“I loved it. I loved every minute of it,” River Medway (unexpectedly) says of her Drag Race UK elimination. “As soon as it happened I was like, ‘Oh, alright. It is what it is.’ I know for a fact that it’s not a reflection of me as a person, it’s not a reflection of me as a drag queen. It’s not the end of the world and if anything, always leave them wanting more…” River Medway lives for the drama CONFIRMED.
Although River has taken the controversial moment with a pinch of salt, the same can’t be said for viewers, who have come out in mothertucking droves on social media to support the Hannah Montana buff for her unexpected exit.
This week, the queens of season three embodied various iconic celebrities for the Snatch Game and turnedt it out on the runway in fruit-themed ensembles. River’s impersonation of TOWIE star Amy Childs failed to impress the judges, as well as her look, resulting in her competing in the lip-sync smackdown for the first time with Choriza May.
Remember the RuPaul who refused to hand out a badge on last week’s episode? The same RuPaul who condemned Joe Black for her H&M frock? Well, she made her ruturn as she decided to chop both queens from the competition – a twist that hasn’t been enforced on the British spin-off, until now.
Following our exit interview with Choriza, which you can read in full here, we spoke with River about the – Alyssa Edwards quote incoming! – “buffoonery, wiggery and straight-up tomfoolery” of the episode, her time on the series and how she plans to conquer the theatre and pop industries.
Before we proceed River, can you please do me the honour of recreating your Thomas Waghorn tribute?
You have to pay for that now, actually. [Points]
How many times a day do people ask you for that?
Maybe 100 times a day, something like that?
You must be knackered.
I’m going to have to insure these fingers.
How does it feel being the breakout meme of Drag Race UK season three?
To be honest, I was expecting it at some point. I wasn’t sure whether it was gonna be that or maybe something else. I was like, ‘I just think I will be.’ Not to blow smoke but yeah, it’s nice though. It feels weird. People have me as their profile picture and shit.
And how does it feel to be the top search on Google for River Medway?
That’s really great. It’s all I care about to be honest.
Right, let’s talk about the episode then…
Oh, do we have to? Can we talk about something else?
We must. What was it like last night, watching all of that drama back?
I loved it. I loved every minute of it. I’m now in a place where I can watch Drag Race as separate to my life. I don’t feel like I’m living it, still. I think when the queens watch it and the season comes out, they’re living it again. But, I really can see it as, ‘This is something we all did. We had so much fun doing it. It was tiring. It was really tough. But, it was so great.’ It’s such a great TV show that I can now look back and think, ‘Do you know what? I’m happy with it.’ I’m excited for the drama. I’m excited for everyone to see it. I’m excited to see all the bits they’ve made shady and what actually made into the episode, what didn’t make it into the episode and stuff like that. I’ve already come to terms with anything that happens as well, because it happened so long ago that now it’s like… Everybody’s so shocked but obviously, it’s already happened to me. Imagine telling somebody something that happened to you six months ago? You’ve already gotten over it. They’re gonna be like, ‘Oh my god’, and you’re like, ‘No it’s fine, it happened ages ago.’ Obviously, everybody’s living it now. That’s weird.
What was it like in that moment in time when RuPaul was like, ‘Do you know what? It’s a double sashay today’?
As soon as it happened, I was like… ‘Oh. It’s a TV show.’ Immediately I was like, ‘It’s a TV show.’ You have to take everything with a pinch of salt, on the show, off the show, in life, whatever. Like, it is what it is. There’s nothing I could have done about it. As soon as it happened I was like, ‘Oh, alright. It is what it is.’ I know for a fact that it’s not a reflection of me as a person, it’s not a reflection of me as a drag queen. It’s not the end of the world and if anything, always leave them wanting more…
Can we talk about Lulu? She was having the time of her life!
She loved it. She loves it. Honestly, she was great and she was so sweet. She’s such a sweetheart as well.
One of the best guest judges Drag Race has ever had, maybe? I was living for her the whole time.
I think all the guests have been really good this season. Lulu is such a sweetie. I know I got sent home for it, but it was nice to be able to do a silly dance on stage for her to Shout. That’s great.
I mean, you were cartwheeling all over the goddamn place…
I know! I definitely did more cartwheels, but maybe you only got to see a few of them, unfortunately. It was really cold in that studio, actually, so it’s a bit hard doing a lot of dancing. If I’m honest, I think I kind of blacked out during that lip-sync. I don’t really remember it. At one point I was like, ‘Oh I’m upside down now,’ completely half-naked with a bit of fruit stuck on me. It was a mess. It was fun though, I enjoyed it.
It was so much fun to watch. It was only the third double sashay in Drag Race’s entire herstory after season five and eight. I don’t think it can compare to the others, however. How would you kind of rank them?
Obviously, I’m going to be biased but I think me and Choriza were great! I remember turning around, just seeing Choriza’s bald head when she was changing her wig. With the other two, it happened quite earlier on in the season, didn’t it? It’s never happened this far into the season. I don’t think you can compare them, because it happens for different reasons. But, I thought it was a really good one to be honest. It’s good TV, isn’t it?
