interview one of our favorite Brighton babes, fellow Rocky Horror nerd and glitter addict – it’s Scarlett Fever! We talk lockdown lessons, digital drag, the ins and outs of putting together video performances and of course, there’s also some Rocky Horror goodness in here! So, dear readers, we suggest you put on the Time Warp and keep on reading, because we also got some details about Scarlett‘s upcoming digital drag show as well as other exciting future projects!
Dragadventures: Hi Scarlett, we hope you had a cute Easter weekend and got to spend some time with your loved ones, even if the current situation complicates everyones’ lives like hell at the moment! How have you experienced this year so far and did you discover anything “kind-of” positive that you might take away from the whole thing?
Scarlett Fever: Thank you! I spent Easter day drinking so by all accounts it was wonderful! 2020 was a real rollercoaster of major highs and absolute hellfire, but I managed to enter 2021 in a much happier and healthier place, both physically and mentally, so it’s actually been a pretty chill year so far, especially in comparison. I think 2020 taught me to put a lot more faith and trust in myself, as well as the value of true friendship and support for who I am and what I do, which is something I’ll always be grateful for!
DA: Before we ask you some questions about your upcoming projects, let’s take a moment – we recently went through our archives and realized we first interviewed you in 2018, isn’t that absolutely crazy? And, it’s fair to say that you’ve made quite a name for yourself in the drag scene since then – what have been some of your most memorable moments during your drag journey?
SF: Oh wow 2018 literally feels like a lifetime ago! Ooooh, that’s a good question! The main ones that come to mind would be Brighton’s Big Drag Pageant 2019, winning season 12 of Lip Sync For Your Life, supporting Bob The Drag Queen, The Vivienne, Karen from Finance, and Brooke Lynn Hytes (which also included working with the delightful and lovely Lawrence Chaney who is now our current reigning). Those would probably be some of my biggest live achievements and adrenaline rushes for sure! I would also say Havana’s Meltdown, which was so so much fun, and I guess discovering a new way of doing drag through digital performance, which is something I’ve gained so much from!
DA: Speaking of drag journey, how has Scarlett Fever evolved during those last three years? Do you find your own perspective of drag has changed and what is something you would never have thought you’d do back in 2018? Any lessons you learned while performing?
SF: The one thing that will always remain the same with Scarlett Fever is that she is all of the best parts of me – she’s not necessarily a character but more so me without all the baggage (laughing) That has stayed the same, but the main change is the mindset. I’ve always been determined, but I’ve seen sides of the drag scene I never expected in the beginning which have humbled me at times but at others have encouraged me to be more confident in myself and sure of who I am.
I have a much clearer insight into how this industry works, for better and worse, and I think overall that is something I’m very glad to have gained. I think I’m a lot less naive than I was 3 years ago. I don’t mean to sound cynical, drag is my whole life and then some, but I’ve gained a lot more perspective having been immersed in it for a few years now.
DA: We have known you as a performer who likes to venture into the realm of musical theater and were amazed at your rendition of the Addams Family or your latest Rocky Horror creative endeavor, all of these were done digitally because of the ongoing closure of clubs and venues due to corona. How do you go about putting these sequences together and what is your favorite part of the process? How long does it take you from the first idea to the finished product?
SF: Firstly, thank you very much! Secondly, OH MY GOODNESS LET ME TELL YOU: IT IS A PROCESS AND A HALF! So I’ve realized that I just really enjoy torturing myself with the mindset that everything I do has to be better than the thing I did before it, which while it creates a final product I’m incredibly proud of, almost kills me in the process. I’ve gone from my first digital number, Picture Show, taking me one evening to film and one day to edit, to Rocky Horror taking me around 3 weeks from start to finish.
