Get all the tea on ‘Drag Race UK’ from the newly minted winner
It shouldn’t be surprising the person whose name RuPaul loved saying took home the Drag Race UK season 2 crown. But when we heard Lawrence Chaney declared the UK’s next drag superstar, we were just as shocked as her.
After one heck of a season, we finally know who’s getting their own World of Wonder web series. Showing her cunning, uniqueness, nerve, and talent, Lawrence Chaney fought her way to the top, and now she has the crown to show for it.
What this means for Scottish queens
Lawrence made it clear throughout the season that Scottish drag is a whole different world from British drag. But she thinks winning Drag Race UK season 2 isn’t just for her, but the people who built her up along the way. “When I won though, I couldn’t help but think of all the queens that had raised me, you know. . . . To me it felt like a success story, not just for myself but for all of Scotland.”
Leaving behind a good laugh
At the end of the day, Lawrence hopes those looking back at Drag Race UK season 2 just get a good laugh. Whether you’re escaping current political environments, the pandemic, or just your daily life, she hopes people will turn to her winning season to laugh through it all.
“I want my legacy to be that no matter how bad the world is, no matter how socially, politically, and during a pandemic as well, I want people to remember that if I can look at it and laugh and make a joke about it, then I want everyone to laugh along with me.”
You can read our entire interview with Drag Race UK season 2 winner Lawrence Chaney below.
How did you get started with drag in the first place?
It’s a very funny story actually. So I was a big fan of Cher growing up, aren’t we all. I saw Cher had this new movie out called Burlesque. And I just loved the soundtrack, I loved the music, I loved Cher’s costumes in it. And I Googled it one night, and a title popped up: “Welcome to Burlesque Cher Live”. I wanted to see if she’d done it live or was going to do it live.
But then I clicked on the video and I’m like “What’s Cher doing in a bar, doing this song? What’s going on?” And it turns out it was Chad Michaels, not Cher. And I remember being like, “Wow, who’s Chad Michaels? I need to know who this person is, they’re amazing!” Then I found out Chad was on series 4 of Drag Race and I just started watching then, and became obsessed with it.
Being 14-15 at the time, I was still in the closet and really nervous, really shy, and very weird. I remember a lot of the kids in school would bully me and I didn’t have a lot of friends.
So, to see this show, where everyone’s kind of, well they were sisters they get on, apart from TV drama, and see people at the top of their game, doing really well and talking openly about pride, and relationships and marriage and all this it was just really really inspiring and I’ve never stopped watching.
I remember I started playing with makeup and steal my mom’s black eyeliner and I’d try and make myself look like Cher, then Lady Gaga, and it just kind of progressed. Then I found out Sharon Needles was coming to Glasgow, and then I went along for the Drag show when I turned 18.
I remember I went out of drag and I felt so lost because I wasn’t in drag. I felt that something was missing. The next time, Jinx Monsoon came to Glasgow and I dressed up as Little Edie, her character she did on Snatch game.
And I literally just never looked back. I felt so empowered, and that’s really how it started. I was a fan of the show, and started out dressing up as these Ru girls. And then it kind of developed into my own character, and I was able to incorporate my own kind of sense of humor with that. You’ve got to kind of view the world, or view the scene or view your community, and kind of find where you fit in that, and then work your way around it and navigate that.
Why did you audition for Drag Race UK, and what was your reaction when you were cast?
So I auditioned for series one of Drag Race UK. Again, I’ve been waiting years to go on the show. I just love the show, I love Ru, and I love what the show stands for. So it was a no brainer that I want to go on the show.
I never sat around and waited for the show in that sense, I always was very driven to be on ad campaigns in Scotland and be on TV in Scotland and all of this in drag you know. I’m not sitting around and waiting for RuPaul to choose me, I’m gonna make him have to choose me, because I’m at the top of my game here.
So it was just a no-brainer that I would keep trying until I got on. So when I finally got on, I mean I was crying, I was happy, I was sad, all of these emotions. You don’t know why you feel them but you do, and I was just so over the moon.
I’m so proud of the work that I put in was finally paying off. So a lot of celebratory drinks, and then the real work had to kick in. Like “Right let’s make these runway lewks, let’s think of what my game plan is. Let’s put our best foot forward.”
