Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: MTV
The glamorous co-hosts of MTV’s joyous Queerpiphany – writer, campaigner and model Munroe Bergdorf and Welsh Drag Race UK finalist and model Tayce – are a perfectly paired duo.
Between ample giggles and exquisite looks, Tayce and Munroe Bergdorf sit down with eminent British LGBTQ+ celebrities on their short form show to discuss the pop culture moments that influenced them in their youth and impacted their queer identities, their ‘queerpiphanies’. The guests also plan a fictional party in honour of these moments, where drink and soundtrack choices are carefully pondered over.
The first season of the award-nominated MTV digital series saw the pair sit down and talk about the influential moments that constituted early queer awakenings with the likes of radio DJ Nick Grimshaw, Gen Z author Florence Given, singer-songwriter Becky Hill, drag queen Tia Kofi, broadcaster Riyadh Khalaf and playwright Travis Alabanza.
Returning to the bingeable series with ten-minute bitesize episodes for season two, Tayce and Munroe are joined by another star-studded cohort including Heartstopper's Yasmin Finney and Everybody's Talking About Jamie actor Layton Williams, singer-songwriter, MNEK, Drag Race UK season three's Kitty Scott Claus, writer Shon Faye, among others.
At a time when the newly-appointed PM has said, on record, that she believes trans women are not women, an exuberant show helmed by a Black trans woman and a Black drag queen feels like a breath of fresh air and is needed now more than ever.
Additionally, the broad range of nostalgic ‘queerpiphanies’ demonstrates the sheer diversity of the LGBTQ+ experience across the UK.
Speaking to Attitude, Tayce and Munroe share all the goss ahead of the new season of Queerpiphany, their dream guests and their thoughts on the new Drag Race lineup.
It’s so great to see Queerpiphany returning for season two, what can viewers expect?
Munroe: We had so much more fun with season two. This is our first show together, we’ve known each other for a long time but still, it’s very different when you’re guiding a guest and forming a show. For season two we knew what the show was, we knew we could do it, and a lot of the team was the same so we had a lot more fun. There’s a really great balance between me and Tayce, our personalities are very different but our humour’s similar. I really enjoy that dynamic.
I’d love to turn the show’s main question on you: what was your 'queerpiphany'?
Tayce: There was a channel called Fashion TV, it was just re-runs of old 80s and 90s supermodel and catwalk shows. I’ve always been inspired by modelling and I think that made me want to put myself out there in the world. To be honest, my queerpiphany must’ve been in the womb because I came out ready to bowl. That’s always who I’ve been in that sense, I didn’t care what anyone said about me.
Also, powerful women. Watching performances from people like Janet Jackon, Beyoncé and Grace Jones.
Munroe: Paris is Burning made a big impact on me. Seeing queer people of colour on screen was something you didn’t really see in the 1990s. Learning about the HIV and Aids epidemic and the culture that thrived during that time is really important, especially in these times where there’s so much systemic transphobia in the press.
Also, Nadia from Big Brother. I would love her to be a guest on season three! I think she really provided visibility during a time when there was no trans representation on TV. A big part of it wasn’t even about her being trans, it was the fact she had a killer personality and really relatable.
Queer joy is really at the heart of your show, how important is it for you to share that hope right now?
Tayce: We hear a lot of queer stories that are with an undertone of sadness. It’s obviously so important to talk about that, but we also need to talk about the highs as well as the lows. That’s what Queerpiphany does; even though we do touch on some sensitive topics – which needs to happen, especially right now – it’s also bringing joy.
On the show you talk about the need for diverse LGBTQ+ representation, with the times that LGBTQ+ people, especially trans people, are currently living in do you think British representation is heading in a positive direction?
Munroe: If you look at the BBC, especially the BBC News, there’s definitely a bias there when talking about trans people and trans rights. The way in which trans people are talked about on TV is very seldom from the perspective of trans people, it’s usually about cis people saying how they feel about trans people. We’ve got so far to go when it comes to how trans subject matters are talked about and also opportunities for trans people to be involved in the industry where our transness isn’t front and centre. It’s important that trans people can present shows about being queer but also have queer people that can present the news or do a gardening or cooking show. That’s the next frontier.
You’ve already had such a brilliant array of guests on the show but is there someone you’re still desperate to get to sit down with you both?
Tayce: I’d go beyond the grave and interview Prince. He’s one of my all-time artists, totally eccentric and just didn’t care what anyone thought of them.
Munroe: I have to say Olly Alexander because they’re a friend and I really love what they’ve done in refusing to water themselves down. I would love Kim Petras, she’d be great. I love that she’s just done a song with Sam Smith, Sam would be great! Rylan would be fun and Graham Norton would be a good time. I love British queerness, there’s something really magical about it. It’s like a continuous in-joke.
Speaking about guests, your first guest of the second season is [Heartstopper star] Yasmin Finney. She references you as part of her queerpiphany. How do you both feel about being the uplifting representation for a new generation of LGBTQ+ people growing up?
Monroe: It feels great! It shows times are changing and it feels good to be part of that change. To be able to pass the baton on to Yasmin and help her, and a younger version of her, to have understood herself better is amazing. When you’re in the moment of having to defend yourself on breakfast television or being character assassinated in the press you don’t really think about how that looks to other people.
Tayce: I think [that responsibility of being a role model] is an amazing weight to have on my shoulders. I’m in the middle of my solo tour and at meet-and-greets there are people crying and shaking, saying “you’ve changed my life.” I’m giving people what I didn’t have when I was younger. There wasn’t a mixed-race RuPaul running around Wales, I was doing that myself. I’m happy to inspire the nation one day at a time.
On the topic of Drag Race, the UK show’s season four line-up has just been announced. Are there any familiar faces?
Tayce: I know literally all of them! There are only one or two queens I’ve never heard of. I’ve worked with Cheddar Gorgeous, Danny Beard and Baby. I’ve actually worked on something with [Baby] that will be coming out in a couple of days, so look out for that! Black Peppa is such a force, I think she’ll do well in the show. It’s such an amazing, broad cast that you can tell from the beginning it’s going to be a really good season.
Dakota Schiffer is making history as the first transgender contestant is also a real milestone.
Tayce: It’s what we finally need! Last year we had a cis queen, Victoria Scone, which was amazing. I would just really love now to see some drag kings on the show. Maybe next year we’ll get that. There are some amazing drag kings in the community but they’re underrepresented. They need to be on that platform as much as the queens are.
Munroe, you have a book, Transitional, coming out next year. What made you decide to share your own experience in book form?
Munroe: When I first started the book I didn’t know how it was going to pan out, I just wanted to get the framework of my story down and the root it within society and think about why these things happen. It’s very eventful because my life has been very eventful!
[Transitional] is about how we all change as people, that we all have transitional moments in our lives, and how society transitions. It’s not a straight-up memoir; it’s talking about difficulties and trauma in a way that expands how we talk about it. It’s a heavy read but I’m really glad I get to do those heavier things and also do Queerpiphany which is much more lighthearted. There was a point in time I was only doing the heavy and the hard stuff and it takes its toll.
Tayce, I’d love to hear about how your tour, Tayce: The Assassination Tour, is going. I also have to ask about the Gemma Collins lap dance was such a moment, how did that even happen?
Tayce: Honestly, it’s been amazing. To do a show that is literally just me and see queues all the way down the road is mindblowing.
I met Gemma on Drag Race and one of my best friends is really close to her. I pick a victim every night [for the show, obviously] to give a lapdance to and I thought I’d ask her. Before I even finished the question she was like: “Yes! Yes! Thousand times yes!” She was gagging for it. Everyone was losing their minds, we were the duo we didn’t know we needed.
New episodes of Queerpiphany are available every Thursday on MTV UK YouTube.
The Attitude September/October issue is out now.