On Thursday 9th February, AXM Glasgow‘s resident TRIGGER Thursdays played host to the London based queen and star of Drag Queens of London, Vanity von Glow. SickeningGlasgow gained exclusive backstage access to chat to the man behind the drag magic.
What’s the difference between the London and Glasgow drag?
Well keeping in mind the population of London is about 16x larger than that of Glasgow, and that the capital attracts performers from all over the world there’s a huge difference in sheer numbers of performers alone. I’m not too in the loop with the scene in Scotland, though there seems to be the same burgeoning interest amongst young people that you’ll find in cities all over the English-speaking world right now. It’s a very creative time to be involved in the LGBT+ community.
What do you miss most about Glasgow?
The price of drinks! But also there’s a wonderful nostalgia to looking back at your formative years. I moved to Glasgow aged seventeen to begin university and spent almost seven years there – building relationships, developing skillsets, drinking everything. I’m not sure I can think of a better city to draw out the best qualities in a person and I’m grateful that I was aware of that at the time, so I really enjoyed every moment of my time in Glasgow.
When did you start drag and what made you take that first plunge?
A Hallowe’en costume which snowballed out of control led me to joining Musty Gussett, Avon Starr, Miss Liza and the venue manager on stage at Delmonicas where we performed a ridiculous drag tribute to Girls Aloud. This was 2008 I believe and I certainly had no idea on day one that it would all lead to me having my own show in London’s West End at a venue as renowned as the Phoenix Artist Club!
You are arguably Glasgow’s most successful drag queen how much has your life changed since the move to London?
Like Glasgow, London can a city of extremes. Fast-paced, challenging but very fun. I love the pace of life here and moved to the city with the clear intent of being surrounded by creative influences and passionate people who would force me to up my game. I’m so pleased to have found that and to be able to afford to live comfortably here. Of course in London as a performer you’re never too far from exciting surprises like Sophie Ellis Bextor performing at my show alognwith Dan Gillespie Sells from the Feeling. I also got to perform with Lily Allen on stage at Heaven, have done fundraisers with the likes of Julian Clary and have even sung for Paul O’Grady – these things can only really happen in London’s West End.
We have to ask, Drag queens of London; how was it filming and being thrust into the public eye?
I wouldn’t say the show thrust us into the public eye, but it certainly caused a commotion amongst our peers and pals in the performance community. The show was filmed at a carefree, bacchanal phase in the lives of my pal Silver and me so we enjoyed the silliness of it all, but ultimately it’s our hard work as performers which means the most to us.
You just performed at TRIGGER tonight did you enjoy it?
I loved Trigger! I only wish I could have watched the other girls performing, but speedy costume-changes made that impossible. I know that everyone is supportive of one another’s output at Trigger and in Glasgow in general so I’d love to come back up and really get to know everyone a bit better next time! So many world-class performers list Glasgow as their favourite city to perform in. The sheer noise which escapes a drink-induced Glaswegian in their natural habitat is so exciting for a performer. Glasgow crowds of 50 give as much energy back to the artist as a full theatre!
Will Glasgow be seeing more of you in the future?
I come up to Glasgow almost anytime I’m asked, it’s the best excuse to spend a few nights with my best friends from home and catch up.
How did you come up with your name?
I wanted a character whose personality was summed up in her name. ‘Vanity’ represents the quality the character is intended to most possess – excessive love of the external self. My actual surname is ‘Glow’ and so the ‘von’ which is a nobiliary article lends some central European flavour to the whole thing.
Any tips for Glasgow queens looking to make it big or just starting out?
No performer is an island free of influences and it’s important to know when to ask for help and to learn from those around you… however! I think the secret to success is to know who you are, know what you want to be, and to pursue it quite single-mindedly. Don’t allow yourself to become derailed by fashions and trends especially as drag’s current status as the kitschy past-time of Instagram-era homosexuals won’t last forever. When people tire in a few years of the current drag craze, make sure yours is an act which can stand the test of time, provoke thought and entertain whatever the cultural climate.
Interview by Sean Gallogley