Drag Race winner Blu Hydrangea on gender journey, secret alliances and swapping nudes with Pangina

Blu Hydrangea

After six weeks of drama, tears, lip syncs and lipsticks (plus more shock eliminations than you could shake a stick at) fans finally saw the inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs The World draw to a close.

The spin-off series brought back some of our favourite UK and US queens from seasons past, while also bringing Canadian fan favourites, Dutch, and Thai queens to a world stage for a truly diverse series which delivered on pretty much every metric of what makes for a thrilling season of Dragim Race.

Despite at one point looking like something of a three horse race between Jimbo, Pangina Heals and Mo Heart, ultimately it was Blu Hydrangea, the filthy but charming Northern Irish beauty from the first season of Drag Race UK, who, on her second stint in front of RuPaul, succeeded the pack to be crowned the very first Queen of the Mother-tucking World on on Tuesday (March 8).

Having already caught up with Blu Hydrangea ahead of the finale episode to get the skinny on her cutthroat elimination of Pangina Heals and the show’s sometimes toxic fandom, we were lucky enough to sit down one last time with Blu to chat about behind-the-scenes drama, her gender identity journey and what the future holds for the newly-crowned queen…

PinkNews: Blu Hydrangea! It’s so exciting to be talking to you for the third time this season but this time as the winner of UK vs The World! What were you doing last night while the finale was airing?

Blu Hydrangea: Well, I think it’s well-known now with Drag Race that they film different endings. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for them to be astronomically let down. I mean, I had a good feeling but it’s not real until it comes out of Mama Ru’s mouth, so when it came out at 9pm, I skipped right to the end on iPlayer and watched it with my mom and my partner and we all celebrated. Then I quickly got ready and headed down to my local bar where I first started doing drag. They were only about halfway through the episode. I snuck in the back and watched them all celebrate when I won – it was crazy.

We saw you talk in the finale episode about how you felt like a “filler queen” on that first day of filming. Tell us a bit more about that.

I definitely felt confident going in but I think there was maybe a slip in my confidence when I was looking around the room and there was a lot of big personalities, big characters and amazing outfits. You kind of hope that maybe they’re all not as good as you think they’re going to be, and then of course, they’re much betta than then you anticipate.

I think it was also a little bit because, since season one, people online have always been like, ‘You can never be a winner. Like, you’re a very cute drag queen and you’re very good at what you do but you don’t give me winner vibes.’ That kind of gets in your head, I suppose.

What was the turning point in the competition where you started to believe in yourself a little bit more?

I think the turning point was after the first episode and the talent show. I prepared a lot for it and it went down well. I think that was a good way to set up the season for myself. Once you’ve had a good start, it builds your confidence a little bit.

A big moment for viewers who watched your journey this season was definitely the conversation you had with Jujubee and Cheryl about your gender identity journey. Given you filmed the series more than a year ago, we imagine you must have been waiting to see that moment on screen. Were happy with how it came across?

Yeah, I’m pretty proud of how it went. In that moment, I was still learning a lot about gender identity, and still learning a lot about myself so it was kind of verbal diarrhoea of how I felt, unfiltered, in that moment. I think it came across quite well. I think nowadays I probably have a lot more to say about the politics of it all and how this should be taught in schools and stuff like that. But in that moment, that was actually what I was going through. I’ve received a lot of positive messages about it and that’s exactly why we should be having these conversations on Drag Race because it’s such a big platform and these things need to be talked about.

PinkNews: We completely agree. You spoke really poignantly and beautifully in that conversation and we’re sure it would have resonated with a lot of viewers. It sounds like you’re perhaps in a different place now to where you were in that moment?

Blu Hydrangea: Well, yes. I spent a lot of time on Blu Hydrangea preparing for the competition and even prior to that because when you’re on the Drag Race wave you’re kind of like, ‘Right let’s keep this moving, let’s just work our asses off in case people forget about us.’ After filming, because I knew I had UK vs The World coming ahead of me I didn’t need to focus on Blu Hydrangea as much as I have been for the past two or three years. I spent a lot of time on Josh – I lost some weight, grew a mullet, tried some things, dressed funny. I was experimenting. I think it really helped me a lot and it got me to a much more comfortable place with myself and my body. Physically, mentally, everything is great.wp-image-553183 size-large

Blu Hydrangea

Blu Hydrangea opened up about their gender in the werkroom. (BBC)

Your confidence certainly shines through on-screen! Now, we can’t talk to the winner of this season without talking about some of the drama that has surrounded it. You said yourself, it was a chaotic season! Especially in the final week, there’s been so much talk specifically around some of the things that Jimbo has said, both on and off screen. Do you feel it was wrong for him to talk about Jujubee in the press they way he has after the show?

The thing about Jimbo is that it’s always a character. It’s clowning, right, so there’s always this front up and I never know when it when it begins or when it ends. She said what she said. I have a feeling that if it was a person of colour saying these things it would be a lot worse and people would not be writing it off as a character. But I don’t want to be the kind of person to talk s**t about these people in the press either, so we’ll leave it at that.

I do wish that things had gone down slightly differently. Even on the episode last night, it was a little hard to watch. But I know that there’s not too much bad blood, we don’t hate each other. We will be able to work together and produce more entertaining things in the future for fans.

Was it as awkward in the werkroom with Pangina and Jimbo as it looked on screen?

I can’t really remember. I remember more so my conversation with Pangina, obviously. Sometimes I do just sit in awe Jimbo and think, ‘Wow, words are coming out of your mouth… and this is what’s happening.’ Like, she did her press in these massive titties, sunglasses on, not a stitch of makeup and a perfect blonde human hair wig… I think it basically sums up the season – just absolute chaos!

