'Drag Race UK's Anubis on RuPaul's Relationship With Brighton

·10 min read
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On Thursday night's premiere episode of RuPaul's Drag Race UK, Anubis became the third season's first-eliminated queen. Anubis fell into the bottom two and faced off against Elektra Fence in a lip sync for your life to the tune of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, with Elektra ultimately prevailing.

Following her elimination, Anubis spoke to Out to discuss her experience and share all her thoughts about the competition!

Out: You brought up your Egyptian heritage on RuPaul's Drag Race UK. Can you tell me more about that and how you wanted to represent your background on TV?

Anubis: Representing my heritage was something I really wanted to do the second I was cast on the show. As far as my knowledge, you haven't had an Egyptian person on Drag Race UK before, so I am the first, in many senses of the word. But it was really important to me to do that because there's so many people that aren't represented on TV and there was so much love for me when I was cast. [There were] so many messages flooding the inbox saying that they're really rooting for me just because they can identify with somebody on the show and they can see themselves in my presence on the show. I think that's amazing. I really wanted to do that because not only is it great for me to reference my heritage and feel proud of where I come from, but also for those people as well, to give them a voice.

You mentioned the fact that Drag Race hasn't featured that many campy queens who are still young individuals. Why do you think that is?

I don't think there's many of us, to be honest. I think there's quite a stigma where if you're young, you're kind of put into the box of being quite fashiony and you have really tight waist with the corset and you've got to have the big breastplate. I think that is actually quite a stigma in the Drag Race community. You haven't really seen anyone that is young and campy and, you know, theatrical. That is literally what my drag is — it's comedy, it's music, and it's theater all rolled into one. And sometimes the odd, crazy wig, do you know what I mean? I wanted to represent that because that is what I've done for the last two and a half, three years as Anubis, so why not bring it to the Drag Race stage?

Absolutely. What do you think is the biggest obstacle for young people to connect with those campy references? Why do you think there's something missing there?

I think people are just afraid to look silly. Whereas for me, that's never been a problem, do you know what I mean? I don't mind looking stupid, don't mind making a fool of myself, don't mind being a bit of a tit. I actually quite like that, because it allows people to have fun, it allows people to feel free, allows people to be comfortable. And that sort of thing is that I love when people are at my shows. People commend me for making them feel comfortable in the room and it's just a lovely, fun, camp old time. So, I think that's why, because people feel kind of constrained by the ideas that, if you're young, you've got to have it all together and you have to be polished. The show, I think, in a way, although it's done wonders for drag, it's also created a level of standard of "you have to be this kind of queen." But I needed to kind of break that barrier. I think you can be any age, or be any kind of queen you want, and still be bloody good at it, thank you!

I think that's a great message. On that note, what are some of your favorite campy references?

In terms of camp fashion, I absolutely love Iris Apfel, she's one of my absolute idols. In terms of theater, I love loads of different musicals that have incredible campy moments. Built some of the costumes from Wicked, for example, with the big Emerald City gowns. I love all of those references. And I also take things like Dr. Seuss illustrations and the Muppets and things like that. All of those things inspire my drag as well as, Disney villains and things. But that is literally my drag blended all into one. And then you get this – I mean, it's wacky, it's silly and it's crazy, do you know what I mean? Like it or not, it is something to talk about.

Your hometown look was honoring the Brighton Pier. Can you tell me more about your references for that first look?

The base dress was the Helter Skelter, which is an iconic ride here in Brighton. So, it's the red and white stripes. And then I wanted some big standard campy sleeves because, in Brighton, we're known for our camp. And I wanted some kind of aqua and white detailing on the train and on the sleeves to represent the ocean, because obviously the pier is on the ocean. And I wanted the hair to kind of replicate Mr. Whippy, which is the kind of ice cream vans that we have. And the aqua streaks through it were also a little nod to waves of the ocean. So, that was my idea for my look, but I don't think the judges got that far, do you know what I mean? [laughs]

Well, speaking of that...last season, Joe Black was eliminated for their look referencing Brighton. This year, it happened to you! What do you think is the disconnect between the Drag Race judges and these references to Brighton?

I really don't know, do you know what I mean? You'd have to ask RuPaul, because we're on a very similar level now, I'm very, very famous. [laughs] But no, you'll have to ask Ru because I don't know. Maybe she's just had a really bad experience in Brighton, like a seagull shat on her ice cream or something.

