Drag Race UK star Sum Ting Wong on pressures to stay relevant and whether she’d do All Stars
Drag Race UK star and musician Sum Ting Wong has opened up about the pressure to stay relevant after leaving the runway, saying she knows some people who have gone “completely crazy” just to stay in the spotlight.
Sum Ting Wong – the stage name of Bo Zeng – appeared on the first season of Drag Race UK, eventually coming in 7th place on her season. Before she auditioned for Drag Race UK, her family didn’t know she did drag, and they now support her thriving career.
She’s also good friends with Tia Kofi, who appeared on the second season of Drag Race UK, and the two have collaborated a couple times since Sum Ting Wong sashayed off the runway.
Sum Ting Wong told PinkNews that her new single “Hypnotise” – which was written with Tia Kofi – focuses on the fears and worrying about staying famous, which is a topic she’s thought about extensively in her life after Drag Race.
“No one really talks about it,” Sum Ting Wong said. “While you’re there [on Drag Race], there is pressure to do well on the show, but there’s so much pressure that people don’t tell you about afterwards – of staying relevant.”
She explained that “so many past Drag Race queens” across the worldwide reality show “just disappear” after they leave the runway. Sum Ting Wong said there is a struggle to stay relevant and “get all this stuff out to show the world”. But she explained there is also an opposing force that questions if “you are creating content that is true to you” or “good enough”.
“I know a lot of people who, when they get to that point of no relevance, go completely balls-to-the-walls crazy, and that’s how they stay relevant,” Sum Ting Wong said.
She said this was especially appropriate given the life-altering consequences of COVID-19 on the world and the drag industry. Sum Ting Wong told PinkNews that drag queens “across the world had to adapt overnight” as soon as the pandemic hit and lockdowns happened. Many queens lost their jobs, and others have adapted their work for the new online facing era brought on by lockdowns.
Sum Ting Wong said drag artists are “hard workers” and will “adapt” and “do anything to survive” whatever is thrown at them, including a global pandemic. “Drag queens and cockroaches are the last things alive after the apocalypse,” she joked.
Sum Ting Wong said she’s been “doing a lot of things I didn’t think I would do” to keep her hustle going, but she also realised over the past year what she wants from her career. She explained that she realised she doesn’t need to be “jumping around the UK doing every single gig because it makes me look like a better queen”.
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But she said she is excited to do more festivals and see drag events flourish once again when lockdowns are fully eased. Sum Ting Wong expected there would be a “surge of the incredible art” that people have created during the pandemic that is waiting to be seen by the outside world.
When questioned about what the future holds for her, Sum Ting Wong told PinkNews that she doesn’t have any current plans to sashay down the Drag Race runway again, but if “RuPaul calls me for All Stars, I’d be like, ‘OK'”.
Instead, she wants to be the first Drag Race alumni to be signed to a major recording label – which she said isn’t as “far-fetched as I thought”.
“Before it was such a far-fetched dream, and obviously I’ve had a whole year to reflect and to be like: ‘Actually, no, you know what? That’s not a far-fetched as you think it is – just go for it’,” she explained.