Empress of the Midnight Mass, Devoid of Flaw, Actress, Director and Aaaaall About Evil. Talk Toxic presents… PEACHES CHRIST!

Cover Photo courtesy of Austin Young

 

Cult is a way of life, no one knows this better than Peaches Christ. Her Midnight Mass shows celebrate B-Movie culture and trash cinema, elevating symbols of camp excess to icon status.

Of course, the Peaches empire doesn’t stop with the decade long running MM series. After completing hysterical short films, Spin the Bottle and the infamous Tranilogy of Terror, Peaches began work on her feature film, All About Evil. A schlock horror classic boasting performances by B-Culture idols, Elvira and Mink Stole as well as Natasha Lyonne and Thomas Dekker. AAE has led Peaches on a TRANScontinental journey, converting theatre goers all over the world into neophytes of the PC doctrine, her Children of the Popcorn.

Come with me as we talk the meaning of success, Faye Dunaway, horror sequels and of course Disney World.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you, PEACHES CHRIST….

Photo courtesy of Jose Guzman Colon

Photo courtesy of Jose Guzman Colon

Dis) Cult film leader, film maker, production manager, horror hostess… you lead an incredibly varied and exciting career. How do you perceive your success?

Peaches) I guess I think of success as being linked to my level of happiness and it was always my big goal to be able to make a living doing what I love and even though I’m far from being rich, I am now able to pay my bills through Peaches events, filmmaking, and teaching.  I had a regular job running movie theaters all the way up to 2009 and I loved working in movie exhibition but it was an exciting leap to leave and be able to work for myself.  I’m grateful I’m in a position to do that and think of that as being successful, though I’d still love to have more of a financial cushion.  Basically, I’m tired of being poor.

D) and what’s next on the agenda; World domination, Skiing in aspen? Modelling for Westwood?

P) Next up is more large events in SF and hopefully more touring, as well as developing another feature film and a new TV project and then Disney World.  I love Walt Disney World. Anyway, there’s a current project in the pipe-line which is a sorta reality web show that follows myself, other performers, and crew around while we are preparing for one of our big events.  The working title is “Life Is A Drag”.  They are currently shooting our behind-the-scenes world leading up to the big Grey Gardens event we’re doing with Jinkx and Mink and the show should come out in early 2014.

D) Your feature film, ‘All About Evil’ has taken you on a transcontinental (Pun very much intended) journey, how have you
enjoyed the experience and did you expect the level of support the film received?

P) The whole All About Evil experience was a literal dream come true.  I’d always wanted to make a feature film and so to get to do it with a script I wrote and directed, while being able to work with my dream cast, and then go on a TRANScontinental tour with the movie doing shows in cities around the world was an absolute incredible experience.  I was living on “planet evil” for almost three years between getting ready to make the movie, making the movie, and then touring with the movie and I’ll always have super fond memories of the experience.  It’s the kind of movie that has a very specific audience of sick people who love dark humor.  It’s always flattering to hear someone is a fan of the movie.

D) Could you give us a couple of highlights from the AAE tour?

P) I adored our UK Premiere in Manchester, England where I was able to travel with some SF performers and collaborate with a giant group of British drag queens who dressed in monster-drag and performed with us.  The movie is about a librarian who murders people and there were even actors there disguised as librarians protesting outside the theatre saying things like “the only thing we kill is illiteracy!”  The protest was so effective that riot police were brought in!  And during the screening of the film that night someone vomited.  All in all, it was a perfect experience.  Another highlight was presenting the film at the legendary Alamo Drafthouse in Austin with stars Cassandra Peterson and Mink Stole.  My local ghoul friend Christeene helped produce the event and it was super fun and cool.  We all had a blast!

Photo c/o Jose Guzman Colon

Photo c/o Jose Guzman Colon

D) Midnight Mass has become an institution in S.F. How has the show evolved over the years?

P) We began the event in 1998 and it grew out of the Trannyshack world where I was a regular performer.  I just wanted to create an event that incorporated a drag show and cult movies and so we really just tried loads of different things over the years.  I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could get away with doing stuff I probably shouldn’t have, things that are probably even illegal.  . Drag queen roller-derby, mother / daughter mud wrestling and more were regular staples at our Midnight Mass events.  There were injuries.  It was debaucherous and crazy and the event just grew and grew over the years to the point where we outgrew the Bridge Theatre and now host our shows at the historic Castro Theatre movie palace.

D) Do you ever plan on touring ‘MM’ abroad?

