How did you come up with the name Rujazzle?
I didn’t actually choose my name; it was given to me. When I started doing drag at uni in my first year my best friend Benji and I started dressing up for house parties. In St Andrews there’s no night life or nightclubs so all you have are house parties. We would dress up and have ridiculous themes that ranged from 1950s housewives to Mexican prostitutes and that’s how we started doing drag. One of our really good friends named us the Jazzle Sisters because back in 2011 or 2012 TOWIE was the big thing. We were named after Vajazzle as a sort of silly pun, my friend was named Benjazzle and I was called Rujazzle after our boy names. My name has kind of stuck, I’ve gone through phases where I’ve wanted to change it to something that I have chosen but I kind of like it. I see being Rujazzle as not being a character but just an aspect of Ruairidh that’s a bit more sparkly.
How long have you been doing drag?
My very first time in drag was way back in 2011 when I was still at high school for a Halloween party. I was a Halloween queen like many others. My friends and I dressed as the characters from the Queen video I want to Break Free. I was Roger Taylor who was the schoolgirl, so I was blonde and I’ve been blonde ever since.
Technically I’ve been doing drag since I was a baby. I have two older sisters who would dress me up as a doll when I was a little boy, so I would be in dresses with pigtails because I had long blonde curly hair.
Who and what inspires your looks?
Not to sound too old and grand but I started doing drag before RuPaul’s Drag Race became popular in the UK so I never had that frame of reference. My idea of drag back then was Dame Edna or Lily Savage. Once I started doing drag I didn’t know anything about it. My intention wasn’t to be a drag queen it was sort of accidental and I started dressing up for fun. So I wasn’t really inspired by any one person. I suppose being a millennial I’m inspired by Lady Gaga, it’s unavoidable not to be influenced by any pop diva, really. I study art history, and as my drag evolved to my current style, I’ve become very inspired by the art world. I’ve turned out looks inspired by Van Gogh, Warhol, Magritte, Dali, and others.
Where was your first performance and what song did you perform to?
My first performance was in a talent show in St Andrews in 2013 and I performed to Sweet Transvestite from Rocky Horror. It’s my favourite film of all time and I’m tattooed. (pulls up sleeve to reveal a tattoo with the movie quote “Don’t dream it, be it”) The movie is really important to me.
You are host and performer at Mothertucker at Katie’s Bar. What made you and the other girls decide to organise your own night?
When I was in New York in the summer I went to a lot of weekly ensemble drag shows. There’s so many of them all over the city that have the same cast, a guest performer and a different theme each week. It made me think that there isn’t really anything like that in Glasgow, and the New York events were always so busy when I went to them. That was my inspiration for creating the show. Mothertucker launched back in February in Stereo as a one off thing with me, October (Fist), Perry (Cyazine) and Lacy (Rain). We were planning on bringing it back eventually but we didn’t have a venue. Fortunately, when I came back from New York, Katie’s Bar contacted me and they offered us a weekly slot. It all came together very fortuitously.
You were a RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Ambassador finalist. What made you apply?
I applied with no expectations. I really didn’t expect to be a finalist. I applied on the off chance that RuPaul might watch my video and know who I was for a split second. I was very shocked to be a finalist, but it was very affirming. I felt like all the hard work I had put in was finally paying off, especially being a relatively new queen back then (I guess I am still a relatively new queen, I’m not going to make out that I’m some kind of established act). It was very intimidating to go there and compete against queens who have been doing drag for 10/15 years.
What the process involved?
All the queens had to send in audition videos to the TV network, similar to the audition process for Drag Race. Perry and I filmed ours the night before, and we were up all night editing them. Perry got hers in on time, but mine uploaded a minute after the deadline, luckily it was still considered a valid entry! The show itself was at the Cafe de Paris in London; on the day we got ready backstage with the queens (it felt very much like drag race!), had various rehearsals, then the competition consisted of a runway, lipsync, and question round. The competition itself was of course stressful but it definitely was a great experience.
Did you get to perform in front of RuPaul?
