BREVIEW: The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18

The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18Words & illustrations by Emily Doyle

The O2 Academy stage is decked out like a big top in preparation for The Twisted Circus, as Klub Kids are bringing seven world class drag performers to Birmingham. The show is late to start due to traffic on the M5. The audience are eager but good natured, and happy to pose for the charismatic photographer perching on the crowd barrier.

A troupe of dancing clowns starts the proceedings, and the compere arrives. Andrew wears a tasseled ringmaster’s jacket. Our host makes no bones about the fact that the event is running late, ditching the banter and even the interval so that all the performances can run. His “the show must go on” attitude is admirable, and results in a fast paced evening. In a venue as large as the O2 Academy, an interval is no great use to the crowd anyway – a trip to the bar means losing your hard earned space near the front.

Farrah Moan is the first queen to perform. The twenty three year old starlet also got the memo about the circus theme, wearing a red basque complete with knee length tails. Her lip sync performance is sedate and elegant, though in a venue this size it feels a little low energy. She does cut a stunning figure on stage, though, and her fans seem delighted.

Milk - The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18 / Emily DoylePutting in a performance that is most definitely big enough for the back row, is Milk. Fresh from appearing on the latest series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars, Milk performs a salacious lip sync to Barbara Streisand’s, ‘He Touched Me’.

Her second turn sees her nail a full routine to her own song, ‘Touch the Fashion, Change your Life’, complete with backing dancers and giant inflatable hands. Milk bounces around the stage in a frilly Bo Peep dress, and she is a joy to watch. In a line-up of queens who take their performances very seriously, Milk is a breath of fresh air.

Violet Chachki - The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18 / Emily DoyleSouth Korean/American drag queen, Kim Chi, gladly fulfills her billing as a ‘live action anime star’ with her otherworldly looks; her regal performance style and large flowy outfits command the stage. Her second lip sync sees her draped in black sequins with a large feathered headpiece. Statuesque, Kim Chi looks like a cross between Maleficent and the forest spirit from Princess Mononoke.

Central to the show is world-renowned Cher impersonator Chad Michaels, who performs a flawless lip sync to ‘Woman’s World’ and ‘Strong Enough’. Michaels wears a shocking blue peacock outfit and backs up her performance with live footage of Cher wearing the very same. Smart, as many of the audience members are too young to properly remember Cher. Celebrity impersonation feels a little dated among the more avant-garde performers on tonight’s bill, but Michaels carries it off with a smile and delights in judging an audience dance off.

Shea Couleé - The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18 / Emily DoylePerhaps one of the most anticipated queens of the night is Violet Chachki. The Drag Race Season 7 winner waltzes on stage in a pink showgirl costume, complete with top hat, cane, and enormous skirts. She treats the audience to an enchanting lip sync to her new single, ‘A Lot More Me’. The burlesque striptease ends with Chachki posing in gold thigh high boots and a thong. She keeps the hat on.

Next from The Twisted Circus is Shea Couleé, showcasing the nights most impressive choreography with a routine to the new single, ‘Cocky’, from her Couleé-d EP. She struts across the stage in a retro-futuristic lime green catsuit and rectangular sunglasses. Her performance is pop star perfect. Over the electro beat, she spits such inspired lyrics as: “Ms. Couleé gon’ be a legend/but congrats ’cause all dogs go to heaven.” Amanda Lepore - The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18 / Emily DoyleOn the studio version of the track, fellow Chicago queen The Vixen has a verse. If this is the company she keeps, The Vixen is definitely one to watch on the new series of Drag Race.

Our host, Andrew, takes great pleasure in introducing The Twisted Circus’ next star on stage, “the most expensive body in the world, Amanda Lepore”. Lepore’s attitude is pure punk rock. She comes out to her own track, ‘Buckle Up’, which quickly morphs into a listless rendition of David Bowie’s ‘The Jean Genie’.

