Although Drag Race’s staple makeover episode is a rather wholesome affair as the queens share their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent with non-drag folk, from war veterans to teachers and fans, it’s often met with controversy for the panel’s ever-changing criteria for what constitutes a “family resemblance”. (Cheryl Hole deserved to win on UK season one, a hill I will die on.) Kate Butch, who became the challenge’s latest fatality, tells GAY TIMES: “It is what it is. It’s a difficult one to judge. Do you wear identical body suits? Do you not?”
This week’s episode saw the top five – also consisting of DeDeLicious, Ginger Johnson, Michael Marouli and Tomara Thomas – make over volunteers from Switchboard, the lifeline service that has proved vital support and signposting help to the LGBTQIA+ community since 1974. Fresh off winning her first RuPeter Badge, Kate made her bottom two debut alongside this season’s lip-sync assassin DeDe. While queens rarely survive past three lip-syncs, Krystal Versace’s drag sister defeated the Wuthering Shites star to the beat of Rina Sawayama’s country-pop anthem ‘This Hell’.
Kate’s elimination was, unsurprisingly, met with wrath on social media – you can check out the reactions here. The morning after her exit, GAY TIMES caught up with the comedian to discuss her final episode, her “marmite” impersonation of her namesake Kate Bush and her ambitious plans to compete alongside her mum on Pointless.
[Fake cries?] Hello.
How are you?
Nah I’m fine, I’m alright. I’m over it. Don’t worry babe. Despite outward appearances, I’m thrilled to bits with the episode and the love and support that everyone has shown me.
It was a gorgeous episode, but I don’t think I should be talking with you today.
It is what it is, isn’t it? In the room, it felt like it was my time to go because the roast is next week… I think I would’ve done alright on that. I would’ve made it to the top three. And with my runways, is that correct? Is that fair? Who can say? Not me.
When I saw it was a roast I thought, ‘F**k’s sake.’
Always leave them wanting more!
How did it feel watching the events of last night’s episode back?
It was quite cathartic. I had spent a long time since we filmed it thinking, ‘Oh god, do I look completely stupid? Does DeDe absolutely wipe the floor with me?’ But I think I kept up with her in that lip-sync, and I had fun doing it. It felt good and right and it was a nice way for me to leave, not completely embarrassed in a pool of shame and tears and other bodily fluids. It is what it is, isn’t it?
DeDe is a lip-sync assassin, but fans are in agreement that it was one of the most even lip-syncs of the season. I had no idea who was going to be chopped.
Part of me thought, ‘This episode is about charity and charity begins at home. Maybe both of us should stay?’ But we had a lot of non-elimination episodes, didn’t we? So, we couldn’t have another.
This did mark DeDe’s third time in the bottom, however, and your first. Did you imagine, with her track record, that she would actually knock you out of the competition?
I had a little inkling in my mind that our trajectories were going in different directions, that perhaps I was on the up and up, and maybe by the grace of the lip-sync gods, it might’ve gone in my favour. When it comes to lip-syncing, there is no one who does it like DeDe.
Fifth place, though? That has become a legendary spot for fan-favourite queens. You’ve got Katya, BenDeLaCreme, Miz Cracker… Good company, right?
That is amazing. I genuinely said, when I went in, that I wanted to make it through the first week, and anything beyond that I’m happy. It turns out we all made it through the first week so I was like, ‘Gotta make it through the second week!’ Fifth place is a very nice spot to be in, I showed a lot of what I do and who I am. I think I might have left some little secrets that could be shown later on? If the Drag Race gods allow?
I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about…
I’ll buy some nicer runways. Let me get that Drag Race money and I’ll hopefully see you another time.
It does cement your place on All Stars, UK vs the World, Global All Stars, whatever the f**k is coming – it cements your spot.
It’d be nice, wouldn’t it?
@gaytimes @Kate Butch spills the tea on her #DragRaceUK elimination 💙 #dragraceuk5 #rupaulsdragrace #rupaulsdragraceuk #katebutch #katebutchedit ♬ original sound – GAY TIMES
As is the case with most eliminations this season, fans are livid. Have you had a sneak-peek at the online reaction or are you staying off social media?
Oh, I have spent every waking moment googling my name. Since we were first announced! I am a self-professed narcissist. Mental health wise, maybe I shouldn’t. Everyone told me not to, but I’ve been googling myself until the cows come home. People have been really lovely, and it’s nice that people enjoy what I do because I did genuinely believe everyone would hate me. I don’t think I’m the typical Drag Race drag queen, so I was a bit wary of how I would come across. The fact people have been so lovely is just magical. I have seen online that people are not very happy with DeDe, and I wanna say now that DeDe doesn’t choose who stays or goes. DeDe was great in the lip-sync. It is what it is. C’est la vie. She’s an absolute star and I have no ill will towards her at all.
It’s mad when fans send hate to the queen who stayed because, like you said, DeDe didn’t make the decision?
She’s great and I love her. Did you see the pictures we took together where she painted me? I’ve never felt so gorgeous in my life. [It was] life-changing.
Is that a preview, a sneak-peak of your next Drag Race run? The glow-up?
Exactly. When I get my face pulled back…
And I get a brand new hairline, the BBL, it’s over for everyone.
This was a wholesome challenge to go out on. What was it like to spotlight such an incredible LGBTQIA+ charity like Switchboard and to work with your partner Xan?
It felt like a huge honour and privilege to get to spotlight Switchboard, tell people about the amazing work they do. I said it a bit in the episode, I went through a lot of mental health issues and queer issues and I felt very alone and didn’t know where to turn to. Now that we’ve helped put Switchboard on this huge Drag Race platform, hopefully the little queer kids in the small towns who don’t know what they can do might watch that episode and know that they can turn to Switchboard. Hopefully, people with some heavy pockets might consider donating money to Switchboard and all of that. Working with Xan was incredible. She looks exactly like one of my best friends and when she walked in I was like, ‘That’s my friend from home!’ She’s an absolute star and getting to know her and maintain a friendship with her afterwards has been really important and magical.
Is she officially your drag daughter? Will she be sashaying into the UK season six werkroom doors?
I mean, she can do her own makeup if she likes. I don’t want to put her through that again! But maybe, keep your eyes peeled. I think Geezer Marouli might be a shoo-in.
I’m waiting for a whole season of Drag Race where all of the makeover contestants compete.
I’d watch it. Winter Green…
Nebraska, yes! All of them. I’d watch it.
RuPaul, you listening? We’ve got a good idea ‘ere.
Cut us in, though. Give us a bit of the budget.
While this episode was wholesome and gorgeous, the makeover challenge has notoriously been met with controversy. A lot of queens have gone home in the past, who fans think should’ve been safe or even won. I will never get over Cheryl Hole’s elimination when she made over her sister to look the absolute spit of her. Dakota, too. Was this in the back of your mind when doing the challenge?
A little bit. People have been comparing me and Dakota Schiffer for months… The fans don’t stop. It’s a tricky one because the makeover episode is not always my favourite to watch. I knew going into it that my skills maybe weren’t the perfect skills for the challenge, but I really wanted to make a statement and have people remember it and talk about chosen family. The fact that it was Xan and Switchboard, it lined up perfectly. I thought, for better or worse, we have shown on the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race that chosen family is still important. Some makeover challenges we’ve seen, Naomi Smalls’ Sonny and Cher, Crystal Methyd’s Bert and Ernie, they were not necessarily blood related. They might’ve been having shenanigans with each other. That’s done well for them. It is what it is. It’s a difficult one to judge. Do you wear identical body suits? Do you not? Next All Stars, I’ll be wearing identical bodysuits, thank you.
We need to talk about Kate Bush. You memorably impersonated her in the Snatch Game. I assume she’s been in touch? She’s sent flowers? You have a lunch date planned?
She sent a stream of doves carrying individual letters in their mouths. They flew down and created a fairy ring and she appeared magically through the bushes. Nah, she hasn’t said anything. Nor has Shania Twain. I thought Shania might’ve reached out.
The Kate Bush Snatch Game has been a bit of a marmite-y Snatch Game, might I say. Some people absolutely love it and some people do not get it at all. I had a really fun time doing it and Carol Vorderman told me that I was her favourite, so…
That’s all you f***ing want, isn’t it?
Exactly. And I won the Snatch Game, numerically. I got a point!
This season has given viewers a lot of shocks and twists and drama and so forth. Which moment gagged you the most?
I have to say Cara Melle’s elimination. I’ll be honest, a lot of people have general inklings as to who’s going to be on and I heard that Cara was going to be there. We knew it was a matter of time, she’s a legend. I was like, ‘Okay, that’s the winner. I’ll do little funny bits in my corner and camp around a bit, just watch Cara shine.’ It was a big shock to all of us. We had to sit in a little holding room while she was doing her mirror message and we were all in silence, holding each other’s hands, just wide-eyed staring into space like, ‘The legend herself has gone and the competition has blown wide open.’
I’m with you there. I pegged her for top three, immediately.
Did you? Good for you. Keep that to yourself. Never in a million years did anyone think I would get an episode further than Cara. She’s got a work visa to be in America, so I think she should be on an All Stars in America. Please. I think we should all be on an All Stars. It’s one of the strongest casts, I would say, where we all bring something and have talent and charisma and excitement. It’s a great group of girls.
Is there anything you can tease about this showdown next week? Or are you under oath?
I think my face in the preview said it all, me going for a little straw, completely bamboozled by the sabotage. Not “sabotage” – what’s the word? The onslaught, the surprise, the sneak attack! I was just there having a nice time, eating pizza. We were very well fed. Yeah, it was a bit of a surprise but we’ll see how it all turns out. I can’t really remember most of it. I was just drinking. I drink a lot. I love drama. I love it.
You released an entirely original song today ‘This Woman’s Work,’ a song that was not written by anyone else…
Absolutely not. People have been introducing me as “Kate Bush” for a lot of my drag career. I’ve gone onto stage and people have been like, ‘That’s not her.’
Why did you want to record this specific song? By the way, you sound gorgeous and I feel like we never saw/heard this side to you on the show.
Absolutely. I wanted to show a different side to me, that I’m not just a silly idiot who makes stupid little jokes. I wanted to do something to tie in with Switchboard and the conversations that me and Xan had, a lot of which didn’t make it into the episode. [With] the overarching phrase, “I know you’ve got a little life in you left, I know you’ve got a lotta strength left,” I think there are people in the world that need to hear that. I certainly needed to hear that at some point in my life. I just wanted to, firstly, show off. In the girl group challenge I rapped. In the Rusical I was a bit [makes grunting noise]. I should’ve been the cow, in hindsight. So, I just thought I’d do something that people maybe weren’t expecting and have a fun time doing it.
What’s next for you? An EP? An album? An Academy Award? A Kate Bush biopic? A Grammy?
All of it! Everything. An EGOT. IBS! I’m just so excited to take on the world. I’d love to do some new music as well. My podcast Queers Gone By has gone from strength to strength and we’re going to take that to the next level very soon. I’m doing a show on the West End with Michael Marouli. Next year, let’s see where everything takes us. I’ve got a solo stand-up show about the music of Kate Bush called Wuthering Shites, which I did at the Edinburgh Fringe a couple years ago and would love to take that on tour in a big, sparkly, revamped, budget-heavy production. So, stay tuned. Keep your eyes peeled.
Finally… your mother. Has she managed to make it on a game show yet?
The producers were, unbeknownst to me, talking to my mum. When I got eliminated they sat me down and said, ‘So, we’ve been speaking to your mum and this makes a lot of sense now.’ She would love to go on Pointless, so if anyone at the BBC would love to put me and my mum on a Pointless episode… Now, I know which charity to do all these celebrity quiz shows for. I will be absolutely raising money for Switchboard. I want to do The Chase, Tipping Point, Catchphrase, Only Connect, Mastermind – I’ll do it all.
Once you get your EGOT, I think they might accept you on at least one of these shows.
They might consider it, maybe.
Drag Race UK season five is streaming now on BBC iPlayer.
You can watch our entire interview with Kate Butch here or below.