P) We’ve actually recreated Midnight Mass in Belgium, Switzerland, and England and I’d love to do it again.  Of course it’s really expensive to do but if anyone out there overseas wants to bring me in, I’m up for it!

D) The Peaches Christ character blends classic showgirl glamour with rabidly colourful B-Movie culture to wonderful effect. How did you conceive the look and style of Peaches?

P) I grew up in Maryland and was so obviously influenced by the John Waters world of Dreamlanders and Divine.  My other huge drag influences were Frankenfurter and Elvira so when I was creating Peaches Christ I was really trying to pull from these worlds of cinematic icons, and mix them with some classics like Joan Crawford by way of Faye Dunaway.  I love lots of eye makeup and big brows obviously and in a sense I’ve always been comfortable with the idea that Peaches is essentially a really glamorous clown.

D) Your affection for b-movie culture has influenced every part of your career, what is it about this side of the counter-culture that inspires you to do what you do and occasionally even inspire your mother to do what you do?

P) I was always attracted to the world of b-movies and midnight movies and trashy VHS rentals. I consumed them as if it were my addiction.  I guess it all represented a sorta escape from regular life that I was looking for where people could be insane and colorful and deviant and that these things could be celebrated.  My mom has had a really long time to accept my strange interests and as Peaches evolved my mom was always really super supportive so when I invited her to perform with us the first time, it was fairly natural.  People loved seeing her up onstage with Heklina and I in Trannie Dearest.  I think the audience appreciated that level of parental support for what’s essentially a transgressive drag show.

D) You’ve worked with an incredible cast of characters from Squeaky Blonde and Elvira to Mink Stole, Vinsantos and Natasha Lyonne. Are there any more hits on the list for you, are we maybe to expect Faye Dunaway to co-star in a Peaches movie alongside and Heklina et al?

c/o Jose Guzman Colon

c/o Jose Guzman Colon

P) Faye Dunaway is the ULTIMATE on my list!  But I’m not going to hold my breath.  I would so love to do a celebration of Mommie Dearest with her and have her really embrace it with the true fans.  She’s brilliant in that film and deserves to be seen as such.  Of course I’d kill to do a Showgirls event with either Gina Gershon or Elizabeth Berkley.

D) Who would be your ultimate counter-culture icon to work with?

P) Hmmm, that’s a really tough question to answer, primarily because I don’t know if you mean counterculture in the traditional hippie sense or not.  I think if I were to think of someone in the more traditional way I’d say Yoko Ono.  And perhaps if it were in the more modern way I might be interested in doing a show with Marilyn Manson.  That could be really great.

D) One of the first films I saw of yours, following the ‘Spin the Bottle’ Madonna parody, was ‘Nightmare on Castro Street’ of your Tranilogy of Terror which I still love! Have you any plans to revisit the trilogy or prepare another selection of shorts featuring Ms. Blonde et al?

P) I’d love to do another collaboration with Squeaky!  She’s one of my first real drag sisters and she’s really who taught me how to do makeup- her and Putanesca.  Since making All About Evil I’ve done a couple of new shorts including “The Nomi Auditions” which we just made for our latest Showgirls event.  I love making movies so I think shorts will always be part of my world and another set of horror parodies is definitely something I’m thinking about.

Peaches c/o Marianne LaRochelle

Peaches c/o Marianne LaRochelle

D) Referenced in the aforementioned ‘Spin…’ short was your glittering music career spawning such hits as ‘Idol Worship’ and ‘Devoid of Flaw’ and who could forget the ‘Peaches is Gangsta’ record. When do we finally get the album we’ve all been waiting for?

P) Ha!  I don’t know if anyone is actually waiting on a PC album but I’m thrilled to hear it.  I work with this fantastic music producer Ric Ray who writes loads of songs for me and we’re talking about an album.  He’s also the Art Director on our big events.  It would be great to put out a collection of songs we’ve created for Peaches.  There are definitely more than enough for an album.

D) Many of your fans wait with baited breath for Martiny to step into the spotlight and shine, is there a talk show in the works, a scandalous book detailing years of abuse or perhaps a home cooking channel (dairy free of course) in the works for SF’s ‘Most tragic drag queen?’

