As the title of The United Kingdolls infectious anthem ‘UK Hun’ suggests, “from Helensburgh to Edinburgh” Lawrence Chaney is “snatching wigs”; along with the title of The U.K.’s Next Drag Superstar as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2. While this zany queen definitely faced her share of adversity both on and off screen during the competition, Lawrence consistently kept the inner saboteur at bay, emerging as one of the most beloved and unique queens to ever grace the Drag Race U.K. runway. I sat down to chat with Lawrence participating in a Drag Race season like no other, what she learned about herself & social media during the process, and what she has planned next.
Michael Cook: You are the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. Season 2. Can you actually believe that it has happened?
Lawrence Chaney: I can’t! First of all, I can’t believe that the season is over. I can’t believe that I am the winner, it is what we all dream of when we send in the audition tape, isn’t it? I just can’t believe that I went in and won the thing; it’s pretty bizarre!
MC: What is the drag scene in Scotland like for those of us that have never been able to experience it?
LC: The drag scene in Scotland is what I like to call wacky, bizarre, and fabulous. It is a real reflection of the queens that grew up in this scene. We don’t have a lot of money so there isn’t a lot of rhinestones, scepters, and big diamonds and jewelry, We have to get very crafty and think of things and twist them on their head and make them work for us. We don’t have a lot of money and we don’t have what other scenes do. They have things like viral makeup artists in their community, which we didn’t have until Ellie (Diamond) and I got on Drag Race. We are the outsiders who like having a laugh and making fun of that. Now we are at the forefront of the conversation in the conversation in the U.K. drag scene and really the world’s drag scene, which is bizarre.
MC: Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. really was a game changer for the franchise completely, from the spectacular cast to the pandemic being a legitimate factor in the competition. What do you think it is that truly made this season so spectacular?
LC: I would be stupid if I didn’t say obviously, it is because we are all locked up in our houses with nothing to watch (laughs)! I think this season is truly a testament to the Drag Race casting team who did an amazing job. I think so often we have seen season after season of shows like The Voice and these competition reality shows and we see certain people that we go “right, we know they’re the winner” and they are up against people not on the same level of them. I think with Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K., we were all on the same level. We all could do things, but we all struggled at certain other things. Everyone was super well-rounded, but there are also things that we struggled with, whether it is confidence, or sewing or styling wigs, or attention to detail.
Before, when you would see a queen that has never performed before, worn makeup before, styled a wig before, never sewn before, I would be like-you are going home first; it’s really not hard to see. I think that it has been a really entertaining season because there is really something for everyone. There is a comedy queen, there are fashion queens, there are crazy cabaret queens, there is so much variety in our season.
MC: The United Kingdolls definitely helped bring a massive amount of attention to your season with the infectious single ‘UK Hun?”. Did you ever think that the song would be come the sensation that it has when you were performing it?
LC: Absolutely never in a million years. I remember reading the lyrics and saying “What’s ‘Bing Bang Bong’, what are these lyrics”? What I never realized though, is that when we were singing and dancing to it and recording the lyrics, it was cheesy and campy, but that is what we need right now. It is actually a testament to what we need right now. We are going through some of the worst times ever, socially, politically, and with COVID. We need these kind of silly and catchy songs that bring a smile to our face and I think that is what it was. Not only is the song catchy and fun, but I think seeing us just dance along and have fun…it felt like for me like I was having a sleepover with the girls and we were doing a TikTok dance. I never would’ve thought in a million years that it would be successful…it’s wild.
MC: This season, you took a break from Twitter when some of the Drag Race fandom got especially intense. How did you decide that stepping away from Twitter would be the best idea for you at the time?
LC: I felt very much embarassed when I first deleted Twitter. Like, “Lawrence you’re a famous drag queen on television you can’t do that”! Then I thought about it and said that I thought that we should normalize taking a break from social media. I hate to break it to everyone out there, but social media is not real. It is a free site where you post pretty pictures of yourselves and your opinions on a Real Housewife or something, it’s really not that deep. When people start slagging you on it and start dragging you, you start to say “why am I on here? I am on here for free”?
I wanted to normalize that when something is toxic, you are allowed to remove yourself from that environment. We have seen it with Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, we have seen it with RuPaul! I would never, as a fan of many things but Drag Race first and foremost, would never want to stop people from having an opinion on the show. I think having an opinion on the show is what it wants, what it craves, and what it should be. It’s a show where people are pitted against each other so people are going to have opinions. I never wanted people to not have opinions, but someone wrote something like “Lawrence is a fat slob”. The only place that is appropriate to write something like that is on a bathroom stall, not on a Twitter bio. Its very bizarre, I have noticed that instead of “Lawrence you had an argument with Ellie Diamond”, it becomes “you’re disgusting human being”. I just kind of took a break from it, and realized Twitter and social media were not real. You have to learn to find that disconnect and that these people are only seeing the public image of Lawrence, they are not seeing Lawrence himself.
MC: Now that you have won the Drag Race U.K. crown. is there anything about the journey that you regret?
LC: I regret being in my head so much. For the sake of my own mental health, I just wish I had said “no Lawrence, you did well, stop panicking calm down” (laughs). I wish I had given myself a wee bit more slack with that. Me and Ellie have had many arguments over the years, we are from very close to each other from very similar backgrounds, and I felt bad for the argument that we had. I don’t regret it though, because I think we are closer now. I think arguments, when you talk it out with a pal, you have a tendency to be even closer after that because you lay everything to rest. Was it my finest moment shouting at Ellie Diamond over the running order-probably not; we move on. I am very proud of her and she was crying when I won, so I guess that is something.
MC: What is next for Lawrence Chaney?
LC: Can you believe that I actually might be able to have meet and greets with people and hug them?! I really want to travel the world, you know? There are people like you who I see on a screen and talk to and I just want to finally see people face to face and make them laugh, and really showcase Scottish out to the world. I want to be on TV, I want to keep making YouTube content, I want to write a book. There is no getting rid of me, I’m like the plague you’re not getting rid of me!
MC: How have you stayed creatively inspired during such a challenging year?
LC: I think it is about not losing your head. It is about staying grounded to what inspires you. What inspires me, maybe I am very lucky, I get so much inspiration from scrolling on Instagram and seeing fashion runways from the 90’s reposted. I love getting inspired by horror and thriller films by a lovely gothic lady in a big gown, with crimson peeling over. Society has changed since we can’t meet up socially, so that has changed my social interaction. I am inspired now more than ever to create fun looks and not take the world so seriously. I can just say “I’m a drag queen and I get to do this for life, this is wild”! To me, I am just constantly inspired by other queens around me, people on Instagram, and that won’t change unless tomorrow our phones all stop (laughs)!
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