“Here’s the thing, Michelle [Visage]. You are flip-flopping, sweetheart,” says Copper Topp, who was rebranded by the Seduction songstress in the latest episode of Drag Race UK as “Copper Flop”. “Make your mind up, darling!” For their third maxi-challenge, the season four cast competed in pairs in a bingo-inspired design challenge, with Copper and Cheddar Gorgeous stomping down the runway in Barbarella, warrior-themed ensembles. While Cheddar’s runway was applauded by the panel, Copper received harsh critiques – with the aforementioned change in her name – and faced the bottom two against lip-sync powerhouse Black Peppa to Jax Jones and Tory Party performer Ella Henderson’s This Is Real.
“Listen, she still tried to put up a fight, 100%. Getting into those splits, I was very impressed with myself because I am 38,” laughs Copper. “I don’t think that’s old, but I’ve had a fair few urinary tract infections in my time and getting down there… It leaves you wincing, ever so slightly.” Aware of Peppa’s revered lip-sync abilities, Copper knew she would be out-performed and possibly sashay away – but she doesn’t think she should’ve been lip-syncing for her life in the first place. “I love all my sisters, but I think we should’ve been judged as a duo, which it should be,” she explains. “Mine and Cheddar’s presentation on the runway was very realised and pretty sexy, so I’m just going to leave that there.”
Following her exit, we spoke with Copper about her time on Drag Race UK including Michelle’s critiques, the “rubbish” decision from her sisters to award her a NAFTA for ‘Best Background Actress in a Non-Speaking Role’ and her outrageous pick for Snatch Game. She also speaks with GAY TIMES about her ginger identity and her new self-empowerment rock anthem Weirdo (out now!).
Today we’re chatting with Copper Topp, who I believe is… ginger?
[Laughs] The delivery of that was hilarious.
Am I correct in saying that? That wasn’t wrong?
She might be just a little bit ginger, I don’t know if I’ve said it enough.
I’m glad we’ve clarified that, it’s the headline I will be going with for this article. The world needs to know. Babe, how are you doing?
Oh my goodness me, the emotions are high Sam. The emotions are high, but seeing your lovely face and lovely beard has cheered me right up. It’s crazy. The love is unreal. Some of the fans are getting very serious and dramatic about it all, which we stan… We stan…
What, Drag Race fans? No! Absolutely not.
It’s expected, but the love is just unreal. So much love to all my sisters left in the competition. Honestly, it’s changed my world, changed my life and I’ve got a family now of queer people who have made me a much better person, so I feel really good.
After being told to sashay away by RuPaul, how did you feel? How long did it take you to come to terms with your elimination?
I came to terms with it very quickly, as soon as Ru went, ‘Copper Topp. Black Peppa.’ I was like, ‘Really, girl? Really, are you gonna do that to me? You cheeky mare.’ I kind of came to terms with it then. Listen, she still tried to put up a fight, 100%. Getting into those splits, I was very impressed with myself because I am 38. I don’t think that’s old, but I’ve had a fair few urinary tract infections in my time and getting down there… It leaves you wincing, ever so slightly. But in that moment, adrenaline kicked in and I got down into those splits way before Peppa, so…
Peppa is known to be a powerhouse performer, so people might have thought you don’t stand a chance, but you put up an incredible fight. That lip-sync was amazing.
Thank you, sweetheart! Thank you. This is the thing, everyone equates drag strength with a lip-sync. And of course, you need to turn it out but she can act, she can sing, she can move – I would never say ‘dance’ – she can do stand-up comedy. I didn’t get to show those on the show, necessarily, I got to do a bit of singing with the girlband but I’m a fierce entertainter, honey.
Can I just say that I’m so glad the lip-sync was Ella Henderson, so happy. You happy about that?
[Laughs] Yes! After seeing something on Twitter… As soon as I saw that I was like, ‘Oh, here we go…’
The stars aligned for it happen this week. What are the fucking chances?
The way I see it is, maybe she was just desperate for some money! Even if I was that desperate, I probably wouldn’t go there, but sweetheart, I’m hoping that Drag Race has brought the song back up. But there’s no excuses! There’s no excuses.
What song do you think you would’ve beaten Peppa to?
