Random 8

Ginger Johnson

Ginger Johnson

One random comedian, eight random questions; it's the ultimate test of funny person and fate. This week we welcome a sporting hero. A champion. A newly-crowned star. It's Ginger Johnson, who just last week triumphed in Series 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. So how would Ginger describe Ginger, for any Ginger virgins reading?

"Ginger is a helium balloon in the shape of a woman," Johnson explains, "great fun at parties and prone to wandering off on an adventure if left unattended."

Perfect. And you can catch Johnson in person this festive season, starring in Ginger all the Way! at London's Soho Theatre, until early January. What hi - or indeed lo - jinks are in store?

"Expect silly stories, original songs, camp Christmas classics and some left-of-field numbers from the stranger side of the festive songbook," our hostess explains. "There are also a few fun surprises along the way for fans of Drag Race, including some of my more ridiculous looks from the show and maybe even a special guest appearance from Snatch Game superstar, Barbara Cartland."

Christmas Cartland! Class. But what is Ginger's favourite Yuletidy thing, generally?

"The little festive bow ties I made for my cats to wear on Christmas Day. Funnily enough, they're not the biggest fans of them so they don't often last very long, but the hour-or-so of them trotting around looking like they're off to some fancy festive function is PRECIOUS."

Marvellous. And now, Ginger Johnson, your Random 8 await.

RuPaul's Drag Race UK. Ginger Johnson

Who was your childhood hero?

Panto was a big part of my childhood and continues to be a huge influence on my drag. I loved everything about it - the costumes, the special effects, the rude jokes.

Chris Hayward has played the dame at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle for as long as I can remember and he is one of the all-time greats, in my opinion. He runs the line between being extremely glamorous and extremely silly so perfectly, and his dame persona has a kindness and warmth that I aspire to when I'm on stage to this day.

When were you most embarrassed?

As a full time professional idiot, it takes quite a lot to embarrass me! Offstage I'm a little more reserved, but I try not to take myself seriously enough to the point where anything is embarrassing, really.

Just this week I got my stiletto caught in between the stage boards at a gig and almost fell flat on my face in front of a packed house, but even in the moment I could see the funny side. I've watched the video of it happening at least 10 times since and died laughing every single time.

RuPaul's Drag Race UK. Ginger Johnson

What's your favourite shop, ever?

The Magic Box in Newcastle. They used to sell all sorts of stuff in there - fancy dress, wigs, jokes etc - but when I was a kid, I used to go there every weekend to stare up at all the shelves full of magic tricks. I was obsessed. The owner, Clive, used to do demonstrations of all the different props and perform for the customers.

They also had a VHS tape that you could buy that showed all of the tricks they had available, which I watched until it fell apart. Magic was one of my first loves as far as performing goes and I often include magical elements in my stage shows today. In a way, drag is a magic trick in itself.

Who's the most interesting person you've met?

I'm very fortunate in that I get to meet lots of amazing and delightfully weird people in my line of work, but I think RuPaul takes the cake. Ru has an energy that is truly hypnotic. There's so much going on all around you on the set of Drag Race, but when you get to spend some one-on-one time with Ru, the rest of the world melts away. He has a way of engaging with people on such a level that it gives me chills just thinking about it.

What's the worst thing in your wardrobe?

The worst thing in my wardrobe is one of the first costumes I ever made for myself. It's a pantomime dame frock that is ill-fitting, poorly sewn, and of very questionable taste... but it's what set me off on my whole journey in drag so I can't bring myself to let go of it. Maybe one day I'll remake it and give it the redemption it deserves.

RuPaul's Drag Race UK. Ginger Johnson

Ever walked out of a film, before the end?

I don't think I've ever walked out of a film, but I've certainly checked out mentally! I'm not very good at watching films, especially in the cinema. If I'm sitting in a comfy chair in a warm, dark room I've got about 10 minutes of attention span before the only thing I'm watching is the back of my own eyelids. I've seen the first scene of a lot of films, but that's about it.

What's the weirdest thing you've eaten?

I used to do an act where I swallowed eight ten-inch hotdogs in two-and-a-half minutes, before washing them down with the brine from the jar... looking back, I dread to think what questionable pork products were hiding in amongst all of that! I haven't eaten a hot dog since.

Which low-key law would you introduce, to make life a bit better?

Free glitter for all! The world looks so much better when it's sparkling.


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