Lepore seems well-aware of her status as more of a living sculpture than a performer. She wastes no time in stripping down to pasties and holdups, and basks in the spotlight. Lepore is later joined on stage by Farrah Moan and Violet Chachki for an impromptu routine to ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, where the three of them are luxuriated in rhinestones and furs.

When The Twisted Circus finally drops the curtain, just before curfew, it’s hard to believe it was all packed into ninety minutes. But despite the delays, all tonight’s performers and the team at Klub Kids pulled through and delivered a fabulous evening. One that neither motorway traffic nor the ever-present threat of more snow could stop Birmingham coming out to enjoy.

For more on Klub Kids, visit

For more from O2 Academy Birmingham, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit

BPREVIEW: The Twisted Circus @ O2 Academy 30.03.18

Words by Emily Doyle

On Friday 30th March, national promoters Klub Kids present ‘the biggest and most unique show of drag HERSTORY’ – as The Twisted Circus comes to town, stopping off for one night at the O2 Academy Birmingham.

Doors open from 6pm for VIP ticket holders and 7:30pm for general admission. Minimum age of entry is 14, with under 16s requiring adult accompaniment. Standard tickets are priced at £25 (Eventzilla) and £30 (Ticketmaster) plus booking and service fees. VIP tickets, which include a meet and greet with the stars performing, are priced at £100 from both outlets – although the booking and service fees do vary.

The Twisted Circus is presented by Klub Kids – for direct show information, click here to visit their Facebook event page. To buy tickets online, click here for Eventzilla and click here for Ticketmaster.

March has been a great month for drag in Birmingham. We’ve had Alyssa Edwards bringing her The Secret Is Out Tour to The Glee Club Birmingham, with BenDeLaCrème hot on her heels for a show at the same venue on 29th March.

On top of all that, the lovely people at Klub Kids are rolling into town with The Twisted Circus. Taking place at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Good Friday, the show is set be quite the spectacle – featuring seven glorious performers, from rising stars to original New York Club Kids. The Twisted Circus line up (in no particular order) is as follows:

Former figure skater and Marc Jacobs model, Milk, will be appearing at The Twisted Circus. No stranger to the glitz and glamour of showbiz, Milk was recently announced at the new face of Madonna’s skin care range, MDNA. Now fresh from her appearance on Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3, Milk promises to be ‘udderly fantastic’.

Next is international seductress, aerial acrobat, and Drag Race Season 7 winner, Violet Chachki. Having performed drag and burlesque alongside icons such as Dita Von Teese, Chachki blends striptease, fetishwear, and her unmistakable vintage aesthetic, all in the name of ‘distorting the gender binary’.

Twenty-three year old Texan starlet, Farrah Moan, is also appearing at The Twisted Circus. Starting out her on stage drag career in Texas, Moan’s Barbie doll looks have seen her cast on Drag Race Season 9 and perform on the Las Vegas strip.

The Twisted Circus also presents Kim Chi, a towering 7ft queen and ‘ever evolving chameleon’. Born in the U.S. and raised in South Korea, Kim Chi’s upbringing informs her high concept looks which ‘encapsulates the transcendental nature of drag’ and celebrates performance art. Chi is also the name behind the doughnut scented ‘Kim Chi Liquid Lip Color’, alongside other products for the Sugarpill Cosmetics.

Next up, The Twisted Circus welcomes Chicago based model and musician, Shea Couleé. Having just released her visual EP, Couleé-D, Couleé uses her background in costume design to create breathtaking fashion and film. Just don’t mention Azealia Banks.

Also performing is international Cher impersonator, Chad Michaels. Part of Califonia’s longest running female impersonation show, The Dreamgirls Revue, Michaels went of to be the winner of Drag Race All Stars Season One and has since appeared in Jane the Virgin and 2 Broke Girls.

Finally in our box of Twisted Circus treats, we have Amanda Lepore. Said by photographer David LaChapelle to have, “the most expensive body on Earth”, Lepore is a model, singer, performance artist and transgender icon. Following her time as an original New York Club Kid in the early nineties, Lepore has gone on to release two albums, a memoir, and even her own Swatch watch.

