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Baby, London’s self-proclaimed “Afropunk Princess”, has just unleashed one of the most anarchic videos of the year so far with Theatre!, a riotous punk anthem and “ode to queer rage” that chronicles their struggles with mental health. In October, Baby voluntarily dismissed themselves from the fourth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK after opening up about their battle with depression and anxiety, igniting a vital conversation about mental health in the process.

Theatre! followed soon after, with the accompanying blood-soaked visual seeing the star own their narrative with futuristic, abstract imagery and the kind of fierce ensembles that we’ve come to expect from Baby. “Something that I felt was really interesting about Drag Race was, are people going to judge me for leaving? I don’t want to be that person that causes a scene or walks out of Drag Race,” Baby tells GAY TIMES. Diving into the themes of their debut single, they continue: “I don’t want to be all this theatrical and dramatic when in actuality, giving into the fear and the drama is what could save me right now.”

In addition to Drag Race UK and Theatre!, Baby memorably starred in the music video for Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ electropop collaboration Unholy, which historically topped the charts in the UK and US and won a Grammy Award. As Baby conquers reality television and music, with further plans to dominate ‘modelling, fashion, choreography and creative direction,’ we caught up with the star to discuss, well, all of the above.

Baby, how have the past few months been for you as a “RuGirl”?

Really nice. Especially after the way that I left, there’s been so much love and positivity and energy from people. I feel like I have lots of new friends, it’s really weird! People come up to me like, ‘What you did [on Drag Race] was really important to me.’ They really identify with it. I’m at meet-and-greets and people are crying. I’m like, ‘Girl stop, because I’ll cry too. Please!’

[Left] Full look: Dimitris Karagiannakis, Jewellery: 8 8 6 Lab | [Right] Dress: Anciela London, Hat: FLORENTINA LEITNER, Jewellery: Juicy Couture UK

You were incredible to watch this season and your energy really shined through. Plus your runways?! The lip-syncs?! How has the show allowed you to pursue your dream on a larger scale?

Thank you. The main thing was the girl group. Obviously, I have my degree in songwriting… [Laughs] I’ve always wanted to put out music. I felt a bit scared before, being “too gay”. Is that marketable? Is that palatable? Like, how much of myself can I be? After people saw the episode they were like, ‘Where is this bitch’s album?’ That made me feel really confident to pursue music. Dance stuff, too. I obviously had my little Sam Smith and Kim Petras Unholy moment. I’m just doing more of that, plus modelling. I’m about. I’m around!

And look at Unholy, it’s become one of the biggest hits of the past year, with Sam and Kim becoming the first openly non-binary and trans artists to respectively top the US charts. It’s a historic moment for popular culture!

Here’s the thing. When I got cast for that, nobody knew I was on Drag Race. I had to audition for that like a regular dancer. I’m on set with Violet Chachki and Gottmik and I’m like, ‘We’re sisters but I can’t tell you yet, so hi!’ I wasn’t saying anything. They were like, ‘Drag Race?’ and I’m like, ‘No…’ The cast announcement was like the week after we shot it, as well. It was hard [keeping it a secret]. Living in London and being in the drag scene and doing four or five shows a week, everyone’s like, ‘Drag Race?’ I’m like, ‘No, I just had to see my grandma in the Caribbean, she’s unwell…’ I’m lying! I’m lying to everyone, but I had an NDA.

Can you talk to me a little bit about the friendships you made on Drag Race UK? You and Dakota Schiffer were close for years, right?

I’ve known Dakota for ages. I started doing drag in Brighton when I went to university there. We’ve had mutual friends forever and we would have such a nice vibe with each other. Drag Race, I had no idea she was going to be there. So when she walked in I was like, ‘Ahh bitch!’ I felt like that about so many of the girls as I knew most of them before going in anyway, and we all have the same costume designers and wig stylists, so you have a rough inkling of who’s going to be there but you never fully know until they walk in. Dakota was my emotional support animal person. I’d be freaking out and Dakota’s like, ‘It’s fine!’ and then when she was freaking out about the zip in her dress I’m like, ‘Babe, are you okay?’ We were just careful and delicate with each other and that’s why our friendship is so cute.

[Left] Two piece: Alabama Blonde, Sleeves: KWK by KAYKWOK, Hairpiece: XHENXHEN OFFICIAL, Earrings: RAYCHUSTUDIOS | [Right] Full look: KWK by KAYKWOK, Jewellery: 8 8 8 Lab, Shoes: NiiHAi, Hood: FLORENTINA LEITNER,

You both slayed that design challenge. Also, I was cackling at that Alexandra Burke and Diana Vickers meme…

I know! It was hilarious. When Alexandra Burke was on The X Factor I’d be like, ‘That’s my cousin,’ because everyone said I look like her. Now, 10 years later it’s come back to bite me in the ass! But, we do look the same and I can’t even be like, ‘No, we look nothing alike.’ We have the same eye shape, nose shape, mouth shape, facial expressions. I’ll take it.

I saw you @ her on Twitter. What’s that about? Please confirm you will be helping Alexandra launch her much-awaited music comeback?

I can’t tell you! Listen, I can’t tell you, but if you want to put that into the universe, I won’t stop you.

Let’s address your final episode on Drag Race…

Go on then…

Your exit was incredibly impactful. Can you take me back to that episode?