Part of Martiny’s rabid fan base comes from the fact that she’s truly a drag-queen sidekick with no real aspirations to be in the spotlight.  I mean that truly is extraordinary.  What drag queen in her right mind turns down chance after to chance to be the star, but she does.  I make fun of Martiny for being the most flawed and tragic drag queen in all of San Francisco, but perhaps this was all part of her master plan to win the love of audiences by playing the underdog.  What a manipulative bitch.  Anyhow, for all you weirdos in love with Martiny you’ll be happy to know she’s co-starring in our upcoming 9 TO 5 event at the Castro Theatre on Nov. 23rd.  She’s playing “atta girl” Margaret, the alcoholic.  Troll girl is playing Roz, Heklina is playing the Lily character, Pandora Boxx is doing Dolly, and I’m doing the Jane character.  Should be loads of fun.

D) Drag culture has been witnessing a renaissance due in part to a number of different factors. How do you perceive the contemporary drag culture and what do you make of those coming up in the scene?

P) I think that while drag culture seems to be more popular and in a sense I guess it is, it’s still not mainstream and I’m glad it’s not.  I hope it stays that way.  Drag fans are special and TV and the internet have really helped deliver drag queens to more homes and computers and there’s a real big pool of new talent, and fans are hungrier and more rabid for their queens than I’ve seen in the past but in the same way that they’ve been packaged and delivered, it’s also seeming like they’re quickly being left behind when a new crop rolls onto the screen.  I think queens still have to work hard to stay fresh and relevant and be entertaining and create their own longevity.  Drag Race and internet stardom will certainly help a queen make a big splash, but in order to still be around in ten years she’s going to have to fight hard for it.  I’m a fan of so many of the new up and coming queens and am glad I’m in a position to work with so many of them through the events I produce.

D) Did you ever think that after donning the maquillage for the first time, that drag would take you on the journey it has done?

P) No, never.  It’s hilarious and extraordinary to me when I think back on how clueless I was about what was going to evolve.

D) Finally, what can we plug? Where do we buy ‘All About Evil’, your latest records, tickets for your shows and of courses special one of a kind merchandise branded with your fierce-some visage?

P) All my stuff can be found on peacheschrist.com.  Grab your tickets to our upcoming Grey Gardens show with Jinkx Monsoon and Mink Stole in SF on October 12th.  Or 9 TO 5 on Nov. 23rd, and Trannyshack Halloween on October 25th.  

Bloody bunches of thanks to Peaches Christ for agreeing to this interview! I CANNOT WAIT for the second instalment in her feature film making endeavours! Ensure that you grab your copy of All About Evil as well as all of your Peaches Christ memorabilia and merchandise NOW from http://www.peacheschrist.com

Bile and Bruises

Dis Charge

x

The Draguate!

N’Orleans Legend, Vinsantos DeFonte Throws Open the Doors of his very own Drag Acadaemy – Am I Being Studied, or is that just a Read?!

Let me get one thing perfectly clear, I LOVE Vinsantos. His aesthetic is stunning and style, phenomenal. I first interviewed this SF and New Orleans legend in September of last year, gaining an insight into his creative process and twisted inner machinations (I was so happy!!!) Of course, when it transpired that he was now transforming armies of young upstarts into consummate performers who would have the great fortune to learn on a one to one basis, I was green with envy. So, of course I had to get the inside scoop!

Dis)  Vinsantos, since we last spoke, you have embarked on a new creative endeavour, establishing your very own ‘School of Drag’. What persuaded you to play pedagogue to a new generation of fledgling queens?

Vinsantos) Let me start by first clarifying that it is truly a Workshop, and not a class. It’s not all “do what I say and you will automatically be FIERCE!”  Although, come to think of it, it’s mostly like that. Here in New Orleans, I have been performing Drag regularly inside of two different troupes; one Burlesque and one Vaudeville. Some friends of mine started a Drag monthly. It reminded me of my days in SF in the sense that the Drag was on the experimental and performance art side. What was lacking was a large pool of solid performers to sustain such a scene. When I was with Trannyshack, it was so much fun to watch so many audience members get so inspired that they would then become the performers. That’s how it happened with me. I have been told by many people after my shows, that they would love to do THAT sometime. The thought of putting together a workshop appealed to me on so many levels, from sharing all of my years of experience, to making new friends, and to see what I could learn from them, and them from me. And of course, being a talent scout has always been an OBSESSION of mine. Put me on IDOL, I dare you!!!!

D)  You embody a surrealist image of drag culture and carry with you a seasoned approach that blends a multitude of media allowing your performances to stand out from the pack. How do you begin to impart your knowledge and skill base to your daughters – What challenge does this process pose?

