Alexander was first drawn to drag because it carried a ‘different kind of sexual threat’ that really appealed to him. He’s always been into horror and, having worked in a fear maze for a period of time, is confident when it comes to horror makeup and costume. This is a skill that he has applied to his drag looks from the very beginning. He describes his alter-ego, Lydia L’Scabies, as less of a generic ‘spooky queen’ and more of a medical nightmare; The face that says “Wear a condom.” The idea? ‘This scabby, syphilitic, blonde, horrible girl, kind of parodying any “It Girl” culture that was going on at the time, all the while making a little sub-comment that all drag queens are fundamentally parasites.’ ‘I’m trying to open conversations about slut shame and trying to take the piss out of the expectations of women. I’m trying my best with Lydia to reclaim the word ‘slag’ and make it a positive thing.’
Nude colours, rhinestones and wound-inspired makeup combine to pull together ‘glamour and grossness’, with Lydia introducing herself at the beginning of cabaret performances as ‘Less Queen Bee, more Queen Flea.’
The particular garments Alexander brought to his interview (a blonde wig that channels femme fatale vibes and some nude M&S shapewear, all decorated in a grotesque Lydia style), are significant because they each respectively represent pivotal points in the development of Lydia’s look and personality. ‘When you first start doing drag, everyone just looks a bit pedestrian. You’re just learning the ropes until you find your thing. Once you find it, upgrade, upgrade, just keep going.’
Alexander comes from a classical theatre background, studied performing arts and has always loved writing and devising theatre. One day, whilst ‘dicking around on Tumblr’, he stumbled across a Drag Race GIF and was so intrigued he begun watching the series immediately. ‘What we knew about drag in the UK prior to Drag Race booming was panto dames and Phyllis Bottom at the end of the pier, telling bad cock jokes and being borderline racist and misogynist in the same tired sequin dress, just looking a bit gross. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a style, and some of them do it really well – but I wanted to talk about persona, particularly the cattiness that comes into a lot of drag territories. What if people actually acknowledged their insecurities and wore them upfront?’
This newfound interest coincided with Alexander losing his ID, offering him a perfect reason to begin clubbing in what he describes as ‘glorified cross-dress’ because no door staff questioned his age when he went out in drag. ‘It was a reason to practice and play around, and I liked responding to whatever venue I was going to.’ Before long, Alexander had earned a name for himself in Brighton, began running a bi-monthly drag night with his friends and was sniffed out by local cabaret legend Joe Black, who asked the troop to join him on tour. ‘Gigs kept on happening, then we got a residency at Revenge, then I thought: “In too deep. I can’t stop now!”‘
What’s the inspiration behind Lydia? Blonde, villainous women of a certain age, who carry themselves confidently and offer out the most withering death stares, Alexander explains. Carrigan from Casper the Friendly Ghost and her husky, horrible voice; Meredith from The Parent Trap and her role as ‘the other woman’; even Velma Von Tussle from Hairspray (minus the racism) – ‘nasty girl sort of stuff’.
Day-to-day, Alexander favours vintage wear, oversized suits with high-waisted bottoms, and generally, looks inspired by the ’40s and ’50s. Clothes, and the freedom to choose them, are important to him. ‘Unless you’re really hungover and you just throw anything on, or you’re literally just popping to the shop having not showered, just pop your slippers on and you’re walking 15 yards up the road, shamefully paying for your toilet roll and going home – I’ll ask myself each morning “Who am I gonna be today? What am I putting out of myself today?” Sometimes you can put yourself in a better mood by dressing up a bit. “I’m feeling a bit antagonised today” – so you dress a bit apathetic and maybe put a little face on and have a dark smoky eye, looking really sad and interesting, like you don’t get on with your parents. Or sometimes it’s just like “I’m feeling really sharp and with it today!” so I’ll put on a shirt and a tie and some nancy fur coat. It is important to but there’s lots of attributes to my personality that I can’t just show off in one outfit.’