Scott Burey, winner of this year’s Golden Handbag for favourite drag entertainer talks to Brian Butler about stage fright, his drag heroes and living life to the full.
SHYNESS is part of who Drag With No Name is – an enigma wrapped in a mystery and I’m guessing an incredibly private person amid the ballyhoo of Brighton drag monarchy.
He wasn’t an actor/singer at school. “Just the class clown,” he says. “I was always trying to make my fellow classmates laugh and always annoying the teachers in turn – from the time old age of 5 to 16!”
He did enjoy drama at school and was in a couple of plays, “but I suffered from stage fright so didn’t take that route. I still do suffer when there are large events, but as time has gone on. I’ve learned to just enjoy myself more than be fearful.” he says.
After school he says he wasted 2 years at college . “Then at 18 I ran away to Brighton to be with all the other homosexuals, managed bars for 7 years, left those to become a drag queen and the rest is history ! And 18 years later, I’m still chucking my silly self around stages and getting paid for the privilege.”
Asked about the highlights of his career he says the list of celebrations, birthdays and weddings would be endless,“but if I had to pick one as such, then the Pride events I have the privilege to be part of up and down the country are always a highlight for me. There’s just this unspoken connection between you and that crowd for those precious moments on stage. It’s a thank you from me to them, and from them to me and we all get to celebrate together in unity and love. Beautiful!”
Managing both Dr Brightons and Legends back in 1990’s Brighton gave him the opportunity to watch dozens of brilliant artistes and inspired him to do the same. “I mean, I said to myself how hard can it be to slip a pair of heels on, sing some tunes, and make an audience laugh ? Bloody hard – I found out.”
His biggest influences have been the D E Experience, for being a master of his trade, the late and extremely great Cher Travesty for his ingenuity and voice, and Dave Lynn for his time, presence, longevity, kindness, talent and wonderful gift to be just able to make you smile without even saying a word. “There are also loads of new acts on the scene, like the brilliant Mary Mac, as one example. New, exciting and extremely talented people – who are bringing new life to the scene. People like that give me the boost to not rest on my laurels, and so I work harder.”
Drag With No Name is quite a striking drag persona – how did he arrive at it ? “Complete accident,” he admits. “I had been hosting karaoke for 3 months after leaving the pub trade, and I decided to drag up one night in my own right. I’d previously done Cilla and Dame Edna impersonations for single night. Seconds before I was about to take to the stage, I realised through all the fear and excitement of it all, that I had not even come up with a name ! I remember it vividly in slow motion as I came through the door and stepped onto the stage , and turned to the crowd and said : Hi I’m… the drag… with ,,, no name ! And the rest is history.”
What about gay politics? “This is a tough one. I do have a very strong opinion – I’ve been on the scene too many years not to – especially the action that should and needs to be taken to educate others and enable us to live safer and happier lives. Unfortunately – or fortunately – social media is the main instrument and tool enabling us to do all of this these days, and it can become very tiresome and irksome when people don’t listen or get abusive because they disagree with other people’s views and opinions. Often that becomes regressive in form, and sometimes that prevents me from being as vocal I would like.”
How did he feel about winning the Golden Handbag this year ? “Yayyy I was soooo happy to have won again! It is my 4th or 5th time of winning now, and with about 7 runner-up awards too over the years, I am chuffed and very proud to know that people still, enjoy what I do. There’s life in the old girl yet.”
What advice would he give to a young Scott? “Live your life with gay abandon and don’t worry about everything all the time. Be yourself, be kind to others, and be the best person you can be.”
What about the future? He readily admits that he used to just live his life for the work he does – “a bit like a drug” but when his boyfriend became ill last year, the experience changed them both forever. “My future and present is completely and utterly all about him, and the many happy times and experiences we can possibly cram into this short time we all have on this beautiful little planet.”