V)  My theory of what makes a performance work can be applied to all facets of “live” entertainment. Having been on stage for most of my adult life, i feel that I’ve gathered a lot of knowledge and have developed my own set of Do’s and Dont’s that keep me in check and keep me delivering the goods, no matter what the audience or the venue is like. As an entertainer, when you are given lemons, it’s your job to take them and tear the house down. In this particular setting, the emphasis is on creating and perfecting a Drop Dead Gorgeous Lipsynch performance. I can’t go into all the details of this 8 week Drag Boot Camp, but to mention just a few, things that we address are song choice, the details of the actual lipsynch, troubleshooting and overcoming adverse environments. Of course, there’s also the Drag itself. Originally I was going to primarily have the students use the plethora of tutorials on the world wide web to learn how to achieve their desired “looks”. The Vinsantos characters has a really specific signature that I didn’t feel was traditional enough when it comes to the basics of making yourself beautiful, unless you are trying to look like a Drag Clown! The majority of the cohorts had never been in Drag before. It became apparent really quickly that it was gonna take more than some videos to help these first timers. I enlisted one of my bestDrag buddies, Jennifer Jane, and appointed her Lead Stylist. She works in film and video doing hair and makeup and is also a full time Drag Queen both on and off stage. From there we had a series of hands on practices and dress rehearsals. It was fun and HORRIFYING! I’m sure we can all remember our first time in Drag and how UNFIERCE it was! This is where I think I learned the most. I stepped out of my own “sacred space” and began to experiment with my own looks. I felt that I had to go back to the basics. Beauty Makeup. Since then, I have been serving up all kinds of Glamour Girl not previously associated with the Vinsantos character. AND IT’S SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!! Who knew?

D) The typical schooling of drag relies on a familial bond focusing on mentorship from a ‘Mother’ and the establishment of a ‘House’. You have mentioned before that you did not receive such a method of mentorship as has been echoed by a number of your contemporaries such as SF legend, Heklina. Does this school now establish a house of Vinsantos? Also, how do you perceive the traditional drag illusionist house archetype?

V)  In this group, I definitely AM the Momma. I never had a proper Drag Mom, and come to think of it, that kinda pisses me off! Now I realize why my character is so fucked up. Total abandonment issues. It really wasn’t happening in a traditional sense when I got started with Trannyshack. I think that’s what may have made it such a unique scene. People were seriously carving out names for themselves and trying to define who they were outside the norms of traditional Drag. Of course there were all of the classic cliques inside of it all, from the Spooky Queens to the Comedy Queens to the Glamour Queens and truly Avante Queer such as myself. As far as a “House of Vinsantos?”  I think it sounds too much like “House of Pancakes.”

D) Your girls make up an eclectic mix – how did you select the candidates and did you have a screening process or was it more of an open door policy encouraging all to challenge themselves and rise to the occasion?

V) There really wasn’t a screening process. I put out a submission call and over a few short weeks, I had eleven interested parties. When the first class started, there were twelve people that actually showed up. There was an interesting mix of boys and girls, gay and “other-identifying.” I started the class by telling them about my history as a performer and what I thought I wanted to gain from the workshop. Then we went in a circle and everyone stated their name or names, their performance history, why they came to the workshop and what they hoped to gain from it. It got really REAL, really fast!. From that moment, it was obvious that this would be more than just fun, but an emotionally charged experience and fully transformative.  In the end, we ended up with eight Draguates. We lost the others on the way for various reasons including FEAR, conflicting schedules, and family matters. I decided that the class would be free, and that I would get paid for producing the Draguation show by collecting meager donations at the door. The students then pooled their tips and divided them up. I have to say, most seasoned queens don’t make that much in this town!!! They killed it. Of course there were expenses that the first time Draegs had to dish out. I made it mandatory to have a set of brushes, and from there, Jennifer Jane and I put together a list of staples for them to gather. For those students that found this beyond there means, we all chipped in and made sure no eyelash was left untouched. I’m still not sure how none of us got pink eye. We were able to pull a lot of looks off for very little money. After all,  Drag is an expensive art form and unless you are one of the chosen few to make it onto a television screen, you are usually paying out more than you are bringing in. Someday, I hope to live in a world where Drag is FREE FOR EVERYONE!  I’ll let you know how that goes. Thx

D) Photographs from your Werkshop Draguation were phenomenal, can you tell us a little about the performances and talk a little about your draguating class…

V)  The Draguation was my definition of a perfect show in the sense that it had a little bit of everything. Comedy/Drama, Traditional and High Art Drag, at least one beard, and total gender dysphoria. We had a sold out house of 170+ people in a club that probably shouldn’t have more than 150 people in it EVER!. The audience was Transfixed. During each number, you could hear a pin drop when you wanted to hear one, LOTS of laughs when you wanted laughs, and House Quaking applause at the end of each number. I was able to MC the event and also hold a front row seat for each performance. Even with all my costume changes. It floored me to see each performer take and command the stage and bring the audience to their knees. Most people really have to work for a long time to achieve that level respect from the audience, and these bitches did it on their first try!!! Then again, I did teach them everything I know (excuse me whilst I pat my back some more)

D) Which of the performers are you most proud of?

