The British drag scene has moved from working men's clubs to lucrative mainstream. Kim Normanton meets three very different drag entrepreneurs, and presents an entertaining and moving portrait of a booming industry. She talks to the men behind the wigs and lashes and explores questions about gender identity in modern Britain.
Lee Sanderson, aka 'Peggy Lee', had a market stall in Blackpool but now runs a flourishing drag business with venues across the Canary Islands, which entertained 90,000 tourists last year. He was inspired to join the world of drag when he sneaked into a local pub, aged 13, and saw his first drag queen. "The pub was packed, I saw this man standing on the bar in the spotlight looking all glamorous and the audience adoring him - he was being respected and I thought I'd like some of that kind of attention. And it was the money, to be honest."
Back in the UK, Walt Utz is the founder of the Supreme Fabulettes - four young drag queens who travel the world performing close-harmony singing. One new business opportunity Walt is keen to exploit is gay weddings - but it's not just weddings which bring in the bookings. Vicki of the Fabulettes comments, "Gay weddings are fun, but we performed at four funerals last year. I was dancing round a coffin! Whenever we get invited it's a celebration."
The third entrepreneur, Amy Redmond, is the manager of a new kind of drag business Sink The Pink. She organizes huge drag balls and fills venues with 3,000 drag queens. "To physically look at there's a very strong difference from a traditional camp northern drag queen to a Sink The Pink drag queen. They have beards and a hairy leg sticking through the fishnet."
Producers: Elizabeth Burke and Kim Normanton
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.