After first sashaying onto the stage some ten years ago, The LipSinkers have proved themselves to be a drag cabaret act with enduring appeal. Following a five year residency at Bistrotheque’s Cabaret Room (2007-2012) and a fantastic reception at the Edinburgh Fringe 4 years running, you can now witness The LipSinkers every month at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern where they have been resident since 2012.
Their shows are an absurdist blur of intense energy, first-class choreography and some pretty fantastic wig work – all laced with canny social commentary.
Sarah Humphrys got in touch with Richardette, Lisa Lee, Blanche Dubois, Smelly Mae and Steve Nice ahead of their show at The Firestation (Saturday 19th November) to ask them a couple of questions.
Let’s start with the origin story of The LipSinkers - how did you guys begin? What or who inspired you to start a lip-synching troop?
We were originally a manufactured band put together to cover weekend slots at a local cabaret bar. We’d rehearse in the afternoon and perform in the evening, getting changed in the toilets at the back of the room. We did this for almost 6 years and as you can imagine when things are left in a toilet for a very long time they start to grow.
Did you imagine in 2006 that you would have such continued popularity?
Popularity has never played a big part in our manifesto. Our early days were defined by long weekend runs over 3 and four months in the same venue and 6 week Christmas shows - the gigs kept coming and time slid by! By the time we moved to The RVT the work and our love of it and the amount that we had created had become part of us and keeping it going almost unquestionable. We never imagined it - but we’re totally, absolutely thrilled to have lasted a decade!
What do you think is the key to your enduring appeal?
We love the variety of your song choices, with numbers ranging from Queen to Will.I.Am - how do you decide which songs to include in your repertoire? What makes a song perfect lip-sync material?
The songs arrive in many ways - backs of cabs, the martini girl, late night sessions, gifts, commissions, deliver.
What’s the process for creating your routines?
We work hard together. Our process is on-going and omni referential. We have a monthly gig at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, we never perform the same show twice and this structures our year. We’re in constant rehearsals whilst also making new work - we don’t stop the process as a company, we don’t take holidays (individuals are allowed out occasionally!). As a structure this plans out the rest of our lives which we aim to colour in with our work. The work draws from the socio political climate of the time and often refers to previous work as well as drawing on more personal and/or abstract matters which may be affecting us.
Your shows make frequent references to current affairs and political events - is this important to you? / why is this important to you?
We are a queer political performance company. Current Affairs Matter. Dead Celebrities Matter. Cats in Dustbins Matter. Black Lives Matter.
Especially with such frequent and fast costume changes, have you had any entertaining on-stage mishaps you can tell us about? How do you overcome these?
Things happen in the moment. Our work is very live, that’s part of its charm. It can be a right Carry On at times.
Off the top of our heads… Over dressed. Under dressed. Misjudged stage dives. Spaghetti underfoot. Glitter on the tonsils. Falling stage weights. Unexploded confetti cannons. Flying wigs. Broken heels. Accidentally singing. Vomiting hen party.
Have popular television shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jimmy Fallon with his Lip Sync Battle or James Corden’s Car Pool Karaoke had an effect on your popularity or the type of crowds that you draw at your shows?
We don’t feel a lot of affinity with these shows. From what we’ve seen of any of them- which is pretty limited - we appear to have little in common, though that’s not for us to decide really is it? Our audience is beautifully broad but there hasn’t been a noticeable spike to tie in with any of these shows’ growing in popularity.
We like this quote.
“The LipSinkers are a drag troupe who mime to other people’s songs, but they’re not a night out with Danny La Rue, and they’re not Ru Paul’s Drag Race. They are weird, wild, funny and fresh” ***** The Scotsman
Why do you think these types of lip-syncing videos and celebrity musical shows have become so popular on the internet? Do you watch these clips yourselves?
Why? More TV channels, more on line platforms, more celebrities needing stuff to do, more devices to view it all on. That kind of thing maybe?
If you could invite anybody to cameo in one of your performances who would you choose and what song would they sing?
We’d invite Wilson, Keppel and Betty to join us in a rousing performance of Ali Baba’s Camel.
Do you have any top tips for budding lip synchs?
Move your lips. A mirror is not an audience, it’s a tool. Your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own.
Describe The LipSinkers in 5 words?
Like Muppets with a pulse. (Someone once wrote this about us and we’ve forgotten who - but we still love it).
The LipSinkers are at The Firestation in Windsor on 19th November, check their website for full details.
More info and upcoming dates on Facebook thelipsinkers.