Cherry Valentine’s arrived on the RuPaul’s Drag Race UK scene and quickly proved that her performances (and personality) were just as scorching as her name suggests. While she definitely knew how to mix it up with her fellow competitors, it was her stunning final lip sync on the main stage (to the famed torch song Memory from Cats) that let many competitors and viewers know that this performer was one to watch. I caught up with Valentine to talk about her Drag Race UK experience, working as a medical professional during this time in our world, and why she is making it a mission to ensure that drag is available to everyone, anywhere, all over the world.
Michael Cook: A massive thank you for all of your hard work in the healthcare field as a mental health nurse during the pandemic. You don’t hear RuPaul’s Drag Race girls speaking extensively about their careers outside of the entertainment field, so it was refreshing to hear you speak about it.
Cherry Valentine: Thank you so much. It has been so hectic, but I have learned so much from it and received so many life lessons that I don’t think I will ever forget. It really has changed my view as a person and my outlook on life to he honest because it has been so difficult and stressful. It is something that I needed to go through as a person to be honest. It has definitely been stressful…
MC: What was the entire RuPaul’s Drag Race UK experience like for you? You had such an eclectic and diverse cast, it truly seemed like you each brought something to the table.
CV: That is exactly it, I think the cast on Drag Race UK Season 2 is so incredibly talented and everyone is so different in what they bring to the table. I really just enjoyed being around people that have the same passions that I do, but come from a different angle. It really was amazing and enlightening to hear some people’s stories. I just loved being a part of it and I wouldn’t really change anything about it, other than being elimianted (laughs)! It was a crazy experience, but it was fabulous.
MC: Having a career and an incredibly busy life must be completely maddening when you find out that you have been cast on Drag Race UK right?
CV: It is absolute insanity, there is no other word for to describe it. When you feel that pressure-and it is like pressure I have never felt before in my life-you have a couple weeks to get everything ready. I really don’t outsource anything that I wear or make or do, so I literally got two of my friends and we were locked in the house for a few weeks and we literally just created everything. It was really insane and just mad!
MC: You are the first Romani queen to ever walk into the RuPaul’s Drag Race workroom. Between that and losing your headpiece during your walk-in, your entrance made quite a splash! What is it like to be breaking new ground?
CV: I think it’s the only one that had it filmed, I can’t be the only one surely (laughs). It feels incredible and it feels really humbling. I have received so many messages from people who have supported me and loved what I brought to the show and received messages about what I spoke about on the show. It feels really humbling and makes me really proud of where I come from.
MC: So many of you who are looked at as “groundbreakers” are truly ensuring that so many people have access to drag that quite possibly didn’t realize that they could…
CV: Absolutely. And anyone can do drag and you can do drag wherever you are in the world. It should be everywhere and everyone should be able to do it.
MC: The lip sync that you did with Tayce to ‘Memory’ from the Broadway soundtrack to Cats was one of those truly remarkable lip syncs that people remember. What was that experience like?
CV: It was very intense. I never perform slow songs and I don’t think Tayce does either. It was like “what do I do here?” (laughs) You just have to go into your own head, switch on the emotion and just feel the music. It was really emotional to be honest, and that is one of the reasons that I don’t perform slow songs, I get too emotionally involved in it. I am normally flipping around on the stage to something by Beyonce; it was just very different.
MC: What is next for Cherry Valentine?
CV: I am going to do absolutely anything and everything and see what I like the best. I am going to do music, film, tv, fashion, and really create. I want to so some talks at schools and universities as well. Drag should be everywhere and everyone should have access to it. I really believe that mental health and drag and the queer community go hand in hand, and I think it would be very beneficial.
MC: How have you stated creatively infused and inspired during this time in our community and world?
CV: To be honest, I have sort of been used to it, I have always been that type of person to just be in my own mind. I never put pressure on myself creatively. I never plan outfits, I never plan what I am going to do, I just go in my drag room and look around to see what I am going to create. I just go with the flow, I don’t put pressure on myself to just get something out there. I don’t see myself as just a drag queen, I am an artist. I think it is very important to follow yourself creatively wherever that may be.
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race UK’ is available on WOW Presents Plus
Follow Cherry Valentine on Instagram