You are both firm fan-favourites, which is the shock…
Genuinely, I did not think I was going to have this response at all. So when we got eliminated, I was like, ‘Fair enough. I’ve done alright.’ I thought I’d have an okay response. I didn’t think the response to the whole show was going to be like this, at all. It’s been really good. It’s the drama, I love it!
Social media have rallied behind you and Choriza, hard. What is it like for you, seeing so much support online?
It’s always surprising and very hard to believe. Then when I really think about it I’m like, ‘Actually no, it does make sense.’ If I wasn’t me and I was watching me as a queen… I need to not be so hard on myself. There’s so many people that are so supportive and I’m like, ‘Oh, I actually am good.’ I like myself, which is really important as well. I think on the show, I really forgot that. You just look for all the validation in other people instead. It’s been really nice to find the validation myself and then have it supported by all of the fans.
When we last spoke, you said you wanted to inspire all of the other River Medways out there, all the marginalised baby gays from small towns who don’t think it’s possible to live the life they deserve. Have you received many messages from fans like this?
Every single day, and it’s amazing. I really have become the person that I wanted to see when I was younger, which is so important to me. I’ve talked about it so much, and I’m so happy with what I showed and I’m so happy with what I spoke about on the show. I’m so happy for the representation I brought. I’m really, really proud of myself, which is the best thing. I really feel like I’ve won every day. And obviously I’m going to say that because I lost, but the messages I get from people are so, so lovely. It does get a little bit overwhelming, I have to admit it, but it’s lovely that people feel comfortable enough to message me and let me know that I have helped them or inspired them or they’ve seen themselves on TV.
You proudly showcased your Singaporean heritage on the show. Last week’s ensemble was absolutely one of the best looks we’ve ever seen on Drag Race UK, honestly.
Sam, thank you!
It was breathtaking. Did you always intend to bring this side of your drag to the runway?
100%. That was actually the first time I’ve ever bought that into my drag, ever. I’ve never really done it before because sometimes I feel a bit disconnected from that part of me. I’ve always worried about people being upset if I do things wrong, or if I don’t do things the right way. It’s weird. Because I’m mixed race, I don’t feel white enough around white people. I don’t feel Asian enough around Asian people. It’s like I’m always floating in the middle. Now, I realised they can coexist through me. I’m literally the result of them coexisting. It’s not like I have to be one or the other. I literally am both. I’ve represented Medway and British culture on the show. I represented South East Asian culture on the show. I literally have shown every single part of me on the show, which is why I’m so happy with everything. I’m so glad that is where my drag is going and where my drag is at. As much as I love looking gorgeous, I think, for me, drag is really deep within me, so why not showcase it deeper? I think it also shows vulnerability, to have things that say a lot about you through your drag instead of hiding behind it. I like to show it off instead. Part of the thing is, as well, if I ever do drag that is inspired by my heritage, I really want to make sure it’s authentic. Especially with outfits and stuff, I don’t know people in England that can do that for me. But, I’ve had East and South East Asian designers contact me like, ‘I want to make something for you’ which is really important to me because I want to uplift minority artists as well. I want to work with them and I want to showcase their work and I want to wear authentic clothing.
Earlier in the series, you opened up about your mother passing away due to COVID. What kind of impact have you witnessed this conversation have on viewers at home?
It’s almost… too much? Because people will message me like, ‘You made me realise things that I haven’t realised yet.’ It’s weird because the way I think about the world, about life and death and relationships with people, I realised all of that with my own eyes. To have somebody on TV saying it… I mean, I’m not saying I’m the first person to speak about death on TV, but I just never had somebody that made me went, ‘I feel better now.’ I just found it all myself. The fact that there are people that can watch the show and are like, ‘You made me realise that there is more to life, you made me realise that it is possible to succeed no matter what happens,’ that’s so nice for me to realise that I’ve done that for somebody. I’ve maybe have brought somebody out of a place, a place that I have once been. What more can you ask for?
You’re a musical theatre queen, so what can we expect from you next River?
I want to do a full theatre production show. That is what I would absolutely love. I want an amalgamation of noughties Disney Channel music like Hannah Montana, High School Musical, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and then I want full musical theatre – everything. I want to just do it all, because I can do so much. I want people to see what I’m built for. It’s theatre, stage, live performances and entertaining crowds. I want to be a pop star! I want to do concerts. I just want to do everything. There are hopefully some things happening in 2022. Hopefully! Maybe just a few little shows coming out. It should be really, really fun. I’m just excited that now I have the platform to do everything. I’ve always been able to do it, but now I actually can do it? I can finally do all the things I’ve been dreaming of in my head, so that’s really great for me.
Has Miley Cyrus been in touch yet?
No, she hasn’t. Thanks for bringing it up. I don’t think she knows I exist.
But she’s a Drag Race superfan! Do you know what? We’ll get her attention. We’ll do it.
Also, my Halloween outfit for tonight is from one of the episodes of Hannah Montana when she goes on a zombie TV show and she’s dressed as a zombie princess. She has this big tulle purple dress with frizzy hair. So, that’s my outfit for tonight.
I know the episode!
I can’t wait.
The first six episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 3 are now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.