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Le Fil on Drag Race UK season four

With their “offbeat” sense-of-humour, avant-garde runway presentations and “poptimistic” charm, Le Fil became a strong fan-favourite on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. While the Brighouse entertainer triumphed at the Yaas-tonbury Festival with their future Grammy-winning rock collective Queens of the Bone Age and garnered praise for celebrating their Chinese culture, fans denounced the panel for ‘completely overlooking’ Le Fil and judging him more ‘harshly’ than his season four competitors.

Speaking with GAY TIMES, the star admits the critiques “got progressively harder” for him: “I felt, ‘What else can I do?’ By this point, at the end of week six, I was like, ‘I think this is it, babes, I’m just going to enjoy myself and have fun, pack my bags and head off.’” 

Episode six saw the contestants play the Snatch Game, with Le Fil impersonating legendary Japanese consultant, author and television presenter Marie Kondo. Despite their pink tent runway slay, their lack of experience in the improv department landed them in the bottom two for the first time, where they competed against Black Peppa to Spice Girls’ classic anthem Stop. Ultimately, Peppa was saved over Le Fil and he became the seventh contestant to sashay away. 

Following his elimination, we spoke with Le Fil about his ‘thrilling’ Drag Race UK journey, the “powerful” response from Asian and Chinese viewers and his brand new EP, Le Filosophical, a five-track collection of quirky pop anthems about “all the lessons” he’s learned from his experience on the series.

Le Fil, my darling, how are you?

I am feeling wonderful! I loved watching the episode back last night and I’m just filled with how everything’s gone, really. Yeah, still dead excited and full of poptimism!

I say this every week and I genuinely mean it because I love this whole cast, but I’m really sad to see you go. How did you feel after your elimination?

I was so sad to go because I feel I have so much to show on that platform and all the different challenges. At the same time, I was dead exhausted, so I was proper chuffed to go and get some sleep! I left knowing that I did as much as I could on that show and each week, it got progressively harder for me in terms of hearing the critiques. I felt like I was getting harsher critiques than everyone else so I felt, ‘What else can I do?’ By this point, at the end of week six, I was like, ‘I think this is it, babes, I’m just going to enjoy myself and have fun, pack my bags and head off.’

You looked like you were having the best time and were just so happy to be there, which has been such a joy to watch.

Aww, that’s good. I’m glad that transpires. With any of these competitions, there’s no point in completely shutting out. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it is a fabulous platform to be able to show all our different skills. I went in there to have fun. It felt like a theme park ride, where you go in and you’re like, ‘Ooh, this is what this looks like,’ and then you tackle the rollercoasters and at the end you get the picture.

That lip-sync was bonkers, absolute chaos. I didn’t know where to look. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone look like they’re having that much fun whilst lip-syncing?!

It’s a Spice Girls song! How can you not have this pure, child-like fun? That was what I was trying to do with that song. Obviously, we all know that lip-syncs with Sink the Pink is very full-on choreography, but with this song, it’s so pure and joyful. To do it in front of Mel B, one of my idols… You just have to have fun with it. I was always prepared. With every lip-sync, I had a narrative or a performance of some sorts. I saved up all these different things from the weeks and I was like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna have to go all out because I feel like I’m gonna go home, so I’m gonna get everything out, leave it on the floor and then go.’ I was emptying my shoes, I was camping, right? My dress is a tent, so in my shoes there was grass, leaves, branches – I’d been in a field, so that’s why I was shaking all this stuff out. I wanted to give a really fun show.

I was concerned when Ru said you were in the bottom two because I thought, ‘How the fuck is he going to lip-sync in that outfit?’

This is it. This is maybe what Ru is doing. Seeing Sminty [Drop] like, ‘Let’s see if this bitch can do it in those shoes.’ I had my 12-inch heels on and was like, ‘No way am I lip-syncing in this outfit.’ As soon as I stepped on the runway and she saw those shoes she was like, ‘Yep, you’re on Le Fil.’

She wanted to punish you.

What was so fab was stomping down that runway and Mel B going, ‘You’ve outdone all the Spice Girls.’ I was like, ‘Do you know what? You inspired me. Your six-inches gave me the confidence to go for the full 12.’

You portrayed Marie Kondo on the Snatch Game. Posh Spice was your alternative, how do you think it would’ve gone down if you impersonated her instead?

I was gonna go for that until I found out Mel B was judging. I was like, ‘Mel B knows Victoria so well, how can I not fuck up?’ I’m such a Libra I was like, ‘What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?’ There was a suggestion of doing Posh Spice but with a Chinese accent and I was like, ‘Is that a marriage that I could do?’ I thought, ‘No, I will stick with Marie Kondo.’ I love Marie Kondo and I wanted to do an Asian character. There’s so few Asian, high-profile celebrities that you can do with an improv game. Marie Kondo is a blank canvas, but it was so much more difficult once I found out it was a Strictly Come Dancing twist. I was like, ‘How does this world of Marie meet Strictly Come Dancing?’ I was trying to find the avenue to get stuff in. That was a toughie for me.

