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The world’s supreme Anne Boleyn impersonator (and supporter of Natalie Cassidy’s trailblazing artistry) has just made herstory. As well as becoming the first queen to win four challenges on a vs the World season, Tia Kofi has injected some much-needed diversity into the Drag Race UK Hall of Fame as the franchise’s first-ever champion of colour. And, on the same day she became Queen of the Mothertucking World, Tia celebrated the release of her long-awaited debut studio album, Read My Lips, which immediately entered the top 20 of the UK iTunes charts. Not bad for a queen who was once labelled “Baroness Basic”, eh?

“To be the first person to do it and represent people of colour in the UK is incredible. I’ve had so many lovely comments from people who said they feel reflected and represented as a result of this, and I think it’s incredibly important,” Tia, who identifies as “Carol” over Zoom, tells GAY TIMES. Now, she has her eyes set on bringing her signature brand of “camp cow” over to the US for Drag Race’s much-rumoured second winners’ season. “Listen, all I’m saying is I was on UK season two, UK vs the World season two, so being on the second series of a Drag Race franchise is my thing,” she says. “If Ru calls, you come a-runnin’.”

Although Tia has consistently provided viewers with entertainment, laughter and joy, she has – sigh – been inundated with vile messages from “hideous” trolls masquerading as Drag Race ‘fans’, who are feeling the need to dispute her win. (Tia Kofi’s “Pushed by Production” t-shirts are available now!) Tia discusses all of the above in this interview, in addition to her favourite moments from UK vs the World, her wonderful homage to Cherry Valentine and the legendary queens she wants to compete against on the aforementioned winners’ season.

Tia, condragulations on winning Drag Race UK vs the World season two. How have you celebrated over these past few days?

I slept on Saturday and then had a roast on Sunday. I had dinner with my friends on Monday, and now it’s Tuesday. Now, I’m sitting.

That’s how a British person celebrates winning 50k on the biggest reality show in the world.

It seemed like the most appropriate thing. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I’m just trying to do very normal things, because it doesn’t feel like I’ve won yet. I’m sure it will hit at some point.

Let it sink in! You’re Queen of the Mothertucking World. Have you got your 50 g’s yet?

No, it’s coming tomorrow.

I wonder what it will come up as? BBC? RuPaul? Michael Face?

It comes directly out of Ruth Paul’s account. That’s her admin name, Ruth.

Do we know how Thorgy Thor has reacted to your win yet?

Thorgy hasn’t said anything… Bob [the Drag Queen] tweeted about “checking” on Thorgy to see how she was, but I’ve had no response. I’ve had lots of lovely messages from past contestants. I’ve had amazing winners like Jinkx [Monsoon] and Jimbo, who have messaged and said very kind things. My favourite one was from Vivacious. I’m obsessed with her. I love her so much.

What did she say? If you’re allowed to reveal, of course.

‘Don’t let the haters get you down, mama. Don’t let the haters get you down. You are a winner and you always will be.’ And I could hear it in her voice, and I like it. I love her. She’s so uplifting as a person. Honestly, bring her back for an All Stars

One thing I wanted to ask you last week, which I didn’t get a chance to, was if Natalie Cassidy ever responded to your homage?

Yes! Natalie Cassidy reposted on her story. Icon! When is Natalie Cassidy going to be a guest judge on Drag Race UK? That is the real question.

There’s a lot of Eastenders stars that need to go on there. The fact that Jessie Wallace hasn’t?!

Michelle [Visage] has taken over hosting Down Under, so if she takes over Drag Race UK, I think Natalie Cassidy should take Michelle’s place. Fact.

You’d have to come back, just to be judged by Natalie Cassidy.

Yeah, me as Natalie Cassidy. Or, if I’m honest, Katherine Ryan because she was an iconic judge this season. Loved her.

What is it like to have won Drag Race to Kylie Minogue‘s camp classic ‘Your Disco Needs You’? How does that make your soul feel?

It makes my soul feel great because the only reason I know that song is from Dj Demon playing it at The Two Brewers for, like, the last decade of my life. Not only was I wearing a dress dedicated to my mother, in a wig that I had borrowed from my drag sister Woe Addams, but I was lip-syncing to a song that I know because of the bars that I started drag in. I have anxiety so my brain was going, ‘But Kylie Minogue is Australian so that means Hannah [Conda] is gonna win!’ For me, it was a lovely coming together of all my worlds in one.


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You made herstory as the first queen of colour to win Drag Race UK. What do you think this historic moment means for POC viewers at home?