Each idea and number has become more and more elaborate which takes more and more time, so it really depends on what the idea is and how perfectionistic I’m gonna be with it, but a few weeks is a good estimate of how long my current projects are taking. What I tend to do is come up with my idea, spend a little bit of time choreographing it/mentally storyboarding, as well as gathering costumes if I don’t already have suitable ones, and then I film anywhere from one to three characters (or in the case of the Time Warp, 6) in one sitting each evening across a number of days/weeks before spending copious amounts of time editing it all together. My favorite part is definitely seeing people’s reactions to the final product because it makes me feel like the whole strenuous process was worth it (laughing)
DA: Let’s stay with Rocky Horror for a moment – if you could have been part of the original cast, who would you be and why? And, if you had to choose one song to perform on repeat for the next five years, which would it be and why?
SF: Janet! Janet is one of my dream roles, I feel very connected to her in a weird way! Also, Susan Sarandon in the film version is just *chefs kiss*. I think I would go with Science Fiction, Double Feature – I feel like it has layers to it that I could occupy my brain with in order to not get bored of it on repeat!
DA: Also, let’s do a quick fire round – either…or (and why)?
Frank’n’Furter OR Magenta
The Time Warp OR Touch-a-touch-a-touch-me
Brad OR Janet
SF: Frank, and ONLY because, is it inappropriate to say seeing Oliver Thornton playing him on stage at age 15 was my sexual awakening (laughing) I hope my mum isn’t reading… But that’s a really hard decision because Magenta is a sexy icon!
SF: Time Warp because it’s so iconic and I would question why I spent 3 weeks recreating it if I didn’t choose that one!
SF: Janet – sorry Brad but look at her! I’m such a simp it’s actually gross (laughing)
DA: What are some positive “side effects” of digital drag for you, personally? Anything you’re looking forward to incorporating into your performance ‘arsenal’, so to speak? Also, you have put together various online drag shows in the last months, all of which have seen incredible success, do you see yourself venturing more to the ‘promoter’ side once clubs and venues open back up? Also, can you give us some insight into how does one goes about putting on a digital drag show; i.e. choosing the performers, organizing the technical side, music rights, etc.?
SF: I think I’ve gained a lot more confidence in my abilities through digital drag which I’m excited to put into practice when I start performing live again! I’m also looking into ways that I can incorporate digital aspects into my live drag, where possible, that can elevate it a little bit more! I don’t really see myself going into producing live shows, or at least regularly, because doing it online is stressful enough but it doesn’t cost any money or really require the same skillset as putting on live events.
However, if I came across the opportunity I definitely would, especially considering there aren’t very many opportunities directly in Brighton for lip-syncing queens. Digital drag, while I would assume is easier than live drag, is still very hard to put on. For my first show, I put out a form and let performers apply. I think I only had to cut 4 applications and that was only for time restrictions, and that worked really well for me, especially since I have anxiety so approaching people is very scary (laughs). My upcoming show has given me a lot more hardships regarding casting, more so due to a very small amount of public opinion regarding aspects that ended up being out of my control, but they’re challenges I’ve tried to handle to the best of my ability.
The technical side isn’t too tricky, and I think that’s why I’ve taken to digital drag so well, because I’ve been editing videos together for fun since I was about 12, and I’m 22 now, so it really depends on how elaborate I make things in terms of it being difficult. I struggled very hard with my first show because YouTube, while my preferred streaming platform, has a very fast automated copyright detection system that I was not aware of until the day of my show, and although they’re very quick at detecting what they perceive as violations because the system can’t pick up fair use, they take 30 days to review it. That wasn’t gonna help me 3 hours before the show. Luckily, my lovely friend Ella Demonio (@ellademonio on IG) was able to talk me through the process of live-streaming directly from my laptop, and since then I’ve been able to help a few friends with streaming help. It really is a learning process.
DA: This Sunday (11/4) sees you bring another digital show to everyone’s screens, “Decades Of Drag.” The show has a fantastic lineup with some familiar faces such as Lydia ‘l Scabies and Cilly Black. What’s the inspiration behind this upcoming show and what part are you most excited for? What can your audience expect? And, where can they watch the show?
