Battling it out against legendary RuPaul’s Drag Race notables like Mo Heart, Baga Chipz, and Pangina Heals might have many performers folding like a house of cards, but for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 1 alumni Blu Hydrangea, the pressure of the competition (coupled with a spectacular array of looks and talent) rocketed her all the way to the top of the UK vs The World competition, leading to her being crowned the first-ever “Queen of All Queens”. I sat down to chat with Blu about experiences during the competition, the much buzzed about elimination of Pangina Heals, and how she thinks she and her career have evolved since fans first fell in love with her on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
Michael Cook: Congratulations on snagging the title on the inaugural season of UK vs The World! You are now literally the “Queen of the Mother-Tucking World”, I guess!
Blu Hydrangea: I am the “Queen of the Mother-Tucking World”! The only person above me is Grag Queen, she is the “Queen of the Universe”. Good for her, I hope she enjoys the universe (laughs)!
MC: Your trajectory from your first season of Drag Race UK up until now is absolutely remarkable. What was it like to be selected to be a part of this season of UK vs the World with the powerhouse competitors?
BH: It was nerve-wracking if I am being completely honest. I almost said no because there was absolutely no way that I thought I was ready. We had just spent a year in lockdown and I felt like I had more work to do. Although RuPaul doesn’t like to call it “RuPaul’s School for Girls”, I’m glad that I said yes. I said during the finale that I felt like a bit of a filler queen, but I dug my heels in and I was going nowhere baby.
MC:So much about the competition was so different than typical Drag Race competition.
BH: I think more so in terms of steadying my nerves, it was good having Cheryl (Hole) and Baga (Chipz) there. Competition-wise, no (laughs). They were not going to help me in any situation, bless the two of them, but I love them to bits. I think behind the scenes is where I had the most luck with people that I knew, friendly faces who were looking out for us day to day who were a shoulder to cry on and making sure our outfits were perfectly done up and things like that,. They are the unsung heroes of the whole thing really.
MC: Your elimination of Pangina Heals was controversial and extremely strategic at the same time. Was there even a thought in your head that told you that you couldn’t do it, or you simply knew it was strategic and you had to do it?
BH: A part of me said that I shouldn’t do it because I love Pangina and I have grown up being the goody two shoes in school, not thinking of myself and the opportunities that this might get me. At that moment though, at the lipstick, I thought “I have to make a ballsy choice, I have to make an impression, and this is my moment to do so”. I had been doing well the whole competition, I felt like I was deserving of the top on many occasions, but the judges eyes were looking to other queens. I felt like that was my moment to clear the way for myself.
MC: Fans saw a great deal of growth in you this season, but that moment was pivotal; like you said, the judges probably saw that growth also.
BH: Absolutely, and there is no other way. I think everyone else was too. I think everyone was there willing to put their best foot forward and make those amazing tv moments, just go balls to the wall and I think I was one of those people. For a while, I was thinking of helping Cheryl with her outfit. or not give too much on something else because it might overshadow someone; no, I need to be there for myself.
MC: As a performer, what growth do you think you have seen in yourself?
BH: It is truly confidence I think. I think self love, whenever you find that in yourself it opens a lot more doors for you. You are confident enough to put yourself for things that you never would have before or do things that you never would have before, and I think that has really helped me. Prior to Drag Race, I had never spoken on a microphone before, never done celebrity impersonations. I would go out, paint my face really well, and lip sync a campy number that was what I was known for, mainly the make up; and I think you could really tell that on Season 1. In the six months pre-pademic where we got to perform and travel the world, I really threw myself into the deep end and I was willing to do the hard work so that if I ever was able to go back, I would be able to show the Blu that I wanted to on my first season.
MC: Your song with RuPaul “Champion” (Ru X Blu) is absolutely stellar. What was that experience like?
BH: The song is out and it’s absolutely fabulous! I woke up the morning that I was recording with RuPaul in the booth and I had the air conditioning on all night and it had caught the back of my throat and I thought “this can’t be happening to me”! I got there, we recorded it with Leland, who is fabulous, he recorded the Frock Destroyers as well as UK Hun. It was just amazing; I actually sounded better than normal, I sounded better when I had a little tickle in the back of my throat. I think I work better when things are happening in my throat area (laughs).
MC: Speaking of The Frock Destroyers, what do you think it is about that season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the group specifically, that has captured the imagination of fans?
BH: I think it was people not taking themselves too seriously, being relatable. We were so used to US drag where people were pageant queens, perfect from head to toe and their wigs are glued on. Then you have Baga Chipz in a nanny-wig looking like a bus driver in a sequined outfit that she bought down the road that five other queens are wearing (laughs)! I think it’s relatable, it’s fun and I think the UK has been able to deliver that. Season 2 especially, was incredible and has made some absolute superstars. They were a bit more polished, but I think there are two sides to the coin. You can have the fun British drag that is rough around the edges, but you can have them a bit more polished but give you the same tingly sensation.
MC: From your first season to your crowning at the conclusion of UK vs The World, your drag and you as a person have both gone through such an evolution. What do you think your drag reveals about you the most?
BH: I think it shows that I am full of heart, proud of where I am from and that I am a woman of many talents, and that I am gorgeous (laughs). That I am relatable, still down to earth, and if someone asks me for a photo with a face full of French fries (as you say in the states) I am not going to say no to getting into a photo with them. I say it all the time, Ben DeLaCreme is one of my favorite drag queens of all time, and her catch phrase is that she is “terminally delightful”. I want to give off that same energy; good vibes, positivity, not threatening.
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