There’s actually been a really lovely reaction because that hasn’t happened in – what, we’ve had five main seasons and a vs the World prior to this? So, in six seasons of the show, all of the winners have been white, which – despite people trying to argue to the contrary – in terms of percentage population, doesn’t make any sense. And yes, I did sit there and do the maths, even before I got on this phone call because I’m that kind of person. To be the first person to do it and represent people of colour in the UK is incredible. I’ve had so many lovely comments from people who said they feel reflected and represented as a result of this, and I think it’s incredibly important.

It feels like you haven’t been able to fully celebrate because of toxic Drag Race fans. I mean, I don’t even think it’s appropriate to call them ‘fans’ because their behaviour completely contradicts what Drag Race stands for. So, I just wanted to know how you’re doing?

I am spending as little time on my phone as humanly possible, for that reason. It’s not very nice to be honest with you, and there’s not really much point in me saying anything because they won’t listen anyway. It’s just making me feel really sad, and not be able to appreciate these things. It’s not okay because it will stop at the point where they decide that they can attack someone else, for some sort of reason, and that makes me even sadder. The only way that I will be rid of this behaviour is when they want to attack someone else. I’d rather they didn’t attack someone else. I’d actually prefer to just have to be the one to sit and take it, so that it doesn’t need to happen. But, wouldn’t it be nice if we just lived in a world where people weren’t deeply, deeply unpleasant to each other? And that would be so simple to do. You can just think your thoughts, and not feel compelled and entitled to share them like some sort of hideous, narcissistic beast.

It’s just ironic that the show that promotes love and acceptance has this kind of behaviour from the fans, like they’re not listening to what RuPaul is saying.

Ru literally says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” and I guess all the people who are spreading hate must have some issues going on. For that, I apologise, and I hope it gets better for them.

It’s also so daft with this whole “pushed by production” narrative. Is a queen supposed to tell RuPaul, ‘No Ru, I won’t accept this win because the fans won’t like it’?

The “pushed by production” narrative is weird because Ru makes the decisions and she’s the executive producer. So I guess, yes? But also, it’s such a strange narrative because I won one out of four lip-syncs. If they really wanted to paint me as the winner and keep it in the UK and all that kind of thing, I think they probably would’ve made me look a bit better! They have the power to edit everything and steer the narrative if they so wish, and I think it was, for the most part, a fairly honest portrayal. If I’m honest, I watched some of it and was like, ‘I actually did better than it looks’ but I guess they had to cut it down to make the episodes shorter. The actual advertising challenge, for example, of course the adverts were longer than you saw. There was more content in it. But, there’s a certain length of episodes so you can’t criticise people for having to cut things down.

The finale was one of the best finales Drag Race has ever had because it was so joyous. After watching something so joyful, how do you then decide to spread hate? Huh?

I just think people don’t remember that drag is fun. Hannah and I were really fun in that final episode, really silly and having a really nice time, entertaining the judges in a way that the judges want to be entertained. Rule number one is make Ru laugh – how many times have they said that on American seasons? Snatch Game, the rule is make Ru laugh. We’re making Ru laugh and they’re like, ‘Oh no, that’s not what you’re meant to do. You’re meant to be really serious.’ I don’t lip-sync anyway as my performance style, so it’s miraculous that I found the ability to move my mouth and walk at the same time without producing sound. That is not a multi-tasking thing that I do on a day-to-day basis. I’m pretty proud of that.

I saw your comment on Mayhem Miller’s post, where you expressed how disappointed you are that more queens haven’t spoken out. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?

I have been [disappointed], and there’s been discussions within our group. There were people who had not necessarily noticed or seen what has been happening. It is predominantly me and Mayhem who have received a lot of the hate, and you can’t really say that’s because placements have been pushed because Mayhem went first and I won, so… I wonder what the consistent thread is between the two of us that might make people objectively have an issue for no reason? You can make your own conclusions about that. It’s racism. Mayhem’s had a really difficult time and it’s been completely unfair. Now it’s being discussed within our group chat, I’ve seen many of the queens have put posts out – which I really appreciate – that highlight the point that we don’t want people to be treated in that way or be brutalised by this weird narrative that’s been spun because a few people with a few followers on Twitter or TikTok or Instagram used a particular phrase, and now every twink in the fandom thinks they can say “pushed by production” and it means something. It doesn’t. It doesn’t mean anything unless I put it on a t-shirt and you bought one.

Let’s ignore the toxicity and discuss your incredible achievements on the show…

Let’s! I’m gonna have some tea while you do.

You won four challenges: the advert, the roast, the Snatch Game, the Rusical. All Drag Race staples. What are you most proud of, when looking back?

