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Exclusive: Blu Hydrangea is 'ready to take the world by storm' after Drag Race UK vs The World victory

The newly-crowned Queen of the World on refusing to be a 'filler queen' and all that Pangina drama.

2022-03-10

Words: Alastair James; pictures: BBC

We are living in the time of Blu Hydrangea. On Tuesday (8 March) the Belfast queen was crowned Queen of the World in the climax to the first-ever series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs The World.

In the series, which saw queens from the UK, US, Canada, Thailand, and the Netherlands face off for the crown there was plenty of gags, drama, and tea. Queen Blu was at the centre of one of them when she chose to eliminate frontrunner Pangina Heals.

Now that all the dust has settled from the drama, Attitude spoke to Blu about the reaction to her win, talking about gender and what's next for the 26-year-old.

How does it feel to be the Queen of the World?

It feels amazing. I feel very proud of myself. I feel very proud to represent my country and I’m just happy for all the girls because I think we created an incredible season full of fabulous TV moments, which I’m sure we’ll get into.

Oh, we will! What’s the reaction been to your win?

Oh, my gosh! I've seen some negativity online and sometimes that feels like the blaring voice of the majority when you're reading it. Luckily, I went to my local bar on the night I won and being in that room full of so much love and excitement for me really just showed me there are lots of people who I actually care about that do agree with the decision. And that's the most important thing to me.

Have you had any surprising messages from other drag queens?

I'm a massive fan of Drag Race in general so any message from alumni has always meant a lot. My favourite was from BenDeLaCreme, who is such an inspiration to me because I just want to be that kind of positive energy which she displays.

She messaged me said ‘I know you haven't seen any of it yet, but you're going to be so proud of what you do.’ That's just meant so much to me.

Left to right: Blu Hydrangea, Mo Heart, Jujubee, and Baga Chipz

Mo Heart told us that if you won, she would “Tonya Harding” you. Are you sleeping with one eye open?

Oh, Mommy! No, Mo is a gracious runner-up. She holds herself with such poise and is such a respectable human being she's not gonna take this badly at all. She's gonna just brush it off and get back to work, which I really admire her for.

Were you nervous going up against Mo in the finale?

I mean, she took the easy ride out picking Baga! But I was nervous because we've had a year to think about this. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought Mo is such a perfect winner. Mo is incredibly talented. She's all the perfect things that make a winner and she would have absolutely destroyed a reign.

Mo Heart and Blu Hydrangea in the final lip-sync of the series

What did you make of the Untucked drama?

It was made to feel more awkward on TV. I think it was okay in person. With me and Pangina, it was two people trying to explain the situation. And she wanted closure, which I totally understand. Because if I had been “unjustly” eliminated, I probably would have felt the same way. Like I needed to hear the exact reasons.

Jimbo is a clown so a lot of it's an act and it was entertaining in the moment but watching it back, it was quite harsh. And I don't think Pangina deserved that. I know Jimbo wanted it just as much as Pangina did. And she probably felt like her elimination was “unjust”.

But it's the name of the game. If you want to win for being a good drag queen, win your original season. All Stars is for games to make it more exciting. So, you have to roll with the punches.

Pangina Heals and Blu Hydrangea in Untucked

What do you make of the alliances that were being formed? Is that fair game or foul play?

No, I think anything goes as long as you can make it to the end. The basic Drag Race rules (lip sync for your life) are there for your original season and if you don't win that then you have to expect to do more survive.

I think Pangina probably would have been a threat, but I don't think I would have been as quick to eliminate her if she had not been eliminating her biggest competition. That's how she played the game, and I did the exact same thing.

How confident were you coming into the show that you would make it to the finale if not win?

I was very confident in my package; I think it's a substantial package. No, just kidding! I felt like my runways were really me because they were artsy, and I had taken time to draw every single look.

I was really proud of my Snatch Game and the preparation that I'd done for that. I remember hearing the line-up prior to going in because rumours fly here, there, and everywhere. And I thought I was going to be a filler queen.

But I was determined not to let that be my story. I think there were a few episodes where I was maybe a bit overlooked and I really felt like a filler queen. But I had my moment. 

Blu Hydrangea as Austin Powers in Snatch Game

Were you worried when you saw all the other queens about how tough it might be?

Yeah, big personalities, people with connections that have people to make gorgeous outfits for them and to help them write music and stuff like that. I thought maybe I'd come and done this too early. But if you are willing to love yourself enough to believe that you can win something, then I think you can.

Plus, whenever I did that talent show, I was so proud of myself. I think that set me up for a good run. I think if you go into it and you hear negative things on the first day, it's hard to get out of that mindset or pull yourself back. Luckily, I had a good start.

How would you describe your journey from your original series of Drag Race to now?

I think in my original season, I was a wallflower. People ask how that can be the case when I said 'despunk my balls' on national television. But I had really just done the basics of drag, which is to look pretty, have a social media account, and perform every so often.

But Drag Race really pushed me out of my comfort zone. And I was able to do incredible things on the road for the six months pre-pandemic. Whenever you're asked to perform in all these countries and all these bars, they really make you work and do things that you've never done in your life.

I think it really sets you up to go back on Drag Race and do well. If I had had some more time to grow, I probably would have done much better than I did back then. But I'm glad I had the chance to come back and prove what I wanted to prove the first time around.

What's the biggest thing you've learned from this series?

I learned to trust my gut. And sometimes you have to just do things for you. I think talking about my gender, I was worried about what people might think back at home. But sometimes doing something for yourself can really clear your mind and help you and I think just being happy is so important in the world at the moment.

What do you make of the reaction that you've had to that conversation?

It's been amazing. I was still learning and figuring myself out when I was on the show. So really it was like verbal diarrhoea of how I felt. It wasn't something that I had planned. I was basically saying how I felt.

But it's really nice to know that people felt the same thing. I feel a lot more confident myself. I'm non-binary. So, he/they/she are my pronouns. It’s lovely to hear the reaction from people because that's exactly why you would go on to this show and talk about things.

Left to right: Baga Chipz, Janey Jacké, Blu Hydrangea, Jujubee, and Mo Heart

You can't leave any stone unturned on Drag Race, because you're given this platform for a reason. If you don't use it, then it's a wasted opportunity. It's part of a drag queen's job to be a voice for people that don't have one.

We've had two of the Frock Destroyers appear on Drag Race UK vs the World. Should Divina go on now?

I would love to see Divina on my screen again. I can even see her doing Queens of the Universe. Divina has an actually good singing voice and would sound great on a track with Ru. And I would love to see that for her.

What do you want to do with this in terms of progressing LGBTQ issues, especially in places like Northern Ireland?

I'm really excited to be an advocate for queers in Northern Ireland, and people that don't have voices or platforms. I think there could be better at Gender and Sexuality Studies in school, especially in Northern Ireland, there's barely any and better trans health care. I'm ready to speak out about these things.

I'm ready to take the world by storm, I’m ready to work my ass off, I'm not going to be someone that's not going to use their reign for good. I'm going to try my best. And if I don't have the words to say something, I will absolutely give my platform to someone that needs it.

What’s next?

I have a BBC Three show called Stitch Please, where avid sewers get a £100 budget, 12 hours, a theme, and they create a garment. It’s like Glow Up and Drag Race. I get to be the RuPaul which is great. I'd love to come out with more makeup, be on TV more. I'm ready for this Blu reign! It's gonna be camp and I'm ready to work my ass off!

How about a cameo on Derry Girls?

I would love it. I believe they finished filming their last season, but I would even come in for like an end just to be like, ‘and that was Derry Girls’ and then close the book or something. It would be great. You never know, if there's a reboot, I'll be a granny or anything to be on that show.

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs The World is available to watch in full on the BBC iPlayer.