At the end of last year, Vinegar Strokes had been playing Lady Von Fistenburg in Death Drop at the Garrick Theatre in the West End, with the rest of the run currently postponed till later this year due to theatres being closed with the pandemic. Other stage roles for Vinegar have included being the host of Eurobeat: Pride of Europe at MT Fest last year and Sandra Bollock in the original West End cast of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie from 2017 to 2020. Having appeared on screen recently, Vinegar filmed for the new series of Celebrity Eating With My Ex and was a contestant in the first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2019, with the show proving a huge hit with UK audiences on BBC Three/iPlayer. Vinegar has released music as a soloist with songs CAMP! and SURRENDER and is now working on the new group Vinegar Strokes & The Morning Afters releasing covers with a vintage twist. We chatted to Vinegar about appearing in Death Drop at Garrick Theatre, playing Sandra in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and being a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
Before theatres closed again, you had been appearing in Death Drop at the West End’s Garrick Theatre, can you tell us about the show and your character Lady Von Fistenburg?
Appearing Death Drop was a dream come true mainly because I was able to leave the house. The show is written by Drag Queen Holly Stars and is a drag spoof of your classic Agatha Christie murder mystery, we aptly called it a Dragatha Christie mystery. I played Lady Von Fistenberg who was the lady of the house, but was all that she seemed and had a few secrets of her own. It was so amazing creating a drag show, with actual working professional drag artists both Queens and Kings and, of course, working with Drag Race royalty Courtney Act and Monét X Change, they were, of course, over the moon to be working with me too! HAHA! But on a serious note, I think having a full LGBTQI+ cast of different colours is a big deal and it was exciting to put a show of this size on during these uncertain times.
The show had been receiving great reviews, how was press night and what are you looking forward to most for returning to the show when theatres can reopen?
Press night was absolutely fabulous, we had a great night and the audience are really up for some great theatre and I think they got into the spirit of the play. I cannot wait to get back on that stage and breathe some life back into play. I absolutely loved playing LVF, so the thing I’m looking forward to mostly is just getting back into character and having fun playing an absolute posh bitch.
You were part of GUY: A New Musical, can you tell us more about this?
The lovely people of GUY the Musical got in touch asking me to contribute some vocals to their project and I’m a big fan of new musicals and new writing so I jumped at the chance. It’s a lovely piece about finding yourself and acceptance and that really rings true with a lot of my work, so I was very happy to take part in the epic video visual they put together.
How was it hosting Eurobeat: Pride of Europe at MT Fest last year?
Eurobeat was so much fun, I really enjoyed the script and character, it was really camp and silly, which is what I enjoy some of the time. I played the host of the show and it was fun to do something completely different and also took me out of my comfort zone as we had basically a week to put the whole thing together. I love MT Fests and any platforms to showcase new musical theatre as it’s the best way to keep the industry fresh and alive.
What was Sandra Bollock like to play in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and how was it finding out you’d booked the role?
I absolutely loved playing Sandra Bollock in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, this was my first West End job and I couldn’t have asked for a better role to play. The show is very special to me and I can’t wait to go and see it as an audience member. When I found out I booked the role it was amazing, I was on the train and literally screamed when I opened the email, everybody thought I was a crazy person.
What are some of your favourite memories from your time in the show?
Favourite memories are definitely the backstage antics. I’ve got to work with some incredible people and make some amazing friends so it was always fun in between scenes. Also, performing the finale number every night was very special because that was the moment when you could connect with the audience and just see how much the show has meant to them for that two and a bit hours.
Can you tell us about filming Celebrity Eating With My Ex and what is the show like to do?
Celebrity Eating With My Ex was a lot of fun and daunting at the same time. I haven’t spoken to my ex for a while and this was the first time we had the opportunity to talk about when we were dating and why it ended, it felt very liberating to wash all our dirty laundry. We are now really good friends and that feels great.
How did you find the experience as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and what did you enjoy most about your time in the show?
Being a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK was an incredible experience, of course I wish I stayed in the competition a little bit longer, but I had the best time and it’s definitely one of the best experiences of my career so far. There were so many great moments while filming, like the runways, doing the lip-syncs, making a terribly iconic outfit, but I think many of the best moments have been what I’ve done after the show, the jobs I’ve done, the people and friends I’ve met. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.
What was it like being part of the first UK series and seeing the response to the show and your appearances?
It’s never a bad thing being in the original series and we definitely offered the gateway for the audiences to fall in love with this show as it’s a great show. The response even till now has been incredible, the real fans are amazing and the support is endless.
What is it like being a guest at DragCons?
I’ve been lucky enough to go to New York Con and also have my own booth at London DragCon and I can honestly say it’s a great day, it’s a bit mad and everyone is really excited, but I think that makes it even better. I love meeting all the fans and get to chat with them briefly and also performing at DragCon is next level incredible. Unfortunately there hasn’t been a DragCon for a while but I can’t wait to go back and do another DragCon to meet all the fans and hang out with the other Queens.
Can you tell us about any other drag/theatre projects you’ve been involved with while theatres have been closed?
At the moment I’m focusing on my own projects. I am currently writing my first one-woman show which should be hitting the theatres 2022, on top of that, I am putting together some new music with my band and also looking at other projects like podcasting and also a very exciting writing project, which is coming soon. The great thing is you can put your fingers in different pies and do a few different things all at once.
Do you have any favourite theatre or TV shows to watch?
I am obsessed with WandaVision on Disney+. I’m also making my way through Star Wars as I’ve never watched them before.
We understand you release music as a soloist and as Vinegar Strokes & The Morning Afters, can you say more about this and what plans do you have for future releases?
Yes, I have released a couple of songs, CAMP! and SURRENDER, which are both on Spotify and all streaming platforms and my band Vinegar Strokes & The Morning Afters is a new venture and we are hoping to be gigging a lot this year and into next year. We do lots of cool covers and our arrangements are very quirky and fun with a vintage twist. We definitely plan to release more music in the future. You can find our music on Spotify also.
Had you always wanted a career in performing and how did you start?
Oh yes, I’ve been performing since I was a child, my music teacher discovered I could sing at school so she encouraged me to pursue it in lessons and then opportunities that come my way through school shows which led to youth theatres and it kind of went from there. I was very lucky to have many encouraging people in my life as a young boy as I was descaling what I was good at. I always assumed that I would be in The Lion King or EastEnders but, for some reason, drag, cabaret and theatre are my big passions. I love television so I would love to do more in that genre, whether it be acting or presenting.
What do you enjoy most about having an acting and drag career?
Just that it is such a varied career, I’m very lucky that I have many platforms to jump from and having such a varied plate of jobs and experiences is really exciting to me. I love that drag can enter so many different realms such as theatre, television, music and writing but, also, I love being creative, and performing has been something I have always loved and been comfortable with.
Apart from reopening in Death Drop, do you have any other plans for 2021 you can tell us about?
Yes, I’ve recently booked a really exciting job performing in Copenhagen at The Royal Danish Opera in their brand-new World Pride show. I believe I will be the first drag queen to perform on this prestigious stage, so this is a massive highlight for my career so far and I’m very excited.
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