Let’s face it, ever since RPDR UK season 2, most of us don’t think about what cake to choose for afternoon tea whenever someone asks us if we ‘fancy a slice’. No, like so many people,we instantly make the connection with Ginny Lemon, an amazingly multi-talented queen from Worcester! One of their many adoring fans is our contributor Nathan, who actually lives pretty close to Ginny’s hometown, and got the chance to interview them at an amazing project at a local museum – read on to find out more:
“Ginny Lemon – some may know them from their time on RPDR, but for me, they are one of my local artists so therefore have been on my radar for a while. When I saw Worcester Museum And Art Gallery (an amazing local museum to me) tweeting about a future collaboration with Ginny Lemon I decided to put on my detective hat – cut to a few weeks later and Worcester Museum very kindly reached out with an invitation to interview Ginny at this upcoming project event.
What exactly was this upcoming project I hear you say? Well….. Ginny’s hometown is Worcester and their hometown look from the first episode of drag race was heavily inspired by two of the towns’ biggest imports- Vesta Tilley, a female, male impersonator music hall star born in Worcester (future article coming soon) and Worcestershire sauce, a popular tangy sauce.
After a Twitter exchange, Ginny donated the outfit to the museum for a special display to celebrate their Worcestershire heritage. I then had the opportunity to catch up with Ginny to find out more about the exhibition, new music, local drag for local people, and Kate Bush!”
Dragadventures: You’re donating your ‘Queen of the Hometown’ look to Worcester Museum and Art Gallery. How did that come about? Could this lead to a whole exhibition one day?
Ginny Lemon: Hiya babs, that’s correct. Well, I would obviously love to do an exhibition with the museum. I think it would be amazing. I’ve done a few exhibitions before in Birmingham and a few other places so it would be lovely to do a queer art exhibition or a queer history exhibition in Worcester. It would be a dream come true.
And it came about from Twitter I think. They tweeted about Vesta Tilley and I commented and I said “You can have my costume if you wanted it.” They contacted me and they wanted it so I was quite surprised. I thought no one would see it so it’s amazing to see it here in my hometown. It feels like a great honor. This is the history of the county I grew up in so to be part of that history, it makes me want to do more work on the queer history of the West Midlands, in particular Worcestershire.
DA: And obviously, it’s right through the door when you come into this section of the museum.
GL: I know, this has always been my favorite display cabinet and I’ve got it so it’s mine now which is so good.
DA: Your hometown look was inspired by Vesta Tilley with a hint of Worcester sauce. What made you decide on that mix and did you have other ideas about possible looks to represent Worcester?
GL: I had another possible look to represent Worcester which was going to be inspired by the people that used to go round Angel Market in town. So I was going to wear a wolf fleece, loads of stripey carrier bags, have a bit of seagull poo on my shoulder, and stirrup leggings. It was very much to go with that working-class element of Worcester because I’m very working-class myself. So I love to represent that working-class element as it’s all too easy to brush over Worcester and say ‘Oh it’s lovely to visit’, which it is, but it’s also a real place with real people who live here so that was the only other thing I really wanted to do. Otherwise, what else could you do- Elgar with a cone on his head or the Black Bond or Chicken George.
And it came about because Vesta Tilley performed in drag actually as a male performer. It was that play on gender and their association with Worcester. Otherwise, I’d just cover myself with fermented fish as that’s what Worcester Sauce is.
DA: You recently visited the museum archives to look at the Vesta Tilley collection. How was that and how did you manage to do it?
GL: Oh that was amazing! The museum invited us over to have a look at the artifacts. I didn’t realize there were so many. So they invited us and we had a look. A lot of it was old horticultural wagons so it’s good that I fit next to some old horticultural wagons. Obviously, it’s a very rural area with a lot of horticultural history so to have a horticultural and queer history, I think it’s perfectly odd for Worcestershire. I think Worcestershire is perfectly odd.
DA: The artist David Puck did a mural of you on the wall of a house near where you used to live. Did you have prior knowledge that that was going to happen?
GL: Oh yeah, round the corner. I knew the day before so they’d been trying to contact me but I’d been so busy that I hadn’t seen it. I’d heard of David Puck before and obviously, everyone wants to be a mural right? In a good way, not in a sad way. It was amazing to see it. I mean the number of times I got kicked out of The Chestnut and walked back that way home, it’s amazing. I think I’ve even thrown up outside that very house.
DA: What a better way of representing it! They could have had an arrow maybe! And how did you feel about the end result?
GL: I think it’s gorgeous. I think it’s really beautiful. It’s nice to see me looking pretty for once because I love pulling faces and looking like an absolute clown. But I think David was very kind and didn’t do a single double chin. Obviously, it’s not true to life because I look beautiful.
DA: When the artists were announced for Rupauls Drag Race UK season 2, you were one of the most recognized and well-known. Did you feel a lot of pressure going on to the show? And Did you know many of the other artists before the show?
GL: To be honest, I didn’t realize. I think Drag Race was my validation of me doing a successful job so I didn’t think anyone would know who I was. So when I walked in and people knew who I was and knew the catchphrase, and I knew a lot of the people, I suddenly thought ‘oh hang on’. I didn’t realize people would know who I was.
I had no concept of that until after Drag Race. I was very lucky because I was working with people I’ve worked with before and some very good friends of mine. Of course, seeing Bimini was amazing because she’s one of my good drag friends, we’ve been friends for years. In fact, I think she came in just after me so to see her and then Asttina who’s a really good friend of mine and Joe Black, I knew them before.
I’ve worked with Lawrence and I knew who Tia Kofi was but I’d never met her in real life. So it was good having friends and great meeting new friends. For me, meeting someone like Sister Sister, who is an absolute weirdo (who got a bastard of an edit and is really nice) she’s become one of my best friends outside of the drag world. She comes round to mine so to meet someone like Sister Sister and get a new best friend is amazing.
DA: Talking of Bimini, they mention you quite a bit in their book. You talked openly on the show about identifying as nonbinary. Were you surprised at the public support you and Bimini received?
GL: Oh do they mention me in their book? I’ve not read the book yet as I’ve been too busy but thank you Bimini. Better than Lawrence, you bitch! Oooohh they said no swearing at the museum. This is draggy though so it’s alright, the reaction from everybody, I was not expecting at all. Like I said before, I had no idea anybody knew who I was and I always liked that association between Ginny the character I play and the person I am at home is very separate.
I kind of forgot about being interviewed out of drag and looking like myself and talking about personal stories so to have that conversation and watch it, it was very confronting to see yourself bawling your eyes out, revealing something to someone that ultimately was great.
The number of times I feel overwhelmed by it, the public reaction was phenomenal and that’s a hard word to spell. It was really phenomenal because I had this reaction from people- people would laugh at my work or get spooked out by it but they were reacting to me as an artist. I thought it was incredible and very humbling. I’m just sad that I couldn’t answer everyone’s messages because usually, I don’t have that many. I could message everyone but now it’s incredibly hard as I’m on such a big platform. I just wish I could talk to people individually so I love it when I meet people and they say my story helped and that’s the best thing I can hope for.
DA: Well people will read this and see how humbling it was for you.
GL: It was incredibly humbling you know, I think Ginny the character I play is an absolute moron, annoying, very much a dickhead (another word, uh oh, naughty) but myself, that’s not me so for people to respond to me as a person as opposed to me as a performer was incredibly humbling so thank you, everyone, and thank you Bimini writing me in your book. I’m the affordable Bimini Bon Boulash. (laughing)
Dragadventures: The local one.
Ginny Lemon: The local one. Are you local? (laughing) The local Bimini Bon Boulash!
DA: You are an artist of many talents, with a never-ending CV of achievements, last year you released your album ‘Greatest Pip’s’ will there be an upcoming new album in the future?
GL: Well actually, yes there will be!
DA: Ooh an Exclusive!
GL: Yes, so I have been working on an album now since I left drag race. I’ve been writing and creating with some amazing friends that I’ve worked with before. It’s also been a great opportunity to write music with my boyfriend Jack @somelittlecakes. Because of lockdown, everything’s been delayed, we’ve had to do everything remotely and get it all together as opposed to getting in the studio and working. So it’s been great to get back to doing what I love the most and the work that I’m proud of the most, which is my music. I write my music, I produce my music, I work very hard on the tracks and I think it’s something quite different. It’s called Tonic and it will be coming out in the new year. It’s about how to heal after lockdown and getting through a traumatic experience which Drag Race was for me. It’s all about healing and it’s the tonic to what we all need and hopefully, people can dance, people can cry and people can walk out of their jobs listening to this album. (laughing)
DA: Will there be a tour coming up?
GL: Fingers crossed. I’d love to get a tour going. I’ve got lots of things planned at the moment so it’s just fitting it in but I really wanna focus on the album and completely do the best I can and bring that alive on stage so whether that’s a tour or a few one-off shows, I don’t know but we’ll make it happen
DA: Hopefully a local one?
GL: Oh yeah, well who knows maybe even the museum itself. For an album launch, it would be a good location.
DA: You’re also a big Kate Bush fan, what’s your fave song?
GL: Ironically, my favorite Kate Bush song is Burning Bridge which people asked me after drag race and they were like- Burning Bridge and Drag race and I was like ‘It doesn’t represent that at all.’ (laughing.) But Burning Bridge is one of my favorite Kate Bush songs of all time and also Suspended in Gaffa. I think it’s the best pop song of all time that’s ever been written and the album The Dreaming is my favorite of all time.
But I’d also like to say is the reason I got Kate Bush tattooed is that I’m actually a huge Tori Amos fan as well and I thought it was more chance of me becoming friends with Tori Amos as opposed to Kate Bush. Otherwise, I would have had Tori Amos done but I think I’m going to be best friends with her, that’s what is manifesting.
DA: You performed at the first-ever Worcester Pride in 2017! How was it to finally get a pride event there and how did you get involved?
GL: I helped create the first Worcester Pride. I was one of the founders and mainly focused on fundraising so we did lots of shows, I did lots of drag shows and lots of shows in Worcester to try to generate interest before we actually had it happen. It was amazing to finally see it happen because Worcester tried to have Pride so many times and I know they’re not carrying on at the moment but at least we had one so it could happen again.
It was a lot of hard work getting that but everyone put their hard work together in 2017. It was amazing down by the river and we’ve done it since in the corn exchange car park. Not quite as glamorous but it’s nice to have a party in that car park that’s official. (laughs)
DA: Finally, what was Ginny Lemons’s biggest achievement in the past 12 months? What do you hope to achieve in 2022?
GL: My biggest achievement in the past 12 months, oh my goodness that’s really really hard to do. Well, obviously I’ve got to say the museum of Worcester and to add to the history of the West Midlands. I’m really delighted about that. Also, in a similar vein, I really loved having the Birmingham bull dressed up as me. That was such a highlight, I think I love these things because they are local. (laughs) Local drag for local people, there’s your caption. (laughing)
DA: Local drag for local people. I love that. Thank you so much for your time.
GL: Thank you! It was lovely to meet you.
Ginny Lemon’s Queen of their Hometown costume is on display at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum until January 2022, after which it will move to the new exhibition ‘Captivating Costume: Three Centuries of Fashion’ at Worcestershire County Museum at Hartlebury Castle.
Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum is open 10:30 am- 4:30 pm Monday to Saturday and is free to enter so why not check it out.
Catch Ginny Lemon on tour with Klub Kids on their X-mas X-travaganza tour this month!
Be sure to follow Ginny on all their social media below: