‘The Olivia Coleman of Drag’: How Vida LaFierce is Bringing Sparkle to the IOM


Artwork by Kim Berridge at Be IllustratedArtwork by Kim Berridge at Be Illustrated

Artwork by Kim Berridge at Be Illustrated

Vida LaFierce is the Isle of Man’s very own Hannah Montana.

 

By day, he is Gareth Leece,  a self-confessed nerd who has a normal day job and enjoys Star Trek, Doctor Who and some gaming. By night, however, he is Vida LaFierce, an extravagant drag queen whose performances include live singing and multiple costume changes.

 

Gareth had always wanted to be a singer. Having been raised on Cher, Kylie and Madonna, and wanting to put on a show, drag seemed to be the missing piece to his performance. Having made friends with a bunch of drag queens on holiday, he entered the world of drag.

 


Photo by Steve BabbPhoto by Steve Babb

Photo by Steve Babb

Performing drag on the Isle of Man is a little different to other places. Ordinarily, a queen entering a drag scene would have a drag mother and drag family to guide them and help them book their first shows. For queens over here, they have to teach themselves: something that they wear as a badge of honour. There’s only a small drag scene in the island, but the queens support each other. The queens here are different types of performers (Gareth says that making comparisons between his performances and other queens performances would be like comparing Jimmy Carr and Cher, just because they’re both entertainers), so they’re not competing. instead, they’re able to build each other up within a small community.

 

Drag has allowed Gareth to perform on stage, clearly something he loves – but it’s had a significant effect otherwise. He tells me that, “Since doing drag, I’ve never been so comfortable in my own skin”. Initially, he found that the confidence he had felt exclusive to Vida, but soon found that he could bring that newfound confidence to his everyday life. He recommends that “everyone try some kind of drag at least once… just [to learn] all those little lessons like hold your head high, put your shoulders back, finding your inner self, finding your confidence and not taking other people’s shit. Just going for it and being your best self is the most liberating experience and everyone should try that because that is a revelation and it will make every bit of your life better.


Photo credit: Sara-Jane Charles.Photo credit: Sara-Jane Charles.

Photo credit: Sara-Jane Charles.

 Drag isn’t about hiding who you are. It’s finding out who you really are and it’s not even necessarily the playing with gender thing. It teaches you a lot about yourself, it teaches you how to find your confidence, how to find out who you are and what makes you happy and it helps to make you better at being you”.

Gareth has found the response to Vida has been amazing. She has already got a little bit of a following, and, surprisingly, Ramsey is particularly enthusiastic about her performances. Since Lockdown in particular, Vida finds herself with a lot of work- she refers to herself as the “Olivia Coleman of drag”- this Saturday she will be playing at ‘Saturgay’, while on the 24th October, the Empress hotel will be hosting her for a “night with Vida La Fierce”: a show with a two course dinner and a disco. It’s clear that Vida is bringing a little bit of sparkle to the Isle of Man.