STAR of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Ginny Lemon visited Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum to donate their ‘Queen of their Hometown’ costume to the Museums Worcestershire collection.
Worcester born-and-bred, Ginny found fame after their appearance on Season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, when they became the only contestant to leave the competition voluntarily.
A singer-songwriter, character actor and comedian, Ginny’s work explores their working-class identity, queerness and disability.
Ginny has donated to Museums Worcestershire the costume that they famously wore on Drag Race, which celebrates two of Worcester’s most famous exports – Vesta Tilley and Worcestershire Sauce.
Born in Worcester in 1864, Vesta Tilley was one of the greatest stars of Music Hall. She was a male impersonator, performing in a masculine persona, her songs making fun of various male stereotypes such as the soldier, policeman, man-about-town, the dandy.
By the 1890s she was England’s highest-earning woman. Vesta was a trailblazer, playing with ideas of gender at a time when it was thought dangerous to question them, and is now an inspiration to a new generation of LGBTQ+ performers.
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce was invented accidentally by two Worcester-based chemists in the 1830s and went on to become a global success. It is one of few successful exports still in operation in the city of its birth, and a perfect accompaniment to Ginny’s outfit.
“I am delighted to have my Vesta costume on display at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum. As a queer artist who lives and works in the county, I feel it is a great honour to highlight and represent the historic queerness of Worcestershire and the West Midlands,” Ginny said.
Deborah Fox, senior curator of Museums Worcestershire, said: “We first made contact with Ginny via Twitter when our curator saw their Vesta Tilley inspired costume on RuPaul’s Drag Race and suggested that it enter the Museums Worcestershire collection – we are over the moon that this dream has now become a reality!
“Ginny Lemon, Vesta Tilley and Lea & Perrins are three of Worcester’s finest cultural exports and so to have them brought together into this one iconic costume is an important addition to the museum’s collection.”
Ginny Lemon’s Queen of their Hometown costume is on display at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum until January after which it will move to the new exhibition ‘Captivating Costume: Three Centuries of Fashion’ at Worcestershire County Museum at Hartlebury Castle.
The display of Ginny Lemon’s Queen of their Hometown costume has been made possible with support from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund.