Skip to content

This is the fifth consecutive year I’ve interviewed the entire cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and this might be the most unhinged line-up in history. From Ginger Johnson’s past dalliances with ‘electrocution and burly men’ to Tomara Thomas’ hunger to represent “posh sluts” on British telly, the brand new roster of queens are giving chaos – meaning we’re in for a hell of a season.

On 28 September, 10 more queens will flaunt their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent via maxi-challenges, runway presentations and lip-sync smackdowns to usurp Danny Beard as the ‘UK’s Next Drag Superstar’. It’s another star-studded affair, with guest stars such as Aisling Bea, Alexandra Burke, Cush Jumbo, Daphne Guinness, Joel Dommett, Kristen McMenamy, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Suranne Jones and Yasmin Finney, as well as cameos from Edward Enninful OBE, Carol Vorderman, Karen Hauer and Claudimar Neto.

Like the past four seasons, which have been streamed over 67 million times on BBC iPlayer, season five sees the return of RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr and Graham Norton. Read ahead for our snappy interviews with the 10 incredible new contenders for the Drag Race UK crown: Alexis Saint-Pete, Banksie, Cara Melle, DeDeLicious, Ginger Johnson, Kate Butch, Michael Marouli, Miss Naomi Carter, Tomara Thomas and Vicki Vivacious. Start your engines, etc!

Alexis Saint-Pete
28, London

Favourite RPDR alumni: Shangela
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Tayce vs Cherry Valentine – ‘Memory’

The Polish choreo queen of the season is here! Alexis Saint-Pete is about to dance the house down on Drag Race UK and provide some much-needed representation for her country’s LGBTQIA+ community in the process. “I want to show that Polish people are artistic, and not just cleaners!” she tells GAY TIMES.

“Britney Spears meets Marilyn Manson” and “a mixture of sex and camp” is what you can expect from Alexis’ drag, which was birthed around six years ago, professionally, but officially started as a child when she would snatch her mother’s heels and mince down her corridor while she was out shopping. The 28-year-old laughs: “I would also pretend a towel was a 15-inch wig.” (Who didn’t?) The London-based performer has studied ballet since she was four-years-old, which taught her discipline and how to “overthink”. “I’m always as professional as possible, which can sometimes be off-putting in drag!”

In addition to trying to break free from the strict shackles that come with being a ballet dancer, Alexis is determined to bring awareness to the issues that are plaguing her country, such as their abhorrent ‘LGBT-free zones’. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I need to make sure I shout to the audience about the problems in Poland and be a good example, because I’ve never seen Polish drag queens on Drag Race before.”

I ask Alexis to pull out one adjective to describe this season of Drag Race UK. She goes with “chaotic”. “And surprising, I think,” Alexis says, before delivering the following bold statement: “It’s easily the best season of the franchise.”

23, Manchester

Favourite RPDR alumni: Max
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Tayce vs Cherry Valentine – ‘Memory’

RuPaul’s Drag Race is widely regarded as one of the most diverse and inclusive shows on television, behind Succession. It’s peculiar then, that it’s taken 15 years for the franchise to represent one of society’s most marginalised and vilified communities: seven-foot, non-binary drag queens from the North. “I’m like one of the walkers from Game of Thrones,” says a straight-faced Banskie. “I just want to be a pillar for that community.” (Please feel inspired by these words.)

The 23-year-old hails from the legendary Family Gorgeous, a drag collective that was first represented on Drag Race UK‘s fourth season with matriarch Cheddar Gorgeous, who placed second behind Danny Beard. “I stalked them all,” she fondly remembers of her early queer days in Manchester. “I was an 18-year-old chasing them around the club, which maybe wasn’t what they wanted at that point in time.”

A supermodel-esque fashion girl who can “hold a mic” and “connect with people”, Banksie reveals that she’s also the kind of queen who isn’t afraid to ski down the Swiss Alps in full drag. (This actually happened and, as a “terrible skier”, she spectacularly failed.) Banksie is determined to show viewers that she’s not just a pretty face: she is, in fact, a “silly prat from Manchester” who is bringing Jinkx Monsoon-levels of “delusion, convince yourself” to the werkroom.