V) I can’t say that I have a favorite. I introduced them individually as my favorite student. I did have a few categories such as Most Changed in Eight Weeks, Most Changed in One Day and the introduction of my first Vale-chick-torian! She was awarded this title by pulling off a fully loaded DIALOGUE only lipsynch, which in my book is the most difficult to perfect. She was picked to close the show and just as planned, the audience went BONKERS for it. I will say, that I was and am truly impressed by the bravery of these students. I watched them each grow so much so fast. They really put their self respect on the line!!! Being on stage is so normal for me. I can’t imagine just throwing myself into such foreign territory with such reckless abandon. Then again, I did move to New Orleans. Just doing that makes you believe that anything is possible. For the record, the Draguating class is: NEON BURGUNDY, DOLLYONCE, COCO KALLISTI, SMALL DOSES, SHIRLEY SOMEONE, LADY KRAFT, NIKKI STITCHES, PF CHANGE… Oh, and CHAYO (she missed the draguation, but made up for it at a future show)

D) It’s safe to say that New Orleans will never be the same again now that your gang of drag punks are running around – are there future plans to collaborate with your girls and also, when will your next selection of Werkshops be held?

V) It is safe to say that New Orleans will never be the same. Was it ever? The same?

The group has had a few more shows. Half of the draguates have adopted the lifestyle full time and have been diagnosed as addicts. I really believe that these queens have what it takes to keep delivering art to the masses for years to come. I couldn’t be any happier with the fact that the talent pool in this town has been increased with the addition of these Marys. Besides all the laughter and tears and readings, that is what I wanted most to come out of this experience. MORE TALENT, MORE DRAG, MORE!!!!

The next workshop is set for late August with all new students and Jennifer Jane as our full time Lead Stylist! I have about a dozen people interested and will be scouting for more. We have big plans for cycle 2. There was so much learned from this first cycle that will be applied to the next round. I hope that this is only the beginning for what will become a long standing tradition.

D) Finally – What can I plug aside from this, are there any projects etc. or shows you have upcoming?

V)  And now for the PLUGS. I am still working regularly with the Dirty Dime Peepshow and Freaksheaux to Geaux. I have recently been taking the Drags to Bourbon St with Bella Blue and her Blue Book. With my visual arts, I am presenting my first solo gallery exhibition later this month. (link_https://www.facebook.com/events/220452021482698/220760311451869/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity      I will be traveling in May to Pittsburgh to perform live at the Atrocity Exhibition and later this year to San Francisco to work with one of my best “girls”, Peaches Christ. I pray to the Gods and Goddess that i will spend at least five minutes on a beach somewhere contemplating the possibilities of Season 8 or writing my memoirs. The film crew that I’ve been with for the past year is now editing and hopefully we will all get a peek into this lifestyle of mine including the Drag Workshop and how I manage to keep it all together. Does anyone have a Xanax?

 

Radio Noise

It has been a long time since I have published anything that could be considered ‘Creative writing’. Mostly, if and when I do write, this will take the form of short fiction and will most likely, never see the light of day…

 

However, after looking over some of my private, collected poetry-sub-conscious-direct-to-video ramblings I decided to have a bash at putting something back out there. Using only micro-edits and, in attempt to be  a little more honest with my writing, I have kept my stupid over processed symbolism to the leanest it has been for, well, possibly ever?!

Let’s see how it goes…

 

Radio Noise

Our gods are wearing sneakers

that bleed into their pictures,

shaking autopsy reports and legacy prescriptions.

Their names are muddied, printed over and over

until syllables lose their senses –

stare blank at news reports and

tabloid journo-porno-kings tapping stories to keep the crowds smiling.

 

Re-released and re-packaged,

feather stamped and viewed through an ironic lense.

“Our messages have been grifted and silk screened

onto desk covers, burger and chips, wrappers and

rapping paper super starlets –

bleached out and disaffected”

You can buy them now, available on Itunes…

 

I tune in and out of radio babble,

slipping through tangles of terminology

I loosely grasp –

feeling under threat and disconnected.