The Twisted Circus comes to the O2 Academy on Friday 30th March, as presented by Klub Kids. For direct show information, with links to online tickets from Eventzilla, visit The Twisted Circus Facebook event page – click here.

For more on Klub Kids, visit

For more from O2 Academy Birmingham, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit

BREVIEW: Sasha Velour @ The Nightingale Club 02.02.18

BREVIEW: Sasha Velour @ The Nightingale Club 02.02.18

Words & illustrations by Emily Doyle

In what feels like a first for Birmingham’s oldest gay club, it’s not even 11pm and the Nightingale is full of eager punters. Everyone is here to see Sasha Velour, international drag queen, designer, illustrator, and winner of Season 9 of cult hit RuPaul’s Drag Race.

On entry guests are greeted by stilt walkers. They dance in spiked latex cat suits that would make James St. James jealous. My accomplice, Sinead, remarks, “I love latex. But on my budget, I’m definitely more of a cling film girl.” We turn to the bar, where we see a woman ordering a drink wearing a hand painted denim jacket featuring a portrait of Sasha Velour. Set against a rainbow the painting depicts Velour in the black gown and opera gloves she wore in her very first appearance on Drag Race, complete with tinted glasses and signature crown. It bears the legend “LET’S CHANGE SHIT UP”.

Sasha Velour / Illustration by Emily DoyleLocal club kid, Elliot Barnicle, provides the music for the evening, tucked into an impossibly snug silver lamé bodysuit. Waiting for the acts to begin an impromptu dance off over a bottle of champagne sees partygoers show off their moves on stage, ranging from the dubious to the impressive. The winner high-kicks her way to victory while RuPaul’s 2014 single ‘Sissy That Walk’ plays, to the delight of the crowd.

Sasha Velour makes her first appearance on stage before the clock has struck midnight. With little warning, she walks on with a measured, stately air. She removes her sunglasses to a scream from the crowd. Then, as soon as she appeared, she’s gone again.

The evening proceeds with appearances from Velour’s co-hosts sandwiching her performances. Barnicle dominates the stage in his own gold crown. His name is in lights behind him, accompanied by a portrait by the scene’s resident illustrator, Jay Bailey. Then Sasha Velour returns, this time dressed as her idol (and recent Google Doodle muse) Marlene Dietrich.

“What makes queerness so amazing is that we stand on a platform of love and acceptance.”

Boo Sutcliffe / Illustration by Emily DoyleVelour performs an impeccable lip sync to Dietrich’s ‘Illusions’, which morphs into a full dance routine to Le Tigre’s dance-punk hit ‘Deceptacon’. Velour slipping off her top hat and tails to show a leopard print basque and Yolandi Visser-eque wig must surely be the reveal of the night.

Sets followed from the rhinestone-encrusted Tanja MacKenzie, who performed a flawless lip sync of Ella’s ‘Mamma Boy’ (for the unacquainted that was Norway’s official Eurovision selection for 2017, and a perfect slice of electro-pop at that). Birmingham’s self-styled ‘Queer Bratz doll from hell’ Boo Sutcliffe is up next, flouncing across the stage in her enormous backcombed yellow wig with every ounce of attitude that we’ve come to expect from her.

The hotly anticipated Hungry was next to take the spotlight. Bringing distorted drag all the way from Berlin, Hungry recently collaborated with Björk on the artwork for her 2017 release Utopia and it’s easy to see what drew them together. Combining otherworldly makeup, motoric vogueing, and a frighteningly cinched waist, her routine to a remix of Röyksopp’s ‘Monument’ is at the cutting edge of performance art. She takes a bow, standing surrounded by elements of her pink satin costume, clad in stiletto boots and peephole panties. If there’s anyone who can follow this, it’s Sasha Velour.

