The first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK was a real triumph - particularly, of course, for its eventual winner, the ever-magnificent The Vivienne.
Midlands Zone caught up with the Liverpool cabaret star to find out about her time on the show - and why the guy who plays her, James Williams, decided to enter the wonderful world of drag...
How did it feel to win Drag Race UK?
Bloody marvellous! I said at the time that it was nuts, and it really was!
Did you have a wild night out celebrating your victory?
If you’d call a little party with all the girls & crew and a McDonald’s in bed ‘wild’, then yes, I guess I did!
As your victor’s prize, you get to create a web series. Any ideas for it yet?
It’s early days, but I’d imagine it’ll be some sort of ‘Vivienne takes Hollywood’ thing.
And your next big event is your wedding, isn’t it? Will you be wearing drag for the occasion?
Oh good God, no! That would be an absolute nightmare! Yeah, the wedding’s happening on the 15th of December. Chad Michaels, who I absolutely adore, is marrying us as Cher! Michelle Visage and Alan Carr are both coming, and RuPaul’s very welcome if it fits his schedule.
How was the experience of working with RuPaul on the show?
He’s professionalism personified - couldn’t ask for anything more.
What were the highlights of the series for you?
Snatch Game! That’s the one I really wanted - and I got it!
What did you find most frustrating during the series?
Not being able to smoke as much as I usually do.
Do you feel your personality came through in terms of how the show was edited?
I was 100% me. They left out every nice thing I did for every other girl in that competition, but hey ho.
You opened up on the show about your four-year drug addiction to Ketamine. What helped you beat the addiction, and what advice would you give to someone who also wants to quit?
You’ve got to want to do it, and if that means losing mates, then so be it. You can do it!
Did you always believe that you could go all the way in the competition?
I always believe I can do anything.
Clearly your Donald Trump, Cilla Black and Kim Woodburn impressions are spot-on. Which other celebrities do you like impersonating?
Cher, Bette, Catherine Tate, Robin Williams. I do sooo many.
Both RuPaul and Michelle Visage were clearly impressed with your Donald Trump impersonation in the Snatch Game. How did all that praise make you feel?
It was truly brilliant. Snatch Game was the one thing I wanted to slaughter! And I think I did!
A lot has been made of the spat you had with Divina De Campo. Was it as tense as it was
portrayed, and how are you now with each other?
I hate her! Only jokin’! We’ve been mates for 12 years and we’re still mates! Even more so.
How did you start out on the drag scene?
I started out as a make-up artist in Debenhams in Liverpool, then I found the city’s nightlife scene, which burst open my eyes to drag. I looked at some of the drag queens and thought, I can do that! I told the owner of a club one night, “I’ll do that - times 100!”
How did your stage name come about?
It was given to me by my gay family. I always wore Vivienne Westwood, so everybody always called me Viv. But when you wanna take over the world, you need to put ‘The’ before ‘Vivienne’ - and here she is!
What made you leave the UK and become a resident artist at Sparkles Cabaret Bar in Gran Canaria, and what eventually made you come back to the UK?
I left the UK to go work at Sparkles to say goodbye to my drug addiction. I left it on the plane and didn’t look back. I had two great years over there but moved back home for Drag Race UK. I just knew it was going to happen!
In 2016, you won a competition to become RuPaul’s Drag Race UK ambassador. How did it feel when you won?
Fucking unreal! RuPaul’s just chosen me as an ambassador for his brand! Wow!
Do you feel the 2016 success gave you an unfair advantage in terms of being selected to feature in the first season of the UK show?
Oh hell, no! Everybody walking through that door was shitting themselves - including me!
What’s next for The Vivienne?
I’m currently in rehearsals for the UK tour of DragRace UK, which is hitting Birmingham on Sunday 1 December at the Alexandra Theatre. Then I’m doing a new show with Baga called Morning T&T, which is basically a feature-length Snatch Game. It’s a spoof of a morning TV show, like Good Morning Britain or Good Morning America, and features Donald Trump and Margaret Thatcher no less. After that, I’m going to be putting together and touring a stand-up comedy show. So keep your eyes peeled by following me on
Instagram and Facebook!
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