Bailey J Mills is standing in their local park, wearing their signature glasses over a ponytailed gimp mask. “Just waiting for people to arrive,” they explain. “For the dogging party.” On that note: welcome to another Dazed Day Out.
Hailing from Lincolnshire, the multi-talented performer and “meme queen” first shot to fame with TikToks posted in late 2020, and continued to serve us laughs and lewks as we languished in coronavirus lockdowns. Since then, they’ve also performed a sold-out show in London – with another, titled Bailey J Mills: Unfiltered & Scummy!,coming to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2023 – as well as featuring in Dazed’s summer 2023 issue, and becoming a parent.
Bailey J Mills doesn’t meet Dazed backstage at a club or a festival though. Instead, they lounge on a deckchair in their back alley, among the wheelie bins and an abandoned fridge. This is a pretty good indicator of their down-to-earth drag persona, inspired by the likes of Drag Race UK alums Baga Chipz and Ginny Lemon. Think: DIY Scooby Doo skits, mermaid-themed dance routines at the library, and the ubiquitous glasses and buck teeth.
“It’s British culture that inspired my characteristics,” Bailey tells Dazed. “But the teeth really change my voice. When I have the teeth on, or the glasses, it just changes me.”
From their back alley, Bailey takes us to the park, to check out one of the “best dogging spots in the UK” (hence the fetishwear) and to investigate the urban legend of a mermaid living in the river. After that, it’s carnage at the local library and a quick chat with a horny stranger over Omegle on the public computers, before Bailey has to make a swift exit. Along the way, we also get to hear firsthand about Bailey’s rise to viral fame, from the cultural differences they experienced when they went from performing in small towns to big cities, to how they’re navigating “staying true” to themself as a performer through parenthood.