BY NIGHT he’s drag queen Lucinda Lashes, one of the south coast’ top drag artists; by day he’s Ben Hathaway, new landlord of The Bevois Town Pub in Inner Avenue.

Ben took over the Southampton pub in November.

Having worked in numerous pubs and clubs in the area, including the London Hotel, Isobar and The Edge he had been interested in running his own pub for a while, but it was something he’d planned to do at a later stage.

But when the chance came to take over The Bevois Town Pub it was too good an opportunity to turn down – even though he was still busy with his cabaret act, not to mention the fact that it wasn’t an obvious place to open a gay bar.

“I do think it was a brave decision but we’ve just had really nice people coming in,” he says.

“You make the pub how you want it to be and it’s got a good atmosphere – it’s warm, friendly, bubbly and camp.”

As one of a handful of gay bars in Southampton The Bevois Town draws people in from a wide area – even as far away as Bournemouth and Brighton – but Ben is pleased to say that locals come in too.

And although The Bevois Town is a gay bar, everyone is welcome.

When Ben took over the pub he completely refurbished it. The facelift included the addition of a disco ball and a stage and alongside the more familiar pub attractions of drink, pool and bar food are cabaret nights with Ben’s alter ego Lucinda Lashes and other acts, drag artist Sally Vate with cash bingo, DJs and singers.

And Ben, who was head chef of the Mouldy Fig at the Concorde Club, is planning on introducing a bistro menu to the pub grub, breakfasts and Sunday roasts already on offer, adding the likes of poached pear, beef stroganoff and shredded lamb with pancakes and noodles to the burgers, jacket potatoes, toasties and chip-based dishes already on offer.

Not that there aren’t plenty of food treats on the menu already, including what Ben refers to as ‘a heart attack in a bowl’, his BT Bomb which includes brownies, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and sweets topped with both chocolate and butterscotch sauce.

The pub has been growing in popularity week by week and Ben hopes it will be a valuable addition to the range of gay venues in the area.

“I’ve opened up partly to enhance the gay scene in Southampton. The more venues the better, Southampton being a major city.”

As well as running the pub Ben is still out performing cabaret as Lucinda Lashes up to seven nights a week.

“It’s knackering but I’m happy.”

■ The Bevois Town is at 6 Middle Street, Southampton.

Tel: 023 8063 7001.

• Since this pub review was published in March 2010, the Bevois Town has since shut down.