My brain itches. Eyes narrow,

weigh heavy and sleepy,

at my desk I curse their twitter follower feed discussions –

who IS following who, and who cares??

 

We stumble from disco to disco

fumbling encounters with passive peoples in doorways,

stating our ‘Thank you’s’ as we go –

holding applause to our stage clothes and hiding in cellars.

Rages limp on flashing glimpses of false teeth

and smiles I swear I’ve seen before,

I can’t place it, but can’t forget either.

Feel dysphoric and disjointed

like an imposter.

 

 

The Bristol Burlesque Festival 2014

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As many of you will have now read, Bristol Burlesque Festivals Tiger Tiger has taken her final (for now!) curtain call and will be stepping aside from her production role at this years celebration of South West centered talent. I have been asked, and accepted, the responsibility of working within this role alongside the uber-talented, Tuesday Laveau.

I would like to say the following in regards to this; It was a huge honour and surprise to be asked to join the running team for 2014’s upcoming 3 day event and a decision I do not take lightly. Tiger has set the bar HIGH, higher than my heels take me alone and I am fully aware that her legacy as producer and content creator for the Coochie Crunch site is a lasting and truly brilliant one. If I can live up to as much as half of her legacy I will be supremely proud. 

Looking foward, I’m truly excited to be embarking on the road to this years festival with the enormously talented Tuesday, and will be working closely with herself to deliver the next installment of Burlesque bad-assery this October.

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Again, I would like to state that Tiger is a truly awesome human being that I have the vast privilege to call a friend. Her presence within the the Bristol Burlesque scene has encouraged a wealth of performers along the way and I will never forget laughing, loving and living for her routines. I hope to someday again, witness her ‘Go Ape’ and unleash the ‘Manticore’ on unsuspecting audience members.

Here’s to you Tigress, to Tuesday Laveau and to the Bristol Burlesque Fest 2014!

With all the love in the world,

Dis Charge

xxxx

Ballet, Opera, Spirituality and Talking Handbags, are you Faux-Real?! Talking Toxic presents; the Wonderful World of FAUXNIQUE!!!

Monique Jenkinson, the multi-media, inter-disciplinary master mind of bio-drag-queenery is exhilarating. Swooping from otherworldly heights, Fauxnique, Jenkinsons alter-ego, transcends the barriers between performance art, comedy, camp and even elements of high fashion to navigate a path for her audience, that exports them away from the mundane into escapist fantasy, whilst simultaneously allowing and enouraging vital concepts of gender, sexuality and body politics to be discussed and experimented with.

I first became aware, as many have, of Fauxnique via her perfomances as a guest vocalist for electronic performers SilenceFiction/Never Knows, famed for their song, ‘Lipstique’. Its mesmerizing synthesized bubble and swagger as well as captivating video accompaniment starring contemporary drag luminaries such as Peaches Christ, Vinsantos DeFonte, Hoku Mama and of course, Fauxnique herself, applying their makeup from beginning to end, sneaking us a glimpse of what it takes to transform into their glorious characters, has garnered thousands of views worldwide through youtube.

I was struck not only by a fantastic song, but by the incredible aesthetics that Fauxnique employs/ed. As I dug deeper, a rich history began unfolding; the first cis-gendered woman to win the infamous Trannyshack, musician, accomplished modern performance and visual artist whose glowing reviews spoke for themeselves. The collected images and video works which incorporated aspects of opera, ballet, vogueing and perfected comedy timing, were and are inspiring…

ENOUGH TALKING MISS DIS! It’s time for FAUXNIQUE, to grace the stage….

C/O Michelle Blioux

Dis) Okay, let’s get a little background – how did you get started and what defines the nature of ‘Fauxnique’?

Fauxnique) I started performing as a little ballerina in my tween years. I evolved into contemporary dance, and then emerged out of the refusal aesthetic of the theatrical dance scene (from the 70s) still holding strong in the 90s into the San Francisco drag scene via Trannyshack. Fauxnique is a Drag Queen – me (a bio female) performing drag as a drag queen. The name Fauxnique is a play on my name and the term ‘faux queen’ which is sometimes referred to as a ‘woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman’. However, for me, the drag queen transcends this gender binary. The nature of Fauxnique is mutable. She is not only a drag persona, but at kind of filter or lens through which I consider my particular concerns around the performance of femininity. Fauxnique often comes from a very, very physical place and a place of deep and strong emotion. She often appears in the guise of a faerie, butterfly or earth goddess and sometimes appears in the guise of one of her heroines. Fauxnique is a feminist – like myself.

