Following last year’s success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Drag & Wine Tasting will be back at the Fringe for 2023 featuring even more delicious wines and even camper singalongs. Our very own Bronwen Winter Phoenix was able to get a moment to ask them some questions about the show!
I’ve got to admit, I get a bit excited by all things Fringe – which is maybe considered a little uncool to some, as an Edinburgh resident. And since it’s almost that time again, we’re going to be building up to an amazing Fringe Festival 2023 with some great interviews and content!
Drag & Wine Tasting, with Beth Brickenden (Amazon Prime’s The Three Drinkers) and Vanity Von Glow (Drag Brunchette, Friday night show Drag Queen Power Ballads and podcast The Vanity Project) was such a hit last year that they can’t wait to be back.
I was really excited to find out more about this dynamic drag and wine-tasting duo, and what makes them tick. So, let’s dive straight into the interview!
Bronwen: Hi Beth and Vanity! How are you both feeling in the run-up to Fringe?
Beth: I am feeling thirsty and ready to swirl our way through Edinburgh! We can’t wait, Edinburgh Fringe is truly the most fun we’ve had doing a run of shows and the Fringe draws the absolute best crowds.
Vanity: Anyone who knows me will know I love day drinking, and to have several consecutive weeks of it in my homeland of Scotland feels like the perfect way to spend August!
Bronwen: You debuted your critically-acclaimed show at last year’s Fringe, and this year it seems you’ve got even more up your sleeves for 2023, including some special guests, am I right?! Can you give us any more deets, or clues about who might be involved?
Beth: We’ll have the guests joining us for a glass of vino, a song or a little snippet of their own show. Vanity has invited Shania Twain but she’s yet to respond…
Vanity: Shania Twain is yet to respond, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be kicking doors down and proclaiming ‘Let’s Go Girls!’ when the occasion calls for it! The great thing about our shows is the audience are invited to participate in the whole experience from sharing their wine tasting notes, to joining in the Bonnie Tyler singalong at the end!
Bronwen: It’s a Drag and wine tasting, which I’m assuming is quite different from straight up wine drinking – but it IS Fringe, and people love drinking at Fringe. Has anyone come away from your show completely sozzled? Or turned up already three sheets to the wind – and if so, what have you done?
Beth: Only Vanity. She spread joy, wine, and syphilis at last years Fringe.
On a serious note – no, we’ve never had problems. Although there’s wine and mischief galore, it’s a brilliantly fun and engaging show. We like to lubricate our guests for their day ahead.
Vanity: Our audiences know the deal – come to our show at the start of your afternoon of comedy shows, and you’ll be perfectly warmed up with a few glasses of wine for the rest of your Fringe shenanigans.
Bronwen: You’ve known each other for over a decade, so you’re pretty close, which begs the question: how would you both describe each other as a wine?
Beth: I would describe Vanity as a dry German Riesling. Expressive and characterful. With Zippy, thirst-quenching acidity that reminds me of Vanity’s quick, dry wit. Ages well!
Vanity: Hmm. I think of Beth as a £2.89 bottle of Lambrini – affordable.
Bronwen: How did you first meet? Were you involved in any other shows together, or were you friends first?
Beth: We met ten years ago when I first moved to London from Ireland. My brother, Duncan, used to play piano in Soho with Vanity where I would spend many an evening running amuck and holding the bar up.
Vanity: I’m sad to say that I have no recollections of our early years spent in Soho. The sheer volume of pleasures partaken in have wiped my mind clean – but eye witnesses tell me that Beth, her brother Duncan and I, used to have a rip-roaring great time singing songs around the piano at chintzy little gay bar The Green Carnation.
Bronwen: How did Drag & Wine first come about? I heard there might be a story behind that!
Beth: As we got older (not particularly wiser) and I was working with wine and fine dining, I wanted to create tastings that removed the proverbial white tablecloth and stuffiness from wine – and what better way to inject that fun but bring drag queen extraordinaire, Vanity von Glow, into the mix.