What is it like doing Snatch Game? What do viewers not know?

It’s very intense. As soon as you’re on, questions are constantly being fired. In my head, I was trying to answer like Marie would. I was trying to stay in that character because it’s like an improv challenge, and we all know how that went down in episode four! I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I just need to get in the zone and enjoy it as Marie would.’ It is quite intense. The lights are on, everyone’s waiting for your answer and when you have really loud people on either side, it’s very distracting!

You’ve developed a passionate online following over these past six weeks, with fans often disagreeing with what the judges have to say on your performance and runway – hailing you as the ‘robbed queen’ of the season. I know you touched upon this a bit earlier, but do you think you were, at times, overlooked?

My sense-of-humour is a bit more offbeat and quirky, and maybe sometimes it didn’t translate as well with the judges. I think the driving force of the show is about comedy, in a way, and if you have a different sight of comedy or humour then maybe it doesn’t connect as well. In terms of how that impacted all the other challenges, I don’t know how that happened but it was something that I definitely felt during the show. It was more like seeing everyone’s feedback. I was like, ‘You guys feel it too? Was it just me?’ and I felt like I was being really deluded, like I had the Jonbers cup of delusion or something! Leaving the show, I was quite heartbroken and disheartened but seeing the support and all the love from everyone has been really heartwarming. It’s restored my faith in all the stuff that I do and I’m just so thankful that people have connected with that. It’s been so lovely.

I don’t disagree with the fans. You had no business being in the bottom for the Lairy Rusical Rusical. That, to me, was insane. I thought you were going to be in the top!

Thank you! After the week before I was like, ‘I don’t wanna be anywhere near that bottom three. Every single 24th of that frame that you’re gonna see when I’m on is going to be stellar.’ It was a lot of pressure. I came on at the end after seeing seven people build up that energy and I had to carry that and make it go further. I was like, ‘I’m here for the mission. I’m here for the challenge. I’m going to do it.’ It was one of my favourite runway outfits as well, so I really enjoyed that week and I was disheartened with the result. But, I got through and I did Snatch Game and it’s one of the most iconic episodes so I’m thrilled with the whole journey.

Following the Rusical, you spoke about how significant it was for an Asian person to be cast as the lead. What has the response been like from your Asian and Chinese supporters?

It’s overwhelming. It’s obviously something I’ve felt throughout my entire life, so to be able to hear the stories from everyone else and connect that, it’s been really powerful and loads of people resonate with that message. Especially in England, where Chinese people aren’t… It’s not like in China, we’ve got different experiences of growing up here and so many people resonate with the feeling of being sidelined all the time and not given the chance to be in the spotlight; having nothing in the media that represents you as well. I grew up watching so many films and I never realised that I never saw a Chinese person until I started going out to try and get work. It all dawned on me how you have to fight for opportunities and try and change the discourse about who it is and who can be there. By that point in the episode, I was feeling that again so I was like, ‘You know what? I need to take a central role in this to show that I’m worthy of being here and doing this.’ So yes, that was my statement and loads of people connected with that which is amazing.

You’ve continued to explore and celebrate your culture on your new EP, Le Filosophical – I love East to the West. For those who are yet to check out your music, how would you describe this collection of songs?

Le Filosophical is obviously named after the lyric in Come Alive, but it’s also about the feel-good messages that I want to come out from all the lessons I’ve learnt throughout the show. This collection of songs are inspired by the runway. East to the West is inspired by Ru Are You? There’s also songs inspired by the hair week, which is Feeling So Good, because I was feeling myself! There’s a Pudsey song up there and we’ve got the new single which is This is My Culture, which is a dedication to all my Asian fam, my queer fam, my creative family; all the people who have really worked with me over this entire time to get to this point. It’s a lot of work and it’s really difficult to do this by yourself and without the support of your loved ones. This EP is a whole reflection of this journey and I’m so excited to share it with you all. It’s so much fun.

What’s next for Le Fil?

I basically wanna be doing everything that I’ve done before, but more! There’ll be more music and fashion stuff. Literally, I love being creative in loads of different areas and drawing them all together with the thread, Le Fil, and weaving into all these genres and disciplines. The things that I want to present are marriages of all that, really, and just build it and build it and build it and hopefully be able to tour more and see everyone; see people who have been connecting with me on social media. I’m so gagged. I’m excited for what’s to come.

The latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season 4 is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

You can watch Le Fil’s interview in full on Snatched! below or by clicking here.