Queenstion Time #5: Divina de Campo
Divina de Campo is coming to the Royal Court Theatre to star in the play The Ruby Slippers and you could be there on opening night. She speaks to Andrew Nicholls ahead of the show’s premiere.
To kick off this year’s Liverpool Pride celebrations, the Royal Court Theatre will be hosting the play The Ruby Slippers.
The play is a riotous comedy centering around Raz, the owner of The Ruby Slippers, a struggling cabaret drag club in Blackpool.
Raz thinks he has met the man of his dreams in barman and flat mate Ryan. However, Ryan is in fact a trans woman, and soon their relationship is put to the test as Ryan deals with the struggles of transitioning into Rachel.
Naturally, being a show set in a drag club, it comes with a healthy dose of queens.
One of those characters is played by Owen Farrow, who has been performing as the drag queen Divina de Campo for a number of years, including on TV shows such as The Voice and All Together Now (the latter of which is, coincidentally, the theme for this year’s Liverpool Pride).
Planet Slop not only caught up with Owen/Divina ahead of the show’s premeire, but we are also delighted to offer TWO FREE TICKETS to the show’s opening night. For details on this, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Planet Slop: Tell us a little about your role in The Ruby Slippers.
Divina de Campo: I get to play Destiny in the show – she’s a brassy drag queen with a good heart and big dreams.
PS: The show centres around a trans character. How important is it to tell the stories of trans people right now?
DdC: I think more than ever it’s important to help each other to understand other people’s lives experiences. There’s been a huge spike in hate crimes recently and trans people have been disproportionately affected by that. There are also lots of issues to do with mental health for many trans people so if we can help to make people’s lives easier through telling those stories then it’s difficult to overstate how important that is.
PS: How did you get started in drag?
DdC: I actually started doing drag because my now-husband encouraged me. I’d done some at university and he has run gay venues for 20 years and saw potential.
PS: How would you describe your style of drag?
DdC: I’m a show girl! Big hair, sequins, feathers and very high heels. I do a massive moisture of work in drag from operatic arias to top 40 club tunes and everything else in between.
PS: So who influenced you as a performer?
DdC: The person whose ideas have most influenced me is probably Danny La Rue. He believed in drag you create a beautiful image and then you shatter it. So, you create the illusion and dispel that to create comedy.
PS: So, with Danny in mind, do you have any looks that you created that you are particularly proud of?
DdC: I’m not really a ‘look’ queen per se. I do like recreating characters though, so I have replica costumes of Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked. The Wizard of Oz is my favourite film.
PS: You’ve appeared on TV quite often! How does appearing on something like The Voice, for example, compare to live performances?
DdC: Because there’s a studio audience for The Voice it’s very similar in a lot of ways to any other performance. The big difference is the delay. With live shows the reaction is immediate whereas for TV there can be months between recording and then it airing. So it can feel anticlimactic in some ways sitting at home watching how it’s been edited together.
PS: What do you feel the differences are between the UK drag scene and US drag scene as seen on Drag Race?
DdC: I think the main difference is US is seen as having been more ‘look’ orientated and the UK has been more about entertaining an audience. I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate because there’s always been a mix of drag styles in both countries. I think the rise of Drag Race has narrowed what drag ‘should’ be for a lot of people. You couldn’t imagine seeing Widow Twanky on Drag Race.
PS: So, you see the UK drag scene as being more campy/theatrical?
DdC: I think the UK because of the roots of drag here being more theatrical. Coming from the Puritans and Shakespeare, through to pantos, to gang shows through the war era then the new wave in from the early 80’s. It’s almost always had a performance attached to it and we all love to laugh.
PS: Where do you feel the future of UK drag is heading?
DdC: I think it is evolving as it always has and it’s having a bit of a renaissance at the moment which is fantastic. Things look great for UK drag and I think that’s because there’s a lot of exceptionally talented people doing it right now.
PS: Why is drag such a staple of the LGBT+ community?
DdC: I think the way drag fits into the LGBT+ community is that it helps us all to remember gender is a social construct. It’s a way of exploring gender expressions and highlighting the falseness of those. It gives everybody a mandate to be whoever and dress however they want.
PS: Do you have any more upcoming projects?
DdC: I’m a busy drag queen! Of course! I’ve got a couple more television projects this year which I’m very excited about and a few other bits and pieces in the pipeline. I might not be a lady but I can’t tell all. Not just yet anyway!