Unfortunately not. I didn’t make it through to the lipsync round. I only made it to the runway because they eliminated over half the queens during the first round, and we were eliminated by that point. I never expected to be competing against such amazing queens such as The Vivienne and Anna Phylactic. A part of me felt guilty that I was a finalist and such established queens like Cheddar wasn’t. Cheddar is one of the most sickening queens in the entire world. It was very cool to be on stage and have RuPaul sitting right there. One thing I was sad about was we never actually got to meet RuPaul. He was amazingly professional and came in and did the show. He’s a legend and I think if I was that famous I’d be a diva too.
How did you decide what to wear for the competition?
We literally had one week to prepare and, being a poor student, I didn’t have time to go out and order a custom gown. I wore something I made myself. Looking back, I felt that it was pretty ratty but it was fine. I was going for a sort of Huntsman, highland look. I wanted to be Scottish but not stereotypically so, and I focussed more on influences from Vivienne Westwood, high fashion plaid. RuPaul laughed when I pretended to shoot him with my gun so that’s something at least.
In a recent article you wrote for The Saint (a University of St Andrews Student publication) you described drag (and gender expression of all kinds) as going through something of a “renaissance”. Do you feel that there is a cultural shift in the way that drag is received now?
Yes, definitely. I think like any art form it goes through periods of being in vogue. I think its last peak was around the mid 1990s I would say. It’s mad to think that someone like Lily Savage had a primetime TV show in full drag in the 1990s. You know its funny because one of Lily Savage’s TV shows was being shown on TV in the hospital room when I was being born!!
I do think that Drag Race has had a huge impact on the way drag is perceived. It has made it much more human and relatable and not so weird and niche, which it still is. Drag race’s significance lies in the fact that it shows the queens as human, well rounded people who aren’t some kind of weird cross dresser but is just doing a type of job. At the end of the day, its fun and you’re being there to make people happy. That’s why I love doing drag. People say to me all the time that Mothertucker is the highlight of their week, that they enjoy coming. It makes them happy. That’s what drag is there for, to bring joy.
Looking at pop culture from the 80s and 90s, drag artists and “gender benders” seemed to be more visible on TV and in the music industry. Thinking about now do you think that, with regards to media presence, drag and other forms of gender expression have been excluded from the mainstream media?
That’s an interesting point actually, I’ve never really thought about it before. I suppose you could look at someone like Lady Gaga who expresses her gender in a way that is very creative. But there aren’t a lot of men who are like that.
Exactly! We always think of the 21st Century as being a liberal era, based on a philosophy of equality, however if we look to the media for positive images of gender expression they appear to be significantly lacking.
Maybe part of the reason why artists such as Boy George, Marilyn or Pete Burns were able to become successful was due to the popularity of the New Romantic scene of that time. It was a follow on from the punk era, where it was meant to shock, so maybe we’ve moved past that in a way. Perhaps the artists aren’t interested in expressing themselves in that way. It’s an interesting point and I’m not sure why. It may change, we may be going through a period where media is quite bland. There are some American examples, Adam Lambert who is a bit more androgynous, or Jeffree Star. The only UK artist I can think of recently was Seann Miley Moore who recently appeared on X Factor. I also think within gay culture there’s still stigma attached to being feminine. A lot of gay guys are put off wearing makeup or acting in a way that might compromise their ‘masculinity’.
Do you think there should be a Glasgow based reality drag show, in a similar vein to The Drag Queens of London?
Yes, absolutely!! Theres lots of stories to be told that are not being shown to the Glasgow public.
Would you like to be featured on the show?
You know, I have this fear on any reality show that I would be given a really bad edit. I think someone like Lacy would be a fan favourite because she’s got a really cute personality, but I think I would come across as a bitch. I just know I’d get the Roxy Andrews edit. But I’m a sweetheart really.
You can find Rujazzle every Tuesday at 9pm for Mothertucker in Katie’s Bar. With free entry and an amazing performance every week, there’s no excuse not to go, folks!!!!!!