Vanity has a surprisingly great palate for wine, and as we guzzled our way through bottles in the past, it just made sense for the world to experience it. SO, in a way, Vanity is the second coming of Christ, bringing wine for the masses.
Bronwen: Hahahah, perfect! What’s your favourite wine and food pairing? A lot of people say things like cheese, hardly anyone says ‘mashmallows’ or ‘waffles’, so I’m curious.
Beth: My favourite pairing at the moment is English fizz with fish & chips. A fantastic English sparkling is from Digby estate in Kent. The fabulous pastry flavours combined with the crispy fish batter is stunning whilst the bright acidity cuts through the fat and dances with the saltiness of the chips – absolutely stunnin’. You can buy the Digby Brut NV online from Swig Wines (owned by two Scotsmen!) who have an incredible selection of personality driven, quality wines. £35 – Treat yourself.
Vanity: While I certainly do enjoy a delicious wine, I have not actually eaten food since the late 90s, partaking instead in an alcohol-only diet inspired by Patsy and Edina of Absolutely Fabulous fame.
Bronwen: What do you love about performing at Edinburgh Fringe, or just coming to the ‘Burgh generally? For me I think it’s the atmosphere and the endless shenanigans – it just heals my soul!
Beth: Everyone who attends the Fringe has a similar agenda – to enjoy, and embrace the madness and creativity of the city for a month. I find there is such a gorgeous openness, and thirst for experiences that is just electric for a performer. I love it.
And the Scots themselves just know how to bring the craic!
Vanity: Well I’m actually *from* Scotland, with family in Edinburgh and close friends in Glasgow – so for me it’s a real homecoming. My earliest shows were in the gay bars of Scotland long before I set my sights on London’s glittering West End. There is a true and honest familiarity I share with Scottish audiences – so it’s lovely getting to share that with Beth.
Bronwen: Are there any other shows you’d recommend people go and see whilst they’re at the Fringe? Anyone you’re looking forward to seeing, yourselves?
Beth: I went to see comedian, John Tothill, recently in London testing material for his show The Last Living Libertine at the Pleasance and cried laughing for the whole show. Another wine and cabaret queen, Anna Larkin, is taking her solo show Le Wine Club to the Gilded Balloon.
Vanity: I consider all other Edinburgh Fringe acts to be my sworn enemies. In fact I have nothing pleasant to say about the lot of them! Don’t spend your pennies anywhere but Drag Queen Wine Tasting, folks! And if you have money to spare – come a second time! And a third! And a fourth!
Bronwen: I know you both do A LOT (which I’ll mention in the intro) and the madness of Fringe is pretty much all-encompassing for a spell, but are either of you working on any other exciting projects you can tell us about at the moment?
Beth: I am currently working with London Cru which was the UKs first urban winery (there’s now four in London). We’re based in Fulham (West London) and I’ll be developing a series of immersive events at the winery, from our Drag & Wine tastings, to intimate music gigs, and private tours and tastings – come say hello!
Vanity: Much of my time in London is taken up with rehearsals and development of my West End show Drag Queen Power Ballads which runs every Friday night at the Phoenix Arts Club. It’s a truly immersive visual experience, using state of the art screen technology and visuals, and bringing a real live rock concert feel to the venue. In the show I sing songs from Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf, to Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith – so it’s a really big, epic show and we are always coming up with new additions to the setlist. If you’re in London you must check it out!
Bronwen: Well, thanks so much for your time – looks like you have an utterly fantoosh show planned, and I wish you both all the best with it!
Beth: Merci buckets!
You can catch Drag & Wine Tasting from the 9th – 13th, 16th – 20th, and the 23rd – 27th August at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Edinburgh City Centre (venue 468).
Showtimes are 12:30pm with the addition of 3:30pm shows on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Get your tickets right here.