Recently, Tayris has started hosting a monthly musical theatre-themed show Slaybill at Arcobaleno in Brighton, and has a number of other residencies including at Club Revenge, Tonight Josephine at Waterloo and Proud Cabaret Brighton. At the Brighton Fringe in May, Tayris performed with SASSY! 2.0 for the second year, and she was a special guest judge on The Church of Yshee Grand Finale and the support act at the Southampton date of Victoria Scone’s Jam-Packed Tour earlier this year. In 2021, Tayris was the winner of the Brighton Drag Pageant, and her upcoming events are posted at the start of the month on Instagram Story, and Tayris will be performing this Saturday, 12th November, at HERE at Outernet as part of the line-up of Thiqué. Catching up with Tayris, she told us about hosting her monthly musical theatre-themed show Slaybill, winning the Brighton Drag Pageant in 2021 and being a special guest judge on The Church of Yshee Grand Finale.
You have recently started hosting a monthly musical theatre-themed show Slaybill at Arcobaleno in Brighton, can you tell us about this?
Absolutely! My first connection to drag was musical theatre, as I know it is for many queer drag artists. I have been performing in musical theatre since about the age of 14/15, and as an adult even had some semi-professional work such as adverts and tours, so it seems like a natural progression of my personal narrative to begin drag, and it really has been a pleasure to fuse the two. There are a lot of artists in Brighton who celebrate musical theatre but not always a lot of shows and/or venues to accommodate the kind of project Slaybill is (an all-musical theatre cabaret night with dancers, production value et cetera), so it really has been a passion project of mine and I feel very privileged and proud to have seen it blossom and thrive due to everyone’s hard work!
What do you enjoy most about performing at Arcobaleno and what’s it like seeing the response to your shows?
I believe it’s the combination of what the space represents and what theatre has always represented to me. It’s about finding home in the escapism of character, and to be able to marry my love and adoration for musical theatre with a venue and a team that are so incredibly dedicated and passionate towards encouraging beautiful queer spaces and artistry, it really feels like a show that I can call home and I hope that resonates in my audience too – the last edition every table was pre-booked so we must be doing something right!
In May, you performed with SASSY! 2.0 as part of Brighton Fringe, how was your time performing with them?
I love SASSY! This was the second year I was able to get involved with them, and it’s always a delight. Brighton Fringe is such a fantastic time for emerging work, and Izzy and the SASSY! team (from the dancers to the burlesque to the specialist artists and more), we managed to put on a truly fantastic show and fingers crossed I’ll be there again next Fringe season!
Can you tell us about winning the Brighton Drag Pageant in 2021 and what was it like to be part of?
It was immensely validating to say the least. As a queer person of colour, growing up it could be difficult to find myself and know that my presence had validity and worth in spaces, and I feel very lucky to have always had such accessibility to Brighton where everything queer is celebrated. I am inherently a competitive person, and I believe that’s because not only as a person of colour in a very white world do you have to give yourself the drive to succeed, but I have a lot of faith and belief in my art and my perspective so I was very much excited to put that to the test in a cultivated polished way. I passed over the crown to another fantastic artist of colour, Vlad Von Kitsch, this summer just gone, but to not only be the first artist of colour to win the title but also to be gifted with such a wonderful platform and opportunities as a result of taking the title, was very humbling.
How do you find the experience performing in Brighton and do you have a favourite aspect of the Brighton drag scene?
I love Brighton! Growing up in Eastbourne which, while only a stone’s throw away, was culturally and progressively quite different in ways, it always seems like some sort of dream to finally get to move to Brighton one day and so to be able to put that into place is really wonderful. The scene around me is so encouraging and versatile and unique, and having worked a lot in places like Leeds, London, all along the coast and more, nobody does it like Brighton, for sure.
On 12th November, you will be performing at HERE at Outernet as part of the line-up of Thiqué, what are you looking forward to most for the event?
I am looking forward to such a celebration of Black excellence! The show is curated by the TuckShop and Vanity Milan of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3, both of whom have played parts in my trajectory! I met Vanity in 2019 as we competed alongside one another in a competition run by TuckShop (which she unsurprisingly beat me in because she is such a gifted and incredible entertainer)! TuckShop routinely have given space and credence to artists of colour to thrive so they definitely deserve applaud in that regard. As for Thiqué, everyone on the lineup I have had the pleasure of calling a friend and colleague prior, so more than anything I think it’s going to be a fantastic show and a wonderful time just to be in the presence of so many other artists who I find mutually inspirational.
We understand you were a special guest judge for The Church of Yshee Grand Finale, what was this like?