Let’s just say this, then. Do you remember when Tayce and the gorgeous Cherry Valentine did Memory by Elaine Paige? Give me an emotional song like that, a bit of musical theatre, and Peppa… bye babes. She can dance, she can turn it, she can split, shablam – all those things – but when it comes to emotion and telling a story and acting, the Olivier goes to me!
Are you hearing that Peppa? If it was a ballad, you would’ve gone home! Gone!
Are you hearing that RuPaul? Let’s have a ballad next time, please!
Do you think you deserved to be in the bottom two after watching the episode back?
Absolutely not. I love all my sisters, but I think we should’ve been judged as a duo, which it should be. Mine and Cheddar’s presentation on the runway was very realised and pretty sexy, so I’m just going to leave that there…
It definitely told a story, and can I just say, you have never looked more beautiful.
Thank you, Michelle did not like the wig but I loved it. It was a tinsel moment. It was giving me full Barbarella fantasy and honestly, doing the show, your make-up does change and I’ve learned so much from all of these queens and that was a moment when I was doing a slightly softer contour and slightly softer eye. Then I went a bit crazy with the gold leaf! Cheddar was like, ‘Here’s some gold leaf, knock yourself out!’ and I created an entire mask and forgot about my body. We live and we learn.
People have sashayed away looking a lot worse, so…
My darling, thank you. I’ll take that as a little flirty hint that you want to take me out to dinner?
I’m free… Tuesday? Yeah, Tuesday.
I’ll Instagram you after this, we’ll sort it out.
See you next Tuesday babe.
In the episode, Michelle rebranded you as “Copper Flop”. What did you think about that?
Here’s the thing, Michelle. You are flip-flopping, sweetheart. You can’t go, ‘I really like Copper Topp, she’s wonderful’ and go, ‘She’s a Copper Flop.’ Make your mind up, darling! As Bucks Fizz say, ‘Making your mind up, rip that skirt off and make a decision!’
She thought, ‘Topp rhymes with Flop, that’s funny and I’m gonna say it.’
Exactly. Listen, Michelle is a very talented lyricist so I’ll give it to her, I’ll give her a few points. She ain’t getting 10, sorry babes.
Not only were you branded “Copper Flop”, you were branded as the queen who’s most likely to fade into the background…
I’m gonna get serious on this for a moment, because Copper rarely gets serious. Here’s the thing, I am a quieter person. I won’t say I’m quiet, I’m not shy, but I am a quieter person in a larger group of people and for me, when I do drag, I switch it on the minute I’m on stage. I don’t feel like I need to talk every five seconds, fill in the air and fill in the camera time, so how that’s equated to being ‘less likely to be a star and fading into the background’… The girls who voted me, not cool hunnies! Not cool. I love my sisters, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not cool at all.
Are you willing to reveal who you voted for that award?
I actually refused to do that one, and I know a few people refused to do some of them. I was like, ‘Everyone’s mental health is being tested and this one is literally gonna send someone packing,’ and that person was me!
You confronted the queens after it, did you still take it personally after they explained their reasons?
Yeah, 100%. You get into this because you love to entertain, and that is your passion and you have so many dreams of where you want to go. So for someone to look at you and your drag and say, ‘No, I don’t think you can be a star, you fade into the background,’ it’s not nice to hear. Take it on the chin, “water off a duck’s back” as Jinkx Monsoon says. But at the time, it was a bit rubbish, I’ll be honest.
I would’ve had a tantrum, crying and screaming and running out of the room, so I think you handled it really well.
To be honest, I think the edit did me a favour there because I was doing a Nikki Grahame like, ‘WAH!’
You are not a background actress, Copper, I can confirm. You are not a non-speaking role!
Yes, baby, a supporting artist at best!
In your mirror message, you said the queens are lucky not to go up against you in the Snatch Game. Can you please reveal to me, exclusively to GAY TIMES, who you would’ve impersonated?
Absolutely, my love. I was very excited about this and I had a few lined up, but I’ll give you a cheeky one. I was going to give you Anne Boleyn, so think historical Anne Boleyn but with Anne Boleyn from Six the Musical vibes. Little funny things like… Hang on, Sam you’re gonna be RuPaul now. ‘How’s your head, Ru?’