D) Your performance aesthetic mutates gender and contemporary (as well as classical) images of glamour, into tools of expression that ultimately cross boundaries of comedy, drama and even the monstrous. Can you elaborate on your perception of these archetypes as well as your utilisation of them in your work…

M) I think that feminine power has historically been seen as monstrous and/or transgressive. This is what struck me most when I first became an avid drag fan. The very first night I attended the legendary drag club Trannyshack, it was ‘Riot Grrrl Night’. I was astounded. These were queens honoring feminist rebels. I was immediately hooked, and I really got the way in which drag plays with and highlights what we may find radical or monstrous about feminine power. I keep thinking back to my copy of RE/Search Magazine’s ‘Angry Women’ issue, which was a total reference tome for me. The cover was a graphic novel rendering of Medusa. And I think about a piece I made many years ago, my gateway to drag work, that I still bring out occasionally as part of my solo cabaret show Faux Real, about opera diva Maria Callas. Part of the soundtrack is an interview with her. At one point the opera-queen interviewer broaches the ‘inquiring minds want to know’ question of her weight loss, implying that someone made her do it. And she replies: ‘I was playing Medea then, and I thought to myself, well, the face is too fat & can’t stand it & I needed a chin for expression.” I died. This quote kind of contains how I formulate my relationship to the humor, comedy and monstrosity of drag. Clearly you need a chin to play a the archetypical child-murdering witch. Deep psychology and specific physicality.

C/O Parker Tilghman

D) Drag as performance art and as a method of reclaiming the body are twin themes employed by a plethora of visual artists from Cindy Sherman to Leigh Bowery, Claude Cahun and beyond. How do you view the cultural dialogue created by drag and its varied forms?

M) Big question. Drag is certainly both to me – a finely honed craft and a method of reclaiming the body. And you bring up some of my very favorite artists. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Leigh Bowery & Cindy Sherman – whom I kind of see as opposite poles of my heroine spectrum. As a classically trained dancer, I respect and delight in the rules and strictures of drag as performance. I love doing the assignment, I love getting the lip-synch, making sure the makeup goes over the top (and the eyebrows go well above the actual eyebrows) and out of the territory of pretty lady. I love honing my ultra-studied feminine moves. So drag as an art is very serious to me. And I have certainly reclaimed my body via drag. As a classically trained dancer, I sustained the very common damage of that vocation – the body dismorphia stuff – that drag and drag queens helped me get over. I have seen such a multiplicity of female bodies – and experienced my own body – embraced and celebrated in the drag world and that has been an experience of reclamation.

Parker Tilghman

D) You’re no stranger to controversy, following your crowning as Miss Trannyshack in 2003, there was a small uproar that focused on the fact that you are a biological woman as opposed to a man performing the drag role. How did this affect your perception of the community and now, what do you view as your position within the world of drag?

M) From the moment I attended that first Riot Grrrl Night at Trannyshack, I felt like I was home. And from the time I first took to the stage there, I was treated as one of the family. Trannyshack was already upsetting the gender binaries and biases in drag. The only concern there was the quality and creativity of the performance: whoever you are and however you identify, be fierce and we will welcome you. My decision to participate in the Miss Trannyshack Pageant came with a tremendous amount of support. Other faux queens, or cisgendered female drag queens had participated before, but I was the first one to win it. I think most memebers of that particular community were ready for me to win. The audience was certainly with me.

In the aftermath of the win, I felt the love more than the uproar. But I think folks who heard through the grapevine that a woman won were more up in arms – the ones who weren’t there or weren’t part of that community. Heklina (the creator & queen of Trannyshack) really stuck up for me in those cases. I don’t know if she literally protected me from the fallout of anyone’s dismay, but no one went out of their way to express it to me personally.

One thing that did happen, was that I had quite a few queens come up to me, after seeing me perform sometime after the fact and say something to the effect of: ‘I was really put out when you won, but now that I’ve seen you perform, I get it.’ I’m a good drag queen. I do my homework, I work hard, I think about it a lot,and I honor my ancestors.

Fontaine Weyman

D) Returning briefly to aesthetics; you favour a high glamour, almost couture expression of styling when it comes to your use of cosmetics. This tessellates with a subcultural, punk and DIY approach to costuming. How have both the mainstream and counter-culture affected and influenced your visual extravaganza?

