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'Drag Race U.K.' winner Danny Beard finds the 'absurd' in gender

Danny Beard, the winner of "RuPaul's Drag Race U.K." Season 4, said she considers her drag to be a "gender-blender" that highlights the absurdity of the concept of gender. Photo courtesy of World of Wonder Productions
Danny Beard, the winner of "RuPaul's Drag Race U.K." Season 4, said she considers her drag to be a "gender-blender" that highlights the absurdity of the concept of gender. Photo courtesy of World of Wonder Productions

Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Danny Beard has been crowned the Season 4 winner of RuPaul's Drag Race U.K., but the performer said the road to the winner's circle had some unexpected difficulties.

Danny, aka Daniel Curtis, prevailed over Cheddar Gorgeous, Black Peppa and Jonbers Blonde in the final round of the reality competition series, but the drag queen said there was at least one "little stumble" on her way to the finale: Snatch Game, the celebrity impersonation challenge.

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Danny told UPI in a Zoom interview that she was shocked before the challenge when RuPaul told her she was not familiar with the celebrity Danny had been planning her routine around.

"I'm quite a perfectionist, and for RuPaul to throw a curveball in and say she didn't know who I was going to do -- and, you know, when RuPaul says 'Jump' you say 'How high?' -- so I knew straight away I had to change it," Danny said.

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Danny, who had originally planned to impersonate TV personality Louis Walsh, ended up doing an unpracticed impersonation of singer Cilla Black.

"I think it was quite a challenge to come up with a character I've never done before," Danny said. "I'd prepped, like most people had for months, for another character. But, you know, I wasn't in the bottom, so it wasn't that bad, but it was certainly a push for me."

Despite that stumble, Danny ended up winning numerous subsequent challenges, and even discovered some skills she didn't know she had when it came to the Design Challenge.

"I was someone who said I couldn't sew before I came in here, and I'm looking around the room at some of the other people who say they can sew [and realizing] this is well-made, it's hemmed, it fits, I know my body shape, I know what looks good on me and doesn't," she said.

The Makeover Challenge was another arena where Danny unexpectedly shined.

"I took that dress in on the sewing machine and I fully custom fit that to someone, and that's a skill I never thought I would have ever had, so it definitely pushed me there," she said. "I'd also never put makeup on anybody else properly before. So if all else fails, maybe I can become a makeup artist."

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Surprises among the competitors

The champion said she was surprised by the early exits of some competitors she initially identified as likely finalists.

"When I first saw Starlet I was like, 'Well, she's in the top.' You know, she was so well put together. She was so pretty and just so what I imagined Ru wanted and was looking for that it was a no-brainer. And when she went in Episode 2 it was a shock," she said.

Danny said she was also shocked by the elimination of Dakota Schiffer in Week 7.

"I felt like she was going somewhere and she was going to be in there, I just saw myself in the top with Dakota," she said.

On the other end of the spectrum, Danny admitted she initially underestimated 4th-place finisher Jonbers Blonde.

"Very early on, I think I wrote Jonbers off, because she wasn't winning badges, and she had the best progression I think I've ever seen on Drag Race ever," Danny said.

She said the Jonbers she first met and the Jonbers that stood on stage during the finale were "almost like two different people."

"Since the show I've gotten really close with Jonbers and I think she's such an amazing talented queen. ... People can learn a lot of things from Jonbers Blonde, so I definitely wrote her off too soon and I'm so proud that she was in the final," she said.

Bearded queen

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Danny is one of only a small handful of queens in the Drag Race franchise to compete while sporting a beard, and the first to do so on Drag Race U.K. She said the facial hair is an integral part of her drag philosophy.

"I think it's powerful in terms of what's happening now in the world with our trans brothers and sisters. That's their journey, and it's not anything I'm trying to hijack, but what it does highlight is how absurd gender is when you think of it," she said.

Danny said she wants her drag persona to challenge the "construct" of gender and the perceived "rules" for how people of different genders should look and act.

"My drag is a gender-blender and it always will be. There's so many amazing feminine things that I love to bring to it... but I think having something that's so 'masculine' next to all of these feminine things, that's the statement. The statement is that I am whoever and whatever I want to be," Danny said.

"The trans journey isn't my journey, but if a little pinch of that can be taken into our actual thought process when we're thinking about things like that, then hopefully it's breaking down some barriers somewhere."

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Looking ahead

Winning the season of Drag Race U.K. makes Danny a presumptive favorite to appear in a future season of Drag Race All Stars, and the queen has some personal favorites she would like to see among the competition.

"I would like to be on there with like A'Whora and Tayce, they were quite an iconic season of girls," she said of the Drag Race U.K. Season 2 stars. "I think Lawrence Chaney would be fun to compete with, just because we'd have an absolute scream. If we were ever together on an 'All Winners' season or something I think she would definitely be an ally."

Danny also suggested the producers could include some "wacky" queens like Ginny Lemon to "add a bit of spice to the competition."

In the meantime, Danny is busy developing her own show for World of Wonder Productions, but the details are still being worked out.

"There's a lot of stuff to work out, I'm sure my ideas are bigger than the budget," Danny joked. "But I'm hoping to come over to Hollywood to do it, that's the prize. So Hollywood needs to watch out, because I think if some of the big film directors see me, that's it, I'm going to be gobbled up. I'm going to be the next Spider-Woman or something, I don't know."

Sisterhood of drag

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Despite the competitive nature of the Drag Race franchise, Danny said there is "a genuine sisterhood among British queens."

"Don't get me wrong, most of us are homosexuals and homosexuals love drama, so that's always going to be a thing," she joked. "But we do genuinely care about each other."

Danny said she and her longtime friend, Drag Race U.K. Season 1 winner The Vivienne, would exchange supportive texts during their various stints on the series.

"I think that's a big thing with us in the U.K., we love each other and we want everyone to do well. And if we're good at our jobs there's enough work for us all, so we don't need to be at each other's throats," she said.

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