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From the slayage of the inaugural ‘Yas-tonbury Festival’ to Baby’s shock elimination and Dakota entering the werkroom as the British spin-off’s first trans woman, as well as RuPaul missing her first-ever panelling sesh due to unforeseen circumstances, the fourth season of Drag Race UK has been one for the herstory books. On this week’s grand finale, either Black Peppa, Cheddar Gorgeous, Danny Beard or Jonbers Blonde will usurp Krystal Versace and be inducted into the UK’s Hall of Fame. 

Danny, who memorably became the first bearded queen to sashay into the werkroom on a RuPaul-hosted season, has cemented her status as one of the most formidable players the franchise has ever seen with four maxi-challenge wins and zero bottom placements, while Jonbers has slayed the runway and “sex worker pigeon” game. Ahead of the finale on Thursday (24 November), we spoke with Danny and Jonbers about their “crazy” experience on Drag Race UK, their hilarious encounters with fans and their kink for ‘riling up’ online trolls.

GAY TIMES: Massive condragulations on making the top four of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. How are you feeling heading into the finale?

Danny: Nothing! I can’t speak for Jonbers, but it’s been such a crazy, amazing ride. I also feel like, although a few of the girls have had trolls online this year, there’s been a lot of love. People are saying, ‘If you don’t win, I’d be happy with this person to win’ or ‘I can’t decide out of the top four’ and I think it’s a real testament to, not just our drag, but our personalities as well. That’s really shone through and I’m just really happy that we’ve made it.

Jonbers: There’s definitely been a shift in the mentality of the fandom because it has been quite toxic and crazy. I mean, for myself! It’s nice to see that people have come round and been like, ‘Do you know what? It’s been a great season and it’s a great top four.’ We’re all so different. It couldn’t be a top four that’s more different. We’ve all been through a lot… We’re here! We’ve made it girl.

Danny: We’ve made it baby!

GAY TIMES: You cannot compare this top four to one another. It really is, as they say, apples and oranges…

Danny: 100% and I’m the orange because I’ve got fucking vitamin D.

Jonbers: I’ve definitely got an Adam’s Apple!

Danny: Honestly though, that’s the best thing about British drag. We’re not all death-dropping, flip-flopping, back-flipping bitches with nothing to say. Not that I’m saying other places are that…

Jonbers: Oop!

Danny: But, we’ve all got something to say. I’m a performer, my strengths are on stage and comedy. Everyone’s got this thing that drives them, so whatever happens on Thursday, I’m just glad I got to share it with these absolutely crazy bitches. And the top four is crazy, me and Jonbers are about to go and tour the world. We’re gonna have the best time together. How amazing is it, that that’s my job? That’s my job: to tour the world with my friends. I’ll be so fucking proud of myself when I look back on this as my job, know what I mean?

GAY TIMES: Rising to global superstardom on a reality show for drag queens is obviously a very normal experience. How are you both navigating life as a RuGirl?

Jonbers: Life is when you’re just trying to go to the public lavatory in a park and someone goes, ‘Are you from that TV show?’ and I’m like, ‘Maybe not right now! I’m trying to do a shit in private Ellen!’ To be a RuGirl… We’re all fans of this show but I know that Danny and I are true, die-hard fans from day dot, especially with the UK. I feel like our drag is very UK drag. We do not take ourselves too seriously, although we do have our stamps on things. We wanna have a laugh. We can both hold a mic. To get to this stage of top four on RuPaul’s Drag Race… When they say it’s the “Olympics of Drag”, ours has been The Hunger Games of drag this season. It really has been… When we were there, we didn’t know who was going next because it was so flippedy-flop. To make it and be a RuGirl in the top four, for me, is incredible – especially with my track record, not winning a badge! But, she’s here. They took such good care for you on set. To go on your favourite TV show, to be taken that well cared for and just to be in the vicinity of Ru, Michelle, Alan, Graham and the judges, and all the girls too, it just felt right and exciting. Sometimes with your dreams, they say to never meet your heroes, for this, it’s not that. It was everything and more for me.

Danny: It’s been a weird time, certainly the last couple of weeks. I leave the house now and I think, ‘I better put a pair of eyebrows on and make an effort because someone will clock me, someone will recognise me,’ right? And not one motherfucker knows who you are! Then I’ll just pop the shop and be in a crappy pair of shorts, flip flops, toenails hanging off and three Salford mums will be like, ‘I love you on telly!’ I couldn’t sum it up better. Everyone who stops you, as well, is so different. I think I’ve had pictures with people in wheelchairs who are about 159. People from every walks of life, I’ve managed to have a picture with ’em. That’s the beauty of this show, so I love it. I love all this side of it. We’ve worked our whole careers to start doing the things we’re doing, so this is the side that comes with it and I’m happy.

