“I actually went off to make a cup of tea before I did me lip-sync,” says Ginny Lemon in her signature Kathy Burke and Sue Pollard-esque deadpan. “By the time I come back, all the lights were out! I thought, ‘What’s happened?’ Correct me if I’m wrong, RuPaul has never said, ‘Ginny Lemon, sashay away.’ So, I’m technically still in the game. I don’t know what the big hoo-ha is about.”
On this week’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 2, the Worcestershire-born entertainer left viewers utterly gobsmacked when she walked off the stage, during a lip-sync, and didn’t return. Remember Valentina (“I’d like to keep it on please”) Charlie Hides (“It looks like she’s telling children to get off her lawn”) and BenDeLaCreme (“I’m going home”)? Paled in comparison, honestly.
“The reason I did it is because I had to stick with my integrity. I went onto that show to fuck it up, break the binary and to be punk,” the 17-year-old continues to tell GAY TIMES. “I didn’t want to fight, and also, I’m not gonna play the rules of the game. There’s no way. I’ve never played by the rules, I’m not gonna start now!”
Shortly after that instantly iconic lip-sync, we spoke with Ginny over Zoom about what was going through her mind on the main stage, the impact of her beautiful conversation about gender identity with Bimini Bon Boulash and, of course (as always), who she planned to impersonate on Drag Race’s staple challenge, Snatch Game.
Ginny, that was… iconic.
[Laughs] Ooh, I spilt tea everywhere. Oh my god. That’s how iconic it was, I’m spilling me tea, literally. Well, thank you bab. They did ask for an icon, didn’t they? They did ask for an icon, so an icon you shall get. You only get what you ask for. You don’t ask, you don’t get.
When you told me that this season of Drag Race UK was madness, you really weren’t lying!
It’s because I knew! No, I wasn’t lying. I knew that it was absolute shenanigans and madness. This series is completely and utterly bonkers. I think it rewrites the rule of all Drag Race seasons that’s come before it. Also, the people need it. The people are desperate for it, so any salacious entertainment we can give them, I’ll more than gladly give.
I already thought this was one of the most entertaining episodes in history before the lip-sync…
[Laughs] Good! Just making television, darling.
It’s already one of the most iconic moments in history. Please tell me, why did you do it?
Well, the truth is, if you want the truth, is I actually went off to make a cup of tea before I did me lip-sync. By the time I come back, all the lights were out! I thought, ‘What’s happened?’ So I was only going to get a cup of tea, and correct me if I’m wrong, RuPaul has never said, ‘Ginny Lemon, sashay away.’ So, I’m technically still in the game. I don’t know what the big hoo-ha is about.
What was going through your mind as you left the stage? Other than making your cup of tea…
There was a million things going through my mind, let me just say that. Also, I had a dream, a premonition, that it was the right thing that I should do. I’m not saying too much, but look at my outfit. Look what happens. Maybe I predicted it. Who knows? Maybe I had that dream. But, that’s what I’m saying. The reason I did it is because I had to stick with my integrity. I went onto that show to fuck it up, break the binary and to be punk. I’m glad I went on there and showed an emotional side of myself, but I was never expecting that. I thought, ‘Well, if the judges aren’t eating up what I’m serving, then I’m gonna bugger off home – I’m knackered!’ Do you know what I mean? I am knackered. So, I wanted to go home. I didn’t want to fight, and also, I’m not gonna play the rules of the game. There’s no way. I’ve never played by the rules, I’m not gonna start now!
When you compare it to other lip-syncs in the same realm, like Valentina, BenDeLaCreme and Charlie Hides, they still did something on the stage. But I love how you were just like, ‘I’m off, I’m going, I’m out!’
I couldn’t be arsed! C’mon, I was amazing week after week. I was funny, I was glamorous, I was sexy – I gave them everything that they wanted! They just didn’t want it. They did not fancy a slice. So I thought, ‘Well, this slice is going home, see you later nana!’
Personally, I think you did a fantastic job in the challenge. You were giving me Myrtle Snow meets Kath and Kim, and I was dying.
Thank you! I mean, the fact that I was in the bottom is a shock, isn’t it? I don’t know whether Ru had skipped her HRT or Evening Primrose – I don’t know what happened that day, maybe the sweetener wasn’t in the coffee. I forgive her, as one icon to another. Sometimes it’s just so hard to be an icon that you can’t recognise pure talent when you see it. So I say to Ru, ‘Get a new prescription and recognise this talent, or I’m buggering off.’ I loved the challenge. The challenge was fabulous and I really enjoyed my Australian [proceeds with an Australian accent]. I watched too much Wentworth. That’s all it is. Prisoner cellblock H in Wentworth, that’s all I want [ends Australian accent]. So, I thought I was brilliant! I should’ve won. Why was I in the bottom? Tell me, why was I in the bottom?
