DARIENNE LAKE

WordsGreg Bailey and John Brock  PhotographyGreg Bailey

It's an overcast Saturday afternoon in London, and i'm on my way to meet Alright Darling's content designer John and his friend Gregory. I arrive at our meeting place which today was London Wonderground at the south bank centre, great place to see cabaret and circus acts. I weave my way through the crowds of people and find John and Gregory sat having a pint with Dallas Dellaforce one of the stars of "Briefs", a hit boylesque show thats settled in London after a sell out world tour. Unfortunately Dallas couldn't stay as he had a show to get to, but I wasn't here for Dallas. I was here to meet and photograph the gorgeous Darienne Lake. We all leave and make our way back to Darienne's hotel near Charring Cross, where Gregory begins to transform into the larger than life personality we know from RuPaul's drag race. 

J. How are you finding your time back in London Darienne?

D. I’m having the greatest time.

G. How are you finding spending your time back in London with John?

D. Errr exhausting! Yeah. I’m going to be ready for the Betty Ford Clinic after this!

J. I’ll come visit don’t worry.

D. Aww Will you?

J. Yeah. I’ll Bring Giant Diary Milk buttons.

J. Do you have a favourite English sweet?

D. You John.

J. On your season of drag race. If you had to be sent home by anyone who would you of wanted to of been sent home by.

D. Any one of the top three. Completely.

J. Cos you’re like good friends.

D. Actually I wouldn’t of minded going home because of any body. We had such a talented season.

That’s thing the you get the luck of the draw sometimes. For example if I had a dance challenge I was in the most recent season up againsgt Kennedy Davenport Then I would have been like “Oh Fuuck”! But then again its not just being able to dance, you have to emote the true song. Hence why Trixie went home and Pearl didn’t, I feel Pearl had more of the emotion in the song.

J. One of my favourite lipsyncs was when you did point of no return.

G. YESSSS! You put so much in to that performance!

D. Thank you. It was great to perform, because they cackled when I started to mime taking money. Ben dela was at the back taking her outfit off, and I was at the front miming taking tips off the judges. After like the second dollar they all figured out what I was doing, Ru was like “AHHHH” Slamming on the table and stuff, and Lea Remini was living when I was shaking my tits. I knew their eyes were on me.

Then the other lip sync I was doing stronger by Kelly Clarkson, and I was like “Why the fuck am I always in a gown when I lipsync?!” Its hard to evoke that kind of song in a gown. Its funny though that I was impersonating her and now she’s put on that weight, clearly trying to impersonate me.

J. Haha. But honestly you look good with your pins out.

D. My pins?

G. Your legs babe.

D. OH! I call them my hams.

G. Hahaha That reminds me of Sharon Needles read of Jiggly. (“You’re such a fat slut after sex you smoke hams”)

D. Oh that’s such an oldie. Actually on the Ricki Lake episode I was on, this one guy like, I just wanna know about you girls after sex do you smoke cigarettes or do you smoke a ham?

G. I didn’t know you were on the Ricki Lake show.

D. Yeah sometimes they would have drag queens on there like, “I have a secret, I’m a drag queen” or whatever. This one time they had this thing like, “ Do you have a friend that you think is too fat to do drag, call us on…” you know. So Pandora Boxx calls me up and says, “look I don’t want you to get offended, But I was watching Ricki Lake, and they have this thing that I think we should do. I don’t actually feel this way, but I think we could get on TV… Its ‘You’re to fat to be a drag queen’”. And I was like “LET’S DO IT!”.

J. Its on YouTube, I’ve watched it a bunch of times. (check the video out HERE)

D. Yeah it is. Its funny too because so many of the girls, including Sharon came up to me and were like, “I first fell in love with you on Ricki Lake, cos when I was a little boy I saw it and thought you were all so fucking fierce. Then you started talking about Devine and I thought It was so cool”. Its great cos so many people have seen that. I was in NY once, like fifteen years ago and I was going to a club, and some girls were looking at me sorta funny then eventually came up to me and said “You were on Ricki Lake”, and I said “Yeah”. She then said “ Oh My god when I was a little baby Drag queen I saw that and it really inspired me”. I remember watching the Donahue show when James St James and Amanada Lepore were on it talking about club kids, and that was my first taste of drag that inspired me, it comes full circle.

J. You’ve hung out with Amanada Lepore right? How was that?

D. She’s defo from a different planet.

G. I’ve heard she’s quite quiet, almost slightly timid.

D. She is. She is yeah, but oh so nice. Like last time I saw her she was like (Darienne puts on an almost Marilyn Monroe breathy voice) “Hey Darienne Baby. How are you? Oh I love the show Darienne.”

