‘If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be a full-time drag queen, I would have laughed in your face’

Cardiff’s up-and-coming drag queen, Polly Amorous, describes how the pandemic encouraged her to ditch making martinis for makeup brushes

Cardiff drag queen, Polly Amorous, applying drag makeup before his show.
“I’ve got a newfound appreciation for drag since lockdown”

Twm Bollen-Molloy, also known as Polly Amorous, only has half a face of makeup on and an eager audience waiting in the club downstairs. 

“I promised myself I would have two hours to get ready for tonight,” he mutters, frantically applying eyeliner. “Now, I’ve only got one.”

Getting ready in a rush is nothing new for Cardiff’s most up-and-coming drag queen. Until a few weeks ago, Twm juggled a full-time bar job with performing four times a week. After work, he had to get into drag in 30 minutes on the train. 

“I felt like Hannah Montana,” he chuckles. 

Things have changed with his recent decision to do drag full-time, one that he credits to his life’s too short attitude and the nightmare of lockdown.

Finding Polly

The career move has surprised no one more than Twm himself. The 27-year-old has enjoyed performing since starring in school plays during his childhood in Caerleon, Newport. However, trying drag never crossed his mind.

“If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be a full-time drag queen, I’d have laughed in your face,” he says, arching a painted eyebrow. 

I just remember looking into the mirror and thinking ‘this feels right’

Everything changed six years ago when he booked some drag queens for an event. One of them dolled him up into drag as a thank you.

“I just remember looking into the mirror and thinking ‘this feels right.’” 

His first gig, “an awful thing to witness”, was in Cardiff gay bar, Mary’s. It’s the same venue as his show the night of this interview. 

It strikes him as a full circle moment: “Here I am, six years later, dominating the Cardiff scene.”

“Twm and Polly are more alike than I originally wanted to admit. Polly just gets away with more”

The sound of silence

The future has not always looked so bright for Polly.

When Covid-19 hit, Twm had just returned from travelling in Australia. He hadn’t been working in the drag scene again for long enough to claim financial allowances. Suddenly, he found himself on universal credit, missing the buzz of performing. 

However, it wasn’t long before he started to adapt to the new cyber reality, making an income from weekly shows over Facebook live, despite limited resources.

 “I had my phone and speaker on top of an ironing board, propped against a bottle of vodka.” He describes with characteristic humour. “That’s how I survived through lockdown.”

His living room performances were nowhere near a substitute for the real thing, especially as there was no crowd.

“You miss the applause. When you’re doing shows online there’s silence after every number. Instinctually, for a drag queen that equates to a bad performance.”

Sequined silver lining

Twm is relieved that restrictions have been lifted.                                      .

However, his experience in lockdown inspired him to make performing as Polly his full-time gig and he’s determined that it will work out. 

This is what I was born to do

“You’ve got to make the opportunities yourself,” he says.

There’s plenty more for Polly to do. More touring, solo shows, and even Ru Paul’s Drag Race are all listed in his ambitions.

“This is what I was born to do,” he says, with a final flourish of his makeup brush, “I’m excited to see where it goes.”

More about being a drag queen in the pandemic.

Polly’s advice for new queens on the scene

  1. Work hard
  2. Stay humble
  3. Pay your dues
  4. Respect and support the artists already on your scene
  5. The way you treat people will come back to you – don’t be a diva
  6. They’re your dreams, you’ve got to follow them!

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