VELMA Celli, York’ glamorous globe-strutting drag diva, will be Large & Lit in her latest lockdown concert streamed from her Bishopthorpe kitchen on Saturday night.
Ian Stroughair, the alter-ego of fabulous cabaret creation Velma, returned to self-isolate in his native York, rather than his adopted milieu of London, directly from a tour of Australia, and obeying government orders, he has stayed home since quarantine.
Ian, who presents The Velma Celli Show at The Basement, City Screen, York, each month, organised Velma’s first intimate kitchen gig for May 2, in support of St Leonard’s Hospice, in Tadcaster Road, where his late mother was a patient.
“I’d always wanted to find a way to support the hospice, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Ian, who raised £1,288 for St Leonard’s that night. “With so many conventional fundraising events postponed due to the lockdown, it was a great way for people to support the hospice while enjoying a fantastic, fun and fruity evening of live music in their own living room.”
Ian’s glittering cabaret queen has starred in such self-originated shows as A Brief History Of Drag, Equinox – Something Fabulous This Way Comes and Me And My Divas, as well as The Velma Celli Show, and now he adds Large & Lit In Lockdown to his title list.
Diva Velma’s repertoire of impersonations of singers and their peculiar mannerisms draws inspiration from a multitude of the best female vocalists of the past 75 years, from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga and beyond. “And unlike many drag queens, Velma always performs live, adding her own special spin to familiar songs,” Ian says.
Charles Hutchinson asks Ian Stroughair/Velma Celli for quick answers to quick questions ahead of Saturday’s 8pm gig.
How did the first kitchen concert go? What was the highlight for you?
“It was so much fun but totally bizarre not having an audience. Trying to navigate this new way of working was tricky but still fun. The highlight was telling my house mates to clap at the end of the songs! Bless them, they didn’t know if they were allowed. LOL!”
How did it work out singing a “remote” duet with York country singer Twinnie?
“I sang from the kitchen and she was out in the garden – which you can get to without coming through the house – on a radio mic. There was a rather fabulous patio door reveal! ‘Social-distant duetting’ is the new black!”
Why have you chosen Large & Lit In Lockdown for the latest show title? Nice alliteration, by the way!
“I love alliteration and I am large. Mainly because it’s become custom in this house to fry EVERYTHING!”
Where will you perform on Saturday? In the kitchen again or another room?
“Kitchen, better acoustics.”
How will the set list differ from the first concert?
“It will be completely different. This time we’ll have some Bowie, Barbra and Britney! Ya welcome!”
Choice of dress for the occasion?
“Whatever I can still fit into.”
Any songs come to mind to perform in response to the Government’s new advice to Stay Alert?
“All By Myself, the Eric Carmen song.”
When do you envisage being able to return to the world of the stage, the greasepaint and the live audience?
“I don’t want to think about that! Most likely 2021. Urgh.”
How do people acquire a ticket for the best seat in their house for the live stream from Case De Velma Celli?
“As per [usual], all you need to do is get ya tickets from the link below a.s.a.p. and a live link will arrive in your email inbox on the day of the show. Click on it at show time and BOOM! There she is.
Love and light, Velma.”
Please note: Saturday’s online event can be streamed on a PC or internet-enabled smart TV; tickets cost £7.