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A bird with large hands is worth two with no…ahem.

Al goes from Primeval man to drag superstar in one fell swoop at the Birdcage, Manchester’s newest and campest cabaret experience.

Published on November 21st 2006.


A bird with large hands is worth two with no…ahem.
The Birdcage

Sometimes I feel like I’m being used. Examples: my friends will get back in touch with me when they’re about to move house. Gordo will happily invite me out for a beer on the one condition that I clown about sufficiently to keep him entertained. So when Gemma called me and asked if I’d like to go to drag school “because no-one else will do it”, it didn’t surprise me a bit.

So last week I found myself in the Birdcage, Manchester’s newest cabaret club, surrounded by builders, and dressed up as a cross between Bet Lynch and one of Marge Simpson’s sisters. The builders were apparently meant to have finished the place by that point but had “fallen behind”, let me tell you, the sight of me in my knickers made them get a move on!

The Birdcage, for those of you who’ve not noticed, is situated in the new Arndale centre, across the road from Tiger Tiger. And the reason for all this tomfoolery was for us at the press to get a taste of what it’s like to be a drag queen, something the Birdcage knows a lot about. It’s been going strong in Leeds for a while now with it’s unique brand of music, dancing and men-dressed-as-ladies-miming-to- camp-classics.

Now before you start, forget what Walliams and Lucas have taught you, these fellas look the business. I was introduced to “Precious” who was going to be my drag mentor for the day. Let me tell you, he/she knocked the socks off a couple of the girls in my little black book. Seriously, with a few beers inside you…

Now this is where, once again, I started to feel a bit like the object of everyone’s mirth, because I seemed to be the comedy tranny, (a fag smoking, pregnant slut to be precise) whilst Paul Crone from Granada Reports looked like Shirley Bassey’s better-looking sister. Needless to say everyone fell about laughing and my dreams of a job as a “Birdcage Starlet” were dashed.

So, to the opening night on Thursday. I’ll be honest, I went with the idea that I wasn’t going to like it. “Too camp for me!” thought I. When I got there however, my mind changed pretty sharpish. The dance floor was heaving as the drag queen DJ knocked out one classic seventies track after another. Every 40 minutes or so the “Birdcage Starlets” would treat us to a little song and dance routine, just to make sure everyone was having a good time. Don’t get me wrong, the place is as camp as Christmas, but I like it. It’s like the nightclub out of Boogie Nights (if only it had the light up dance floor) and it’s funky!

Click here to see Al's transformation

Go with an open mind and some booze inside you and you’d have to be a pretty miserable so-and-so not to have a great time. You can book one of the booths with your mates to ensure you’ve got a good view of the stage for the cabaret slots, and easy access to the dance floor when it’s your turn.

Girls, it’s just the sort of place for a hen do, the more outrageous you are the better as far as the club’s concerned I’m sure.

Lads, don’t turn your noses up at it just because of the cross dressing. It’s a great fun place and it is NOT a gay club. Hey, if the girls take my advice there’ll be plenty of drunk hen parties to play with…… just watch who you grope after a few sherbets!

For more information on the Birdcage Manchester, click here to visit their website.

Alastair McCall
Al: c2006, pre-drag
Al: c2006, pre-drag
At the Birdcage - Al begins to realise what he’s let himself in for
At the Birdcage - Al begins to realise what he’s let himself in for
Precious gets to work
Precious gets to work
Don’t call me babe
“Don’t call me babe”
Paul Crone gets feathers and sequins. Al gets a fake pregnancy and a fag
Paul Crone gets feathers and sequins. Al gets a fake pregnancy and a fag.
Don’t call me babe
“Hangin’ with ma bitches”
“Ah, another successful day at Drag School”
“Ah, another successful day at Drag School”

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