Having announced his upcoming headline Decopunk tour, Joe Black heads out this September for a number of shows including a date in his hometown of Brighton at the Theatre Royal, and he will be previewing the show later this month at Ventnor Fringe Festival in the Isle of Wight. It has recently been announced that Joe will be performing at Garrick Theatre on the 28th July as part of Tuck Shop for the first ever drag season live in the West End. Joe was a contestant on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK which aired earlier this year, and he is joining The Official RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Series 2 Tour in 2022. After being eliminated from Drag Race, Joe was brought back by his fellow contestants in Episode 5, and the H&M dress he wore on the show was raffled off for The Sussex Beacon and raised over £12,000. Recently answering our questions, Joe talks about his upcoming headline Decopunk tour, being a contestant on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and having his H&M dress raffled off for The Sussex Beacon.
You’ve announced your Decopunk tour starting in September, and previewing at Ventnor Fringe Festival, Isle of Wight, what can audiences expect from the show?
Cabaret mayhem and mischief! I loved the idea of combining the raucous energy of a rock show with the theatricality of a cabaret show.
What are you most looking forward to for heading out on tour and performing at Theatre Royal Brighton for your hometown show?
Oh goodness, it’s a dream come true! To be able to do such a beautiful landmark of a venue in Brighton is so wonderful. It’s right at the very beginning of the tour too, after Norwich. So a proper lovely start to it all.
How did your limited edition Decopunk Gin come about that you sold earlier this year?
I mentioned to my management that I loved the idea of releasing my own gin, because it felt very on brand. They worked all the magic and actually made it happen. We worked with a lovely distiller in Cornwall. We wanted to make sure it was really delicious and not just a naff ‘celebrity’ cash grab, we wanted it affordable and something people would really enjoy! And we managed it!
What encouraged you to be part of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and how did you find the experience taking part alongside the other contestants?
Well I’ve never been particularly competitive and I’m still not really! But when it came to the UK it was a bit of a no-brainer for me. It was very much ‘well… it’s here! Let’s give this thing a go!’
How was it working on the show during the pandemic and returning later in the series?
When the show started it was pre-pandemic! I was oblivious to what was happening out and about while I was there. I returned to a changed world! Returning was bizarre because there was another lockdown AS I arrived. My Drag Race journey was sort of weirdly in sync with the chaos of the real world.
Your H&M dress that you wore on the show was raffled off for The Sussex Beacon, how was it seeing the response?
It was lovely! We raised over £12,000 for The Sussex Beacon. I wanted to do something really good with something that was meant to be awful and a sort of ‘shame’ moment. So if I could use that spotlight to genuinely make a difference, I wanted to go full throttle on it.
What was it like seeing the window display for the first time?
Overwhelming and it was much bigger than I thought it was going to be!
How did you get into drag and cabaret and what are some of your highlights from your career so far?
I was never one of these people that wanted to do West End musicals and ended up in cabaret, which is super common. I am just very, very passionate about the cabaret format and vibe, so it was a no-brainer to go in that direction. Drag is for the aesthetic really for me. It helps create a world on stage.
Highlights, I always say performing at a castle in Germany for a goth festival. Surreal and wonderful.
Have you always had a love of performing and when did you start?
Yeah I loved doing the school plays! I think I’ve probably been very theatrical since I was a kid. But in terms of the sort of thing I’m doing now, it sort of started when I was seventeen.
Can you tell us about the videos you upload to your YouTube channel and about using Patreon for exclusive content?
Songs! Some silly, some funny, some melancholic. I try to fit the vibe of a cabaret evening into a video format. Lovely lights, spotlight, eyebrows halfway up my forehead. Done.
Can you tell us more about working in music?
My performances are all musical. I play piano, accordion and ukulele mostly! But a bit of a jack of all trades and can do a little bit on loads of things. My favourite musician is Tom Waits. He creates such a bizarre world and I always feel so immersed listening to him.
Do you have a favourite aspect of your career and what do you enjoy most about interacting with fans?
I love how happy it makes other people. That is both my favourite aspect of my work and also what I enjoy most about interacting. People all have an individual story and it touches them in different ways. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What would you have liked to have known about the industry before starting out and what advice would you give someone new to performing?
Be nice to everyone. You gain nothing from acting up and being obnoxious. I’ve had my moments but I had the right people around me to put a stop to it, luckily. Being kind is just as important as being able to do what you do.
Apart from the Decopunk and Drag Race tours, where can fans see you perform/host in the upcoming months?
All over the bloody place! Keep an eye on socials for announcements!
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