“I love being silly,” she continues. “We live in a world where we’re going through so much crap. If you can have one minute to be a little tart, do it. So, I think I was a little bit unhinged and ridiculous [on the show].”

Cara Melle
26, London

Favourite RPDR alumni: Symone
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Alyssa Edwards vs Tatianna – ‘Shut Up and Drive’

“I’m just a talented bitch,” Cara Melle says, humbly.

The first UK contestant to hail from the US – a reverse Lady Camden experience, if you will – Cara is one of the most revered entertainers in the UK drag scene as a result of her fierce aesthetic and vivacious stage presence. If you haven’t seen her at brunch yet: pull! yourself! together! “I am the highest form of goddess energy,” she tells me (her oats are oating as she says this, by the way). “I am Queen of Sheba mixed with Beyoncé and any mythical creature you can think of.”

After becoming fully acquainted with the full breadth of her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, Cara started dabbing in drag at her boarding school in California. A move to London for university resulted in a close friendship – and sisterhood – with season two alum Tayce, who didn’t offer her any valuable Drag Race UK-related advice because she’s – in Cara’s words – “just not that wise”.

In addition to her skills as a dancah, Cara is proficient in the art of fashion and song; in 2021, she memorably appeared alongside alumni such as Manila Luzon and Trinity the Tuck on Drag Karaoke Club. (She was sadly forced to withdraw due to illness.)

The 26-year-old makes herstory this season as the UK’s first-ever Black trans competitor, which she describes as “surreal” and “really gratifying” because of the inevitable impact she’ll have on her respective communities: “I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m that woman.’ I can’t wait to show people who are like me how to be powerful in our Blackness, transness and womanhood.”

When I ask Cara what kind of impact she wants to leave on the franchise, she provided me with this instantly iconic quote: “I want to slay it harder than anyone has ever done before. I want to go down in history as the baddest of the bad. Is mother mothering?”

20, Kent

Favourite RPDR alumni: Asia O’Hara
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Kennedy Davenport vs Katya – ‘Roar’

As the drag sister and “bestie” of season three champion Krystal Versace, DeDeLicious has some big tits to fill. However, this shant be a mother-wins-then-daughter-sashays-away-in-last-place scenario ala Jaida Essence/Kimora Hall, as the 20-year-old claims she will do “everything” in her power to be “in the spotlight”: “I’m a selfish, selfish girl. And an attention whore.”

Originating from Kent, DeDe grew up in the “James Charles era” of makeup but has since transitioned into a “campy yet glamorous” entity that subverts expectations for a queen her age. “I feel like there’s a certain aesthetic tied with my generation of drag, but I want to show people that drag is fun, camp and can bring light to everyone’s lives.”

A sewing crackerjack, the Nicki Minaj stan concocted various lauded ensembles for Krystal on her season, so expect her to snatch a coveted RuPeter badge when/if the classic sewing challenge makes an appearance. “I finally get my moment, instead of just my outfits!” she excitedly states.

While DeDe’s mug and aesthetic is very slay-the-house-down-boots-yas-gawd, she really is as quirky and camp as her Meet the Queens suggests. She bravely uses her GAY TIMES interview to come out as someone who doesn’t mind a queen’s wig catapulting off her noggin’, Mo Heart-style: “It’s just a cap of plastic hair.” A powerful way to end this section, I think.

Ginger Johnson
24, County Durham

Favourite RPDR alumni: Tammie Brown
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Latrice Royale vs Kenya Michaels – ‘You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)’

Ginger Johnson is a sausage woman: “I’m 60% pork.” Much-needed explanation incoming: “I used to have an act where I ate 10-inch hot dogs to a bit of music, which eventually gave me salt poisoning.” (Crown her now, maybe.)

The County Durham comedian, Sink the Pink alum and self-described “maximalist” has been immersed in the art of drag for 15 years and thinks you! aren’t “doing drag very well” unless you resemble a character from Sesame Street. “My main talent is not being afraid to be an absolutely stupid bitch,” she laughs, “what I’m trying to do is let everyone relax by guaranteeing them that the most ridiculous person in the room is not them.”

