Produced and hosted by regular Canal Street drag performer Skylar Cister, the series parodies the reality competition show Come Dine With Me with each episode showcasing three drag queens’ unique take on cuisine.
The series’ first episode premiered on 5 November on YouTube here and included a premiere watch party hosted at The Brewers, a staple bar in the Gay Village. The show was met with high praise from viewers, with many taking to X/Twitter to share their thoughts.
Come Drag With Us Manchester
Twitter was awash with people going mad for the new Manc Series.
“This is absolute nonsense and I’m living for it,” @reneedelait tweeted.
“Everyone go and watch the wildly entertaining first episode of @comedragwithus,” @jamescoulee urged on Twitter.
Skylar described herself as a ‘bag of nerves’ before the watch party, but that there was an ‘amazing turnout’.
She said: “At that point, I had watched episode one about six times and I was petrified for the viewing party, so to hear the whole room break out into laughter was the best feeling in the world.”
Episode one starred retro-chic drag queen Looga Barooga, pastel purple-themed Lavender Sniff and alien superstar Rodger, all well-known artists in the Gay Village as they took turns visiting each other’s homes to try their respective bizarre dishes.
Looga served ‘Hot and sexy’ honey halloumi flatbread, Lavender presented her ‘Purple, purple, purple surprise’ (mashed potato mixed with purple food colouring) and Rodger created her delicacy called ‘Skinned earth animal and apple of the ground’ – also known as a vanilla Yazzoo.
The series began filming in the summer, with production taking two months. It took two days to shoot each episode; one day to film the out-of-drag segments, and another to film the dinner parties.
Skylar and university student Molly Kelday filmed the first episode during the summer heatwave, which the cast described as a ‘difficult’ experience.
Molly said: “Episode one was filmed on the hottest day of the year, in these people’s tiny flats cooking this food. It was hellish but we got it done and the final result was great.”
Looga added: “Being in drag for that long can be a lot. We got tired by the end of shooting my segment, but it was still so much fun to do.”
Despite the heat, the cast still had fun bouncing off of each other which Rodger described as like “playing tennis”.
Rodger said: “Because we’re all friends, it made the filming process so much easier because you know exactly how each other works. It was quite lovely. But don’t tell Lavender I said that.”
On the casting of the show, Skylar explained that she purposely picked a diverse set of queens to highlight the full range that Manchester drag has to offer.
Skylar said: “Manchester itself is not the most diverse place in the world in terms of drag. It could be a hell of a lot more diverse. We could have a lot more POC queens and a lot more drag kings.
“So, for my first series, I banded together an incredible group of people, whether that be AFAB queens or trans queens. We’ve got a massive mix of people from different parts of the country who work in the city.”
When it comes to drag competition shows, the first one that comes to mind is probably RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Emmy-winning global phenomenon that has skyrocketed many drag queens’ careers to international stardom.
An Accessible Show For Queens
But Come Drag With Us had a clear goal of being a much more accessible show for queens financially and artistically.
Lavender said that the web series gave drag artists more creative freedom, which on Drag Race ‘you may not necessarily be able to do’.
She said: “We were told to come up with anything we want. I mean, I came up with purple mashed potatoes and Looga wanted to climb through a window.
“Because it is an amateur production, there are certain things you can get away with that you may not be able to on Drag Race. It’s just really funny.
“I’m also so happy that it stars Manchester girls. In the grand scheme of Drag Race, maybe Manchester is a little bit underrepresented considering how many drag queens there are here.”
Representing Manchester’s Drag Scene
For everyone involved in the production, it wasn’t just important to represent Manchester’s drag scene but to show positive LGBTQ+ representation as well.
Currently, the Government is looking to change certain UK laws that would impede on transgender rights, including making a significant change to the 2010 Equality Act that would redefine the term “sex” to ban trans people from single-sex spaces and events including hospital wards.
Rodger said: “Skylar’s spin on Come Dine With Us is a good example of just how stupid drag can be and that LGBTQ+ entertainment shouldn’t be taken that seriously.
“It’s a middle finger to the people who try to degrade us as a community, girl, we’re not that bothered.”
Skylar added: “There’s a lot of negativity about drag in the media at the moment but to me, the heart of my drag, and the heart of what I want this show to be, is to laugh.
“I just want people to watch the show and realise we’re all real people. We may be cooking purple mashed potatoes but we all have a place on the planet.”
Queen of the Universe Stars
Teasing what we should expect to see in the coming weeks, Skylar said fans should get excited to see contestants Rosie and Viola, the latter of which recently starred in the Paramount Plus competition series Queen of the Universe.
She said: “Whereas some of the girls are handing out wine and cigarettes as a starter, Rosie is taking it seriously. The same with Viola. They’re coming for that crown with their cooking skills.”
Come Drag With Us will return with a watch party for its finale, which both Skylar and Molly teased would include a guest from RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, although they can’t reveal who it is just yet.
Brand new episodes of Come Drag With Us air every Sunday on the Come Drag With Us YouTube channel here
You can also follow their Instagram and X/Twitter accounts at @comedragwithus