Hungry / Illustration by Emily DoyleThe strains of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ fill The Nightingale. Velour is back on stage for her final performance of the night, this time in a classic red shirt-dress and fiery bob. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a bit obvious, until she disappears behind a red umbrella and re-emerges as a bedazzled incarnation of Tolkien’s character Gollum. Flinging herself against the barriers, her pointed ears and single, heart shaped nipple pasty glint in the stage lights.

After the show I catch up with Elliot Barnicle and Boo Sutcliffe to get their take on how the night felt from the other side of the crowd barrier.

“I really didn’t expect anything less from an audience that was drawn in for Sasha Velour,” says Sutcliffe. “The energy in the room was electric. It was full of so much love and acceptance.”

Barnicle agrees. “The night was incredible, it’s inspiring to see such a talented performer on stage, pushing the boundaries of drag and to be received by such a wide audience. Sasha is such a kind queen and was really interested in seeing us other performers on stage!”

“I think Sasha’s comments on the never-ending changes and movements of what drag is and can be is what makes her such a queer icon and the deserving reigning queen,” continues Barnicle. “Everything she stands for and says goes towards a more loving and accepting future for drag queens and queer people everywhere. The general vibe I got from everything Sasha said is to never back down from what you believe in and to not let our voices be silenced. We are valid as queer people and we are valid as a community.”

For more on Sasha Velour, visit

For more on Hungry, visit 

For more on Boo Sutcliffe, visit 

For more on Tanja Mckenzie, visit 

For more on Elliot Barnicle, visit

For more on Klub Kids, visit 

For more from The Nightingale Club, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit

BPREVIEW: Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy Birmingham 05.09.17

BPREVIEW: Queens of Comedy Extravaganza @ O2 Academy Birmingham 05.09.17

Words by Eleanor Sutcliffe

You’re born naked and the rest is drag” – RuPaul

On the 5th of September, O2 Academy will be welcoming Kids Klub’s Queens of Comedy Extravaganza tour – hosted by Bianca Del Rio, and including performances from a whole host of drag artists, including Alyssa Edwards, BenDeLaCreme, Lady Bunny and more.

Doors open at 8pm, with tickets priced at £30 plus booking fee – for direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Leading the show is Bianca Del Rio, whose last appearance in Birmingham was back in February as part of her Not Today Satan tour. A self confessed ‘Clown in a gown’ armed with a ‘Rolerdex of Hate’, Del Rio is flanked by Lady Bunny – the only performer of the night to not have appeared as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Famed as one of the original Alig Club Kids of New York in the 1980s, Lady Bunny performs frequently with Bianca Del Rio as a fixture on the New York gay club scene and has released tracks such as ‘Shame Shame Shame!’ and ‘The Pussycat Song’. Joining them is former Miss Gay America, Alyssa Edwards, and BenDeLaCreme, a burlesque performer hailing from Chicago. Bringing up the rear are Charlie Hides, who’s scathing impersonations of celebrities such as Lana Del Ray and Lady Gaga make for prime YouTube viewing material, and singer Katya who performs regularly in her hometown of Boston.

From the information we could find on the world wide web, Birmingham Review can’t confirm whether the Queens of Comedy Extravaganza at the O2 Academy will be turn by turn or a single extended act. But it will be interesting to see how the show juggles the six large personalities they’re bringing to the stage.

And although Birmingham frequently hosts drag nights in venues such as the Nightingale Club or Eden Bar, it’s rare for the city to be treated with a show in a venue as large as the O2 Academy. However with O2 Academy announcing even more shows with Klub Kids, such as their Twisted Circus tour in March 2018, so here’s hoping that Birmingham will be treated to a whole catalogue of bigger stage drag events in the coming year.

Bianca Del Rio & Lady Bunny – hosting season 8 premier of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Chicago)

Klub Kids presents the Queens of Comedy Extravaganza, coming to the O2 Academy on 5th September ‘17. For direct event info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here. 

For more on Klub Kids, visit

For more from O2 Academy Birmingham including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit