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Interview | The Vivienne on Pete Burns, her dinosaur-inspired wedding and giving Kylie Minogue a fright

The RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner tells us all about her Favourite Things…

2020-10-28

Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery as The Vivienne doffs her (very big red) hat to one of her idols, the late, great Pete Burns.

Like many Drag Race alum before her, Viv has sashayed into the world of making music, aided and abetted by every queen’s best squirrel friend: autotune. But her new single, a sparkling cover of Dead & Alive’s ‘80s gay club banger ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record’, strikes a more personal chord.

In an exclusive interview with Attitude, the 28-year-old Liverpudlian opens up about a few of her Favourite Things, including her possession of one of the last dresses worn by the trail-blazing, wickedly waspish Pete, who passed away in October 2016 at the age of 57.

The RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner also geeks out about Jurassic Park (like, a lot), Cher and the time she and a friend chased Kylie Minogue into a lift. By the sounds of it, the pop icon had a lucky (lucky, lucky, lucky) escape…

What is your favourite song?

Cher’s ‘Heart of Stone’. I don’t know what it is about the song because it’s originally a Buck’s Fizz song, isn’t it?... It’s quite poignant [for] today… “[Big crowd at] the crazy house”, which I think is where Boris belongs.

Who is your favourite character from a film/TV/theatre show?

Got to be Ellie from Jurassic Park. It’s my favourite film and I love Laura Dern – she’s just a bad-ass bitch in that.

She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty (in triceratops shit), that’s for sure.

Elbow deep in shit [laughs]. Obsessed.

It is my favourite film as well by the way – that scene in the kitchen with the velociraptors.

Every time I eat jelly, I always think of that scene!

Sometimes I do it with lube… OK, where is your favourite place to escape to, pre-COVID?

Universal Studios, in either Florida or California. I get to be the absolute massive geek that I am. It was the first place I got into, you know, behind-the-scenes stuff and how things got made – and, obviously, the Jurassic Park ride is there [laughs]. You’ll usually find me sat on that in tears, full of emotion with John Williams [playing] in the background, seven rides one after the other: “Come on David!” My husband’s like, “Can we go on something else?” “No!”

*Hums the Jurassic Park theme tune*

Ah, don’t. That was our wedding theme that we walked down the aisle to. It was an orchestral version – stunning.

My next question leads on from that quite nicely. Where is your favourite date spot?

I suppose it would probably be going on the huge, big wheel [the High Roller] on the strip [in Las Vegas] where I proposed, looking down on the Bellagio fountains. It was fab.

Favourite way to unwind?

Ooh, a bath! Definitely a nice, long bath with loads of Lush bath bombs. We’ve got a nice, free-standing bath that we fill to the brim.

Who gets the tap end?

Oh no, I’m in it on my own, love, David’s not in it [laughs].

Favourite possession?

So, in the dining room I’ve got a big Vivienne Westwood Squiggle print mannequin, wearing Pete Burns’ last dress that he ever wore on stage. I’ve not had it that long, I acquired it from Michael, his husband, so yeah, that’s pretty cool and surreal to see every day.

Favourite gay icon?

Cher because, I mean, she is basically a drag queen… I think she’s unrivalled. Piss off Madonna!

Favourite Drag Race queen?

It’s a fight between Bianca Del Rio and Chad Michaels. I love Bianca, just for what she’s done after the show, taking over the world and selling-out Wembley – incredible. And then Chad… everything he does is so detailed and perfected. The effort he puts into it is the pinnacle of what a drag queen should be.

Favourite piece of advice?

It’s probably off my Auntie Kim, who said when I was younger, “Never put anyone else’s light out to make yours shine brighter.” Or: “If there’s time for leaning, there’s time for cleaning” [laughs].

Is your auntie Kim Woodburn by any chance?

[Laughs] No, not Auntie Kim Woodburn!

Favourite cocktail?

Probably a mojito. It gets you pissed and there’s a nice bit of sugar at the end of it.

Favourite hangover cure?

More booze.

Favourite noise?

The noise my wig makes when I rip it off my head at the end of a show, because that means I can get out of drag. It is the best.

Favourite word?

Minge. My auntie taught me it when I was five, and my parents would always get called into school because I was calling everyone a “minge”. I don’t think I knew what it meant until later on.

Would you say you’re a fan of minges?

I suppose I am a fan of minges. If we didn’t have minges, where would we be today, do you know what I mean?

Favourite thing you’ve been sent by a fan?

We’ve got a lovely little fan called Georgia and she always gets me Jurassic Park things. This is turning into a Jurassic Park interview, isn’t it?

There is a definitely theme… favourite dinosaur?

Dilophosaurus [Laughs]… Georgia gets me these lovely little bath bombs that have dinosaur keepsakes in them. So cute.

Favourite item in your wardrobe?

My whole Westwood collection. It’s my pride and joy. I’ve been collecting it since I was 15/16.

Have you ever met Vivienne Westwood?

No, I’ve never met her. She hangs around Clapham Common quite a bit, doesn’t she, with [her husband] Andreas [Kronthaler]? I might just pitch up a tent and stalk the bitch [laughs]. I don’t know how she’d feel about me being called The Vivienne. Bet she’s like, “No, bitch, I’m the Vivienne!”

Favourite showbiz moment?

I was in the Ab Fab movie for about four seconds and I got to go to the premiere. I took my friend Tanya… she’s never been to a showbiz party or anything of that scale, and it was the most showbiz party you’ve ever seen in your life – Kate Moss was walking around. I was like, “Compose yourself and just follow my lead, stay with me.” Well, as soon as we walked in, she went over to Emma Bunton, “Can we have a selfie?” Then, to make things worse, we were stood by the lift, the lift doors opened, and it was Kylie Minogue. Tanya just bolted over to the lift door, security stood in front of [her], the lift doors closed, and she [Kylie] just disappeared again. Basically, we chased Kylie into a lift [laughs].

The Vivienne’s new single ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ is out now.