It all started in Heaven—Heaven nightclub, that is.
As the British cabaret and burlesque star Tyreece Nye was making a name for themselves in London nightlife, they did a series of performances at the storied superclub, which opened in the late 1970s and has hosted performances by gay icons like Madonna, Grace Jones and Cher and, in more recent years, Kim Petras and Robyn.
Tyreece’s performances caught the attention of Rebecca More, who was then one half of the viral sensation the Cock Destroyers. More invited Tyreece to take part in the U.K. TV series Slag Wars, which featured sex workers and other sex-positive performers, like Tyreece, competing to be named “The Next Destroyer”—a play on the pair’s own viral fame. Tyreece won the series, catapulting their career, but it was on TikTok where they really took off, garnering an audience of nearly 800,000 rabid fans with their flawless fashion and unabashed pride in their identity as a Black non-binary creator.
In the two years since winning Slag Wars, Tyreece’s star has continued to rise. Last year they were featured on the Amazon Prime series Just So You Know, and they’re about to star in a Channel 4 Pride special in England, where they’ve been slaying red carpets from the premiere of Bridgerton Season 2 to the debut of the queer feature film Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. And now, the burgeoning queer fashion icon takes Xtra on a tour of their own stomping ground—the inclusive, eclectic and incredibly queer neighbourhood of Dalston in East London—in a video named after our travel spotlight on the British capital, London Calling.
Tyreece caught up with Xtra while they were on a train ride through London between cabaret gigs to talk about the city’s queer scene, the Cock Destroyers breakup and why media needs more positive queer stories.
You just shot a queer tour of London with Xtra, how did the shoot go?
The shoot was amazing. I got to show hot pockets of queer London, real queer centres that haven’t been taken over by heteronormativity. I didn’t want to show any spaces I don’t feel safe in. With the commercialization of queer spaces, people love to go to gay clubs because it’s fun. But if other people feel safe in our spaces, where does that leave us?
Give us one tip for a gaycation to London. What should queer and trans folk coming to the city know?
If you want somewhere that’s very inclusive and welcoming, stick to Shoreditch and East London. Soho is obviously seen as the queer capital, but it’s overrun with tourism. None of the bars are really queer, they’re much more for tourists. Stick to East London if you want a true experience of the queer scene.
How inclusive is the queer scene in London? Are there many safe spaces for queer women, trans and non-binary folks and BIPOC queers?
There are, but there needs to be more. Many are very tailored to a cis, white audience. There are amazing parties and events for other folks, but they don’t happen often enough. There’s Pxssy Palace, which is a trans, POC-led event that’s probably the most amazing party in the city. It happens once every two or three months in South London. There are little bars like Dalston Superstore, which we visited for London Calling. It’s an amazing safe space for drag kings, POCs and trans women. They’ve got an amazing trans night every Wednesday. It’s growing but there are never enough safe spaces!
I’m obsessed with your personal style. How does your day-to-day fashion compare to what we see on TikTok or in the clubs?
My fashion for the day is definitely in keeping with my nighttime style. I wear my thigh-highs and a lot of black leather. I’m, like, a biker’s them-friend!
You’re becoming a red carpet staple in England. What’s your signature red carpet style?
I’m lucky to have an amazing stylist, Lewis Robert Cameron, who understands what I want to do when I hit a red carpet. It’s still very rare for someone like me to hit the carpet, so I always want to have something that seems classic, but with a queer twist. My Jamie premiere, that was a bridal dress the designer etched with graffiti. It was really powerful. When I hit the carpet, I want to have a message. I want little Tyreeces to know they can grow up and be fabulous and you don’t have to dim your light.
Your fashion is incredibly queer, in the best way. How does being queer and non-binary influence your style?
It’s more my mood that influences me. Some days I’ll feel extra feminine and I’ll want to wear a dress. I don’t really dress because of my identity, or I’m thinking of how people perceive me. At the end of the day clothes don’t have a gender—they’re just clothes.
In 2020, you won Slag Wars and The Cock Destroyers named you “The Next Destroyer.” How many cocks have you destroyed in the past two years?
I have destroyed none, because I’m such a fragile little beast.
Were you as heartbroken as the rest of us that The Cock Destroyers split up?
They were so prevalent in the queer community. They fell in love with [the queer community] because we’re often demonized for how we act and with them being porn stars, we accepted them with open arms. It was a massive blow. Their friendship was so strong, so you’d think they’d last forever. I do hope they come back.
You’re HUGE on TikTok. What’s it like to be internet famous?
It feels so right. It feels correct. I always said to my mum and my agent: “I want to be a global icon.” That’s my goal. I’ve had so many people tell me I need to do a nine-to-five, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not for me. I want to be a star.
I don’t just want to be an influencer. I want to be an activist. Even 10 years ago, there was no one on TV looking like me and acting like me. I want to show everyone you can be you, be successful and be happy. There are too many queer stories in media that are negative. The positive aspect of being queer is kind of forgotten about.
What’s next for you?
My next goal is to be on a Netflix series. I’ve never really used my musical theatre and acting training. I’d love to be in something like Black Mirror. I’m into manifestation!