RuPaul’s Drag Race star Charlie Hides breaks down over ‘blackface’ criticism
Star of RuPaul’s Drag Race Charlie Hides has given an emotional interview after dropping a black character.
The 52-year-old drag artist, from Boston, Massachusetts, is currently competing in RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Hides had been performing as a black character, Laquisha Jonz, for 14 years, before abruptly ending the character following complaints of “blackface”.
Now he has spoken out about the controversy for the first time, in an interview with gay former Big Brother contestant Andy West.
Hides said in the YouTube video: “I wasn’t banned. I chose to voluntarily stop doing a character that I had done for 14 years without a single complaint.
“Someone had seen a poster, hadn’t seen the character, didn’t know anything about the character’s history, the back story or anything.
“I apologised profusely. Cher is part Cherokee, I don’t believe I have to be Cherokee, but what I do have to be is sensitive.
“And if someone says what you are doing is upsetting me or offending me then I have to look at it.
“To continue would have been an act of protest. Basically I changed the wig and changed the makeup.”
He went on: “There is prejudice in the world, and there’s real racism in the world and the last thing I want to do is contribute to real problems.
“I want to be a solution. As an actor, my job is to entertain people. The last thing I wanted to do was to demean a group of people and that was the accusation.
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“What’s my pain compared to others? I have never been racially profiled, I’ve never ben pulled over and frisked and searched, or denied housing.
“There’s real prejudice real misogyny in the world.”
The character had been performed at London’s Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT), but caused a row after the character was shared on social media.
A change.org petition, signed by more than a thousand people, read: “Laquisha Jonz is a racist act based on misogynist stereotypes of Black working class women, it is outdated, offensive, shameful and has no place in the LGBT Community.”
It added: “From Stonewall to today, LGBT people of colour have been on the front lines fighting against homophobia. By booking this act, these venues are holding this history in contempt.”
The venue subsequently released a statement saying Jonz would no longer appear at the venue, which it hasn’t.
That’s in part thanks to the special appearance of Lady Gaga, who gave the queens some moving words of wisdom.