Dexter Clift is not your average 23-year-old. Six weeks ago he was catapulted into the limelight as his drag alter ego River Medway was cast on the international hit show RuPaul's Drag Race UK.
The shock double elimination in last week's episode saw the Kent drag star sashay away from the BBC Three competition. She spoke to Laoise Gallagher about her experience on the show and what's next for drag fans across the county.
River Medway says she will never forget her home-town
It's not often that you hear Medway being mentioned on national television, but for the past six weeks drag queen River Medway has been putting the Towns on a global stage.
Taking inspiration from her home-town, the star even took her name from the 70-mile body of water flowing through the county.
On the show she said: "I named myself after Kent's most famous river because it's full of ****, just like me."
However, it's not just her name that reflects her home in Medway - on the first episode she wore an outfit inspired by the infamous statue of Thomas Waghorn in Railway Street, Chatham.
The moment was labelled as 'iconic', leaving head judge RuPaul Charles in fits of laughter and confusion as River shuffled down the runway imitating the exact pose.
With the show being watched across the globe, thousands of fans have shared photographs with cones on their heads and one fan in America made a replica costume for her Halloween party.
Reflecting on her time in the competition, River said: "This is the thing, it's so important for me to to not forget where I've come from and I think people are so quick to say I need to get out of my home-town, I need to move, there's nothing for me here, there's no one like me.
"That's not going to change unless you do something yourself and I think it's so important for young people in Medway and Kent to just see people like themselves.
"The fact that I'm born and raised in Medway, now I feel like I need to give back and I want young people in Medway to see themselves on TV. It's why I'm so vocal about it and why I'm so proud of where I've come from."
One of her main story lines on the show was the heartbreaking revelation that she had recently lost her mum to Covid-19.
River shared her experience with grief and kept her mum's memory alive by wearing looks and accessories inspired by David Bowie - her mum's favourite singer.
She also wore her mum's brown suede two-piece in the 'Drag-lexa' challenge in week five and was complimented by the judges.
Backstage River shared: "She caught Covid and she got really unwell and had to go to hospital. She passed away after nine days and it was really, really quick.
"I was so upset, so depressed and I didn't think I could do anything. I remember going into her bedroom and laying on her bed and talking to her and telling her I was going to make her so proud and get on Drag Race one day."
Speaking to KentOnline, River revealed: "To be honest, I'm really glad I did it. I'm really happy that Drag Race gave me the safe environment for me to do that and I felt really comfortable opening up and talking to Ella Vaday, one of my close friends.
"I felt comfortable really just getting to tell my story because I knew how important it would be for me to tell my story on TV."
She not only hopes to be a voice for people experiencing grief, but also for young LGBTQ+ people in Kent. In recent months she had performed at Medway Pride, Canterbury Pride and has been spotted at youth events in Medway.
She added: "It's really important. I just want to meet people and talk to people because if I had that when I was younger, a lot of things would have been a lot easier.
"I really want to connect with young people and just talk to them, help them and let them know that you can do whatever you want, even if you’re from Medway."
Previously eliminated stars from this years series have spoken out about the elitist culture within the show, with a more expensive aesthetic seemingly preferred by the judging panel. Coming from a working class background, many of River's runway looks were home-made and she faced criticism for this at times.
She said: "It definitely is harder when you don't have the resources because it's an extra thing you have to think about which some people might not have to. I could only afford to maybe get a few of my outfits made, if that.
"Obviously I do all of my own hair because otherwise I don't know what I would do - I would not have been in the financial situation at all to do that.
"I think from very early on in life, especially if you're from quite a working class town, you just don't see yourself ever getting anywhere like that. I wouldn't say it's unfair but it was the fact that on the show I did have to make some of my outfits.
"It's not because I love sewing - I don't really - it's more like I had to learn how to sew because I had to make some of this stuff myself if I wanted enough outfits."
The star was eliminated following her performance as Amy Childs (The Only Way Is Essex) in the comedy game show challenge 'Snatch Game'.
Her hand-made fruit bowl inspired look was then critiqued by the judges and she found herself up for elimination against Newcastle based queen Choriza May.
The pair battled it out in a lip-sync performance of 'Shout' by Lulu - River Medway cartwheeled and spun around the stage, but despite her best efforts RuPaul remained unimpressed and both queens were told to sashay away in a shock double elimination.
River said: "I don’t think anyone saw it coming. I feel like I was like, yeah I'm probably going be lip syncing - after the runway I knew I was probably going to be in the bottom.
"No way did I think it was going to be a double elimination, I don’t think it was that bad. I guess they love the drama on drag race don’t they."
So, what's next for the upcoming superstar? River shared that she loves entertaining and has lots of exciting plans to be revealed next year. She hopes to take her act across the country and perform all over the world.
Reflecting on the past few months she said: "Obviously, I would've loved to have made it to the end but I literally feel like I did so well on the show and I really showed off so many different parts of me.
"I couldn't ask for more to be honest apart from winning, obviously. There's nothing that could prepare you for an experience like this and I wasn't expecting the reaction to be this good.
"I wasn't sure how Medway were going to react to it. I wasn't sure how the world was going to react to me because you never know really. It's just been so good and I'm really grateful for it.
"I want people to know that you can come from a very working class background and sometimes we do have to work a little bit harder than other people, but that's okay because we're going to be even stronger for it and you can still be successful."