Haus: How much skin is too much skin?
Tilly: I think that if you're comfortable in the skin you're in, there's never too much that can be on show. Just fucking go for it! People might tell you to stop relying on that body, but if that's all that you have, what else are you supposed to do?
Haus: In terms of Tilly Skreams, how much skin is too much skin?
Tilly: Well I used to start the night with my clothes on... and then take them off because I get really hot and sweaty, which then ruins my makeup, so if I get too hot my makeup comes off. So off come the clothes. And as a result I seem to have become known for that...
Haus: Being naked?
Tilly: Yeah. And now I start the night naked because at least then there's no costume changes. Problem solved.
Tilly: She's none of them! She's tongue in cheek and a complete joke. She's certainly not a whore. She's very glamorous, but I guess that depends on what you class as glamour. I think glamour is someone who's confident, fabulous and extroverted, but being trashy and whorey are two completely different things entirely. Being whorey is very much down to your personality over the way you look. I aim toward the kind of profile the icons that I worshipped as a teenager had, who were mostly 'it'-girls.
Haus: So which of these icons would you say are Tilly's main influences?
Tilly: Well people will probably assume that I'll say Britney Spears. Pop is what started me off, so there are certainly influences; Britney, Ke$ha, but it's also Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and those sorts of celebrities - the O.C. crowd. Tilly is very American cheerleader and very young. It's funny really; Katy Perry and Ke$ha and Lady Gaga are older than me, but they market themselves much younger. I'm 26, but Tilly is definitely much younger, probably in her early twenties.
Haus: The Teen Movie Cha Cha Boudoir was a peculiar night because it seemed like there were a thousand Tillys in the audience. Even Anna looked like you!
Tilly: That's me in my element there.
Tilly: Nothing. Because it would all have to be censored and all they'd hear is bass. It's not exactly child-friendly... it's the Miley Cyrus route. I'm not meant to be a role model and it's not meant for teenagers. Having a chorus that says "cream for me and cream on me" isn't necessarily what you'd want your kids to grow up singing...
Haus: They might think it's about... baking...
Tilly: Tilly uses a lot of baking goods in her performances. Really I'm just channelling my inner domestic goddess.
Haus: Tilly Skreams on the Great British Bake Off?
Tilly: Fuck having a mixer, I'll do it with my tits.
Haus: "Everyone else is making the cake in a bowl, but I'm making it on me."
Tilly: I'd be in a giant martini glass with whipped cream, egg and cake batter.
Haus: That's definitely what Mary Berry's looking for. Actually, Paul Hollywood probably is looking for something like that.
Tilly: Channelling my inner Nigella.
Haus: So on the flipside, what do you think a group of university professors would think of Skream 4 Me?
Tilly: They'd be confused. About their sexualities. Because they'd fancy me.
Haus: Obviously. But would you say there is an intellectual message behind the song? In the way that people look at pop songs retrospectively and decipher a hidden political meaning behind it.
Tilly: Well I'm being a complete parody of myself. The song is very self-indulgent and selling sex, but it's not me having an ego trip shouting "This is what I think of myself!" It's poking fun at that genre of person. You can easily pick pop apart and dissect it and say that certain themes aren't acceptable for younger ears, but there's nothing behind this further than a complete piss-take.
Haus: So not even a cultural meaning...?
Tilly: Well I feel very much a part of the Queer Alt movement and sometimes people seem to think Tilly is nothing more than a self-absorbed drag queen, when really Tilly is actually poking fun at drag queens like that.
Tilly: Yes. Tilly is proud of her body. I am one hundred percent in control of my actions; the way I speak and the way I dress. What annoys me about many feminists is that a lot of them seem determined to look deliberately unattractive to make a statement, whereas if other people go the opposite way, they brand them as being exploited, or abused. That's not feminist at all. I'm displaying my body in the same way that some feminists display theirs, but they're doing it for a political reason. It's the same thing. Just because a woman exposes her body doesn't mean that she's being controlled by a man, or being cajoled into it by someone else. Most of the time, she's doing it for herself. Nowadays, women in pop music do have a lot of control over the way they look and what they wear. I don't think there's a man behind a desk somewhere telling Iggy Azalea what to wear, or manipulating Nicki Minaj or Jennifer Lopez.
Haus: I think some of those clothes-horse pop puppets do still exist, but I think the majority of popstars see image as part of the fame. If they want to become successful, then they have to refine their image. If that means slimming down, going to the gym and reinventing themselves, then so be it. They have to make themselves marketable. And as we all know, sex sells.
Tilly: But where did the stigma come from attached to that? What's actually wrong with sex selling? They're not prostituting themselves. I think that if you are in control of it all and you're doing something that you love and empowers you, then you're essentially a feminist. You're empowering women! I'm not dressed as Tilly for men to look at her and think "Ooh, she's fit!", I'm doing it for me. And who knows, maybe one day I'll inspire other people to do the same and feel good.
Haus: And if, en route, some men do want to bang Tilly Skreams, the more the merrier?
Tilly: Well exactly. Stating the obvious.
Haus: Does Tilly have many admirers?
Tilly: Oh yes. It's funny because people assume that they would be gay people, but it's far from it. I don't think I've ever had a homosexual come onto me as Tilly Skreams. They've always been straight.
Tilly: I like femme realness and looking like a girl, but my makeup is still very clown-like in the way that I contour. I don't look like a girl at all. I guess for somebody who's not really that educated in what drag is, like a straight boy, would think a drag queen is some butch old guy in a wig and feathers and sequins on Blackpool Pier, so I guess I come as a bit of a surprise. I always seem to have this following of straight men though, which makes me laugh.
Haus: I wonder how they would feel about encountering Boy Tilly on the street, knowing that it's him.
Tilly: Some have and still message me on Facebook. I'm very upfront about it and tell them that I'm a boy and a drag queen, I'm not trying to be trans or a girl. I don't go out on a normal night out as a girl.
Haus: You don't go out in drag unless you're paid for it!
Tilly: Unless there's money in my pocket, I ain't putting a wig on for no one. It's too much effort.
Haus: So how does Boy Tilly feel about showing flesh? Obviously we see you as Tilly all the time, dressed in very little, but when we see you as a boy you wear long sleeve shirts and you're covered up.
Tilly: I would never in a million years be in a club in Manchester dressed as a boy and take my top off. Just never. But I guess that's the beauty of drag and what Tilly does to me. I definitely see Tilly as a form of therapy for myself because as a boy I'm actually quite a shy person, but as Tilly I can be this really over the top character who can take control of a room and make everyone look at her. As a boy, I don't want that attention because I find it a little bit uncomfortable. I always say that I don't use Tilly as a mask or an alterego, she's very much an extension of myself, but it is a bit like having a split personality. It's good to have the difference between the two though. As a boy I quite like being reserved and blending in a bit because half the month I spend going out and being a trashy hoebag, getting all the attention and living for that, because I am a bit of attention-seeker, but then that's why I can step back as a boy and not have to be the centre of attention. People always think I'm taking the piss when I say this, but it's the classic "extrovert trapped inside a introvert's body" thing. I put a wig on, go out in front of an audience and you can either go one hundred percent, or you can fail. And failing is not an option for me.
Haus: You're basically Sasha Fierce.
Tilly: But not paid as well. Yet. However, Skream 4 Me is the first of many songs. Christopher Dresden Styles and I are currently writing the second single, which is very exciting. We're hoping to have EP together by the end of the year.