Ahead of representing the UK at RuPaul's Drag Race: Werq The World Tour, Bimini guides us through their best, worst and weirdest performances so far
If you don’t know Bimini by now, there’s no helping you. Since finishing as a runner-up on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2021 – much to public outrage – the spotlight remained firmly on Bimini Bon Boulash as they propelled through photo shoots, Zoom life drawing sessions, magazine covers, book deals, drag tours and, in recent years, performing as a music act at some of the biggest festivals around.
“It was all so new to me,” Bimini tells us. “It was coming out of COVID in such a weird time socially, and to just even bring a smile to people’s faces was mind-blowing, but then I would put pressure myself thinking that I had to strive for this idea of what perfection was. What I actually realised over the last few years is that my power is imperfection. Finding that it’s okay to mess up, you’re human. It’s okay to do that.”
Focussing on their music career, Bimini performed at festivals such as Download and Brighton Pride, and released a debut EP (When The Party Ends), before taking to the stage at Glastonbury with a sign that read: “Bin the tories’ anti-trans ban”.
Bimini’s stature as a drag-rock star, continuing to prove that being proudly British doesn’t need to come at the cost of inclusivity, makes them a perfect UK ambassador at this year’s RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World Tour. “I’m going to go out there and give it, show them what the UK is made of. It’s one of the first shows that I’m going to do of this calibre without my band. So I’m gonna have dancers, I’ve got a big old stage look, I’ve got tricks, I’ve got choreography, I’ve got a big old megamix with some original music and some covers. I’m really excited for people to see this side.”
Ahead of the tour, which stops at Manchester, London, Birmingham and Glasgow, Bimini sits down with us to look back at the highs and lows of their performing career.
The gig that made you want to perform
As a kid, I’d always hear music. My parents, my dad in particular, would always play people like Bowie and a lot of 80s rock music, so I was always around that. Me and the girls in school used to do little pop groups and stuff, but when I was 13 years old and I grew up a bit, I went to see Madonna’s confessions tour in 2006 at Wembley Arena. I remember just being like… oh my goodness, this is insane. I’d never seen anything like it, the production was insane. The mix of the styles of music, the dance, the choreo, everything. I remember I was silent the entire time because I was just in awe, because I’d never seen anything to that calibre. And I remember thinking like, I want to do this. This is this is what I want to. I want to be Madonna, basically. Seeing someone of that calibre and that stature of an artist, and just what they stood for, that was what made me be like, this is what I want to do.
I talked about Madonna, but the first drag performance that I saw that made me want to perform was Sink The Pink when I first moved to London in 2012. And I remember just seeing their style. It was so gender non-conforming, it was so creative, and just, for lack of better words, batsh*t crazy. It was insane and I loved it. It was for everyone, it was inclusive, you know, it was a style of drag that I hadn’t really seen on TV or even heard about. It bordered on Club Kids, you know? It brought that element into drag. It included all types of bodies, all types of sexualities, all types of gender; it didn’t matter about that, it was just all about having fun. I remember seeing that and thinking I love this. The first performance I did was at Lipsync1000 in February 2017. I did a kind of mash-up of elements of what inspired me, it was a politically driven performance with Donald Trump. That was when he was doing all that horrible stuff that he was doing, and then I basically gave him a lap dance, to a song called ‘Down In Mexico’, which I’d seen from a movie called The Coasters, with Rose McGowan.
It was a work in progress, and it still is sometimes. I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think I’ve always fully found myself. I’m always wanting to grow and change and evolve. So I think I definitely developed the Bimini Bon Boulash persona over time on stage. I think the first time I performed live music was around 2019. I had done Miss Sink The Pink, so going from wanting to see Sink The Pink and then winning Miss Sink The Pink, it was a massive whirlwind moment for me. Around that time was when I went full-time performing as a drag artist, so I was getting booked more, and I remember thinking… OK, I’m gonna do something crazy. I remember performing to The Prodigy, and it just worked really well. What I love about that is this raw British rock-punk dance genre, and then bringing in elements of femininity and androgynity. So performing that was like, OK, this is a vibe. This works.
I think it would be Brighton Pride 2022. The amount of people in that park… you couldn’t see the back of it. My grandad was there, which is crazy. He’s like 85 and Scottish. I think it was one of the first times he’s seen me perform, and I was in this England football kit that had been shredded and that I’d added loads of other elements to it. I remember my skirt falling off during my song ‘When The Party Ends’. I had this blue thong on and my grandad was stood in the front of the audience, so yeah, he got to see that. He cried, and I don’t know if he cried because he saw that or because he’d seen me perform. But it was a really heartfelt moment, considering my bum was out.
Energy is something that I definitely feed on from the audience. But if it’s not always on a 10, I can bring that. A lot of my good friends, and my team, say I get such a high from going out and performing that I do crash quite a lot quite after. I just feel exhausted because I think I give so much on stage. But yeah, to be honest, I think I put on a show. Whether there’s one person or 10,000 people there, I put on a show.
I did a Christmas gig, I think in 2019, before I’d even applied for Drag Race I think. I was on the circuit so a lot of the times I’d do multiple gigs in a night. I was doing the first gig of the evening in Elephant and Castle or somewhere, and it was for a kind of tech start-up company that was having work drinks. The work drinks had finished, and they had curated a couple of acts to stay after. Anyway, I performed my song ‘Private Dancer’, which was my performance song from Miss Sink The Pink at the time. I performed it to a room of literally three people. I mean, I don’t think there was any song more fitting.
I can definitely top that smallest one, because this is the weirdest gig I’ve done. In 2021, after Drag Race, and this never came out, so I can’t say who it was for but it was for an energy company. It was a thing about climate change, and I performed ‘God Save This Queen’ which was my first song at the time, and then a cover of ‘Danger! High Voltage’ on the top of a wind turbine somewhere in Wales. In the rain. It was hilarious.
I need to see this footage.
I don’t know where they’re at with that, but yeah, it was definitely a time and a place.
I think one of the best things about drag, or not even necessarily just drag, is when you’re able to bring humour to a mistake. Whatever’s just happened, it keeps audiences at ease and allows people in. But if they see you flail, that’s when people look around like, Oh what’s going on here?
But the worst gig, and hopefully – touch wood – we’re never gonna have to do this again, was on Zoom during lockdown. And it was like when everyone was trying all of these creative ways to kind of keep performance alive. I was performing and the internet cut out and I didn’t realise. I was performing this entire set to nobody and it was completely cut off. It’s just embarrassing because you’re stood in the corner of your bedroom, trying to put on a show.
I played Glastonbury this year, and it was just the best feeling. It was a really packed out crowd, which was insane. I was performing in the Greenpeace field and loads of people had come down, it was full and I just didn’t expect that. I didn’t know what to expect, I was so nervous. So yeah, Glastonbury is such a highlight because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’d heard that the crowd that I brought for that performance was the biggest crowd the Greenpeace Field had ever had. Until the Sunday, when Fatboy Slim did a secret DJ set. Fair enough. If anyone’s gonna top me it’s Fatboy Slim. That wasn’t an innuendo…
Bimini’s new single ‘Moonlight’ is out now on Relentless Records