Seven-foot drag queen Banksie is joining the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK on BBC Three – which starts tomorrow – but they’ve vowed they will never leave Manchester.
The 24-year-old from “the weird divide” between Wigan and Warrington revealed that all of their outfits on the smash hit reality TV show will be an “ode to Manchester”.
Banksie wanted to showcase designers local to Manchester with their runway looks on the show: “Every single piece that is shown on that runway is from a Manchester or Salford designer.
“My runways are an ode to Manchester. There is nothing that is there that hasn’t been made by the North.”
Having studied at the Manchester School of Art, Banksie runs a regular event at the Firehouse on Swan Street where local fashion designers are celebrated.
Where else could you find Banksie enjoying a night out in Manchester?
“New Union Hotel on a Thursday or Sunday,” Banksie said. “It is the best cabaret you will ever see in your life – chaos, glamour, beauty, and absolute hilarity.”
Banksie revealed that they are 6′ 8″ – and 7′ with “monster heels on” – making them one of the tallest queens to ever grace the Drag Race runway.
“Three words to describe me are: pretty damn tall. Because I’m pretty, and damn, I’m tall.
“Everyone’s eyes go to you all the time,” Banksie said. “If I see someone around my height walking through the Arndale, we always catch each other’s eye.
“It sometimes feels like you are the only one left, like a panda or a Siberian tiger.”
Banksie has “religiously” watched every episode of the UK version of the show, which aims to find the next “Drag Superstar” by putting contestants through challenges including runways and lip-sync battles – and credits the show for getting them into drag in the first place.
“I was that little kid at 13 who was really effeminate, really creative, didn’t really know what my career looked like. I wanted to be a doctor – that didn’t happen”, they joked.
Banksie’s drag persona is rooted in their childhood where, on the playground, other children gave them the nickname – because their last name is Banks.
“Banksy the artist is also a massive influence to me,” the drag artist said. “Someone who took art and took politics and mashed them together with a message assigned to them.”
Although the drag queen confirmed that they don’t know the true identity of Banksy, they said: “When you look at Banksy’s art, you are looking at something beautiful and well-constructed but you are also thinking at the same time – that is what I like to do with my drag.”
Banksie wants to be a drag artist who stuns on the runway but also has something to say – their own message is one of trans acceptance and support.
As a non-binary person with a transgender partner, Banksie says: “I am always there to support my trans siblings, my trans friends, my trans partner. It is a fight for trans rights every single time I get the opportunity.”
Banksie also expressed their love of Manchester ahead of the newest season’s premiere.
“I wouldn’t be in this career at all without the support of Manchester,” Banksie said.
“I will never leave this place, ever. The only place I can ever see myself being until the end of time is Manchester – I have too much connection to this place.”
The fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, whose judges include RuPaul, Graham Norton and Alan Carr, can be streamed on BBC iPlayer from 28 September 2023.
Feature image: Banksie, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK S5. Credit: BBC/World Of Wonder/Guy Levy/Matt Burlem. Copyright: World Of Wonder