It’s crazy to think that until earlier this year, I had never seen a live drag show. Despite doing weekly Ru Paul’s drag race reviews on social media (which if you aren’t following you should be!), I had never actually seen what these queens do on an everyday basis. Since my first event which starred Utica and Denali from Drag Race US season thirteen (which you can read at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/09/22/denali-and-utica-tour-review/ ), I seem to have dove headfirst into the drag scene and have attended many, many drag shows since including the Disney Villains Ball that took place on Halloween which was performed by a range of US and UK drag race queens (which is available at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/11/02/disney-villians-ball-event-review/) It is obviously very important to support any drag performer but people, myself included, need to remember that it’s not just drag queens from TV that need your support but also your local queens who are working just as hard in pubs and clubs etc!
Almost four years ago I began hearing about a brand new event called dragged to church that gather together some of Cardiff’s best drag performers at St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church to viral raise for the churches roof repair appeal. Unfortunately for the first two years, I was unable to attend due to prior commitments and last year, due to the lockdown, it was a virtual event but this year I made sure to book my ticket well in advance as there was no way I have missed this fabulous event for the fourth time in a row! The is something incredibly powerful about the fact that this fabulous drag celebration takes places in the very traditional look of St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church. As many of the queens acknowledged throughout the night, the church has historically not been the most accepting and welcoming space for LGBT+ people in general so to not only see drag performers in a church but having an audience filled with members of both the church and LGBT+ community of all ages was incredibly moving. On top of this, these queens were performing to help raise money to help repair the church which shows a tremendous amount of compassion and collaboration between these two groups who traditionally would never been seen together! It is clear that the countdown to Christmas has truly begun as I have seen a wonderful production of A Christmas Carol (which you can read at http://fairypoweredproductions.com/a-christmas-carol-review-3/) and now a slightly altered Christmas Carol service hosted by some fabulous queens!
Before the show could officially start however we were gifted a pre-show performance by the wonderful Sophia Gardens and Jackie LeBeanstalque. Both of these talented queens looked incredible while delivering some incredible vocals despite the chaos and chatter of the audience. As the queens were performing their were stalls to buy things from and a bar selling alcoholic and soft drinks, which only went to further showcase the patients and perseverance of these talented queens. We had a range of performances during this time which included some Christmas and some non-Christmas songs which helped to create a very warm and welcoming atmosphere from the get-go! Like I discussed earlier this event did take place in St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church but this did not stop the queens from using a range of profanity, sexual references or making inappropriate jokes which did mean that the event was much more suited to a more mature audience. Tremendous amounts of praise needs to go to every person involved in this show as there were a series of technical issues (that would have destroyed me had I been in charge) but the crew involved were able to quickly adapt and improvise to create a new running order on the spot. I personally would never have been able to been this organised under pressure so the team involved should be praised for not letting this overcome them. If you pile on top of this the chaotic behaviour that drag kings and queens have become known for then you will appreciate how difficult these issues must have been to resolve.
I thought that a highlight of the entire evening was Joanne Bumney’s performance of her Christmas version of the children’s disco classic ‘the fast-food song’ was incredibly entertaining. She graced the stage dressed as a ridiculous turkey and armed with some hilarious jokes such as ‘When I asked to look like a glamorous bird this was not what I meant’ which had the audience in stitched throughout. She also asked two young members of the audience to join her on stage as she taught everyone the dance moves to this new version of the song which to be fair everyone did get involved with! Another queens that was equipped with wonderful Christmas cracker style jokes was Pixie Perez (who I have seen perform numerous times at Sunday Funday in Pulse) who looked absolutely stunning in her shimmering, golden gown. Her performance of jingle bells was wonderfully over-the-top and absolutely fitted the chaotic nature of the show thus far! I was really surprised by the performance of Dr Beverly Ballcrushers of as was one of the queens was was not that aware of before coming to this event. Not only did she deliver many hilarious jokes throughout the evening, but she also delivered many of the more emotional and powerful moments throughout the evening but the icing on the cake was her insane vocal styling during her performance of a traditional Christmas medley. As someone who has grown up in the church there is nothing more Christmassy to me than traditional Christmas carols so to hear not only a drag Queen perform but a wonderful vocalist sing these classic tracks was absolutely amazing!
Jackie LeBeanstalque continued her run of fabulous performances as she delivered a fantastic performance of the Frank Sinatra classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were performed some of the best vocal runs I had heard in a very long time! I know that Jackie is a relatively new queen to the drag scene so I cannot wait to see more of her and heard more of her vocal stylings in the future as she was absolutely incredible this evening! I have to know Dixie Norm since she arrived on the drag scene many years ago but have never actually seen her do perform as a part of a show before. Not only did she look amazing but she gave the audience a uniquely camp and comedic performance of “Feliz Navidad” alongside the drag king Justin Drag. It is fantastic that this show decided to include a drag king (and trans-man) in their performance and I personally believe that this male impersonation art form needs more recognition! At one point twelve people were selected from the audience to be a part of a very unique performance of the twelve days of Christmas which each guest being one of the days. The fact that none of the audience members knew that they were getting involved or even what each day of the song represented led to some hilarious moments and when the song eventually run smoothly was a very heartwarming moment to watch! In a way, it was kind of like Christmas dinner with your family where you may bicker but once you all finally come together it is a very Christmassy and touching celebration! The entire evening was tied together with a reading of a not so traditional reading of the nativity story from west-end and Brookside star Stifyn Parri which was crammed filled with comedic moments, inside jokes and references to local places.
Overall, this was a wonderfully festive event that hopefully will do some part in dismantling the separation between the church and the LBGT+ community which support a very worthwhile charity. The evening of chaotic Christmas queens really helped to turn the accelerator on the Christmas countdown while also showcasing the talent that Cardiff possesses! I would rate this evening 4 out of 5 stars and encourage fans of drag to make sure you book you tickets as soon as you can as I am sure that the fifth anniversary of this concert is going to be one not to miss!