With this in mind, I ask Ginger about her most memorable night in drag – and her response is truly inspiring. “I climbed on this wire at Oxford Uni’s Christmas ball. I realised the crowd weren’t screaming or cheering in appreciation because it was actually an electric cable… and it was about to snap. I let go and was caught by a crowd of sweaty homosexuals. If you, too, would like to be caught by ten burly men, risk your life with electrocution!”

Thanks to the sheer amount of C.U.N.T. and popcorn-worthy showdowns that we’re about to witness from this cast, Ginger says this season of Drag Race UK is “one for the books”. “Viewers are about to see 10 queens at the top of their game. There is no holding back this season. And along with that comes the marvellous mess that you would expect with 10 very driven people doing everything they can to get to the top.”

Kate Butch
26, Derbyshire

Favourite RPDR alumni: Ginny Lemon
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Dakota vs Baby – ‘No Way’

Kate Bush has not been in touch with Kate Butch. “I don’t think she knows I exist…” says the latter (obviously), “or has a landline. She’s running up hills somewhere.”

The 26-year-old queen – whose backup drag name is “Jemima Bagwhileimintheloo” (spelling?) in case the eccentric art-pop icon smacks her with a lawsuit – became a drag queen for ‘attention and free drinks’. Her style of comedy is best exemplified in her response to a question about her aesthetic and personality: “I’m the Comic Sans of drag because I’m instantly relatable but tragic.”

While comedy and stand-up are the areas Kate excels in the most, she can sew, act, sing and become “violent” when faced with stiff opposition during Monopoly and Operation. (We fear for the other queens in the staple board game challenge.)

This season, Kate wants to bring “big ol’ bastard drag” to the forefront and pay homage to women such as “the dinner lady from down the road who wears a fleece with a wolf on it”. (This was a very serious interview.) The Derbyshire queen calls season five a “camp old time” with “twists and turns” and – dramatic drum roll – “shock horror”. She promises: “People will be watching through their fingers.”

Michael Marouli
39, Newcastle

Favourite RPDR alumni: Alaska
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Alyssa Edwards vs Tatianna – ‘Shut Up and Drive’

Having lived in Gran Canaria for the past 17 years, Michael Marouli is more than ready for the fast-paced environment and twisty, turny nature of Drag Race UK. “It was literally boot camp for drag queens,” the Newcastle native reminisces. “I used to do eight numbers a night, six nights a week. I come to the UK and some queens do two numbers, get paid and they’re off. You don’t know how easy you’ve got it, girl!”

The non-conformist gender-bender considers herself an all-rounder due to her unparalleled skills on the mic, in addition to her singing, dancing, acting and fashion prowess. Although she brushed up on all of her aforementioned credentials before sashaying into the werkroom, Michael says it’s impossible to study/prepare for the series: “One minute you’re stood there thinking everything’s marvellous, and the next minute you’re tap dancing on the ceiling!”

“Respect for old school drag” is what Michael wants viewers to take away from this season, and to – like Loosey LaDuca – let loose (streaming now!). “Have a laugh. Be stupid. It’s not that serious. It’s drag! Let’s just have a camp old time. There’s so much crap going on in the world at the minute. Let’s bring some sparkle, laughter and glitter.” An “epic, iconic and jaw-dropping” adventure awaits viewers, Michael says, before describing this season as – another very bold statement incoming! – “one of the best seasons of Drag Race you’ve ever seen.”

Miss Naomi Carter
23, Doncaster

Favourite RPDR alumni: Shea Couleé
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Alyssa Edwards vs Tatianna – ‘Shut Up and Drive’

If you recognise Miss Naomi Carter, it’s because she’s already achieved virality. In 2021, the star significantly advanced the LGBTQIA+ movement when she raced a heterosexual male in full drag and beat him. “He literally fell flat on his face and I lost a heel. It was a moment.” (The video has over half a million views, c’mon TikTok queen.)

