Drag Race UK icon Tayce on season 3 criticism, ‘fatigue’ and Queerpiphany
Drag Race UK royalty Tayce is on top of the world.
She’s wearing a full red streetwear outfit and gigantic red sunglasses when she joins our video call from home and immediately lights up the room with her energy and sass.
Tayce, 27, saw her life change dramatically in the last 11 months after making it to the top three of Drag Race UK season two.
For those, like Lawrence Chaney, who have been writing steamy fanfictions about Tayce and A’Whora, her glamorous flatmate and fellow contestant on the show, we’re sorry to announce that they no longer live together — though Tayce still uses the other’s WOW Presents Plus log-in.
From touring the UK to releasing her own clothing line and becoming a bonafide fashion darling – one who shares runways with Naomi Campbell, no less – Tayce’s time is now. The latest string in her bow is Queerpiphany, a new YouTube talk show that Tayce co-hosts with the author, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf. Having won rave reviews, it’s the slice of queer joy we so desperately need right now – much like the Welsh queen herself.
PinkNews caught up with Tayce to talk Queerpiphany, Naomi and Drag Race.
PinkNews: Munroe says she knew you from back when she was doing drag herself on the show. When did you first meet, and how was working with an old friend?
Tayce: I remember partying in East London when I moved here in 2012. I would go to certain parties and just see her around. We did not really know each other, but we were club acquaintances, vibing and having a good time.
As the years went on, I saw her become the absolute goddess she is today and thanks to Drag Race and everything, we started attending even more of the same events, and we got closer and closer.
Queerpiphany is such a good contrast with my loudness and her knowledge coming together. It’s a pleasure and privilege to work with her.
In the show, you question people from the LGBT+ community on the personalities, movies, TV programmes or music that helped them in their journey discovering their sexual identity. What was your Queerpiphany?
Between seven- to nine-years-old, I would always watch Fashion TV. I would stare at any random fashion show coming on. I did not know what it was nor who it was for, but there was Naomi Campbell.
I have always been inspired by powerful women growing up: Janet Jackson, Grace Jones and Naomi. They would make me get up in front of my telly, emulate choreography, perform in front of my family, friends, strangers or go out to McDonald’s wearing a feather boa around my neck unapologetically. It has always been the powerful women for me and camp icons like Prince.
You were invited to the British Fashion Awards 2021 as a model for an exclusive Tommy Hilfiger fashion show. How was it to be so close to your childhood icon?
It was so surreal for me to walk on the same stage as hers so close to her and be wearing the exact archive bustier that she wore 22 years prior. Naomi is up here in my regards. It was a day I’ll never forget.
During Drag Race UK, A’Whora confessed that as a fashion design graduate, the fashion industry suddenly looked down on her when she started doing drag. Yet you were there at the Fashion Awards on stage, wearing Balenciaga on the red carpet and Richard Quinn on Queerpiphany. Do you feel things are changing here in the UK?
There have been so many fashion editorial opportunities presented to me, A’Whora and Bimini. It’s progressing and changing for the better, and we just got to keep breaking down those barriers. There are so many talented designers coming up in the UK, and I’m glad to see them doing their thing, and I want to wear it all!
If I managed to get published in some big magazines and walk at the Fashion Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in the same show as Naomi, it means it can happen to someone else! It’s all about keeping going and inspiring, baby!
Did you have the time to watch Drag Race UK season three? Who brought you the most joy?
Of course, I watched it! Kitty Scott-Claus was just a bowl of positivity as always. I met her years ago during my Her Upstairs days. It was a drag bar in Camden, back when I started drag. That’s where I met Cheryl Hole, among others. So to see Cheryl on season one, me on season two and Kitty on season three made me so proud of my sisters.
I loved Choriza May’s personality on the show. Krystal Versace was a clear winner from the beginning. She’s so beautiful and such a drag prodigy. I loved to see my POC represented by Vanity Milan. It was a 10 out of 10 to watch her on the show.
Were you surprised by the lack of Black queens in the cast? [There was much criticism of the lack of diversity this time around, with Vanity Milan the only Black queen cast.]
To go from my season with three [Tayce, Asttina Mandella and Tia Kofi] to just one was a surprise. But I don’t know all the insights. [Casting for season three was announced on 2 November, 2020, with an application deadline set only 12 days later.] Maybe many of my girls who I would have loved to see on the show did not audition.
My only concern was that I would not want anyone in my position to look at that and feel discouraged because you only see one. As Vanity said on the show, being the only one must have been so much pressure. I would have felt the same. I sympathise with her 100 per cent.
There are many franchises of Drag Race starting worldwide right now. Do you watch all of them, or do you have Drag Race fatigue too?
I’ve watched Drag Race Holland, although I sometimes get a bit of a headache with the subtitles. I’m obsessed with Canada’s Drag Race, I loved season one, and I think I love season two even more. Kimora Amour is hilarious.
It’s so understandable for anyone to feel overwhelmed. As a viewer, it feels like: “Ok, I just finished All Stars, and now I’m going to see Spain. But UK’s around the corner, Canada’s coming up too, then France, Italy, whose hands are these? I don’t know.”
There’s so much Drag Race happening, but it’s fantastic to see that platform all over the world. It’s so inspiring! Let’s hope that they don’t all come out simultaneously.
Queenpiphany is available to watch on MTV UK’s YouTube Channel with new episodes every Thursday.