Exploring Local Drag In London with Artemis Prime

Exploring Local Drag In London with Artemis Prime
Image: Image: Michael James

In the heart of Soho, one of London’s vibrant gay districts, we met up with the dazzling drag queen Artemis Prime at Rupert Street Bar. During a break in the nights performance, we delved into her groundbreaking drag competition, Yaaasss Master, the importance of local drag, and her future aspirations.

Image: Michael James

Artemis Prime and Yaaasss Master

Somewhere between the happy hour signs and the noise of the crowd buzzing from the venue we stumbled into Rupert Street Bar during their Wednesday night drag competition. After taking a seat to enjoy the show it struck me that there was something a little different, edgier and entertaining about this competition. Artemis explains it’s a new concept that she created herself.

“It’s a drag competition that I created, run, and produce called Yaaasss Master” she says.

“It’s a parody of the TV show Taskmaster, which I’ve always loved. I wanted to create something similar, and Rupert Street was happy to host me.”

Image: Michael James

Her answer makes perfect sense having witnessed the first half of the show already. Beginning with a task of bringing in items that are the weirdest things they are proud of, which included a bedazzled “she-wee,” a medical discharge and a story about nan shitting on the couch, the tone was set for a night of hilarity.

“Like Taskmaster, the idea is to give the contestants on-the-spot challenges. They know the basic concept but not the specifics, so it’s about how they handle the surprise tasks. It’s fun to watch drag performers navigate these unexpected hurdles.”

Following the first challenge contestants are assigned random tasks that interfere with their planned lip sync numbers. These can include having to perform to their track at 30% faster or slower, having the track randomly stop and start or spend the entire time having another queen interrupt their performance.

Image: Michael James

“It’s become even better than I initially imagined. The concept evolved from my original idea, but it has turned into a really great show” she explains proudly.

This night in particular is just a little bit more special and entertaining for these performers as well, it’s All Stars night. But it’s not just the calibre of contestants that catches my eye, it’s the clear diversity. Of the six contestants taking place there is a really clear mix of genders, diversity and identity in the drag performances. The night is a really clear celebration of all forms of drag.

“Yes, tonight features previous contestants who didn’t win in earlier seasons. One of my main goals was to ensure it’s accessible to everyone. This format allows anyone to take part, whether they’re a drag queen, drag king, or anything in between. It’s about inclusivity and diversity.”

But if this level of diversity representative of what we can expect in London drag in general?

“It’s relatively unique” Artemis admits.

“Though there are other diverse competitions like Gold Rush hosted by my dear friend Taylor Trash. Generally, Yaaasss Master is more inclusive than most.”

local London Drag Comp
Image: Michael James

The importance of supporting local drag

Whilst walking the streets of Soho we’ve noticed a really strong prominence of local drag performers advertised. Despite the prevalence of RuPaul in the drag community, there’s a distinct lack of “Rugirls” advertised anywhere. Local drag appears to be the focus and it is everywhere we turn.

“Local drag is crucial because it represents our real drag community. RuPaul’s Drag Race is a global phenomenon, but local drag is about the performers you see in bars and clubs, those who bring something unique and edgy to the stage.”

Whilst the show may not have a visible presence on the scene, I’m curious if it has impacted the scene and the local performers.

“It has had both positive and negative impacts. Positively, it’s made drag more mainstream and accessible. However, it has also set an unattainable standard that can be financially challenging for local queens to meet.”

But has this changed the ability for local performers to secure opportunities to perform in the area?

“Not really. While RuPaul’s Drag Race alums get high-profile gigs, the mainstreaming of drag has created more opportunities overall. More bars want drag representation, which benefits local performers.”

For Artemis herself Drag Race is something that has been in her sights, but not just yet.

“I applied a few years ago when I was just starting out but didn’t get on. I wasn’t ready then, but I’m thinking of applying for the next season. I started [doing drag] during the pandemic in 2020. The lockdown gave me the time and financial means to start, as I wasn’t spending money on other things.

Since then Artemis has found more opportunities as she has learned to master her craft, developing her local shows as she considers her future projects, not ruling out the possibility of a Drag Race appearance.

“I’ve been performing here [at Ruperts] for about 8-9 months with Yaaasss Master, which has had six seasons. I also host Anything But Numbers Bingo here every Wednesday.

“Hopefully RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I also have other ideas in the works. We’ll see where they go!”

Artemis Prime’s creative and inclusive approach to drag is invigorating the local scene in London. Keep an eye out for her innovative projects and potential appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race!

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