London gay bar, where Paul O’Grady was arrested by police, pays fitting tribute to drag icon

An audience raises their drinks to Paul O'Grady

A London LGBTQ+ bar held an emotional tribute to TV icon and drag superstar Paul O’Grady following his death aged 67.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern dedicated their Wednesday (29 March) show to the late television host – who has a long and storied history with the bar.

O’Grady husband Andre Portasio announced O’Grady’s death earlier in the day, saying he died “unexpectedly but peacefully.”

Tributes have since poured in from members of the LGBTQ+ community, celebrities, fans, and the Royal Family.

The famous LGBTQ+ venue hosted its own tribute, with members of the audience joining drag star Michael Twaits for a touching dedication.

“Today we lost one of the greatest drag artists the UK has ever seen,” Twaits said in a speech.

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“Paul O’Grady and Lily Savage were absolute legends of the community. It wasn’t just about them, it was about raising up the community.”

Paul O’Grady would regularly perform at the London bar during his early years as a drag queen, donning the luxurious drapes of irreverent alter-ego Lily Savage.

During that time, he became a pillar for the LGBTQ+ community in London and, eventually, the entire UK.

Paul O'Grady pictured at a red carpet event.
Paul O’Grady’s death was announced on Wednesday (29 March). (Getty)

At a 1987 show, however, O’Grady and patrons were subjected to an unjust police raid – the second the club had experienced that winter alone.

According to an account from O’Grady himself, police entered the establishment wearing rubber gloves and began making “many arrests.”

As they entered, O’Grady, dressed as Lily Savage, said: “Well well, it looks like we’ve got help with the washing up.”

But he and the rest of the club’s regulars remained calm despite the arrests and returned to “business as usual” the following night.

During the Royal Vauxhall Tavern tribute, fans cheered for the “absolute icon,” with Twait saying that he would “not be forgotten.”

“Now, obviously, it’s tonight to have a moment’s silence, but I think – not that I knew Paul personally, we met very briefly upstairs, one of the greatest moments of my life – I don’t think a moment’s silence is right.

“I think it’s a moment’s applause, a moment’s love, a moment’s cheering – a moment of making a lot of f**king noise.”