Drag Queens of London, London Live - TV review: 'Soho the perfect setting for this drag-queen parade'
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Wednesday 23 April 2014
This was always going to be the logical conclusion of the campy, trashy reality TV trend: a new eight-part docu-soap about the fabulous lives of Soho's most glamorous "women". Only Drag Queens of London isn't officially part of the Real Housewives franchise. It's an original commission by London Live.
Silver Summers and her best friend Lady Lloyd, who looks like Sharon from EastEnders and speaks like Frank Spencer during phone sex, are reforming The Buffalo Girls, "London's first ever drag-pop band". To that end, they marched around Soho in leather chaps and mermaid wigs, handing out flyers and holding meetings. Soho is such a compact, yet diverse London community, it makes the perfect setting for a show like this.
Silver and Lady's professional commitment was thwarted only by the band's third member, "a train wreck of crazy" called Baga Chipz. Having come up with the best drag name ever (kudos), Baga apparently felt there was no point rehearsing for their big comeback show at Madam JoJo's, when she'd rather be out on the town. One of the show's slapstick highlights was watching Baga drunkenly slide out of a cab door and straight into the gutter – while still looking up at the stars, naturally.
Buffalo Girls' creative differences suggested obvious parallels with the Sugababes story (much to their delight). Unfortunately, Silver Summers and Lady Lloyd were two timid Heidis to Baga's Mutya. On RuPaul's Drag Race, the standard by which all drag shows shows are measured, they would have pulled Baga's wig off, or at least thrown a little shade (insulted her to her face). Instead, they just whinged about her in their to-camera interviews.
Meanwhile, Silver was also moonlighting in a second, more polished Sixties-influenced drag act, The Supreme Fabulettes. According to someone called Cookie, this was the scandalous, drag scene equivalent of "being in Dallas and Dynasty at the same time". But without a single catfight to speak of, this first episode was too ladylike by half. As unlikely as it sounds, Drag Queens of London could stand to be a lot camper.
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