Snatch Game because it was the thing that sent me home previously. What I’m actually most proud of is my runways, and that was the thing that put me on the gallows the most my first time around. If you disagree, you’ve probably already written that in the comments! But, I really liked them and I feel like I showed diverse silhouettes and a range of looks that were very important to me including outfits dedicated to my Nigerian-British heritage, a little bit of theological queer history with Saint Sebastian and, for no reason, a pregnant alien bride. Camp and geeky. So, I think I represented myself through those looks really well and I’m quite proud of them.

Also, your homage to the gorgeous Cherry Valentine. How did it feel for you to continue Cherry’s legacy in that way?

I think that was the most important thing for me. Before anyone had even had a phone call for vs the World, I had a conversation with Lawrence Chaney that was like, ‘Gosh, what if we get to go back? What would you do?’ Just a fun, campy, girly Facetime! We agreed that if either of us ever go back, someone has got to do an homage to Cherry because it was such a great loss that our season felt, losing someone who was literally the only cast member who was a friend to every other cast member. We all felt it. It was very difficult, so it was important to go back and remind everyone of Cherry’s legacy. Also, to remind everyone of the kindness that Cherry had and everything she spoke up for and advocated. She isn’t here anymore, but there are so many people who are very prominent in Traveller Pride and her mental health advocacy. There are other people who have picked up that mantle. It’s important people don’t forget those things as well, because she was so passionate about them.

Well, you did it flawlessly. Speaking of Lawrence Chaney, what was it you tweeted the other day? Both of you are called Lawrence and the same star sign?

We’re both Libras called Lawrence.

So the hack for winning Drag Race is to be a Libra called Lawrence.

I would say so. If the stars align, then you too can be a winner. But also, I think UK season two is the UK’s version of season nine in the US, where they’ve had Sasha Velour, Trinity the Tuck and Shea Couleé win – and Peppermint would definitely win if she ever went back. Season two has Bimini, Tayce… Who’s next? Who’s gonna win things? I think we’re the season nine.

Or like season five in the sense that if they do a UK All Stars, then half the cast will be from UK season two.

Oh gag, yeah. If they do a UK All Stars… I already won, so I’m coming back to walk through the werkroom and go, ‘Yes, I’m here to help you with your Snatch Games’.

If the call came for the next winners’ season, are you down?

Listen, all I’m saying is I was on UK season two, UK vs the World season two, so being on the second series of a Drag Race franchise is my thing. And by that, I mean I should’ve been cast on Belgique season two. Yeah, of course I would. If Ru calls, you come a-runnin.

Who would you like to compete against? I need to see you in a room with Bob.

Absolutely. It needs to be in a room with Bob and then in Untucked, for no reason, Bob gets a video call from Thorgy. Camp. I think it would be camp to do it with Lawrence Chaney because we’ve got a lot of similarities, but Lawrence wears purple. I guess that’s the main difference. We’re good friends, so I think it would be fun to compete with Lawrence a second time but on a friend level, rather than the weird and tense atmosphere of Drag Race the first time when you’ve never met anyone before.

Dreaming it into existence.

Me too. Also Spankie Jackson.

I’d love to see Envy Peru on there…

Camp. I’d obviously be the makeup queen over her that season.

Keiona… Yeah, I want them all. I can’t pick.

I love Keiona from France. Yeah… Ooh, this is fun and now I’m thinking about it too deeply.

I will speak to you when you win All Winners 2.

Or before… that’s fine. If you must wait for an eventuality that is statistically improbable, then slay.

Finally, what plans do you have as Queen of the Mothertucking World?

A nap. I’m so tired. I’ve got a podcast called The Final FronTia, which is really wonderful, and my guest for next week’s episode is the gorgeous runner-up of UK vs the World, Hannah Conda, my antipodean bestie. Is that how you say that word?

Amphibian? Is that what you said?

I said antipodean. I feel like some people say anti-po-dean, which I don’t think is how I wanna say it.

I literally thought you said amphibian.

My frog BFF Hannah Conda. An anaconda is a snake, that’s not an amphibian. Anyway, Hannah Conda is on my podcast The Final FronTia. You can stream that wherever you get your podcasts! My album is out, we’ve got the UK vs the World tour – you can get tickets from Voss Events. I’ve got solo projects coming up, so you should be seeing some things about that soon. And just support all of the queens, because they’re all amazing. I do appreciate and love all of them. If you feel like sending hate to someone, just make yourself a cup of tea and go for a walk. Or, do you know what I do sometimes if I’m annoyed? I’ll type it and close the app so I didn’t post it. So, I got my feels out about it and didn’t need to upset anyone. That’s nice.

Drag Race UK vs the World is streaming in the UK on BBC iPlayer.

You can watch our interview with Tia Kofi here or below.