As the first Gambian queen to compete on any Drag Race franchise, Naomi is thrilled to represent her culture on the series and be the inspiration she never had as a young queer person. “That’s what it’s all about to me,” she says. “I come from a white mining village, so the mentality there can be backwards. I’ve already had people of Gambian heritage message me in celebration.”

Naomi jokes that, while she may resemble Beyoncé – her namesake – in drag, she sounds and acts more like her husband. “My drag is femme, but I rap and have a very deep voice. I’m not saying I sound like him, but it is more Jay-Z.” As well as the Carters, Naomi is heavily inspired by All Stars 5 winner Shea Couleé – “even her bloody toe nails”. (Foot fetishists, unite!)

Teasing the season ahead, Naomi says fans are in for an “amazing” ride with no clear frontrunner: “It’s such a strong cast, it really could be anyone’s game.”

Tomara Thomas
25, Hartlepool

Favourite RPDR alumni: Alyssa Edwards
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Sasha Colby vs Anetra – ‘I’m in Love with a Monster’

Tomara Thomas takes herself seriously. “I’m very slutty,” she says (of her aesthetic). “Like, a posh slut. A slut with class, if you will.” Her severe aesthetic implies an intimidating presence, and while she admits she’s competitive and “in it to win it”, Tomara doesn’t have any time for – as her favourite RuGirl Alyssa Edwards would say – “tomfoolery”. “I can’t be dealing with no bitches,” the 25-year-old tells me, “babes, I’m a good time gal!”

The Hartlepoolian (?) first tinkered in drag at the age of 14 when she and her dance teacher collaborated on a spicy performance (“I was buzzin’ off me tits” she remembers). Ever since pursuing drag as a full-time gig in lockdown, Tomara has made a name for herself as one of London’s best-known drag acts thanks to her high-energy performances and aforementioned painted mug, as well as her connection to season two’s A’Whora.

“Basically, I met A’Whora when I first moved to London and we both didn’t do drag,” she reveals. “We’re now housemates.” Ahead of her Drag Race UK debut, A’Whora shared her seamstress skills with Tomara, although that “went straight out the window”. “I cannot sew to save my life,” she admits, but don’t worry – Tomara sashayed into the werkroom with a very impressive strategy. That was a lie: “Nah, I’m too thick to have prepared a game plan. What you see is what you get. Half of the shit I was chatting, honestly, I was thinking, ‘What the bloody hell am I saying?’”

Vicki Vivacious
36, Cornwall

Favourite RPDR alumni: Courtney Act
Favourite RPDR lip-sync: Tayce vs Cherry Valentine – ‘Memory’

Vicki Vivacious was once told by a fellow queen that she should give up drag. After entering the UK’s annual Drag Idol competition, where she failed to make it through the first round, one of the judges unnecessarily (and incorrectly) informed her, ‘We see no future for you in drag. You’re a nice boy, but you should look into other avenues.’ Newsflash! Don’t tell a Cornish drag queen what she can/can’t do. “I’ve got my face on a t-shirt now babes,” she says, righteously. More impressively, she made it to the Olympics of drag.

“For the first time in a long time, I’m super proud of my work,” the 36-year-old says. “It’s actually a really lovely feeling. It’s so nice that I have something that I can share with my family and friends and be proud of.” This is a very “makes herstory” kind of season, and Vicki is doing exactly that for Cornwall. According to the queen, the last famous Cornish reality star was Fame Academy’s Alex Parks (seriously, where is she?). A celebratory Vicki says: “The Cornish people are going nuts!”

Ku Bar’s resident performer for the past 15 years, Vicki describes herself as a “singer that can move” who wants to honour old school drag, while combining it with modern aesthetics. Vicki – who jokes that she didn’t know if she wanted to “cry or shit” herself before entering the werkroom – quite literally beams with joy when asked to describe this new season of Drag Race UK. “It’s pure talent, fierceness and drama, girl,” she says. “It doesn’t lack anything.” Yeah… we’re hyped.

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 5 premieres Thursday 28 September on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.