After selling out all over the UK, Charlie Hides is bringing his shiny balls to Bath. An outrageously fun event hosted by internationally famous Drag Queen Charlie Hides with stand-up comedy, games and camp prizes to be won! Charlie chats to Craig Maplesden about coming to Komedia with his 'Drag Queen Bingo', how things have changed since he started performing in the 1990's, and how long it takes to perfect his impressions.
Many thanks for chatting to me. You are coming to Komedia on 8th June with ‘Drag Queen Bingo’. It looks a whole lot of fun, but what can audiences expect?
Glamour, big laughs, fabulous music and a great night out. I might crowd surf around the Komedia again while people chant my name. Who knows.
Do you get many people dressing up in drag for the show, and is this something you actively encourage?
There've been a few but quite frankly not enough! Yes, I would not only encourage it, if I were the Queen of England I'd make it mandatory.
When did you first start out doing drag?
When I was growing up in Boston the legal drinking age was 21 so at 16 I started doing drag as a way of sneaking into nightclubs and bars. The bouncers never asked drag queens for their ID's . My friends and I would tell our parents we were going to the library to do a book report or to the movies then we'd get changed in the car. Thank goodness we didn't have phones with cameras at that time. Have you ever tried putting on your make-up in the back seat of a Ford Fiesta going 50 miles an hour while singing along to Madonna?
"My friends and I would tell our parents we were going to the library to do a book report or to the movies then we'd get changed in the car. Thank goodness we didn't have phones with cameras at that time. Have you ever tried putting on your make-up in the back seat of a Ford Fiesta going 50 miles an hour while singing along to Madonna?"
How have things changed since you started performing in the 1990’s?
Drag was "fringe" entertainment, now it's mainstream and on our telly's 24/7. The influence of RuPaul's Drag Race has shaped a whole generation of young queens who are hoping to get on the show as a ticket to stardom. When I was a young performer the ticket to stardom was being able to captivate and enthral an audience for a full hour-long or 90-minute show solo show that you could tour around the US or perform in theatres. You had to be able to engage the audience with your wit and comedy and singing. Now, it seems, you just need to be able to pop your tongue, repeat a catchphrase and do a death drop and they'll put you on tv.
How important have shows like ‘Drag Race’ been for Drag acts?
It's been as much of help as is been a hindrance. Ru is a powerful tastemaker and their preference for a certain type of drag is now shaping what young acts aspire to be like. It's a bit homogenized with acts making artistic decisions based on what Ru likes. I prefer artists to have a point of view and something real to say. The market is now saturated with too many clones with nothing to contribute and whose sole ambition is to be a brand rather than a skilled entertainer.
Whose idea was it to set up your YouTube channel, and did you expect it to be such a massive hit?
I created my YouTube channel as a way of sharing with the audiences, friends and family back home in the States, the comedy videos I'd been using in my live shows. I created these two and three-minute films which were played on a big screen while I changed costumes. I wanted people who lived too far away from London to be able to see me in a theatre or cabaret venue to be able to see them I. I didn't realize they'd share them on Facebook and I had no idea they'd get millions of views and would lead me to be invited to perform all over the world. It was a very pleasant surprise and it changed the course of my career.
"When I met Gaga she told me she loved my videos of her and Kylie Minogue got in touch and asked me to come to Australia and basically offered her services to be in a video with me."
How long does it take to perfect an impression, and which is your favourite?
I actually don't think I've ever "perfected" an impression, that's kind of you to suggest I have. I use my voice, costume, wigs, makeup skills and dialogue to recreate the idea of the celebrity, enough so that you know who I'm playing. I'm a storyteller and the jokes and the narrative are far more important to me than whether I've "nailed" the impression. That said, I enjoy the process of getting into a character and have had a lot of fun playing, Cher, Joan Rivers, Madonna etc.
Have any stars contacted you about your impressions and what do they think?
Oh, over the years quite a few have been in touch and follow me on Twitter etc. Cher has been very complimentary and in an interview called me her "favourite impersonator." When I met Gaga she told me she loved my videos of her and Kylie Minogue got in touch and asked me to come to Australia and basically offered her services to be in a video with me. We had a LOT of fun filming together. The sketch she appeared in was included in my TV comedy special in which I played 26 characters and won a Royal Television Society Award for. Thanks Kylie.
Other than the live shows, what else do you have planned for 2022?
I'm still very busy doing Zoom shows, team Socials and Happy Hour events for companies like Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Meta, Disney etc. When the first lockdown happened I realized that people working from home needed cheering up so I put together an interactive, fun-filled hour-long show that I could do on Zoom for people that were stuck at home and working remotely. I have now done over 1000 virtual shows. I thought it would be a couple of months, a blip in my career, but two years later I'm still getting booked for Zoom shows.