I was a bit flabbergasted too. I didn’t think you belonged there.
Maybe that goes to show that there’s something about UK drag…
There’s been a lot of commotion online with viewers saying that the judges choices this season are a bit… questionable, and aren’t indicative of what the fans think. Have you noticed this?
Yeah, and I’m there for the fans. I was never there for the judges. That’s why I had to stay true to myself. In some people’s eyes, some of my connections and the activism that I do, people might’ve thought, ‘Why are they doing this?’ But it’s important to go on there and show visibility and show different sides of alternative drag that isn’t just one-way. Maybe I’m just too British, too English, maybe that sense of humour is only funny to English people. Who knows? It’s all rooted in English comedy, so maybe it all just gets lost in translation.
Watching the moment back, did it play out how you remember?
What aren’t you telling me Ginny?
Yes? The legal answer is yes. I mean, it’s been a year hasn’t it. Let’s be honest. It has been a year. All of these things happened a year ago, so watching it back… I’m not disappointed with anything, I’m very proud of what I’ve done. The only thing I don’t understand is why the judges couldn’t see what the audience was seeing. It’s a different time. I’m pleased. I think it looks great. Not only that, but Sister got a chance to shine in that lip-sync, and that gladdened my heart. I looked fabulous. I did things my own way. I thought it was punk. I thought I was a punk bitch, so I was happy!
Also, you made me cackle so much at the start of the episode when you shut down Lawrence Chaney…
Lawrence has always got so much to say! A lot of it was usually my jokes, just re-hashed out. You don’t see everything, so there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t see. Don’t get me wrong, me and Lawrence are great pals. We had a lovely time. She was just a bit too gobby! She was always chatting and always had something to say. I was absolutely devo when Asttina went, because Asttina is one of my bezzie mates. Joe and Asttina, I was closest to them before I went into the competition, so I’m seeing icon leaving icon. Obviously that’s why I thought, ‘Well, if all the icons are going early, see you later babs!’ I just told her to shut the fuck up, basically, because she had no respect for the fact that people were leaving. Although Lawrence is winning absolutely everything… RuPaul can walk into a room, Lawrence Chaney can shit in a bag, and RuPaul will clap. You know? It’s one of them. She’ll clap. She’ll clap the shit out of the bag. That can get quite annoying sometimes, so I did pop off and shut the bitch down. I mean, I wasn’t that salacious. I did apologise to her, but they didn’t film that bit did they? They didn’t film that bit, me being nice!
You’ve had so much impact on this series, not just with your exit, but because of last week when you beautifully opened up about your non-binary identity with Bimini. How important is it that we see more conversations like this for queer youth, especially on a channel as big as the BBC?
To be honest, I did not know the impact that conversation was going to have. Personally, I’m completely flabbergasted and it’s one of those few times where I’m genuinely lost for words. I was, at that time, being a human talking to another human. I think by being a bit more human, in that very moment people were able to identify that. You see me as this mad yellow character, but you don’t necessarily see the stuff that I’m masquerading and dealing with. So, for other people to hear that conversation and respond, it just continues that journey for me into that light and happiness. Although it was never my intention, it has had such an effect. The fact that it wasn’t my intention has really made me step back, look, think about my words and actions. If I’ve got the voice, why don’t I use it? I’m a gobby bitch, I might as well start standing up for people just like me; the queers, the outsiders. I’m going to use that voice as much as possible. So, watching that conversation back, although how difficult and raw it was for me to watch, as a human… It was myself, I recognise that in other human traits and think, ‘You know what? The more we talk, the more we have those conversations on a platform on the BBC, discussing queer identities, is incredible.’ You can say what you want about Drag Race – anyone can say what they want – but not everyone can implement change. We need less chatting, outrage and being so offended online, and just go out there and start doing something. Do what I did: infiltrate the whole drag scene, go in there, break the binary and fuck it up! It’s activism. That’s what we need to be doing.
It feels like we’re in a golden age for queer British TV with Drag Race, It’s A Sin, I May Destroy You, Gentleman Jack…
Well it will be if I get a spin-off! Then we’ll be in the golden age of telly.
What would you call it?
Ooh. That’s a tossup between Ginny Lemon’s Tonic – in association with my new album, out now – or Ginny Lemon’s Pick N Mix, because then you’d get a bit of everything.
C’mon BBC, let’s get on this shit, let’s make it happen!
Wink wink! Yes, I’m looking at you Fiona [Campbell]. Yes, I’m looking at you head commissioner! I’m looking at you Ruby [Kuraishe], thank you.
