LipSync1000: How Hackney is leading the way with drag queen lip-sync contest

PUBLISHED: 09:53 19 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:27 24 February 2016

Lipsync1000 first bunch of contestants, with compere John Sizzle

Lipsync1000 first bunch of contestants, with compere John Sizzle


Lip-syncing is finally having a “mainstream moment” on national TV – but it’s something east London’s gay scene has been perfecting for a decade since Jonny Woo launched Tranny Lip-Syncing.

Peter Fingleton performnig as Annie Pics (Picture: Peter Fingleton)Peter Fingleton performnig as Annie Pics (Picture: Peter Fingleton)

Now dubbed LipSync1000, heats began for this year’s contest on Wednesday last week at The Glory in Kingsland Road.

The drag queen and comedian opened the pub a year ago with fellow cross-dresser John Sizzle, who compered the night.

Sal as the Nightbus; Karina Totty and Britney; Annie Pics; House of Devore; Basic Witches; and Diana Might were the first six acts to grace the stage this year, dazzling the crowd with their ability to mouth lyrics to pop tunes in the packed-out pub where they vied to win the £1,000 prize.

Events manager Jack Cullen believes it is “genuinely one of the most exciting things that’s happening in east London”.

Contestants at the first heat of Lipsync1000Contestants at the first heat of Lipsync1000

“Lip-syncing is having a really mainstream moment,” he enthused, referring to Channel 5’s late night show Lip-Sync Battle UK hosted by Spice Girl Mel B and Hackney-born rapper Professor Green.

“When you think of a lot of pubs they might have a quiz on a Wednesday and that’s their exciting night, but Jonny and John Sizzle are really raising the bar with this.

“LipSync1000 is a bit political but it’s also high art. A lot of the shows look shambolic but the performers are MA fashion students and they make their own costumes. It’s a bit of a school pantomime vibe but it’s genuinely exciting.

“Most of all it’s just a massive laugh, though.”

One of the Basic Witches (Picture: Peter Fingleton)One of the Basic Witches (Picture: Peter Fingleton)

The show acts as something of an “incubator”, with many of the original contestants from 2005 now high up in fashion art nightlife circles.

One of them is A Man Du Pet, the first ever winner, who came to judge Wednesday night’s first heat along with music PR pioneer Amanda Freedman, and Dylan and Chris from the GX gay magazine.

A Man Du Pet has travelled the world off the back of it, and turned lip-syncing into a well-paying career.

“You know, when I entered the competition I didn’t expect to have anything after,” the Greek-born drag queen told the Gazette while sitting on the judging panel last week. “I did it for a joke, to win the money.

John SizzleJohn Sizzle

“Then it was like people were asking me to do more and more, and I ended up travelling around the world, to Latin America, USA, Europe and Australia, to do shows.

“I can’t believe that from something like this you can travel the world and live out of it and meet amazing people, too.

“I became more well known because I can’t lip-sync! I’m terrible at it – I think the people like it because I can’t do it.

“I like the contact with the people – the response. If they like it and they are laughing and they are clapping, you feel really nice.”

Diana Might, who performed a Silence of the Lambs spin off (Picture: Peter Fingleton)Diana Might, who performed a Silence of the Lambs spin off (Picture: Peter Fingleton)

The winner will join the drag crew onstage at Glastonbury’s gay club the NYC Downlow.

The show is free to enter or watch. E-mail for more information and details of how to take part.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hackney Gazette