SF: This show is, admittedly, a bit of a selfish one in terms of the theme. One of my biggest obsessions is decade defining things: makeup, fashion and music, to name a few, that make a specific decade instantly recognisable. I don’t know why, but I’m just OBSESSED! I thought it would be a fun challenge to try and theme a show as a journey through time, beginning in the 1920s and ending in the 2020s. A challenge it has been, but I’m really confident that the final show is going to be amazing! It’s mostly a family affair, as quite visible, and although we had a sudden last-minute dropout, the show must go on and I’m working very hard to make sure it’s a good one! I’m excited to see the full thing all put together – it’s so rewarding when it’s all finished! The audience can expect the usual complete utter silliness with the added twist of time travel and me being a massive nerd (laughing) The show is being streamed on YouTube at 8pm on the 11th April and to have access to the link you can buy a ticket at www.ticketsource.co.uk/scarlett-fever.
DA: If you had to choose one decade to spend a day in, which would it be and why?
SF: Oh god this is where the history nerd comes out! I would love to spend a day in 1920s Paris. I choose Paris specifically because, as I learned from a documentary in lockdown 1, Paris was the only city where being gay wasn’t illegal during that time period, as well as alcohol. I love the fashion and the aesthetic of the 20s, as I think the amount of times I do 20s makeup would suggest, and aside from the obvious politics I disagree with, I enjoy the idea of the carefree post-war attitude people had and I’d just love to go to a boozy 20s party in Paris! Who wouldn’t?
DA: Since we like to dream over here and try and stay somewhat positive … If you could put together your own drag show, any venue you would like, time and money are no issues – what would it be, and who would perform?
SF: Oh wow that’s a thinker! I mean, I’ve always loved the idea of having like my very own Joe Black-style cabaret show, because I’ve always been super into that, and perform it in the Spiegeltent during fringe because that just makes my heart so happy, so probably like a musical theatre-based cabaret show in there with all my drag family. I know that’s not super exciting or ambitious but that would be so special to me! I love my family so much!
DA: When clubs and venues are open again, it’ll be for Life after Lockdown (cue our Cher voices) and we imagine each and every individual is very anxious to get to that point – do you have a plan for your first night out? Which songs can’t be missing on your pre-party playlist?
SF: I’m going to get absolutely wrecked in Revenge with my best friends and hope and pray that Chromatica is played so I can drunkenly scream to it and make up for the year of hearing it in the club that we lost! I’m literally so excited, it’s gonna be a beautiful mess and I can’t wait (exposing myself a bit but it’s been a year (laughing).
DA: At the end of our interviews, we like to ask about any exciting projects and future goals – you recently hit one of these with your own merch collection! Can you tell us a little bit about that (where can people get it, how did it come together …)?
SF: YES! I have merch now, which I still kind of have to pinch myself over. It sounds weird to say it’s a dream come true but it kind of is! It has been in the works since November and I’ve been a little nervous that nobody would buy it but the reaction has been so positive and even if just my friends buy it, that means everything to me. It’s wild to think I’m in a position where people would want my face on something! The design is so beautiful! It was drawn by the amazingly talented @jacquelinehydeillustrations on IG and honestly she made me look 10x better than I do in real life (laughing) I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity and can’t thank Rockbaby enough! You can buy my merch here
DA: What are some milestones you want to achieve with Scarlett Fever this year?
SF: I think getting back into the swing of performing live is gonna be a big task seeing as all I’ve done is perform in front of my phone camera for the last year! I also think I wanna start making my own costumes and upgrade my drag wardrobe a bit more. I guess there’s not really a specific milestone I wanna reach but more so a bunch of easily obtainable smaller goals that will help me to elevate my drag to a higher level, because you can never stop improving yourself and your art. I know I openly talk shit about a certain famous drag queen and her very popular TV show, and I will continue to do so, but if mama wants to earn herself some of that TV money one day (and I do because I want a dog), I have to do certain things that don’t necessarily define drag or especially the way I feel about drag, but things that are, I guess, expected on that kind of platform. I feel like a massive hypocrite saying that but at the same time whether I’m doing it with the goal of maybe one day being on a certain TV show or whether I’m just doing it to elevate my art for myself and the people who enjoy it, that’s my own decision. I don’t really know where I’m going with this anymore. Stream Chromatica!
Scarlett’s ‘Decades of Drag’ will stream Sunday 11th april tickets are available here
Follow Scarlett on the following social media: