All hail the new Mary Queen of Scots – one who can serve looks, de­liver fierce choreo, and belt out a live vo­cal spec­ta­cle.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Cé Ó Coileáin Words Wil­liam J Con­nolly

All hail the new Mary Queen of Scots – one who can serve looks, de­liver fierce choreo, and belt out a live vo­cal spec­ta­cle.

Bri­tish drag queen Mary Mac is the stand­out star in bars and clubs up and down the UK. A reg­u­lar at the Two Brew­ers, our glam­orous host at Gay Times Hon­ours 2018, and hav­ing per­formed on the main stage at al­most ev­ery lead­ing Pride cel­e­bra­tion in the coun­try, we’re con­fi­dent in say­ing she is as leg­endary (and loved) as they come this year.

But which fa­mous queer faces helped shape her now il­lus­tri­ous drag char­ac­ter? Would she be up for com­pet­ing on a Bri­tish ver­sion of RuPaul’s Drag Race? And did she have a crack­ing time head­ing up Gay Times Hon­ours? Well, we might be a bit bias on that last one ....

Was life as an in­ter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful drag queen al­ways the goal?

Never in a mil­lion years would I have seen my life tak­ing this ut­terly fab­u­lous and crazy road, even as an eight year old boy dressed as Goldilocks with three stuffed bears tied to me for my pri­mary school Hal­loween disco. My mother has a lot to an­swer for! I guess the signs may have been there for oth­ers and I al­ways knew I wanted to be a per­former, but I wouldn’t have guessed drag would be­come my liv­ing.

Talk us through how the name Mary Mac be­came leg­endary?

I still have quite a while to go to be­come leg­endary but I’m cer­tainly work­ing hard at it, one long-ass med­ley at a time. I love my job and the crazy places it takes me to, giv­ing me sto­ries to tell ev­ery­one who comes to the show. I never re­ally con­cern my­self about fame or ‘be­ing some­body’. If peo­ple still come to the shows ev­ery week and en­joy them and my act con­tin­ues to grow then my haƒis is happy.

Where do your big­gest drag in­spi­ra­tions come from?

As a child I re­mem­ber watch­ing Lily Sav­age a lot on TV and my mum had one of her live shows on VHS which I used to watch a lot. Most of the jokes went over my head but the con­cept fas­ci­nated me and the char­ac­ter of Lily was so fully fleshed out and real you couldn’t help but love her. Nowa­days, I try and watch as many queens as I can wher­ever I am be­cause ev­ery­one has their own take or an­gle that they come from, whether it’s amaz­ing one-wo­man com­edy shows like Bianca Del Rio or Myra DuBois to full out pro­duc­tion shows like Funny Girls in Black­pool.

You’re a busy gal, werk­ing it up and down the UK with your live shows. Talk us through what’s com­ing up next for you...

For my next project, I’m ac­tu­ally about to take a mini break from ‘the scene’ to ap­pear in the pan­tomime Dick Whit­ting­ton in Royal Leam­ing­ton Spa. It’s a break from the scene but not a break at all re­ally as it’s a de­mand­ing 12 shows a week sched­ule with some as early as 10:15am! I love it though and it brings back amaz­ing mem­o­ries of my child­hood watch­ing and per­form­ing panto in Glas­gow. 2019 is as busy and packed full of gigs as this year has been with me trav­el­ling all over the UK again, which I love. I will also be per­form­ing at Pride events across the coun­try and in­ter­na­tion­ally which is al­ways amaz­ing! And you’re also a reg­u­lar at the Two Brew­ers. Live drag shows in the UK are (fi­nally) get­ting their mo­ment...

I think the au­di­ence is get­ting biƒer and more var­ied which can only be a good thing for the art of drag over­all. Ev­ery­one has their own wants from a show but, in my opin­ion, if you are a queen who can keep an au­di­ence fo­cused and en­ter­tained for 45 min­utes, you’re wor­thy of ev­ery penny you get. Lots of peo­ple can sing or dance or tell a joke but cre­at­ing an act is the dif­fi­cult part, mak­ing peo­ple in­vest and be­lieve in what you’re do­ing, but once they do it’s to­tally worth it. There are some in­cred­i­ble queens do­ing live shows all over the UK and peo­ple need to get out and see it. You don’t know what you’re miss­ing out on!

How do you think the pop­u­lar­ity of shows like Drag Race are adding to the main­stream ap­peal of drag?

