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Sunday, May 26, 2024

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Sober & Thriving: Heidi Licious

If you’re a regular on the London gay scene, you will know Heidi Licious. It’s impossible not to be struck by her trademark cartoonish drag and ebullient character. The Adelaide-born icon is marking thirty years of drag with a non-alcoholic toast because she is now six years alcohol and drug-free, and helping others…

Interview by Jason Reid.

I start by asking why she gave up when she did, was there a catalyst of sorts?

“My health had suffered dramatically. I don’t think I was ever aware that I had a drug problem. Drinks were free, drugs were free, and everyone gave me stuff. It was just part and parcel of being on the scene. I guess it started out slowly: a night became a weekend, and a weekend became more than a few days, and in the end, it was constant partying. I was having fun, but I never gave myself a chance to comedown.”

“It was basically give up, or die. I was really at that point.” Heidi explains frankly.

Although Heidi was enjoying constant partying, the physical and mental effects of a diet of alcohol and drugs started to take their toll.

“I had no kind of reality of what was going on. You don’t emotionally connect with people. It’s all crazy, frivolous stuff. Meeting new people all the time, getting deep, and a couple of days later never speaking to or seeing them again.”

There’s a sense of relief in Heidi’s voice as she proudly tells me she’s now six years clean. It’s an incredible feat, to come from where she was. The word inspirational is so often overused, but it’s truly apt in Heidi’s case.

After taking a year out to “find her way”, Heidi tentatively returned to doing what she loved; starting with DJing at the Duke of Wellington once a week. Now she has much more work.

Heidi 2

I inquire as to how Heidi stays sober…

“It gets easier as time goes on. The longer I’m clean, the easier it becomes to want to stay clean. I’ve found a group of friends who are also sober, and that really helps. Meeting are very helpful as well. Crucially, for me, one is too many and a thousand is never enough. So I know if I have even one drink, it could end up being a thousand because I just can’t stop. It’s all or nothing.”

Heidi now works as a sobriety angel at Jodie Harsh’s Feel It club night every Friday. Its something she’s very proud of, and rightly so. I think it’s an initiative that should be expanded. Perhaps with Heidi at the helm.

“We let people know that I’m there, so if they want to come to the party drug-free or alcohol-free, they will know someone who’s in the same boat, someone they can talk to. It does feel a little bit groundbreaking. I don’t know if other clubs have done this before? I’ve not heard of it.

“Sometimes people approach me who think they may have a problem. I give them my Instagram so we can chat another time when they’re not high” she laughs.

We continue by talking about the importance of the sobriety angel role, and advice for those who are struggling with alcohol and substance abuse.

“Being a sobriety angel is fun, and it’s nice to be surrounded by young LGBT people. It’s also very enriching. I look at these young kids, and I’ve been there, done it all. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything because I did everything that I wanted to do.

“For people reading this who are struggling, there are some great gay programmes around. Or contact me through my Instagram @heidiliscious. I’m more than happy to help”

Wrapping up the interview, Heidi tells me how her day-to-day life has changed for the better:

“I’ve got so much energy now. I feel like the longer I stay clean, the better it gets. Everything just gets better and better. I’m able to do my work better, and I get more work. It’s brilliant. And to look out for other people is so important”

For help and support with the issues raised in this article, contact London Friend: londonfriend.org.uk

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