“The different personalities, performers and artists all coming together in one big melting pot genuinely helps to drive excellence”
BY LINDA GOLD
I started out life as an estate agent and rose to a high level in the industry. However, after coming out in the early 2000s – I was forced out. I moved to London and had to start again, becoming a cleaner in a gay bar. I worked hard and ended up managing drag nights at the venue, when their popularity was nothing like it is today.
One night a performer didn’t turn up and the manager told me it was up to me to find someone or there’d be consequences, so I found an old dress in the back and went out to perform as Linda Gold!
I’ve never really looked back and after years on the drag circuit – and seeing the rise of RuPaul’s Drag Race – I launched my own concept of Linda Gold’s FunnyBoyz in 2020 but due to an immediate lockdown our official launch wasn’t until April last year.
Alongside creating safe spaces for the LGBTQI community and providing world-class levels of comedy and entertainment, one of our main goals was to ensure every queen had an opportunity to perform and earn a living through drag.
It’s a well-known fact in our industry that drag queens can often work for as little as £15 per gig and one of the only ways to make decent money is by virtue of getting a lucky position on RuPaul’s Drag Race – but it’s not all champagne and sparkles like the show would have you believe.
Of course, we still love hosting the Drag Race girls at our events, but we launched FunnyBoyz for queens and alternative performers to find work without having to rely on the show. Our concept makes it affordable for venues to pay performers a fair wage and give them a commission incentive to earn more.
Our motto is “ALL DRAG IS RELEVANT”. That includes drag kings and queens, non-binary and trans plus everyone in between. No drag is excluded from our performances regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation – it is a sad reality that this section of entertainers can often be excluded when they also have so much to offer.
So many drag queens work cash-in-hand. With that, there’s obviously a lack of sick pay, holiday pay and general rights in the workplace.
I’m trying to change that by introducing contacts for performers, enabling them to claim things they currently cannot and start pension funds for later in life. It’s a really important change and one I believe must be implemented across the industry to ensure stability for everyone involved.
Drag queens can be abused on nights out and subject to unwanted harassment but don’t really have anywhere to turn. I have put in no-tolerance policies that give drag queens the right to end a performance or night out if they feel uncomfortable with no fear of retribution that they won’t get paid.
Again, this is part of our idea to not only protect performers but also to make sure every person attending a Linda Gold’s FunnyBoyz night is safe at all times. That is to say, our drag performers are complete professionals and wouldn’t take action like this lightly.
It also means the best performers want to stay in the industry as they are being looked after and not abused.
I employ more than 100 drag performers and we collectively work as a team and family. We are all from the House of EuroDrag which was the biggest drag talent contest in Europe and had its own TV show pre-Covid.
Linda Gold’s FunnyBoyz truly has the largest collective drag community anywhere in Europe – and of course that can be stressful but it is a lot of fun. The different personalities, performers and artists all coming together in one big melting pot genuinely helps to drive excellence as there are so many different influences and talents pushing each other on to do their best.
I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!
We have a very important policy and ethos that anyone needing a safe space can enjoy FunnyBoyz events and visit our venues at prices they can afford. Even if that is just £1.
That is a policy we will stand by, no matter how big we grow.
Through sheer hard work and determination, in just one year we launched our own venue on Blundell Street in Liverpool and created 27 satellite events across the UK. We’re in the process of purchasing two more venues too.
A total of 25 of these venues were non-LGBT and this has created new safe spaces for the LGBTQI communities including vulnerable women, across the country. They include some of the best and biggest venues like The Two Brewers in London, AXM – Scotland’s biggest club and home of the Beatles – the Cavern.
During lockdown I spent my life savings to keep the business alive, pay staff and make sure people had a safe space to return once venues reopened. That felt like it gave everyone working with us the extra drive to make sure every time someone walked through the doors of our venue they had the best time possible.
The fashion, flawless makeup, comedy routines and all round silliness with unbelievably fun games we bring to each event only adds to the all-round enjoyment.
With that, we were recently named as the best and safest space for people to enjoy a night out by TripAdvisor.
It has not been easy, of course, and often results in us working round the clock but we will strive to continue keeping up standards to make sure anyone coming to play at Linda Gold’s FunnyBoyz is left with memories lasting a lifetime.
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