In this regular Sunday feature, we ask people about 10 things that changed their life. This week, drag queen and TV presenter Lawrence Chaney.

*This article is from July 2019, but as Lawrence Chaney is set to appear alongside Ellie Diamond as the first Scots on RuPaul's Drag Race tonight we are promoting it again in January 2021*

1. Comedy

I THINK it’s because of how rough a time in school I had – I wasn’t like, left for dead in the hallways or anything, but the amount of abuse and the tripping up and the books and jotters thrown at me and all this crap … my wit, that quickness has come from being bullied and needing to say something back.

My first few years of school I was like, “yeah well you smell of poo”.

By about fifth or sixth year I was a pro at it. I could read people down. I think a big example of Scottish people – it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, bi, lesbian, trans, whatever – it matters what banter you have.

At a show I said something about being fat, and someone went “yeah we know we can see your waistline”, or “we can see your muffin top” or whatever, and everyone laughed and then I went: “Yeah well I’ve got some miracle gro back there if you want it for that bald spot you’ve got going on.”

Of course everyone lost it – but afterwards, the person slow clapped. Because they met their match. And we love that, we love talking to people who aren’t like a brick wall, that you can have a back and forth with.

Comedy is part of my life and I’m grateful and happy that it’s becoming part of my professional life as well.

2. Meeting Joan Rivers

The National:

JOAN Rivers is one of my heroes and I managed to meet her after a show. I asked if she had any advice for someone that’s wanting to start out in comedy. And she said: “Say no to nothing.” And I was like, what are you trying to say there? But she broke it down. She said: “Say no to nothing, find a way to make everything about yourself, that is the art of being famous.” So I’m doing a show, Insider’s Guide, and the theme of the show is showing people around your favourite spots in your city. I showed them around Glasgow – is that something a drag queen needs to do? No. But goddammit I made it about me. It’s just kind of 101 of being a performer. Being savvy and clever.

3. Discovering drag

The National: Chad MichaelsChad Michaels

I’D always kind of known of drag from Little Britain and Dick Emery, Stanley Baxter, kind of home-grown talent. I knew of comedy drag first of all.

It was not the covered eyebrows, the corsetry. I was on YouTube and I found a video of Chad Michaels – from RuPaul’s Drag Race – performing. And I stumbled across it because I typed in Cher, and he just came up. And I thought, Cher’s in a nightclub, why’s Cher in a nightclub?

Then I was like, oh wait, this is a drag queen.

Then I started watching Drag Race. I’d always been a fan of makeup and stuff, but I’d never found a way to combine that.

I’ve studied acting, I’ve always been a kind of theatre kid, always been into art and painting, but trying to find something that fits all of my talents together was pretty impossible until I stumbled across drag.

And I thought, “here, I could probably do this”. The first year was rough. I looked like a wax work, but like a melted wax work. It was a mess. But you know ... You’ve got to go through the hard times.

4. Being in drag for the first time

I WENT to my first ever drag show out of drag. I thought it would be like a concert at the Hydro. When I arrived there and half the audience was in some form of drag, and I was there as a boy getting no attention, I was like, this needs to change.

So I covered my eyebrows the next time, I put on a bald cap, and looked like Little Edie meets Jinkx Monsoon.

My first booking was from that night. My dad dropped me and my friend in George Square, and I was panicking like hell.

People staring at you, and wolf whistling, and cat calling you.

That was the first time that I understood what women go through – and I went through like a minute of that while I walked to the club.

There was nothing stereotypically sexy about me or anything, but to see the way that men treat someone they see from behind as a woman is quite disgusting. But that helped me understand what needed to be changed in the world and why it’s important to walk in your skin to these shows and not be afraid.

5. Broadcasting

The National:

YOU don’t get anything unless you ask for it. I emailed BBC The Social, I said hi, I’m Lawrence Chaney, I’m an upcoming drag artist, do you want to have me in some videos, here’s some proof of what I can do and here are my opinions and ideas of what I would like to do, get back to me.

