Drag Race’s Crystal: Theme park cancelling Pride after right-wing smear campaign is ‘pathetic’

Drag Race star Crystal has labelled Essex theme park Adventure Island’s decision to drop Pride celebrations “pathetic”.

Adventure Island, in Southend-on-Sea, announced it will no longer hold Pride events following a right-wing smear campaign against a performance by Crystal, which included him using an angle grinder on a metal plate on his crotch.

Crystal spoke to PinkNews after his act was “twisted” by right-wing outlets – a clip of the performance, which took place on 15 July as part of the annual Southend-on-Sea Pride festival, was shared by anti-LGBTQ+ network Libs of TikTok. This was picked up by the Daily Mail, who claimed parents had been “horrified” by the drag show.

On Tuesday (18 July), Philip Miller, the chief executive of Stockvale Group of Companies, which owns Adventure Island, said there was “confusion between us and the act” about what was allowed. He said that future Pride events would not take place, as “it’s just not for us”. 

Crystal, however, said that he had performed a similar show at Adventure Island “for the past three years” without complaint, and the theme park “couldn’t be more aware” of the nature of his act.

“I’m very disappointed to read the comments,” Crystal told PinkNews.

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“This is an act I have performed at Adventure Island… It’s an act that I’ve performed on TV and it’s something that is expected from me when I’m booked at shows.

“It’s been twisted by outlets like Libs of TikTok and Turning Point, and people are lying and saying that I was using a dildo or that I was [performing] sex acts in front of children.”

Crystal added that LGBTQ+ staff members at the theme park had “tried really hard to create an event that was special and meaningful”, and Miller’s response was “really disheartening”. 

Crystal said that previous performances were received positively, and that the current backlash could be in part due to “mounting anti-queer bigotry”

He added that a similar angle grinder stunt has previously been shown on Britain’s Got Talent, and are often seen in street performances in London’s Covent Garden.

“The only difference is that I am a man in drag, so, therefore, there must be some kind of ulterior motive or a danger to children,” he said.

The drag queen added that the decision to drop all future Pride events was “pathetic”, and “another case of corporations using queer people to make a quick buck… then dropping us the second that heat gets turned up,” comparing the situation to the backlash against US trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney for advertising Bud Light.

In a statement to the BBC, Miller said: “We humbly apologise to all of our loyal customers for any offence caused. There was confusion between us and the act as to what we would allow or not.

“The grinding act was most definitely a non-starter as we are ostensibly a family park and that is just not family entertainment.

“Rest assured we will not be re-booking this act or participate in any future Pride celebrations… it’s just not for us. We tried to be inclusive but it has backfired on us.”

Crystal told PinkNews: “If the chief executive had reached out to me and said, ‘Look, we love having you, it’s been a great event in the past… maybe next year let’s tone it down a bit’, then great, absolutely no problem. I would have really appreciated the support.

“Anyone who feels outraged about this the way I do” should donate to Southend Pride, a “grassroots organisation struggling for funding”, he added.

“I can’t think of a better f**k you to the chief executive than to have an amazing Pride next year.”