Throughout the season, you’ve made it clear you were doing this competition for not just yourself, but all Scottish queens. Why do you think Scottish drag is a whole different world from the rest of the UK drag community?
Scottish drag is very underrated. I think partly, you know, that has to do with the lack of representation and Drag Race. But again, it’s not just Drag Race’s fault. When you look at the Scottish drag community, there’s very few queens that have gone viral. You know, these Instagram models, like Hungry who is an amazing makeup artist and queen.
None of us are at the heart of it in the mainstream world or had an article on us or anything like that. So I think we found it really hard to find our voice. I think generally, that’s not just a Scottish drag thing: that’s a Scottish thing. Like, I love Austin Powers and one of my favorite characters in Austin Powers is Fat Bastard.
But rather than get a Scottish person to play it, it’s just Mike Myers that plays the character. We kind of have a history of “Should we get a Scottish person to play that role? Nah, we’ll get someone to do a funny accent and they’ll do it.” So, we naturally are never the first in line for anything.
So for me, when I got on the show. it was, obviously, there was a vanity element of “Yes, Lawrence, you did it! You got on Drag Race!” Same with winning, it was “Oh my god! You won! You did this!” When I won though, I couldn’t help but think of all the queens that had raised me, you know.
Or the ones who guided me in the season, and told me when I was being twat, or told me when I was being stupid or when a joke didn’t land well or when I was struggling, that taught me to do this not that, we’ll give you this, you need that, and when you’re in front of our coach you need to say this, not that. To me it felt like a success story, not just for myself but for all of Scotland.
You’ve had so many highs and lows this season. For you, what was your highest high, and lowest low?
My highest high was definitely the “UK Hun” RuRuvision Song Contest with the girl group. And the reason that was my highest high was because I never thought I could do it. And initially I struggled, you know, I struggled with picking up the choreo and I struggled to sing.
Imagine you’ve never recorded a song before. I remember just being like, “How does Madonna manage this?” And I just realized in that moment, it was advice Ru & Michelle had given me. In the Rusical they said, “You aren’t bad. You think you’re bad, and that’s holding you back.”
And then I brought that back up and I said, “Well yeah, maybe I’m not bad, Maybe it just takes me longer to pick something up.” So rather than trying it once and going “Nah, nah, can’t do it.”, How about you just keep trying at this thing, and see how well you can do. Luckily, it stuck. And you know, we all had so much fun in that challenge.
My lowest low. . . . you know I really struggled mentally throughout the competition, and I feel bad because me and Ellie [Diamond] are really good friends, but I think the lowest low was that argument we had, because regardless of who was wrong, did I need to start an argument over a running order? Probably not.
But what you’re meant to do here, you’re being tested to every extent of your being, you’re being mentally or physically drained. Even your friendships, they’re being tested against you. But like Ellie said on the show, she messaged me to get advice on how to do drag. I just thought in my head, obviously Ellie won’t screw me over, because we’ve always had that, we’ve always had each other’s back.
We’ve always got ready together, we’ve always done loads of things together so I guess it was the not expecting it that made it hurt more. I think that was the only time I looked at myself, and said “Lawrence right now you are the product of those bullies in school.” By being this bullied kid, you know, I do have a thing about loyalty and my friends being loyal to me.
But you are basically proving those bullies right, that they were able to bully you because you’re just arguing back, not adding anything to the conversation. You’re just being upset. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to be upset, but on national television when you’re being filmed, it’s maybe not the best thing. So, glad me and Ellie are friends afterwards but no, it wasn’t my best moment.
What do you hope your legacy with Drag Race UK is?
I want my legacy to be that no matter how bad the world is, no matter how socially, politically, and during a pandemic as well, I want people to remember that if I can look at it and laugh and make a joke about it, then I want everyone to laugh along with me.
That is how we get along. That’s how we get through these situations. By looking at it, spinning it on its head, finding what’s funny, and then going, “Okay, this is a big bad world. But let’s laugh at this part, and this part.” You’re really breaking it down, because we all really need to laugh right now.
You can catch up on Drag Race UK season two on BBC iPlayer in the UK and on WOWPresents Plus in the U.S. & other select territories.