So, how does it feel to be part of this change?
I feel like now it’s lit a spark under my ass. I wanna do more. I went out there to be a clown and I didn’t realise, in any sense, that people were gonna like me, love me and enjoy my performance at all. So I’m going to listen to what people say. What is it that I can do? I wanna give back. A great toke… A great toke? A great quote from Tori Amos is about being, as a performer, a mirror. You’re not just stood there alone. You’re a mirror, you’re reflecting what your audience says. To build that relationship, you gotta keep reflecting and the audience will do that to you. So, I’m going to move with what the audience are saying and do my best to be as queer as I can on television, be as visible as possible and raise those voices. Why not? If Katie Hopkins can have a voice filled with hate, why can’t I have a voice filled with love?
Well, we have another option for your show title there: Ginny Lemon – A Great Toke.
[Laughs] Don’t! Not on the beeb! I can’t say toke on the BBC! That’s why I was only in it for four episodes, fuck sake. Jesus Christ.
I have to ask, because we spoke about it in our last interview and I was so excited to see what you were gonna do for Snatch Game. In my head I was like, ‘She has to do Linda La Hughes!’ What were your plans?
Well, I do quite a lot of characters. I can do Linda La Hughes and Sue Pollard, those are ones that I think people were expecting me to do. But, do you know what? It was a toss-up – and I still never decided, I was gonna decide on the day – between Cilla Black and the Mona Lisa. Yep, definitely. I’ve got the same smile as the Mona Lisa. I’ve got those, I don’t know what century it was, 16th century teeth. I’m very well known for doing Cilla, and I’ve got a song called Cilla Black – you should check it out, it’s quite controversial but I’m not editing it because it’s fabulous. I’m very known for singing my tribute to Cilla Black, so it was very obvious that my fans would push me to do that. But Mona Lisa, I don’t know. Something about that smile.
How would you have executed Mona Lisa on the panel?
Like this. [Ginny proceeds to strike the Mona Lisa’s iconic pose.] And then maybe a bit of this. [Ginny continues to strike the Mona Lisa’s iconic pose in a different direction.] That’s about it.
No answers, just a face the whole time.
Just a face, yeah. I thought if she did have to speak, she’d be from Margate. Historical facts always get mixed up. ‘I was just on fackin’ holiday with me husband, I sit down and he says to me that he’ll do me picture by the pier. So, I fackin’ sit down. There I am, big smile on me face, I look at the picture and fucking hell. I don’t look like that! Look down, handbag’s gone. Da Vinci his name was – gone! I didn’t get no royalty, not one fackin’ bit.’
Ginny, every time I talk to you I need to make sure I have my inhaler, because I just can’t deal…
Have you got your puffer? Have you got your puffer? I’ve got an inhaler tattooed on me. It’s Aquarius, for an air sign. Hang on, it’s on my bingo wings, I just need to pull it round. Just getting me tits out on the BBC, nothing you haven’t already seen! [Shows me her inhaler tattoo.] It’s glamorous isn’t it?
I love that. What’s next for Ginny Lemon then, can we expect some music from your band Hot Sick? Or maybe your own line of crocs?
Oooh with my beautiful boyfriend and band member! You can expect new music. I’ve been working with the Arts Council. Luckily, I’ve been working on a project long before – what was I on again? Bake Off? – that one. It’s called Ginny Lemon’s Tonic, and it’s basically an interactive project and an album, songs that I’ve written in lockdown and some with my band member. It’s all about the struggles that we’re all facing in lockdown, so the first song that I released was yesterday, and it’s called I’m So Offended. It’s basically that feeling of being stuck, and having nothing else to do apart from go online and slag people off, which I thought was appropriate for this episode. And I’ve got another single coming out next week called I Am Over My Overdraft, which is the ballad of the times. I want it to go to number one. Apart from that, I’m going to be a household name with my own telly show. I’ve got a couple books that I’ve written and I feel like I’m going to be the first non-binary person in the UK to get a damehood now.
Well in your words, the “first non-binary person in the UK with a sense of humour” with a damehood.
With a sense of humour and a damehood! No, I haven’t got a sense of humour. I’m very one-note apparently, quote RuPaul. My favourite quote from RuPaul that I’ll put on all the posters is, ‘What an asshole!’ That’s my favourite thing. It was worth doing it just for that quote. That’s how all icons just exit, ‘See you later babs, I’m knackered. My feet are aching, I want a cup of tea and I’ll probably need a shit. I wanna lie down!’ You can talk about your false lashes and your glitter, I’m just gonna carry on being an icon.
You can listen to Ginny Lemon’s brand new single, I’m So Offended, 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.