As a UK queen, you were lucky to have more sisters from your country with you than any of the others. How much did having that support system of Cheryl and Baga there mean to you? And was it also sort of satisfying getting to pass them out in the competition this time around?

It was actually a little bit satisfying! Especially because on my first season, I felt if I just had an ounce more confidence I would have absolutely slayed both of them. So it’s nice to come back and be able to do that. But it was great to have them there. Honestly Cheryl, Baga and Divina are probably my three favourites from my season. I work with them constantly. I appreciate their presence and what they’ve taught me about drag, but I also felt like it was the perfect opportunity to kind of make new friends… and new alliances maybe! It was fun to be able to do that, too. I mean we’re in a room with icons like Jujubee and Pangina who I truly have looked up to for years. It was inspiring to be in a room with them so I wasn’t relying on my UK sisters, I’ll tell you that much! I walked in, saw them, and then saw the rest of the cast and went… I’m gonna go over here! [Laughs]

To what extent were the alliances real? Last night we saw Mo suggest the two of you had a secret alliance the whole time. Was that true? Or was that to mess with your competition’s heads?

I probably wouldn’t have broken my alliance but it wasn’t really an alliance. It was more, like, you saved my butt, so I’ll save yours. I think alliances are when you go into the competition with it, like Jimbo and Baga maybe had one. I would have absolutely saved Cheryl if she needed my help and I could have helped her. But I suppose that’s, again, more of a friendship thing.

I don’t think it was that deep. I think it was week by week. We played the game. Although some queens do not want to admit that they were playing the game, they absolutely were… and they paid the price! Just kidding.

Usually we would ask a queen if they do anything differently but we can’t imagine why you would do anything differently?

I actually wouldn’t send Pangina home… just kidding. [Laughs]

Oh, how are things with you and Pangina now?

Great. Yeah. I actually do think for a few days the online atmosphere was getting to us both a bit and there was a bit of awkwardness. I think because she was obviously upset and then people were trying to put words in my mouth. It was a rough few days but the reality is that we both know the real truth of the matter. We’re both still friends. It happened a year ago. Since then, we’ve talked so much, we’ve sent each other nudes! It’s been fabulous. I can’t wait to see her, give her a big hug and then everything will be back to normal.

PinkNews: We spotted your recent tweet which floated the idea of you one day hosting Drag Race Ireland and it got us to thinking… if such a show was to exist and you were to play the RuPaul role, who else would you have as your fellow judges?

Blu Hydrangea: Oh, Panti Bliss, absolutely. Actually, I think Panti Bliss would have to be the RuPaul, and then I could be the Michelle. I’m happy enough being the Michelle. Nadine Coyle obviously. One of the Derry Girls maybe? There are a lot of gay icons from Ireland.

I would absolutely love it. It would be chaotic and it might only last a season or two but I think it’d be the most charming Drag Race ever. And let’s face it, that must be the reason why they’re not casting any Irish queens – they must be saving them up for something!

You’re obviously super proud of your heritage, we saw you brought it into your drag quite frequently this season. How important is it for you to represent where you come from?

It’s really important. I mean, I felt the pressure because in the first season I was the only Northern Irish girl. This time, I felt even more pressure because there hasn’t been one since. I just love where I’m from. I mean, I could go on about the amount of things that Northern Ireland has been through and how behind the times it is, but there is such charm to Irish people. The Irish drag scene has really taken me under its wing and it really built me into who I am today, so it would be it would be a discredit to all those people who brought me up for me not to wear my Northern Irish and Irish heritage with such pride.

Speaking of other TV shows, we have to ask you about your next exciting TV project Stitch, Please! It sounds like each episode will be almost like a mini–Project Runway? Tell us more…

It’s definitely a Project Runway vibe, and I think it’s like Glow Up too. Each episode will see two avid sewers receive a £100 budget and 12 hours to create a fabulous garment inspired by a theme that I’ve decided, and then work it down the runway. It’s people from across the UK who have been through things and their art has helped them come out on top. It’s just great because that’s what I love hearing about; creative people who have a story.

It was filmed in Northern Ireland which was lovely for me because then I just had to travel up the road and get gorgeous. It’s homegrown and I absolutely love it. It was filmed in a wee castle in the countryside, I was absolutely freezing my tits off but it was so worth it to see some of the fabulous creations they made. One of them actually went on to dress Bimini – and I was just so proud. They’re all wee babies like I was when I went on Drag Race the first time. They’re just trying to make a name for themselves, and they’ve all done themselves really proud. There’s fabulous guest judges as well, one of them worked on Game of Thrones and had dressed Cher, and another one is Colin Horgan who is a fashion designer from Ireland.

It’s amazing that Blu Hydrangea will be back on our TV screens again so soon after UK vs The World!

Yes, and there’s also my Frockumentary coming out next week on WOW Presents Plus, which is the Frock Destroyers’ documentary about making the Frock For Life album we recorded in lockdown. It’s very camp. So, you’re not gonna miss me on your TVs, OK?

What else does the next year hold for the newly crowned Queen of the Mother-tucking World?

Well, I just want to work, work, work, work, work. I’ve got a one woman show coming out in June with Holy T, the tickets are on sale now. I’ve got Drag Con LA. I want to bring out make-up palettes, I want to perform, I want to be on TV. I want to be an advocate for people that I’m able to speak for, and if I’m not able to speak for them, I will give them the stage to do so. I just want to make the most of this year. I’m going to try my best to be a very good first Queen of the Mother-tucking World.