Drag in the country
FABULOUS PEOPLE: JAMES WILKINSON
Anna Phylactic and Cheddar Gorgeous are names famous in Manchester's LGBT hemisphere and this month brought dazzling colour and a bit of the 'other' to one of the UK's most famous heritages sites, Avebury Stones in Wiltshire, galavanting in the corn fields and, as the girls would say, "having a lovely time".
“Action!” called the TV director. That was the cue to project the utterly fabulous. It was a rainy weekend in July but, among the glitter and hairspray on the green screen set, we were swept up in a whirlwind of wondrousness. My camera had been aimed at Cheddar Gorgeous and Anna-Phalatic – famous drag queens of the North – from 9am until noon watching intently as they got dolled up for the shoot.
We were there to create virals for writer RK Williams’ new novel, the sci-fi space romp The Ozone Hotel. These aren’t any old virals, though. They’ll be continuously shares on Instagram and Twitter to the worldwide drag community – and the universe! Buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life...
I’d woken early on that Saturday morning hearing giggles and laughter. I saw it was time to get cracking and get the coffees poured for our queens. I plugged in the sound bar system and It was all systems go.
The gay anthems were at full pelt and the atmosphere all became very pink quite quickly, the perfect sonic back drop for our stars in getting ready. At the make up table, fine lines of perfectly painted acrylic were being applied - all very avant garde. The house took on a new scent as hairspray filled the room.
As the Ozone crew started to put together the green screen, which would take up the whole back wall of the studio, I glanced at the grandfather clock in the hallway. It wasn’t yet midday.
The British countryside didn’t let us down and the rain continued to pour down outside as we got ready to get some outdoor shots. We’d need umbrellas for the drags, I pointed out. After all, nobody wants smudged make-up!
It was finally time for the first viral to be shot. A brolly was held over Anna and, a few flashes later, she wandered down to the bottom of the garden where the film studio awaited,
I waited outside the studio under an umbrella as the sound was recorded. The one-liners were flying and the production team were in stitches. I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. Author RK Williams was nearly on the floor.
Cheddar Gorgeous was next up and more laughter and frivolity followed.
After a trip to the nearby wheat field with Cheddar and Anna, some Facebook Live was recorded of them purring “lovely time”. Then sunset was upon us. I was inspired by the moment and got some fabulous artistic shots of the queens striking poses in the centre of rain-washed country roads. The sun went down just at the right moment and I got the money shot – Cheddar working the back-lighting so beautifully.
Then we drove back to our cottage, winding down curvy country lanes. Dog walkers’ heads snapped round as they spotted the fabulously dressed drag queen peacocked in my passenger seat feeling like stars.
Before we knew it, it was Sunday and time to do it all again. At the end of the final day the team watched the virals back, roaring at pun after pun.
I realised this was only the beginning and sparkles were sure to fly... Now get hold of your own sparkling golden ticket to The Ozone Hotel and see where it takes you!