GAY TIMES: As huge Drag Race fans, has being on the show been what you expected?

Danny: With Drag Race, you’ve got to expect the unexpected, right? That’s the point of the show. It’s a reality competition. It’s there to stir the pot and make a bit of drama, but ultimately make good telly. I think it’s been the best season so far – I’m obviously biased because I’m sat here in the top four, but I really do. There’s been such a good diverse cast that gives you something different from each queen. We’re not seeing repeats of queens, you know? It’s not followed a format, we should say.

Jonbers: As you said Danny, we’re there the entire time and we knew that we were there, especially in the time that we were there, when it was just coming off of COVID. We knew that we were making a light-hearted entertainment show. Those moments where you are a bit, like, playing the villain or playing the whatever, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, it’s a telly show! It’s a drag telly show! We’re there to make a fun TV show and I think mission accomplished.

Danny: I do too.

GAY TIMES: Pixie Polite told me last week that some ‘fans’ have declared her as the season four villain. In what world has Pixie been a villain? No one has been a villain from this cast, in my eyes?

Jonbers: I honestly don’t think there was a villain on our season, at all. I think, actually, out of all the seasons so far, ours has been the most sisterly…

Danny: It’s RuPaul’s Best Friend’s Race.

Jonbers: We’ve cracked the code! We’ve done RuPaul’s Best Friend Race. Someone actually put a montage up of all of our hugs and cries and it really got me because we really do all care for each other. We’ve all stayed quite close. I don’t care what anybody says, there has been no villain in this. It’s a telly show, you know what I mean? Some decisions are made… Also, for all of the decisions that have been made, it’s been the judges, not us! We’re just following what they said. We’re doing our job and they’re doing theirs.

Danny: Love that.

GAY TIMES: That always confuses me, how queens will be in the firing line for slaying a lip-sync and sending another queen packin’. RuPaul is the one who said, ‘Go home. Leave the premises.’

Danny: That’s the way it is. Too many stupid people have a TV license, clearly.

Jonbers: They don’t pay for it!

GAY TIMES: What do you think can be done to combat this hate? Or do you think it’s even possible?

Danny: I think we live in a world where people feel an emotion and are able to express that emotion instantly online and forget about it. Think about the amount of times we’ve said something in an argument that we regret. We live in that world now where we put things out online… We can educate and educate and educate but the end of the day, we’re following a reality format that judges us, so we’d be stupid for going into this thinking that the audience at home aren’t also going to judge us. I think we’re never gonna get away from that unless the internet gets bought completely by Elon Musk and we all go back to caveman times. People are gonna @ me for this, but what we need instead is to know going into things like this that it’s a reflection on whoever’s saying it. I don’t think we’re gonna stop it. I’ve seen some horrible comments about me and I’ve thought, ‘That’s not true. That’s a reflection on you and you don’t know me.’ Sometimes, I challenge people and they backtrack. We need to not give power to anyone on a keyboard.

Jonbers: The fans have always been the fifth judge on any season. That’s never gonna change and I think they have a right to. Some things they say I do not agree with but at the end of the day, everyone’s allowed an opinion. Everyone’s got an arsehole, you might be one! And that’s your problem, not mine!

Danny: Part of me lives a little bit that I’ve riled somebody so much.

Jonbers: Yes!

Danny: I have caused an emotion in you.

Jonbers: Exactly, because we’re onto the next thing. We’re oot and aboot and they’re behind their keyboard like, ‘On week three you did this!’ and I’m like, ‘Baby, that was eight months ago. Bye!’ Get a job!

GAY TIMES: You have both slayed in your respective areas this season: Danny with comedy and Jonbers with fashion. Were there any challenges that surprised you, however, that awakened another facet of your drag?

Jonbers: The fashion challenge gooped me. I got my goop there! I think Snatch Game because Ru threw the spanner in the works. Danny and I were both in the same boat, we were on the table with her. We were both so confident and then we were like, ‘Oop.’ To turn that around for both of us… When Ru throws you something like that, that’s her being like, ‘You must do this or I’m gonna be judging you even more.’