From the moment I walked in I was like, ‘Ooh, I don’t think I should be here.’ The second I walked in. I’m a strong-minded individual to a point. I’m not gonna walk in and be like, ‘Nah.’ It was, ‘I’m here now, I’ve invested so much into this and I’m going to commit.’ So, I kept pushing myself and was actively trying my best to be present the whole time. In the third episode during the critiquing bits, I don’t really talk that much. I was just so drained. Even when I won I was just like, ‘Yeah, thank you.’ It was great winning, but I was just so exhausted being there. I was feeling so many things at once, I couldn’t enjoy it. By the time we got to improv, I was out of it. Then, I just walked in front of the camera like, ‘Acting challenge, let’s go, let’s make television.’ I had to prepare myself to go into the challenge and I just wasn’t there. One thing I’ll say about that episode is that I’m really happy with the way they respected my mental health.

How did you feel once you made the decision to leave?

It was a relief. I have mental health issues, anxiety and depression. Everyday going into the work room, it’s not just another day at work. It wasn’t even about the competition element of it at all. Some people thought, ‘She couldn’t hack Drag Race,’ but no, the drag side of it I enjoyed. I was good at shit! I wasn’t trash every episode.

Baby, thank you for putting on a motherfucking show for us before you left. Was it important for you to go out on a high note?

Yes! We got a show to make. A final lip-sync: fine, know what I mean? I do it five shows a week. If I get to have that one last moment of joy, not worrying whether I can stay or go, fine. That’s why that lip-sync was so powerful. I could just do my thing.

[Left] Catsuit & Headpiece: Atsuko Kudo Couture Latex Design, Silver Pieces: CAMERON HANCOCK | [Right] Dress: Mariusz Malon, Gloves: FLORENTINA LEITNER

Your exit sparked a much-needed conversation around mental health. What kind of impact have you personally noticed?

Obviously, it was me in that situation but I’ve kind of removed myself from it, as it triggers me. I see parts of the reaction to it, but I’m not fully in it because of my capacity to deal with things. A lot of people have been emailing and messaging me, and they’re feeling seen for the first time. That’s really powerful. A lot of the time on Drag Race it’s like, ‘Hi, I’m a Glamazon that’s gonna stomp the runway and slay!’ That’s great, but you can also slay and be anxious and be human and have feelings. People identified with that and through my journey they got to understand their own autonomy and ownership of themselves. They realised, ‘I don’t have to force myself into situations. I can choose myself.’

Following Drag Race, you released the anarchic pop-punk anthem Theatre! First of all, what inspired this sound?

I love that alternative, electronic stuff. My mum used to blast The Prodigy in the car on the way to school, so that kind of British garage and drum-and-bass thing has always been sentimental to me and a big part of my life. For me, when I was making this track, I wanted it to be British and Black and queer at the same time. It needed to encapsulate all the different parts of my personality. I think the way that I did it is perfect for what I want to say about myself. When I came back from Drag Race I just had so many things going on in my head. I went into the studio and we had this fast, shouty sound and they were like, ‘What do you want to shout about?’ I wanted it to be gritty and heavy and show different parts of myself. In school, I was in choir and did piano, the guitar and classical music, so you hear all the orchestra parts that come through in the pre-chorus. Yeah, all the musical experiences that I’ve had in my life are now in one place and I’m really happy with it.

You’ve previously described the track as an “ode to queer rage”, so can you talk to me a little bit about that?

I want to succeed. I am a double minority and the intersectionality of my experiences are so unique. I do have glass ceilings above me. So, trying to do all these things, I know it’s really good for me but at the same time, I don’t wanna be here. And if I continue being here, it’s going to be damaging. Something that I felt was really interesting about Drag Race was, are people going to judge me for leaving? I don’t want to be that person that causes a scene or walks out of Drag Race. I don’t want to be all this theatrical and dramatic when in actuality, giving into the fear and the drama is what could save me right now. Then you get to the verses, which is me hyping up myself like, ‘You can do it. You’re amazing. You’re talented. Never doubt that.’ That’s the cocky bit I put on for cameras, although I don’t always feel like that.

Skirt & Gloves: AYLAFAYE STUDIOS, Chestplate: Cameron Hancock, Necklace: PKBIJOUX, Earrings: RAYCHUSTUDIOS

Now that a few months have passed, how have you found the reaction to the song? As it’s not what fans come to expect from Drag Race queens…

I’ve been so happy. I was worried because it’s not a typical Drag Race song. A lot of the time it’s a fun dance track like, ‘Werk the runway, ow!’ I’m like, give me some guitars and some distorted bass. People understood me when they heard this and respected the intellectual approach I took with it, in terms of song structure. I like being stimulated, I get really bored easily so that’s why I gave it a lot of section changes.

Can we expect an album or EP to follow? What can you tell me?

We’re doing things slowly. Here’s the thing: from music, you don’t make much money. Making an album costs money and takes time. Where I am right now, off the back for season four – which has been a great season – I’ve got lots of tours and commitments and filming to secure the bag so I can make more art. Right now, I’m working on a couple singles and there will be visuals – don’t worry, I’ll still be feeding the girls! But that album might not come for a while, until I have the time to really dedicate myself to it. I’m very concept-based with my approach to music and I wanna respect the work I’m making by creating a world and narrative around it.

In the past few months we’ve seen you conquer reality television with Drag Race and music with Theatre!, so what other parts of the industry are you hoping to explore next?

I’ve been cast in a short film so I’ll have a little acting debut, which will be cute. I’m a Pisces so I go with the flow. I know that it’s a weird mentality to have but I have an idea of what I want. At this point in my life, I’m very aware of the fact that things change and times change. I have my eyes on things. I’m working hard!

Baby’s debut single, Theatre!, is out now. Watch the music video here or below. 

This interview features in the March 2023 edition of GAY TIMES Magazine. To read the full issue, click here