‘I get loads of complaints.’
And I go, ‘But did it overthrow Catholicism though?’ Little funny things like that and, ‘I only get down on my knees for one thing, and it certainly ain’t praying… Sorry not sorry!’
What else do you wish you could’ve shown the viewers this season?
Oh 100% the improv or acting challenge, that’s my thing. I would never say I’d win, but I know I would’ve topped – and Copper likes to top. Acting and improv, that’s my bag. I am gutted I didn’t get to show that because they were the two things, going in, that I was like, ‘Yes, cannot wait for these challenges.’ So, the minute I exit and Ru announces that it’s an improv challenge… Bloody hell, rub salt in the wound sweetheart.
They fucked you over.
100%. I think I walked in and they were like, ‘Let’s not give this queen a nice steady journey, let’s take her on a rollercoaster honey! We’re going to Alton Towers!’
How have you felt, watching this series back? As a viewer, what has surprised you?
Interestingly… Listen, Drag Race is incredible, but it is a hotbox of emotions. Watching it back, those emotions creep in and you’re like, ‘Ooh, maybe I should go and see a therapist.’ But, watching it back, I’m just really proud of everyone. It’s difficult to prepare all of this and just turn up at the studios and turn it out. Everyone’s craft is beautiful and I can’t wait to see… I missed quite a few weeks, so I’m really looking forward to becoming a fan again and just watching the show and seeing it unfold. I’ll be there, rooting for every single one of them because they’re all beautiful. Yeah, seeing everyone’s craft and the cameras catching all of those close-ups, just beautiful.
Today marks your debut as a recording artist. You have a brand new song out, Weirdo, a self-love and empowering rock-inspired anthem. This is what I needed when I was 13-years-old…
Right? That’s the aim behind it, because I didn’t have this sort of song when I was kid. I was like, ‘I’m 38 but I can still record this anthem,’ because I’ve had so many messages from beautiful, beautiful people down in the younger age range who are telling me their trauma and I’m like, ‘No, enough’s enough.’ When is being queer going to be celebrated by everyone? I’m a little bit fed up. I’m going through my punk phase at the moment and I’m angry with the world, angry with politics, and angry with heteronormativity. So yeah, that’s why I wrote Weirdo and I wanted it to be a rock anthem for young people – not just young people, actually, anyone who feels like they’ve had to hide their queerness. I said it on the show in my exit interview, it took me a long time to find myself as a queer person and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. When you find it, it’s bloody brilliant. I just hope that it helps people out there because it helped me writing it and I didn’t have that sort of song when I was a kid.
You mentioned how fans are messaging you about their trauma. How are you dealing with this side of your newfound fame?
It’s something I didn’t expect and it completely blindsided me at first. I have to understand that this platform I’m on now is such a massive privilege and I’m so grateful. Drag is political and the work that we do is it help people. At the end of the day, I’ve always said that drag is helping someone in their day. I’ve always been performing in pubs and clubs and stuff and a lot of people are like, ‘Yas queen! Turning it out! Hunty!’ but then one person would always come up at the end and give you this solid hug and say, ‘I’ve had a really bad day today and that’s really helped me.’ I’m not experienced in helping people, but I will certainly listen to people and I think it’s important that we support our young queer voices because they need strength right now – especially our trans youth.
Stream Weirdo now! On all platforms, sweetheart!
What’s next for Copper Topp? Can we expect a music video, EP, album, film, tour? What’s coming?
Funnily enough, Sam my darling, a music video is on its way! It’s just being finished in the post-production suite, so if you’re lucky, maybe this weekend. I’ve got dreams of having a drag sketch show comedy on television, so I’ve teamed up with some amazing drag talent and we are filming… I guess we’re going to put it as a YouTube platform to start off with, but the dream is to get it on TV. BBC Three, if you’re listening, thank you.
Copper, it’s been such a pleasure speaking with you, again. I’ll see you on… We said Tuesday, didn’t we?
See you next Tuesday, sweetheart. Can’t wait.
The latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 4 is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
You can watch Copper Topp’s interview in full on Snatched! below or by clicking here.