Danny: Listen, when the person that’s feeding you the cookies says, ‘If you want another cookie you do this fucking thing,’ then you do this fucking thing. I knew, going into it, that I had my Louis Walsh down. I had jokes. I prepared it. She didn’t know who it was. I’m proud of the Snatch Game and how it went. Obviously, we were there so we actually know how it really went…

Jonbers: Oop!

Danny: I’m proud of that, you know? The things I think I’m most shocked about would be… Well, the sewing. Listen, it was the most simple dress you’ve ever seen in your life but it was put together and made well. It was cohesive and it hit the brief. I honestly thought, ‘If I get a sewing challenge and a dance challenge in either order, I’m done,’ and I managed to get them out the way by week two and three and then just thrive.

Jonbers: I just wanna bring up our challenges throughout this season. It has been a mixed mag of nuts. Let’s not forget that our fashion challenge was like a-bingo-she-better-do, which was to create a collection to go to a bingo hall but… fashion? Then we had the Squirrel Squid Games with Celebrity Big Brother and we were all like, ‘What?’ I played a sex worker pigeon in the Rusical, I mean… And a dog! Was I on animal farm or was I on Drag Race? Old Ru McDonald…

GAY TIMES: I’m glad it was RuPaul’s Animal Farm Race because you made me die with laughter each time, Jonbers…

Danny: I don’t think we’ve ever seen anyone like Jonbers who can serve fashion, knows their references but also is quite goofy, funny and down to earth. There’s a thing with fashion queens where they have to be this fashion thing that’s so pretty but so unattainable? It’s nice for Jonbers to break the mould and that goes back to what I said earlier: so many of us do that. I’m a comedy queen but I have a Club Kid aesthetic. Cheddar is so intellectual, she’s got the Club Kid aesthetic and she’s such an educator and innovator. Then you’ve got Peppa, who’s absolutely amazing with a gorgeous backstory and serves looks. She also doesn’t give up and throws herself into things that she knows that she might not be best at. That’s why this is the best top four because everyone can relate to one of us.

GAY TIMES: You all prepare for the lip-sync showdowns beforehand with your iPods, were either of you excited or prepared to slay a particular song if you landed in the bottom two?

Jonbers: For me, it was Another One Bites the Dust.

Danny: That was mine!

Jonbers: I was giving it stacks at the back! I was like, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this…’

Danny: I got into this work mindset of… I don’t know how I did it. Listen, I was late this morning to this interview and I’m only in my living room. We were doing 12 hour days, I think the longest day was 18 hours, and I would still go home every night – I’m sure most of the girls did – and get that lip-sync song and listen and listen and listen until I went to sleep. I think someone even put on Twitter, ‘The real slayer of this year’s lip-syncs has been Danny Beard’ because you just learn it that much. I didn’t even know I was doing it until I watched the show back. I’m in the back like this [starts dancing], lip-syncing it. I’m not a lip-syncer, I’ve never done a lip-sync performance ever until I’ve done this show, so I was just making sure I didn’t look a tit on telly if I was in the bottom.

Jonbers: I do wanna have a moment for our Stop routine, me Pixie and Danny doing the full routine.

Danny: You taught us that, didn’t ya?

Jonbers: I did, didn’t I?! That’s right.

GAY TIMES: In the earlier years of Drag Race, the queen with the most wins or best track record would typically win. However, in recent years, we’ve seen that that’s no longer the case with, for example, Sasha Velour and Shea Couleé, Jaida Essence Hall and Gigi Goode, Ella Vaday and Krystal Versace etc. Do you think that track record and number of wins is still an indicator as to who will take home the crown?

Danny: I don’t think it matters anymore, does it? Let’s be honest. What you need is the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent that Ru is looking for. She could give it to any one of the top four at this point. Like we’ve said the whole interview, everyone brings something different and I don’t think going into it with challenge wins necessarily matters right now. Of course, it’s easy for me to sit here and say that, but I do believe that. I think it could go any way.

Jonbers: I completely agree. Every week this entire season we were like, ‘Who’s going to be in the top? Who’s going to be in the bottom?’ Obviously, there were some weeks where there was a clear indication, but I think at this point, Ru’s decisions are Ru’s decisions.

Danny: For sure.

GAY TIMES: The winner of Drag Race Italia season one, Elektra Bionic, didn’t win a single challenge, so it’s all up in the air…

Jonbers: Do you think that Ru has a say in that, at all? Did they call her up?

Danny: Ru was like, ‘Ere you are luv, we’ve got this girl Jonbers on the UK one, and I want her to win…’

The finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season four airs this Thursday on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer.