In their signature purple, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2 - Helenburgh’s Lawrence Chaney - is colourful, open, honest, absolutely hilarious and someone who was born to be on stage.
The 24-year-old Scot shot to stardom last year when they were crowned the UK’s next drag superstar in the reality television series thanks to a host of show stopping Scottish themed runway walks and razor sharp one liners which captured the hearts of the viewers and, RuPaul Charles himself.
The Glasgow-based drag act is on to a fifth interview of the day before 10am, yet has already apologised for being a grand total of four minutes late and engaged into a 20 minute chat about the merits of new horror movie ‘Malignant’. As a fellow horror film aficionado, I’m not complaining.
“I just love talking to people” Chaney remarks.
"I remember the first time I was recognised was just before episode four of season two.
"I was in Tesco buying a meal deal – or 750 meal deals - and I knocked a sign over with my fat arse and as I was picking it up and this lovely woman came over to help me.
"She had a double take before saying you’re Lawrence Chaaaaaaney!’(a line made famous by host RuPaul during the series). That was a surreal moment. But I love meeting new people, because I’m very sociable.”
‘Tied to a tree’
We’re here to discuss their new book and in doing so, out comes the serious side of the Scot as they recall being bullied growing up. The part of Chaney which hides beneath the ‘eleganza’ runway walks.
"Bullying, recalling things which had been said to me, being tied to a tree when I was younger – I recalled that all, and that I went back in and made jokes about it. Changed some, wrote some more. It was very much let me get the heart out the way, then we can joke about it, find out the best ways and places to put it without making fun of my experience,” Chaney says.
The experiences shared are painful, but it has formed part of the Lawrence the public see and love today and it hits home with fans who are having similar experiences today.
"I did Drag Race because I wanted to do Drag Race. I didn’t think about the impact it would have on people.
"When I saw the reaction of the fans and people realising I was just a kid who had a bowl cut and velcro shoes from Helensburgh, who somehow made it, won RuPaul’s Drag Race and is now heading to Hollywood to make a series – that was when I knew I had a duty to show people what happened, but also that it isn’t the be all and end all.
"People would say to me I’d never make it but I always thought that was b***ocks from the minute I heard it. We have seven billion TV channels now – are you telling me I can’t get on at least one of them? I hated how ignorant kids were – and I wanted it to be shown.”
Its been a whirlwind six months for the Scot since winning the show. After the euphoria and fame of winning Drag Race sinks in and being regularly recognised in public becomes less unusual, the question which remains is ‘what next?’.
Fling themselves into drag tour after drag tour? A music career? Why not even a purple clothing range?
The answer for Chaney was to write a book.
“Drag is a visual medium, so when the visual is removed, it can hinder it. In interviews, online stuff, there’s always photos – which works,” Chaney says.
"But inside the book there’s humour, uplifting stories, sad stories and even more humour, though on the outside there’s a gorgeous cover, a visual connection between everything. There’s tartan end papers, there’s been effort put into it and a concept to the book – which is very much like an actual drag show.
"There’s a glamourous look, fabulousness, wit and there’s a real heart to it. It’s like a drag show but just in a different format. When I looked at it like that, I knew that I was going to do a book.
"It was a very gradual process, because I didn’t want to be like ‘hi here’s my new merch...I mean, my new book.’
"It’s my baby. I talk about gender, I discuss drag, fall outs, horrible experiences during hook ups. It needed to be 100% me – and I think it is.
"I wrote a shell of the book with the emotional stuff in it and that’s how I got the most traumatic stuff out.
Drag Race UK Season 3
With Drag Race UK season 3 now upon us, the reigning queen of Drag Race says they will have no hesitation in handing the crown over and can’t wait to see which drag act will have their life turned upside down and their dreams made into reality by the show.
But who were they most impressed by in episode one?
“If you look at Victoria Scone’s drag, she is giving it just as much as any act on stage. Her costumes were gorgeous, and camp. It’s very much my kind of drag – I thought what she wore was one of my costumes!
"I love Choriza May. Her humour is exceptional. Crystal looked fab. Vanity looked fab. River Midway was hilarious. I’m trying to think if there’s another I don’t like (laughs). It’s going to get tougher every year, because the standard just keeps going up.”
Lawrence Chaney’s book – (Drag) Queen of Scots – can now be purchased from Penguin books here.