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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Siobhan O'Connor

Panti Bliss teases pro partner could dance in drag on RTE Dancing With The Stars

Rory O'Neill said his alter ego Panti Bliss plans to perform out of drag on Dancing With the Stars – and he wants his pro partner to don the high heels and sequins.

The gay rights activist, who is partnered with Denys Sampson, has been pleasantly surprised by the largely positive reaction to his TV antics.

Rory, 54, said he will dance out of drag at least once as part of a same-sex couple, and is also hoping Denys will dance in drag.

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He said: “It’s definitely come up because obviously we hope to get to the final, but we might not.

“Along the way over lunch and chocolate bars we have conversations, we think of stuff we might do along the way.

“He would be totally up for it. If anyone is slightly resistant it’s me, I want to be the pretty one in the relationship.”

Panti has emerged as a dark horse in the competition winning praise for last week’s quickstep routine to Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon.

Even perfectionist judge Brian Redmond was won over, remarking: “Technically it was very good.”

Now with 10 contestants left in the running for the Glitterball trophy, Rory is hoping she can go all the way to the final.

He said: “I think I have a slight advantage over some of the others, in that I am a performer.

“Doing it doesn’t freak me out as much as some of the others.

“I wasn’t glamorous last week, but I had a word with costume.

“I am not going to dress up like a giant chicken having a fight in a circus tent again.

“People have been mostly nice to my face. I have the male vote knocked up, I’m going to force the queers to vote for me.

“I didn’t realise that so many people watch it and get really into it, because quite a lot of people stop you in the street to talk to you about it.

“Don’t tell anybody... but I hadn’t watched it before.”

Rory reported “very little” negative feedback but admitted: “If you’ve a problem with the gays it’s not really the show for you.

“All the glitter and the sequins, I think homophobes aren’t watching Dancing With The Stars.”

Queen of Ireland Panti Bliss with Dance Partner Denys Samson during Dancing With The Stars Series 6. (Pic : Kyran O’Brien/kobpix)

As the second oldest contestant on the show he has struck up a friendship with the oldest – former state pathologist Marie Cassidy.

He revealed: “Last week most of us went out and went to Panti Bar. [Marie was] last out, not necessarily at the legal closing time either.”

And he said he’s been “pleasantly surprised” with the attitude to Panti on the show.

He said: “Arthur [Gourounlian] is flaming out every Sunday.

“It’s before the watershed... they’re all freaked that a ‘jesus’ or a ‘f**k’ might slip out.

“But there’s absolutely no qualms around queerness.

“In a way sometimes I look at the straight blokes struggling their way through a cha cha cha with sequins all over their shirts.

“I think they feel more uncomfortable than I do, they have to embrace more.”

Panti was a driving force behind the marriage referendum vote and the subject of a feature documentary, The Queen of Ireland.

But Rory said despite touting for votes on social media he is not using the reality show as an alchemy test to run for president.

Rory O'Neill AKA Panti Bliss (RTE)

He said: “No. It’s hard for me to behave, to get into politics you have to be able to behave.

“During the live show, they practically have someone
separately employed to run over and tell me how to behave, to stop talking when I’m not supposed to be.

“Not to be making funny faces behind when someone else is being interviewed.

“Nobody invites me anywhere expecting me to behave. I do like some argy bargy, I’m not afraid of telling people what I think.

“But I’m not cut out for the supposedly genteel world of politics.

“I’d go absolutely mental sitting in the [Phoenix] Park with nothing to do.”

On the trials of wearing high heels and corsets, he said: “When I was in my 20s, I’d be happy to run around nightclubs all night and fall into bed with my make-up on.

“That is never happening these days. As you get older, it is even more uncomfortable, but I still enjoy it and the performing and the drag of it.

“I look at Mr Pussy, she won’t mind me saying she’s fine vintage and Pussy can still do it. But at around 40 I found more controlled ways to do it, so I’m not throwing myself around the bar late at night.

“I get younger people to do that. I focus on the drag in my theatre shows, I hope I’ll be able to continue doing [that] until my last breath really.

“But not only am I the second eldest contestant, I’m also the only one doing it with a wig glued to me face, my eyebrows glued down.

“There are layers of foam rubber and padding that nobody else has.

“It turns out there’s life in the old bird yet.”

  • Dancing With the Stars is on RTE One on Sunday at 6.30pm.


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