Your second look was referencing the fact that your dad took you to an aquarium when you were younger. Can you talk about the message you were trying to convey on the runway?

So that outfit was really born to me when I got the call for the show. I really played around with what I wanted to do for one of my favorite things. I played with the idea of doing '60s jazz music, I played with the idea about lemon drizzle cake...I had loads of ideas of what I could do for the favorite things [runway]. But nothing really sat right with me until I came up with the idea of doing the sea creatures. Because my dad, obviously, as most people, my dad was quite a big influence on me growing up. He really kind of shaped who I am as a person in positive and negative ways. So, I think I wanted to reference him because I wanted a moment for him on the runway to kind of honor his memory. I'm really, really happy that I got to showcase that because it's such an important memory for me, obviously. And I'm really glad, I'm really, really proud that I got to share that, not only with the viewers, but also with the other queens, because I felt like it made us all bond really quick. And even though I wasn't there for long, outside of the competition we all have a really incredible bond with each other and we're all very supportive of each other and we have our little group chat and we gossip, we talk and we support each other. And it is really, really lovely. I'm very appreciative.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the Untucked section of the episode where you talked about losing your voice on the runway. Can you tell me what happened and why you think you got so choked up at the moment?

Yeah, you know what? I don't really know the answer to be honest, but I think it was probably a mixture of feelings. I think part of me felt obviously quite overwhelmed because that entire experience in its entirety is very daunting anyway, as it is possibly the biggest queer TV show there's ever been and ever will be. But yes, it's very, very scary to even step on that stage. And then to be told you're kind of one of the worst of the week, that then adds a layer of pressure. So I think that's probably why I got a bit in my head because I was also really proud of what I showcased and I thought I had a really campy vibe on the runway. I was really, really hoping the judges would get it but that's the way the cookie crumbles babe, do you know what I mean? If they don't get it, they don't get it. But I was really happy with it and I'm really, really proud that I got to showcase those two things that are really important to me.

What would you say was your biggest challenge on Drag Race that perhaps you didn't see coming? Like, was there a surprisingly challenging obstacle that you experienced while filming the show?

I think mainly, for me, was the time for makeup. Obviously, you're under a schedule because you're obviously filming television, you're always under a schedule. But I think, for me, I really struggled with having to do my makeup quite fast or in a certain amount of time. Because I'm one of those girls that likes to take their time, sit down, have a bevvy, put on a Gogglebox or another box set or something, and just enjoy myself. I like eating brownies and doing my eyeliner, so that's kind of a thing where I didn't have that freedom. So that was a challenge for me because I wasn't in control of how much time I had because we're in the television world. You just got to kind of get on with it. But yeah, I think that was probably quite challenging for me because I lost control with that.

Watching Drag Race UK, I was blown away not only by your drag but also by how mature you are. You're very mature and graceful, which is very impressive coming from a 19-year-old. What advice do you have for young people out there who are possibly still struggling with things like failure and loss and not getting what they dreamed of?

You know, I am a really big believer – and I know it's cheap, but I do think it's true – I think everything does happen for a reason. When I got eliminated first, part of me was obviously gutted because I didn't get to showcase my singing or my songwriting or, you know, my comedy or anything like that. But you've got to tell yourself all the things you have achieved instead of focusing on the things that you haven't. For me specifically, although maybe from a selfish point of view, I'm so privileged and so lucky to be one of 12 queens this season in the entirety of the UK, lucky enough to be chosen to be on this television show, regardless of placement. I think it's about just being grateful for what you have and trying to live in the moment and enjoy every moment because life is very short and you really don't know what's coming around the corner, whether it's an elimination or not, you know what I mean?

Now that you have this huge Drag Race platform, what's next for Anubis? Is there anything you'd like to promote at this time?

I can promote quite a lot, really! So, I am going to be releasing exclusive photos from each of my runways every week on my Instagram, which is @AnubisFinch, and that will be professional photoshoots. I'm also releasing exclusive content with special guests, maybe some celebrity guest judges, who knows? And I'm also hoping to release a single sometime in the next few months as well. So, keep your eyes peeled for that on social media. And you can buy my merch as well. I've got it all babe...apart from a RuPeter badge, I've got it all! [laughs]

New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will premiere every Thursday at 11am PT/2pm ET in the US and in select territories exclusively on WOW Presents Plus, day-and-date with its local airing on BBC3 in the UK!

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