Skip to content

As the host of Hulu’s new drag-themed dinner competition series Drag Me to Dinner, many young LGBTQ+ people are being treated to their first experience with Murray Hill. However, with over 25 years under his belt working in and around the spotlight, this isn’t his first foray into the stage and screen.

With his recent stand-out role in HBO’s Somebody Somewhere alongside Bridget Everett topping the list of recent showbiz endeavours, his life and recent career history has seen his face being shown to millions across America, and the world. But closer to home in New York City. His work with trans youth recently saw him earn a Citation from the City of New York for his positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community in Brooklyn. It’s a testament to his roots as a change maker, with this authenticity evoked throughout every role he takes his hat to.

GAY TIMES sat down with the Vaudevillian comic to unpack his career, and touch base on how his experience as Murray has changed throughout his career.

Thank you for sitting down with us to discuss your wonderful career. Talk to us about where it all began? Was it the influence of arriving in New York City that inspired you to become an entertainer, or did you always have that in you as a young person?

Showbiz! Of course. And I just wanna say, I love the UK and you literally have the best sense of humour. You may not believe this, but one of the first comedians I remember watching as a kid was Benny Hill. I used to sneak down to the TV room late at night and watch it. Fast forward 30 plus years, and well, we kinda look alike, share the same last name and people think he’s my dad. I loved how irreverent and silly he was so maybe he influenced me more than NYC. I always had a little showbiz in me. Watching Benny Hill and the Johnny Carson show, I was obsessed with these big comedic personalities. They were so jovial and full of life with a little devil-may-care vibe. It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I literally became one of the guys I saw on TV. I was young and maybe didn’t quite know it at the time, but I came to New York to find myself and learn about what family could mean. Chosen family, the kind of family that accepts you for who you are.

As an entertainer, your look and unique perspective is something people know you and love you for. Was it hard to find your own unique voice and continue to keep using it throughout your career?

In some ways, it’s been a long long uphill battle. From an early age I marched to my own beat and, for whatever reason, that threatens some people and they try to squash your light. It took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of therapy for me to learn to accept and appreciate my unique perspective. Still to this day, gatekeepers want to put me in a specific box. That’s not who I am and I’ll never be that person. It has taken me a long time to accept that. I’ve experienced more rejection and hard times than I have had “success”, but I just keep going – no matter what. There is so much talk about inclusion and representation in the queer community and outside of it. Most of my career, I felt like inclusion didn’t actually include guys like me. It has certainly changed since I started in the 90s, but we have a long way to go. My showbiz and life motto is, ‘If you don’t see yourself represented, then go out and represent yourself.’

Talk to us about your current TV work. We know working with famous drag queens can definitely come with drama, so how was hosting Drag Me to Dinner on Hulu? It’s such a fun and innovative concept…

Ha! Drama is an understatement! The show features 40 drag queens and Bianca Del Rio. This must have been a Guinness Book of World Record for drama! How was it? Absolutely glorious. I knew almost all the contestants from nightlife so it was really like hanging out with friends that you’d normally never see during the day. Never in a million years did I think I’d be the straight man in this show. It was great to see all the queens getting to improvise and be so creative. They really are so talented and damn funny. I was in my element hosting. My sweet spot! I love it more than anything. I mean, Johnny Carson is a hero of mine.

For many performers in the US, it’s tough right now to be visibly queer. As a drag king, have you experienced or witnessed a change in how drag is perceived in your community? How does it feel to be within that environment right now as an entertainer?

You know what, it’s never been easy. I don’t go by ‘drag king’. I feel it’s too reductive and I’ve never been a label guy. I just like to be referred to as ‘Murray’. I never understand why folks feel the need to put a disclaimer before ‘others’ names. Like, you never read ‘heterosexual white comedian Jerry Seinfeld’. To me, it plays into the divisiveness. With that said, it’s really frustrating right now in America. The queer and trans community are literally being used by politicians as a scapegoat and a ruse to instil fear in people to cover up the real, and frankly, scary issues this country is facing. There is so much blind hate and phobic rhetoric. And you know what, most people who are doing the hating don’t even know one single trans person. We are not the enemy. I sometimes have to dig real deep not to get discouraged. I have to remember, in my daily life travelling all over, there is always more love than hate. The haters have a real amplified voice, but in my heart I know the majority of people believe in equal rights. I truly believe that if folks spent time with people who are perceived as ‘the other’ or different from themselves, they’d realise how much we all have in common. I’m gonna keep being me, taking up space, and keeping my heart and arms wide open.

For many, you are an example of the importance of showcasing transness in all its many talented and beautiful facets. How important is it to you to see trans masculine and gender diverse representation when it comes to showcasing the talents of trans people?

Thank you, that means a lot. I take what I do very seriously, and I’m not a serious person either. I love to joke, be silly and irreverent. In the projects I work on, TV or live, I try to lead with my big heart and good vibes. Make the human connection first, find the common denominator where we can meet each other. Trans people, including myself, are finally being able to be portrayed as fully dimensional characters and people. To me, that’s the best way to combat hate, by showing the heart. When everyone gets to tell their stories and gets a seat at the table, then it makes for the best dinner party ever. Why have a plain bagel when you can enjoy an everything bagel?

Drag Me to Dinner is now streaming in the UK on Hulu.