Words: Will Stroude; Videography: Markus Bidaux
The Vivienne and Tia Kofi brought Eurovision mayhem to Nottingham last week as Netflix’s I Like To Watch UK tour touched down at the city’s oldest LGBTQ venue.
After stops at Might Hoopla festival, Margate and Bournemouth, Netflix’s hit YouTube series I Like To Watch UK hosted a raucous viewing party of hit musical comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga at the New Foresters pub.
New Foresters, which stands as one of Nottingham’s few (and most beloved) queer spaces, has served as a gathering place for LGBTQ people since 1938, and recently was honoured with the city’s first ‘Pink Plaque’ to commemorate its importance to local history.
Drag Race UK legends The Vivienne and Tia Kofi ensure the Eurovision spirit was pumping through the veins of this historic space last Thursday (30 September) as they hosted an interactive watch-a-long of Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams’ hit musical film complete with games, quizzes, props and (in the case of the queens at least) plenty of shots.
— Attitude Magazine (@AttitudeMag) September 30, 2021
It all culminated with a surprise four-set performance from The Vivienne and Tia, who teamed up for their own uniquely hilarious spin on ‘UK, Hun?’, The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s ‘Sweet Transvestite’ and The Vivienne’s debut single ‘You Spin Me Round’.
“It’s been carnage!” exclaimed The Vivienne as she spoke to Attitude host and Drag SOS star Cheddar Gorgeous shortly after coming off stage. “She’s not a bit well!”
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Tia, who studied for a degree in philosophy in Nottingham before finding drag fame, enthused: “I’ve had a gorgeous time. It’s like a little reunion. I’ve had a wonderful time. I used to live in Nottingham so it’s a nice homecoming moment.”
Netflix’s I Like To Watch UK tour has eschewed larger stage venues in favour of small, local LGBTQ bars that are finally getting back on their feet after 18-months of pandemic-related closures and restrictions.
Reflecting on the importance of the continued existence of these crucial spaces, The Vivienne tells Attitude: “Do you know what, when we first created I Like To Watch with Netflix and the pandemic happened, we got offered the opportunity to take the show live on tour, and we could have taken it to huge venues.
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“Every venue across the UK has suffered but some more than others, definitely, and smaller venues like New Foresters, like Sundowners in Margate, they suffered a little bit more, you know, than other huge venues who’ve got huge corporations behind them.
“We could have gone anywhere, but we came here to New Foresters in Nottingham. I hope everyone has had a brilliant time.”
New Foresters landlady Debbie Law has owned the beloved Nottingham LGBTQ venue for 20 years, but has been coming to the bar for 40 years. In fact, it was the first gay pub she ever set foot in as a fresh-out-of-the closet teenager in the early 1980s.
“I was actually brought here with the Gay and Lesbian Swtichboard”, recalls Debbie. “The first gay bar I ever came in was actually here, and it was actually mainly dominated by lesbians in those days.
Tonight’s @NetflixUK #ILikeToWatchUK Eurovision viewing party takes place at one of Nottingham’s oldest LGBTQ bars, @newforesters, which has been a queer venue since 1938!— Attitude Magazine (@AttitudeMag) September 30, 2021
Here’s @CheddarGawjus with New Foresters’ incredible owner of 20 years, Debbie. Support your local venues! pic.twitter.com/1iwSOIPGXy
“It was very scary because it was the unknown, because you feel like an alien in the first place and you walk into a place and you don’t know these people - they’ve got the confidence and you’ve got no confidence, but they took you under your wing and they supported you.
“I learned an awful lot from these mature people who showed me the ropes.”
With New Foresters packed to the rafters for The Vivienne and Tia Kofi’s I Like To Watch UK tour stop, Debbie describes the night as “absolutely amazing” for the venue, the dedicated team of staff who work there, and Nottingham’s local LGBTQ community
“The support that we’ve had from Nottingham has been brilliant,” she says.
Singing along to @NetflixUK’s Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga in a packed Nottingham LGBTQ venue with @THEVIVIENNEUK and @TiaKofi on a Thursday night? That’s gay culture. pic.twitter.com/CPljUUhnod— Attitude Magazine (@AttitudeMag) September 30, 2021
“I actually think it’s going to give us a lot of publicity and people are going to know [that] little bars do more than just put on music that we’re going to dance to and that we actually care for the community.
“Hopefully all the bars that have taken part in this [tour] will get support in the future.”
One thing’s for sure: with scheduled stops at Glasgow’s Polo Lounge, Swanea’s Dorothy’s Showbar and Hull’s Fuel in the coming days and weeks, Netflix’s I Like To Watch UK tour still has plenty of love and support to give.