Roses are red, violets are blue, and sadly, Cherry Valentine is not our winner of season two. During her short-lived run on the new instalment of Drag Race UK, the star won the hearts of viewers with her fierce aesthetic and charismatic confessionals, as well as her inspiring journey from traveller to drag superstar. In this week’s episode, the Manchester-born entertainer – who’s also a qualified mental health nurse – confided in Sister Sister about her childhood and being born into a community that’s not entirely welcoming of LGBTQ+ people. For Cherry, it was important for her to address this issue on the series.
“It was one of the main reasons that I went on the show, to talk about where I come from and who I am,” Cherry tells GAY TIMES. “I’ve had the odd message that’s a bit on edge, but 99% of it has been really positive. I have had some messages from people in the community who’ve said, ‘I fully support what you’re doing and we’re proud that you’re living your life, it’s just taking time for the community to move ahead with the times,’ and I agree. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives.”
Ultimately, Cherry failed to live up to the judge’s expectations with her performance in Rats: The Rusical, and lost out on her place in the competition following a powerful lip-sync showdown with Tayce. Here, we speak with Cherry about her time on Drag Race UK, who she planned to impersonate for Snatch Game, and how Veronica Green stole her win…
Hi Cherry! How are you feeling after watching the lip-sync?
I feel a lot of things to be honest! But, I am just excited to see how the rest of the season unfolds now because there’s so much stuff that’s coming up that I’m excited for.
You filmed Drag Race UK last year, so how did it feel watching it play out on screen for the first time?
Honestly, it felt… I was a little bit terrified, I’m not gonna lie! I was a bit scared at what was going to be shown because I was literally in floods of tears at one point. I was ugly crying! But thankfully, they didn’t put any of that in. It was such a weird experience watching it back. Obviously, I feel like things should have played out differently but it is what it is and we work with what we’ve got.
Is Memory the kind of song Cherry Valentine would usually lip-sync to, or was that outside of your comfort zone?
Oh, absolutely not! I would never really perform slow songs. I really do get too emotionally involved in it. I prefer dancing. I can jump into the splits, twists, wig reveals, all that stuff. That’s what I normally do on stage, so it was completely out of my comfort zone.
In a previous interview, you described your performance style as “flippy” and I wanted to see that…
[Laughs] Yeah! So “flippy” basically means when you’re flipping about all the time. I used to do cheerleading, so I can do back-flips, cartwheels, anything. I can do tricks, but I never got to show it, unfortunately.
What was going through your mind when you were told to sashay away by Ru?
Honestly, what went through my mind is, ‘Shit, I’ve not thought of anything to say!’ I honestly did not think that I would be leaving. I really didn’t. It just shows you that anything can happen, but as soon as RuPaul told me to sashay away, my heart sunk. I went to the back of the stage and I was like, ‘Oh rats!’ That’s the first thing that came into my head, I walked off and I just literally broke down. All this emotion had just been kept in and then it was over.
How do you think the episode would have played out if you had Veronica’s role as the Evita-esque rat?
I truly, honestly, believe that I would have won the challenge!
Earlier in the episode, you discussed the toxic masculinity within the travelling community during a beautiful conversation with Sister Sister. Was this an important issue for you to address?
Absolutely. It was one of the main reasons that I went on the show, to talk about where I come from and who I am. But, I didn’t expect it to come out as emotional as it did. We were just talking about it and I got really upset, because I was like, ‘Oh shit, I’ve never actually spoken about this before,’ and maybe I should’ve thought about that before I started talking about it on TV! I’m glad that I did talk about it, and I’m proud of everything that I said.
What kind of feedback have you had from other LGBTQ+ people within the travelling community?
I’ve had really good feedback, mostly. I’ve had the odd message that’s a bit on edge, but 99% of it has been really positive. I have had some messages from people in the community who’ve said, ‘I fully support what you’re doing and we’re proud that you’re living your life, it’s just taking time for the community to move ahead with the times,’ and I agree. The positives definitely outweigh the negatives though, definitely.
On social media, you had to address the fact that you’re pursuing a career as a drag queen, as opposed to a nurse. Did you expect there to be backlash towards this?
It’s quite shocking, to be honest. But, then again, people have opinions. Everyone’s got an opinion and I’m all for sharing your opinion, just not everyone has to listen to it. I didn’t agree with what they said, so that’s why I said something about it.
You received so much love from that too.
It was really nice. The fans and the people who have supported me, and just support drag, I didn’t realise it would be so intense. It’s been absolutely out of this world, nothing that I would’ve planned for, but I’m really appreciative and it’s actually really humbling.
Are you willing to reveal who you planned to impersonate for Snatch Game?
I was gonna do… Erm, what’s she called? I forgot her name now! Gillian McKeith. It was a mix between Gillian McKeith, do you know when she did I’m a Celebrity? Or Nikki Grahame in the Big Brother house. It was going to be how I felt in the moment!
Those are two incredible picks, oh my god.
I’ll probably do a little video or summit, but it’s not the same as doing actual Snatch Game. I had so many plans for it, it was going to be a gag!
If you had continued throughout the competition, what do you think viewers could’ve expected from you?
You could’ve expected the unexpected! You best believe that I’m going to post every single look that I’ve created for the show. I’ve got things that have never been done before. There were some crazy crazy crazy runways that I planned, and some crazy things that I would’ve shown. Also, just to learn more about me and my story because I’ve never really spoken about it, and I think it’s important to talk about where we come from and who we are.
What have you learned about yourself since filming Drag Race?
To not take myself too seriously, and life is way too short to care about what other people think about you. I think drag is such an incredible thing to do, and I fully appreciated how incredible and how impactful it can be to other people. But, going through the pandemic, stopping filming, it’s really made me appreciate and not take anything for granted.
Finally, who would you like to take home the crown?
None of them really, I think they’re all terrible! But, I do really love Ginny Lemon and I think she’s fabulous. My heart is with Tayce as well. Even though she did send me home in that lip-sync, I really do love Tayce. She’s a sister.
Imagine Ginny Lemon being crowned on the main stage… in crocs?
[Laughs] Or with her arse out?! An iconic moment, honestly.
The first two episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 2 are now available to stream on BBC iPlayer. You can watch the sickening trailer here or below.
To hear our thoughts on the brand new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, subscribe to Snatched! an original podcast from GAY TIMES. Each week, we dissect all of the drama and conflama of the latest episode and chat with the eliminated queen, who spills all the T on their exit and time on the series. Snatched! is now available on all streaming services including Spotify and Apple Podcasts.