Merging the border between mildly offensive and fucking hilarious, Charlie Hides Drag Queen and Impersonator, knows no bounds. With a career stemming career over two decades, it’s easy to see why this American entertainer gets the attention he does.
I first spotted Charlie at a members only club in Soho. Lighting the room with his sparkly blue ensemble and incredibly tall stature. It became increasingly hard to look elsewhere and so naturally, Hides’ sequins lured me in for a quick chat and a few thousand compliments. Like myself, the entire room was mesmerised by his stance, demeanour and perfectly glued lace front wig. But if the latest season of Rupaul’s Drag Race is anything to go by, it’s fairly easy to forget a drag queen. With over 69,000 YouTube subscribers and hundreds of adoring fans worldwide, this solo act also touches the hearts of celebrities. Impressing the likes of Cher and Kylie Minogue, his selection of stand up comedy, sketch comedy and now celebrity impersonations on YouTube, and in live shows, takes comedy to a new level. He says, “Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga have been very kind to me but I think the fact that Lana Del Rey said I was “an asshole” is my favorite compliment because it keeps me humble.”
Discovering his talents for making people laugh early on in life, Charlie says he would impersonate his teachers in school. Spinning his mischievous behaviours into a full blown career path from young, he’d regularly mimic celeb voices and went on to feature in all school productions, utilising his extensive talents. At the tender age of 16, Charlie began performing at open mic nights in comedy clubs, where his love of performing only heightened. Charlie says, “The first time I made a room full of people laugh I was addicted to that feeling and I knew I had found my purpose in life”. Having previously studied Fashion and Costume Design at University, he was able to combine a love of comedy with his keen interest in fashion and began creating his own costumes for parodies, creating the elaborate characters we know and love on screen today. Luckily for Hides, all of his interests connect when he puts on a show, be that comedy, music, pop culture and fashion – thus creating, Charlie Hides.
Ironically, I and many of Charlie’s fans are guilty of believing his full name is just a character name but in fact, we’re all wrong. Implying that Hides is humorous word play on the many characters he ‘hides’ behind. “I’ve known several girls called “Charlie” and “Hides” but it’s actually my legal name. Most people think it’s a stage name and that I’m being clever, implying I “Hide” behind the characters I play.”
One thing I’ve always wanted to ask a drag queen if ever I met one is where exactly they gain inspiration for their drag personas. Coming from all walks of life and fabulosity, Rupaul regularly asks his contestants this particular question on the show and there’s always a quaint and interesting tale to follow. “Inspiration is everywhere I look in the movies, TV, pop culture. My Laquisha Jonz character was inspired by several of my friends back in Boston and New York. I also do a character called Stanley Blackstone which was inspired by an agent I had years ago. My character Maureen is based on a voice I heard on a radio commercial, after just 15 seconds of hearing her speak, I created her whole life story and started including her in all of my comedy sketches”.
Describing himself as Twisted, Glamorous and a Transformationist – despite his plethora of sketches and list of endless personas – says his favourite ever person to emulate is the legendary Cher. Much to his excitement, in a recent interview the legend herself referred to Hides as her favourite impersonator and admitted to regularly watching his online skits. Isn’t that a treat.
Now, time for your anecdote:
“There have been MANY embarrassing moments. In February I was performing on an Atlantis cruise crossing the Tasman Sea in very bad weather. The ship was rocking so badly that I slipped and fell on stage, one high heel flew across the stage and my wig went the other way! I landed flat on my ass and was dazed from hitting my head. But I just kept singing and finished the number on the floor.” Showbiz.
You can catch Charlie Hides at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the UK’s oldest LGBTQ performance space.
Photography by: Israel Peters