19th June 2022
Interview, Photography & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent
Logo Design: Emily Curtis
For this years Pride cover story we have the talented and gorgeous Copper Topp. Copper talks to us about growing up as an LGBTQIA+ person in The Cotswolds, we discuss style icons and she tells us her coming out story.
Hello Copper Topp. Thank you for chatting with us at ReVamp Magazine and being our cover star for the PRIDE issue. What does Pride mean to you?
Hiya poppet! Thanks for having me. This pride shoot had been bloody gorgeous. OK, let's get straight to it, cos I'm proper cheesed off if I'm completely honest. We're 2022. I remember talking about this time at school and drawing like a futuristic world with queer robots haha. Why - in 2022 - are queer people still restricted by shitty outdated traditions. Governed by other people’s expectations or desires for us. We're dominated by a heteronormative narrative that pushes shame and fear into our lives (and that's aimed at parents and the CIS White Toxic Man!). We get into a habit of erasing the best parts of ourselves and we give away our power. I'm nearly 40 and Its taken me way to long to find my authentic self. Also - I was at a gig the other day and I met a gorgeous gay couple. We joked about me being the celebrant at their wedding, when one of them said "oh god my Mum would hate that".
What the actual fuck?
I've had enough. It's exhausting. We have Pride because there are people out there who would believe they'd be better off in an early grave than being themselves. We have to stand up and fight - be bold, be unapologetic, and celebrate yourself.
We're also in really dark place where Trans Rights in the UK are being brought into question when it comes to conversion therapy. This is not a real ban. It's bullshit. LGB comes with the T, and the Tories are not on our side. They never will be!
I'm really fucking pissed off at the moment, can you tell? I've just had a few heated conversations with certain family members too so that's why I'm in a bit of a punk phase. Haha!
What’s your coming-out story like?
To my friends it was totally beautiful. To my parents it was an absolute shit show. I’m a child of Section 28 and I didn’t really come out till my late 20s. There's that Tory led shame kicking in for ya! But I was starting to date people, and the dating was going somewhere more long term so I wanted to let everyone in. With my parents, the only way I knew how at that time was to write a letter and that didn’t go down well. Oh did they read that letter. Dad got very angry and told Mum not to show my brothers even though I think they knew. From that point Mum and Dad didn’t talk to me for about two years. And it was a long two years. Mum was the first to get back in touch with me and Dad took a bit longer. I’ve been talking about this recently with my therapist because apparently two years of not talking to your parents can play with your mind in scary ways. At the time I thought that was it, that I wouldn’t speak to Mum and Dad again. And I wasn't ok with that. I was completely ousted from the family.
But with my friends it was glorious. A few of them came out too and together we started to find our chosen family. Now I’ve got some best friends for life and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have got through those two years.
Thankfully my Mum and Dad are comfortable with me being queer, they've met my better half and they love him to bits. I recently told them I did drag and we've had some awkward sand heated chats about that. But they are educating themselves. We even had a chat recently about pronouns and that was completely led by them. I never thought we'd have conversations about Trans and Non-Binary people so I'm proud of them for brightening their lives with some much need queerness.
Going back to your childhood. How was it growing up in the country as an LGBTQIA person?
I grew up in Cheltenham, in the Cotswolds so being gay was a no-no! While I was at school there were a couple of people that had come out and they had the worst time. So I kept it to myself. Played straight. The actor in me was very good at playing straight. But there came a point when I just couldn't hide it and kids are very good at sniffing you out. They had a sort of anti-gaydar. School was difficult for me at that point. I was branded the GINGER FAG and that name stuck with me through years of verbal and physical abuse. But that’s why I shipped out of Cheltenham as fast as I could. I went to Preston then Manchester then London and started to figure out who I was.
Going back to Cheltenham is always an odd trip for me. There’s so much trauma there. Funnily enough, I did a gig there recently where I judged the final of Drag Wars for Misty Monique and Miss Demeanor McCall. That was my first time being in drag in my hometown and it was quite amazing!
What three words would you use to describe your drag?
My drag now is a riot, it's charismatic, and utterly silly. My drag is based on the love pantomime, and on shows like Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, Acorn Antiques, Ab Fab. I'm a huge fan of Julie Walters and Victoria Wood. I grew up watching and admiring them. Their comedy timing, their rebelliousness, their love for playing slightly odd characters.
How different is Copper from Simon?
Copper is the extension of what Simon wants to be. I’m still working out how to bring Copper into Simon’s world. Simon is riddled with social anxiety and I only open up when I get to know people. Slowly but surely, I'm trying to bring more of Copper into Simon. She is bold, quick witted, outspoken and an utter clown. I'm obviously doing that but Simon doesn't quite have the confidence to be fully there yet.
Who would you consider your style icon?
When my drag first started out I was completely obsessed with 90s tracksuits. [laughs] I grew up in the 80's and 90's so that aesthetic naturally bleeds into my style. I love my some punk Viv Westwood, Moschino, Gareth Pugh. But also love me some pantomime silhouettes haha.
You host Copper Topp's Drag Brunch, what kind of show would we expect?
It's wild poppet! We get Topp to Bottomless on Prosecco, we eat all the pancakes and waffles, and we serve all this with a side of live vocals, funny lip-syncs, and a game or two. I love a game show and have a dream of one day hosting my own on TV! So there will always a game with truly awful prizes [Laughs]
What advice would you give to young LGBTQIA+ people who want to be drag performers?
Any young person that wants to start drag whether that's a King, Queen, Thing or Monster, whatever it is you want to do; go and see local drag. Watch the best of the best and get inspired. Meet new and likeminded people.
You'll find loads of open mic slots available and that's a great way to try your act out in a safe environment. Tiana Biscuit is doing new queens on the scene and also Taylor Trash who runs the Gold Rush and the Hay Babes Pageant, Me The Queen produces and hosts Not Another Drag Competition at the RVT, Tuck Shop do The Crown! Go out and find those opportunities. You won't regret it. You'll find your tribe and you'll receive mentoring from the best people. Oh and YouTube I suppose. There's some great make up tutorials and Queer History videos. Know your Queer History PLEASE!
Lastly, have you got a message you would like to give to your readers?
Thank you all so much for reading my ReVamp Pride Issue. Let's keep fighting the good fight, and speak up for the people who can't find their voice. In the words of High School Musical; We're all in this together! Wishing you all a beautiful Pride season. Much love!
You can keep up with Copper and follow her journey here.