Drag Race UK’s Ginny Lemon spills the tea on shock decision to quit the competition: ‘The judges didn’t get what I was doing’
Ginny Lemon made Drag Race UK herstory when she walked out of the lip-sync, eliminating herself from the competition. PinkNews caught up with the hairiest woman in showbusiness to find out why.
Not since BenDeLaChrist has a Drag Race queen shook up proceedings quite like Ginny Lemon, who decided, after landing in the bottom two against her dear friend Sister Sister, that she didn’t fancy a slice of lip-syncing, after all.
Dressed – rather prophetically, it turned out – as a “biohazard witch” in highlighter yellow, Ginny blew a kiss to the judges as she walked off the Drag Race UK stage for the final time, leaving Michelle Visage (and the rest of us) asking: “What just happened?” The answer, Ginny told PinkNews, is fairly simple.
PinkNews: Ginny, we need to talk about that Drag Race UK exit. It was quite something.
Ginny Lemon: I do believe they call it television gold.
Honestly! That’s never happened before.
No, I’m making herstory, as they say. Basically all I decided to do was go and have a cup of tea, and by the time I came back all the lights were off. And as far as I’m aware of RuPaul has never said “Ginny Lemon, sashay away”, so I’m still in the competition, technically.
What made you do it?
It was a million and one different reasons, really. But I had to stick with my moral and spiritual compass, go with my gut feeling. It said to me Ginny, they’re not buying what you’re selling. And there was no way that I was going to go up against somebody I had such a blossoming friendship with. I’m really not about that life. I went on as an icon and left as an icon, so I’m very pleased with how it all went down in the end.
Nobody’s ever going to forget you now. You had a look in your eye as soon as you got out onto that runway – at what point did you decide you were going to walk.
I had that cheeky grin didn’t I! Basically, I thought I did brilliantly in the challenge, I thought I looked lovely on the runway. I didn’t have a problem with my performance this week, so as soon as I started getting negative critiques I thought, you know what, I’ve not really heard anything [positive], I’ve always been in the bottom and not really done well. Who am I doing this for? I thought bugger this, I’m going to go home. No one’s done it before; it’ll make great television and get everyone talking. In these desperate times that’s what people need – a bit of bit of drama, darling!
Is it fair to say the Drag Race UK judges didn’t get what you were doing?
I don’t think they got what I was doing, no. I think maybe I was just a bit too British, a lot of my references come from old school English comedy, as well as being influenced by Kate Bush, Tori Amos, very ethereal singer-songwriters, so it’s quite an unusual mashup. And if they weren’t getting it, then they weren’t getting it. They had a little slice, you can nibble the slice, but I never forced the whole pie down anyone’s throat. They sniffed the slice, but they didn’t fancy one, you know?
Obviously as soon as you left, the siren goes off and the queens are told they’re all going home. It sounds as though you don’t have any regrets – but does any part of you think, I wish I’d had that seven month break to maybe come back with something different?
I don’t have any Ru-grets! Absolutely not, no way. You’ve got to read between the lines, look at what I was wearing. Who knows? Maybe I had a premonition, maybe that’s what the spirits were telling me: Go home Ginny, you’re getting old now, keep yourself safe, keep your boys safe. Maybe that was part of it. I was dressed as a biohazard witch – I’m not saying that I shut down production with a curse. I didn’t say that.
Well I’m definitely writing it now.
Insert menacing cackle!
As you said, one of the reasons you left was this blossoming friendship you had with Sister Sister, has that continued?
Absolutely. We broke all the rules and were talking to each other constantly, because we just recognised not only that vulnerability within each other but that class clown element. And you know, she’s a bit of a weirdo just like me. I’m always going to cherish those people because it’s very rare that you meet good people in your life and Sister is not only a fabulous queen, but an absolutely gorgeous person.
And we saw that you and Bimini had a connection, the week before you’d had had a beautiful heart-to-heart about your experiences as non-binary people.
Absolutely. It was one human having another conversation with another human, that’s essentially what I remember – it was filmed a year ago, remember. Seeing it was so raw, seeing myself be so vulnerable on screen. I had kind of had to deal with that, and then seeing the effect that it’s had on the viewers, that was something that I was completely not expecting, seeing how many people have been moved by the conversation. I really had to put my feelings aside and be like, let’s look at the big picture here, there are thousands of people messaging me, hundreds of people coming out and sharing these amazing stories, basically, people who are accepting who they are and coming to terms with themselves. That’s the greatest message I could ever give with my drag, just telling people and preaching to people to be themselves, so I think it’s amazing the response I’ve had.
Part of that conversation was you talking about your self-confidence and how that’s been a struggle. Has going on TV and being so loved by viewers helped in that respect?
I would be lying if I say it hasn’t. I was not expecting one little bit to go on and for people to like me in any way. I wanted to go and make people laugh, that was my idea. So the response… I’m not used to receiving such positive and genuine feedback, so I would be lying if I said it hasn’t helped me feel a bit more at ease. It’s given me this sense of comfort to do what I’ve been saying. It’s always easier to preach than is to practicing what you preach.
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Let’s get back to Drag Race UK – who are you backing to win?
That’s a tricky question to answer because I did have friendships before the show – I was very close with Joe Black, Bimini and Asttina. But as a fan of the show, and watching as a viewer, there are of course a couple of people I’m rooting for. Of course, I’m going to say Bimini and Sister. I want a joint win!
And finally, who were you planning for Snatch Game?
[Adopts an eerily familiar Scouse accent] Well, I dunno chuck! That’s very, very hard to say, but surprise, surprise, it’s me, Cilla Black! [Sings] What’s it all about Alfie? Do you know, I’ve had sex with all the Beatles, I’ve even licked out Ringo Starr! Oh chuck!
Of course I’d be the one and only Cilla Black because I am a huge Cilla Black fan, I have a very famous and controversial hit called “Cilla Black”, a song I wrote a couple of years ago, and I would do my fans justice by doing a lovely interpretation of our chuck, Cilla!
Drag Race UK season two continues Thursdays at 7pm on BBC iPlayer.
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