They messaged me wanting to arrange a meeting. They signed me for some videos, so I became a contributor for The Social. So these make-up tutorials you see, that video on straight pride, these videos are all BBC The Social. I write them, I film them, I produce them, I do everything. Let me tell you – I’m a whore, I pimp myself out at these things. So having your foot in the door, as probably the only drag artist at somewhere like BBC Scotland, you’re their first choice on anything queer that they want to talk about, anything on gay rights, trans rights. I just be myself and I try to be funny and outgoing. I’ve spoken to the right people and I’m very lucky to have spoken to the right people. I’ve just been given opportunities.

6. Revisiting my school

WHEN I was a teenager I did drag, I did make-up, dressed as Lady Gaga, all that madness.

I performed at my school in drag briefly. I said I want to go to prom in drag, and they said no way, that’s too much of a safety risk. You’re going to get beat up.

Four years later I travelled back to do a talk. There’s a guy there who is a drag queen. He was 17, in sixth year. And I was doing this LGBT society – which there wasn’t when I was at school – talk, and I walk in, and they say this is Aria, she’s the resident drag queen.

He messaged me on Instagram afterwards saying you’re such an inspiration and all that.

But he was allowed to go to prom in drag. How amazing is that? Four years after I was there, just four years.

Scotland’s come a far way. It made my dreams come true seeing that they were allowed to do that. That was the biggest pay-off I could have ever had.

That’s not because of me, I didn’t do a march, I didn’t protest the school, but it’s a sign of the times.

7. Horror films

The National: Lon ChaneyLon Chaney

I LOVE the richness horror has. I love the gothic element to horror, the Draculas, The Conjuring, The Bride Of Frankenstein, these elaborate, glamorous, big haunted houses. I like the camp, the over the top. Lon Chaney) – that’s where I get my drag surname from. Lon Chaney was known as the man of 1000 faces, I feel I’m the Queen of 1000 faces.

It’s always been hand in hand with who I am and shaped my idea of performing. I did an Instagram horror looks challenge and Darren Aronofsky liked it, Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell, all these people. You think they’re on another planet, that they don’t see the outside world, but this made me realise how close they actually are in the world, they’re a tweet away.

8. Lady Gaga

The National:

A LOT of people ask: “Why do you need to come out? Your parents already know because you do this.”

You come out when you’re ready to. I remember it physically made me sick saying the word gay, because of the connotation society puts on it.

But seeing Lady Gaga be a voice for our community, but also being a part of the community (she’s bisexual), to see someone like that be so unapologetic, so thoughtful, so clever and so successful is insane.

My looks are so influenced by her. My life is. Artpop is my favourite album. When it came out I was coming out as well.

I do believe I would not be here and have the same mindset, be a drag queen, be as confident, if it was not for that woman, so shout out Gags.

9. My biological family

LOADS of people tell me I’m so lucky that my family loves and respects me and love everything I do. Why is that lucky? Your parents should love you.

When you’re a parent you have a lot of thoughts before you conceive a child. If it’s a risk to you that they may be gay, are you willing to take the risk? I know so many people and it shreds my heart that their parents have kicked them out and beat them up and ripped their wigs and costumes.

My dad is not a fan of drag in the slightest. He thinks Drag Race is so bitchy. But he still gave me lifts to every single show I did when I still lived in Helensburgh. He watches every show I do, listened to me on the radio even when he was at work in England. My mum records my shows when I’m on TV.

10. My drag family

LIVING away from home can be difficult sometimes because you miss your mum and you want advice. You want people to turn to.

So it’s amazing to have a close-knit community and a close-knit friendship group. I have a drag daughter – Paris Ettamol – we are so close.

It’s amazing to have someone that I can sew wigs with at night and talk about boys with. She’s changed my life, because having someone so young inspires me to do better.

I also have the girls at Mothertucker, a weekly themed drag show in Glasgow. We fight, we laugh, we hate each other, it’s friendship but we come together as a drag family because we mother each other, we tell each other off, we hold each other when we cry and we have each other’s backs.