Words by Phoebe Bowers
In this year’s Rupaul’s Drag Race UK we were introduced to two fantastic non-binary queens. One of which in particular stole our hearts and became an instant fan-favourite. This is ‘not a joke, just a fact’: Bimini Bon Boulash. The UK Drag Race star is now quite literally taking the fashion world by storm. At the end of March 2021 Bimini took to Twitter and Instagram (＠biminibabes) to announce that they had been signed to Next Management modelling agency, one of the biggest and most successful modelling agencies in the world. Ultimately this news is huge for non-binary representation in fashion. The drag artist commented: ‘Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought this possible. This opportunity is a huge crazy, mind-blowing moment for my gender-non comforting a*s.’
Since this recent announcement, Bimini has appeared to be working non-stop. Their Instagram account has been flooded daily with photoshoot after photoshoot. Bon Boulash has recently been interviewed by British Vogue, been shot for TUSH Magazine, Attitude Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, and had an editorial with Sicky Mag. The gender non-conforming artist, or put in their own words ‘non-comforting’, truly has a work ethic like no other. These recent editorials, although high-fashion, remain true to who Bimini is at their core – their points of influence and roots being clear: a punk Pamela Anderson which mixes the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. The Sicky Mag editorial features several incredible looks by Jean Paul Gaultier and Mugler modelled by Bimini. These looks range from a nude corset and gloves moment by Gaultier, a tight-fitted red, gold, and green embroidered gown with hip pads, to a more sleek and square black dress-blazer look. Bimini also rocks a bold lime green tulle dress designed by Paul Aaron, and a similar poofy silhouette in a black dress with red roses designed by Richard Quinn featuring these long spunky latex gloves.
As a cisgender person I felt the need to reach out and see how people from the non-binary community have felt about Bimini’s recent success in the fashion industry. So I contacted my friend and non-binary artist Vee Marston (they/them – ＠thereddkye on Instagram) to get their run-down on Bimini: ‘It can be frustrating always seeing non-binary people expected to perform to androgyny despite that not being the reality for the majority of non-binary people – and difficult to manage because nearly everything is assigned to gender! Seeing someone be so loud and proud about their gender and so groundbreaking with their fashion honestly means the world!’
In conversation with Vee, they also made the excellent point about how Bimini’s success on Drag Race is a real step-forward in terms of Rupaul’s previous comments on the trans community: ‘[Bimini] also opening up a stage like Rupaul’s Drag Race to people outside of the binary? Chef’s kiss. Ru broadening the horizons of drag race to non-binary trans people is still so revolutionary after his previous comments about (and double standards for) trans contestants, for example Peppermint.’
General feeling appears to be that the signing of Bimini to Next is a milestone moment, as the queen has lifted the spirits of many. In the Pottergate underpass in Norwich, hometown of Bimini Bon Boulash, local artist Knapple and trans activist Sharpay Salazar painted a mural dedicated to Bimini:
The mural reads: ‘Bimini Babes watch the queen conquer whether you’re he, she or them!!! #TRANSRIGHTS’ This mural depicts Bimini in their iconic look from episode one of Drag Race season two in their Norwich City Football Club look. A look which Bimini articulated to be ‘slept on.’ On Instagram Bon Boulash commented ‘football hooliganism as a culture is mostly quite masculine and can be quite toxic. I endured a lot of this toxicity growing up and witnessing the enraged passion a lot of men had when supporting their football team. It’s one of the only times deemed acceptable for a man to cry, scream, kick, get angry. […] Flipping the script and bringing that culture to the main stage of drag race was still one of my favourite ever looks!’ In a hateful act of vandalism, this mural was painted over. In response to which, Bimini stated on Twitter ‘I don’t feel anger, I have sympathy. I feel sorry for the people who felt threatened or intimidated by a message portraying love, positivity and kindness.’ It is moments like this that show that representation really matters and is needed in order to tackle societal narrow-mindedness surrounding gender and gender expression. It seems that Bimini may be the next UK national treasure just to do so.