Drag Race is a phe­nom­e­non that has brought lots of at­ten­tion to drag from peo­ple from ev­ery walk of life which is great, but has also made some au­di­ence mem­bers be­lieve they are ex­perts af­ter watch­ing a few sea­sons which can be highly frus­trat­ing but also hi­lar­i­ous es­pe­cially on Twit­ter. The show is a lit­tle slice of the drag world but enough to make peo­ple cu­ri­ous about what else is out there, on their doorsteps, wher­ever that may be. In my opin­ion, it may have also helped other TV pro­duc­ers see the ap­peal of drag again. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen queens on prime­time TV in the UK, but more and more it’s hap­pen­ing and I’m all for it. Frankly, I’d quite like to be on The Chase and if Drag

Race has helped make that hap­pen then long may it live!

And the wider ap­proach is help­ing to hope­fully sup­port LGBTQ venues, too...

Yes, I think so as there are tons of events and post show par­ties now hap­pen­ing with Drag Race queens in venues up and down the coun­try bring­ing more peo­ple through the doors and show­ing off the lo­cal queens who are of­ten sup­port­ing or host­ing these shows. Lon­don, es­pe­cially, has seen so many LGBTQ venues close down and we can’t af­ford to lose any more so any event that brings new cus­tomers to our cabaret venues is more than wel­come.

If we fi­nally get a UK ver­sion of Drag Race, how would you like you to see it dif­fer from the US edi­tion?

Wouldn’t it be amaz­ing? It would have to be quite a dif­fer­ent show be­cause we have a mas­sively di­verse scene in the UK but also a tiny one too in terms of who knows who, which could lead to some amaz­ing drama. Can you imag­ine UK Un­tucked? I’m not sure how I’d cope if I had to lip sync against some of the in­cred­i­ble lip sync per­form­ers we’ve got like Ch­eryl Hole, but I’d give it a good old try. We’d have some in­cred­i­ble UK judges. I’m see­ing Michelle Vis­age snap­ping her fingers next to Julie Wal­ters cool­ing her­self with a shade fan!

What’s life like for Mary Mac away from the spot­light. We hear you’re not even a UK res­i­dent any­more. Some­thing we said?

No, no not at all. My body just craved the sun­shine af­ter be­ing de­prived of it most of my child­hood in Scot­land. I spend most of my week at home in Lan­zarote with my hus­band Brett and our dog Ap­ple, try­ing to re­lax and en­joy the weather but usu­ally do­ing lots of ad­min work and travel plans while Brett works his fingers to the bone cre­at­ing all my looks. He’d have to be se­cretly packed in my luƒage if I ever was on Drag Race. I can’t sew a but­ton on let alone a frock!

What was the bi est chal­lenge for you as a drag per­former when first start­ing out?

Learn­ing to talk, which sounds crazy now I know be­cause you can’t shut me up. My first lot of shows I would come on say my name and then sing the au­di­ence to death for forty five min­utes. How­ever, af­ter work­ing with queens who’d been around a lot longer than me like Bette Rinse – who was with­out me know­ing it at the time my drag mother – I started to re­alise I had to talk about any­thing re­ally and try and make it funny be­cause just singing wasn’t go­ing to last.

How has In­sta­gram af­fected the art of drag? It feels like you have queens who rely on their vi­su­als, and then oth­ers who are per­form­ers... In­sta­gram is three things; fit­ness mod­els, drag queens and dogs. Well, mine is any­way. I find my­self get­ting stuck in loops of watch­ing these in­cred­i­ble makeup tu­to­ri­als and peo­ple beat­ing their faces for days which is truly a skill and I wish I had more of it. But then I also adore watch­ing clips from all over the world of queens lit­er­ally tear­ing up clubs with their per­for­mances. There are of course crossovers who can do it all – paint for the gods and sell an in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance – but I blocked them all ages ago.

And of course we have to dis­cuss your star­ring role as the host of Gay Times Hon­ours 2018. Did you have fun?

Gay Times Hon­ours was a whirl­wind day that I wish I could do all over again be­cause I was sur­rounded by truly won­der­ful in­spi­ra­tional peo­ple who were all there to sup­port each other and cel­e­brate the LGBTQ com­mu­nity. As a queen, it’s im­por­tant for me to be ed­u­cated and have an opin­ion on mat­ters that are af­fect­ing our com­mu­nity, so to be able to be a small part of this in­cred­i­ble event was a real hon­our for me.

What was it like be­ing part of an awards cer­e­mony that hon­ours the com­mu­nity, and not just fa­mous faces?

It was hum­bling and in­spir­ing to hear the hon­ourees talk about their lives and their work in ev­ery cat­e­gory from me­dia to pol­i­tics. It was a real priv­i­lege to share the stage with all of them as they were recog­nised for the in­cred­i­ble work they do and made me want to do more in what­ever way I can. And if their sto­ries do that to me, hope­fully they will to oth­ers and we can all con­tinue to grow and sup­port each other within our com­mu­nity.

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