Charlie Hides is not only the YouTube queen/ diva/ impersonator/ influencer/ star/ etc. who will blow your mind and make you cry with laughter after the first minute of watching his videos, but also, the oldest Drag Race contestant in herstory (season 9). Charlie Hides is the fabulous 52-year-old drag queen who knows how to write history.
Charlie was the first contestant to represent Great Britain in RuPaul’s Drag Race. He’s is a Royal Television Society Award-winning cabaret artist, YouTube sensation (more than 200 videos and 100K followers!), and “man of 1000 faces”. Known around the world for his uncanny comic impersonations of dozens of A-List celebrities, he’s surprisingly popular with the divas he portrays. Cher called him her “favourite impersonator,” Lady Gaga, Madonna and Kylie Minogue are all fans of his viral YouTube “Nightmare” videos and Boy George called the series, “comedy genius”.
Charlie began his professional career on the stand-up comedy and cabaret circuits in the US performing in Boston, NYC, LA and for many years in the gay resort, Provincetown Massachusetts. For the past 20 years, he’s been based in London and regularly performs on Atlantis Cruises, in theatres and cabarets in Europe, Australia and New York. He’s made numerous television appearances on “Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit On The Side” in the UK as well as appearing in the Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and has a residency at the legendary Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London where Freddie Mercury took a dragged up Princess Diana dancing. Not to mention that Charlie has performed with Academy Award winner Emma Thompson, pop princess Kylie Minogue and has entertained at dozens of private parties for celebrities like Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alexander McQueen. As well as being, Charlie is a Royal Television Society Award winner and has won multiple Gold Medals as BOYZ Magazine Cabaret Artist of the Year.
If you are in London, you can see Charlie LIVE on the first Sunday of every month at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. If you are not in London, then no worries. YASS secured this exclusive interview for you!
How do you feel as an internationally famous and well-respected artist?
Well that’s really nice of you to say, I’m always happy that people enjoy my videos and live shows.
What is the secret of your success?
Hard work, vodka stingers and monthly colonics.
How would you describe Charlie Hides?
First and foremost, I’m an entertainer. My live shows involve original songs, stand-up comedy, celebrity impersonations, interactive videos and a touch of glamour.
Do you feel you have left your mark in the London gay scene?
Absolutely and I’ve puked in a quite a few dressing rooms.
Your fame and success started long before RuPaul’s Drag Race. What made you want to participate in the show?
Courtney Act talked me into it. “You’ll have fun” she said!
Did your husband support your idea to go to RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Yes, he helped make the dozens of gowns that I brought with me to Los Angeles and has always been my biggest fan.
Did you enjoy being in RuPaul’s Drag Race? What were the best moments and the challenges?
99% of it was fun. It was exhilarating and exciting. Breaking my rib during the cheerleading challenge sucked as it meant I was in severe pain for the White Party and Princess Challenge, but I LOVED my Princess gown.
How has your life changed after RuPaul’s Drag Race?
I’ve always been very busy but now I’m busy in a lot more countries.
Are you still in touch with the girls from the show?
Yes, I chat with quite a few of the girls regularly. When I’m in NYC I stay at Alexis Michelle’s house and when she comes to London she stays at mine.
Why did you decide not to lipsync?
Actually, if you watch back you’ll see I did lip sync, nearly perfectly, considering I wasn’t that familiar with the song. Because of my broken rib I wasn’t able to dance around the stage. The other contestant knew I’d been duct taping my broken rib cuz they watched me do it in the dressing room and Michelle Visage asked me about it on the runway. Unfortunately, that was never shown on TV.
How do you find the fact that Valentina avoided to lipsync as well in the last season?
Hysterical. One of the funniest moments of television in years.
Is it tough to be a drag queen? What would you say to Katya who decided to take some time off from the drag scene and recover her mental health?
Our schedules are gruelling. We are constantly flying from city to city and live on very little sleep. I’d tell Katya that her health is the most important thing. I support her 100%. As I said on my final episode, most of my friends died during the 80’s and 90’s, so I’m keenly aware that taking care of my health is my number one priority.
Who are your inspirations?
I find inspiration all over the place, from fashion, music, movies, nature, art etc.
When did you start dragging?
As a teenager, my best friend Chris and I would get into very basic drag in order to sneak into nightclubs. It made us look older and the security never asked drag queens to show ID.
Who do you enjoy more impersonating and satirising?
I most enjoy impersonating a celebrity when they are in the news and I can make a sketch out of something very topical. As for satire, bashing Conservative, fundamental Christians, like my character, Loretta Lee Jackson is a lot of fun.
How long does it take to create each of your high-fashion runway looks?
The white party gown took about 15 hours and the Princess Challenge gown took about 12 hours. If a gown has beading and crystals on it then it can be 30-40 hours.
What have you learnt well during all these years of fame?
To ignore the people who say “you are a genius” as well as the people who say “you suck!”. Most things said on social media are irrelevant to me. I care about how the live audience reacts.
Do you have friends from the drag scene?
Yes! With girls I knew and worked with before Season 9 as well as some of the girls from my season. We all get together on our nights off and drink cocktails and braid each other’s hair.
What has been the best reaction from a fan?
I had a girl tell me during the meet and greet that her father had died a few weeks before and that she’d been terribly depressed and thought she’d never laugh again. My show was the first time she’d laughed and she kept hugging me and thanking me.
What would you say was all the fuss about your impersonation of Laquisha Jonz? Do you think it was a bit unfair?
The WAY it happened was unfair and many of the accusations were bullshit, but the main point was valid. Times have changed and the act needed updating. 99% of the material works perfectly well as LJO’s blonde haired blue-eyed cousin, Lisa Q Jones. I’ve never had a single complaint since.
How do you imagine the future of drag?
It will continue to change and grow and evolve. I expect it to be more colourful and even more mainstream.
Would you go back to a RuPaul All Stars?
Absolutely, I’ll be 55 years old when they start filming so I’m doing my best to keep in shape and remembering to floss as I’d like to still have all my own teeth.
Born in the US, but living in London at the moment. Where do you see yourself in the next years?
I love London and moved here to be with my husband James…. If he moves to Antartica or decides to be one of the first colonists on Mars, I’ll pack my drag bag and go with him.
What are your future plans?
I’m doing a lot more full-length shows in Theatres as Charlie and as Lisa Q Jones. My main goal is to stay healthy and to keep making people laugh. Like Joan Rivers, I hope to be 80 years old and still standing on stage saying rude and inappropriate things!
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*all images are courtesy of Charlie Hides