G. Talking of inspiring the children, what do you think of the VMA performance the girls put on with Miley?

D. It was great. So good that Drag race got that huge amount of exposure.

J. I read somewhere that Laganja organised it, is that right

D. No, she didn’t organise it but I think her and Alyssa choreographed it, which is fantastic as they were pretty much front and centre behind Miley. Vivienne Pinay was supposed to do it, and cos she lives out there it was no big deal for her to get there, but she backed out cos when they were going through the blocking and choreography and she was like “I’m not even going to be on camera, I’m not going to do it” but they were like “That’s okay, we’ve got tons of girls that want it”. To be honest they were offering it to pretty much anyone who wanted to do it. They said to me “If you’re in the LA area you can do it, plus we’re also filming something so we want you in the area of All Stars Two, we’ll pay you $100.” I was like “errrrr?”. I was already booked anyway to do a benefit for Access Aids in Virginia Beach, So I told them that but they were like “Well if you want to do it, it will be really good exposure for you”, which is true but I wasn’t prepared to cancel the benefit, my hotel, my plane ticket, then buy a plane ticket and hotel room out of my own money. Besides the benefit was just more important to me.

J. Do you have any favourite actors or actresses? Like are you into the golden age of Hollywood cinema era?

D. ….no.

J. Alright then cunt next question.

D. Hahaha no I do really. I love Jane Mansfield you know, she was a little bit thicker. But I tend to go back a bit further to Mae West, she had sooo many great lines you know, “I’ve been things, and seen places”, things like that, kinda suggestive for the time. Also people like Sophie Tucker and all her jokes. The 1920’s actress.

J. Oh like from the line in Chicago “And Sophie Tucker will shit I know, To see her name get billed below, Roxie Hart!”

D. Yeah that’s her. She would say like: So my husband Ernie says to me last night. “Soph you got no tits and a tight box” I said “Ernie get off my back!”.

My Husband Ernie says to me “You know what Soph, when I turn Eighty years old I’m gonna find myself a twenty year old lady, What do you think of that?” “Well when I turn eighty I’m gonna get myself a twenty year old man, and every body knows that twenty goes into eighty a lot easier than eight goes into twenty”.

Yeah she used to make really crass jokes, they were great. Bette Midler used to tell a lot of Sophie Tucker jokes.

We continue to take more pictures

J. Are you going to do more photo-shoots after this one Mamma.

D. Oh I don’t know.

G. You should, you’re gorgeous.

Darienne responds with…

 G. Ahhh I love that. The faces you made on the show, like when you were the crazy head in the box “I’m not a monnnster”.

D. Oh that was crazy too. They didn’t include this but that box was so small it was literally right against my face and they had a towel around my neck too, to cover the gap. Trinity kept fucking up, so its like breathing into a paper bag after a while, it was getting really hot. So I had to start pulling the towel up so I could breath from the box below, but my mic is on so everyone can hear me heavy breathing. Ru was like “ Are you okay in there Darienne?”, so I shouted “YEAH I JUST WISH TRINITY WOULD STOP FUCKING UP SO MUCH! THERES NOT MUCH FUCKING OXEGEN IN HERE!”.

G. Talking of acting challenges how was it when you had to work with Ru when you played Sissy?

D. Oh that was great. He never broke character, not once. Also mine was the last of the girls, but mine was taking forever. I was doing all that ranting and raving you know, hyperventilating, taking my jewellery off and smashing it against the mirror. Cos I thought how would I really react in that situation, when having a tantrum? So I slid everything off the dresser and was kinda like I don’t care if I destroy shit, cos I’m having a full on tantrum. It lasted for a good ten minutes to be honest; I was wiping my eyes where I was actually crying. I didn’t know till after that Ru was stood behind the screen reacting to what I was doing. That’s when he obviously comes in and says “Right I’m taking you back to Rochester”. They didn’t include this but I looked up at him and said “First class?”. I wish they had kept that.

Afterwards the girls were like “You’ve so won this challenge. You were good in the acting, you nailed the choreography, you so got this”, but obviously we all had to film a sashay away segment, so we didn’t know for a while.

G. I didn’t know you all had to film that too. I thought it was just at the reunion they filmed the final three all winning?

D. Yeah they do. If you watch the “Whatcha Packin?” I’m like “Oh yeah it was great I had so much fun ladida ladida” you know I wasn’t pissed off about being voted out or anything, because we were all voted out. There was a watcha packin for Adore, for Courtney, and there was one for Bianca too but that hasn’t seen the light of day, because… you know.

J. I’ve never asked these sorta questions to you, but how is it when you have to lipsync, and like was it shit when you were in the bottom two?

D. Especially that first lipsync yeah. I was kinda mad as hell. Because we’re stood up there and everyones talking like “Oh we didn’t get it, you guys seemed like you were on drugs and it just seemed so crazy. Yes you were funny, but we just didn’t see how it related to the makeup.” And so Bendela is like “Oh I guess you’re right, I agree with you there” and I was like “No. You’re wrong. I think all of you are wrong. First of all if you know anything about marketing its all about viral videos, no one watches TV to watch commercials. You’re watching commercials cos you have to wait to skip the ad, and we wanted something that would catch you, you know like what the fuck is that?!” We had the product in there, we got the names right, we didn’t fuck up. Do you really remember the others, not really. You remember ours… yep!

G. So what was it like working with BenDela, did you really have any beef with each other?

D. No. We were playful with eachother like friends are. Did she piss me off once or twice… yes. Like in Episode four when she starts on about winning two challenges, that seemed very passive aggressive to me. She was being  condescending… that’s when you talk down to someone.

Check out what Darienne is up to via her website : www.dariennelake.com

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Greg BaileyComment