What can I say about what Yshee Black that PopBuzz hasn’t already slated her for! In all seriousness though, she’s one-of-a-kind and definitely has made such an incredible mark for herself in the contemporary world of drag. Having lived in the north, I definitely will acknowledge that the drag artists north of London geographically are just a lot funnier than the ones in the south, as hard as it is for me to admit! She is a one-of-a-kind gem and I think even she and I have acknowledged in ourselves that we almost see a kind of Bob the Drag Queen/Monet X Change dynamic between us… I’ll let you guess who is who! Ultimately though, she’s definitely a big champion of my work and so to be invited as part of the team for what was her last final of her competition in Birmingham was definitely an enriching experience.
How was it as the support act on the Southampton date of Victoria Scone’s Jam Packed Tour earlier this year?
I first met Victoria with Anubis, in between the time that they had filmed Drag Race but it was yet to air (and Anubis and I, if you didn’t know, go almost a decade back!), so I was introduced to her then and throughout different gigs and tours, we’ve encountered one another a few times now! It was so wonderful to see her on television because the world of drag has not only queer artists who identify out of drag as gay and cis-male, but more so incredible non-binary artists, and AFAB artists, and trans-drag artists, and I think seeing Victoria on television resonated with everyone, not only for the scene that we all knew to be true, but for all the fantastic artists who deserve to be highlighted. I am very much rooting for my sisters Vanity and Victoria on the upcoming Canada vs The World!
Can you tell us about some of the other recent shows and events you’ve been involved with, which have included Drag Brunches?
Have you been stalking my entire repertoire? Impressed to see you’ve done your research! The brunches in Leeds are so camp! As I mentioned before, I did live in Leeds as it’s where I attended university, so it definitely has a special place in my heart. A very good friend of mine, who at the time was interested in dabbling in drag, has not only since started performing and producing, but has swiftly become a main stay in the scene – shout out to Sue Pertrouper! Myself and my good Judy, Glew, have travelled up a few times now for ‘CAMP’ at Chow Down, and we will be heading back there in December for another show, so make sure you get your tickets for the campery!
What are some of your favourite highlights from your drag career so far?
All artists are themselves their biggest critic, that being said, I definitely need to give myself credit more, because in the six years I have done drag I have accomplished a lot. As well as producing my all POC cabaret night, The Chocolate Box, I have appeared in adverts, media campaigns with companies such as Beauty Bay, I’ve appeared on radio, podcasts, Attitude Magazine, stages and screens all around the country (soon to be internationally), won pageants and competitions and I even had a cheeky little cameo on Strictly last year! Where there is attention to be had, I’ll be there!
Where does your love of drag and performing come from and how did you start?
As I mentioned earlier, having done musical theatre I think nobody was truly surprised when I picked up drag, but admittedly I am Generation Ru! I remember watching Season 8 live as it aired, and seeing Bob the Drag Queen on television resonated with me in such a way that I knew it was something I had to at least dabble in, and I guess now I can say that I more than dabble!
Did you have any favourite drag queens to watch when growing up and have you been given any advice over your career that has stuck with you?
Absolutely, I feel very lucky to have been surrounded by so many artists from the jump who have not only recognised potential in me but encourage me to push myself way more than I immediately knew as possible! I definitely have to give credit to the artists and creatives in my scene who recognised all the things I could become and pushed me; Lydia L’Scabies, Coco DeVille, Crystal Lubrikunt, Alfie Ordinary, Dolly Rocket, Violet Blaze, Joe Black, I really could be here for a long time! And I’m constantly inspired by my colleagues around me, particularly in Brighton both Ex-Girlfriend and Daphne, who I think are such incredible talents in their own right and whether they know it or not are really going to definitively change the scene forever going forward.
How do you like to spend your time away from performing?
I honestly feel like my drag is so vibrant and energetic that it’s slowly making me a grumpy old man out of it! I’m really trying to practice more self care, whether that be swimming, a fragrant bath bomb (LUSH – please sponsor me!), a bike ride etc. I’m also such a Nintendo weeb so you’re likely hear me banging on about Animal Crossing or Pokémon if I ever get a chance; I’m just a simple boy who needs balance.
Do you have any upcoming plans or events that you can tell us about?
I’ve always got things popping up here and there! As well as a podcast that comes out weekly in both a visual and audio form with Daphne called THE GAG, I’ve YouTube content coming, plus some things that I’m very excited to announce soon (cryptic, I know!). At the start of every month, I post my schedule for gigs to my story, so make sure to check in on that if you’re eager to see me in person. I’m currently working multiple residencies so catch me multiple times a week at Club Revenge, weekly at Tonight Josephine in Waterloo, weekly at Proud Cabaret Brighton, monthly at Arcobaleno, and more. So if you want to hunt me down, it’s easy enough to do so and I’ll always give you a warm welcome!
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