M) Fashion has always been vital for me. I was a teen in the 80s in suburban Colorado – not the most stylish situation. It was a time when, to wear something out there was really to declare yourself as outside the mainstream. We forget that now. Now we remember the fabulous looks of the 80s and think of Boy George & Cyndi Lauper as icons of the 80s. But people really did get beaten up at school for listening to that music and looking like that. In those pre-internet years, my lifelines out of the flat, square, Christian whiteness of that place were fashion magazines (my stylish mom had subscriptions to all of them) and cable television. Weirdly, we had this public access cable show coming out of Broomfield, the suburb where I lived (outside of Boulder, the big college town) called Teletunes, that predated MTV. And they played all the weirdest shit. That is where I came into contact with Devo, Kate Bush, the Buggles, etc. My other favorite show was ‘Style’ on CNN, which showed the runway shows and talked to designers. I would get up early on Saturday to watch those shows. And then later I would spend my babysitting money on the 2-month old copies of The Face sold at the one hip record store. That totally formed me. On Saturday I would watch a Valentino runway show and then a Snakefinger video and then cobble together something fabulous to school on Monday.

D) Further to classical images of glamour, ballet and opera have also featured in your live performances, for instance, in Faux Real. You contrast these often considered, romantic forms with comedy and sometimes sadness to brilliant effect. How do you design these pieces and also, why, as in the aforementioned piece, do you prefer to actively expose the process of building an immaculate image (a practice which many drag artists seek to oppose) and thereby draw attention to the application and maintenance of illusion?

M) Thank you for the kind words about the work!

I really came to opera and back around to ballet because of, and through drag.

So the short answer is, that I found the drag and camp elements in opera & ballet – of which there are many – and used them. There was tremendous freedom in returning to ballet – especially the rigors of pointe work – through drag, because no one expects a drag queen ballerina to have perfect ballet technique or to weigh 90 pounds. So I come from a place of understanding and love for ballet, but also an awareness of how over the top & ridiculous it can be.


The design, choreography and conception of a piece like Mimicry & Flaunting, in which I consider and work with the image of the queen of all divas, Maria Callas, came from a few sources, and it is my oldest piece. When I first started listening to Callas, inspired by Wayne Koestenbaum’s fantastic book The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality & the Mystery of Desire (the title from my piece also comes from this book) I came across an interview with her, and that really inspired the piece. Then I started thinking about the facial expression of the opera diva as a dance, and the way in which the performance of that dance is the improvisational element in a form in which everything else is so composed.
As for drawing attention to process, I have just always been, and remain, fascinated both with transformation and simple theatrical magic. I don’t think it makes the illusion any less magical. Or I think, somehow it lends depth.

Parker Tilghman

D) What inspires this position?

M) The beginning of Mimicry & Flaunting in which I sit at a mirror that faces the audience and put on my Callas face, came out of necessity as it was the final piece in a solo show, so I had to change onstage and make it look interesting. The mirror bit was a piece of problem solving that became really integral to the piece.

D) In your work, ‘A Glamour’, you sought to unify practices such as makeup application and the arrangement of artifice with spirituality and meditation. Drag, which can at times be incredibly restrictive and focus largely on artifice, is not often considered spiritual. Do you feel that through the elevation of what many would consider mundane practice, i.e. costuming, makeup artistry etc. that we can also be spiritual or at the very least, imbue these ‘rituals’ with meditative significance?

M) Thank you so much for talking about this piece! I love what you see in it and your wording, so my answer might just be ‘yes.’

With A Glamour I did indeed seek to look at the transformations and totems of drag as part of a serious ritual. The clothing and accessories in the piece were a bunch of bangles given to me by a friend who had recently died (legendary Trannyshack superstar The Steve Lady), a beaded sweater that had belonged to my grandma that I wear ALL THE TIME and a raffia dress that falls apart. So there is a lot about ancestry, death, and presence. I am always aware of presence and live performance as ever-dying moments.

D) Further to ‘Glamour’ you often exalt movements of dance such as vogueing, associated with the LGBT community, by including them in performances that also utilise ballet and again, operatic scoring (‘Crying in Public’) always with a tremendous sense of humour of course, but a genuine affection and studied approach to these genres is obvious. What is it that draws you to these aspects of dance culture and why do you feel that it is important to include these in your live events?

M) Vogueing is an exalted form all on its own, and I am happy to try to serve it was well as I possibly can. I come at everything from an embodied place, so I am attracted to a huge variety of dance forms. When we talk about vogueing especially, we tend to focus on the sociopolitical aspects of the performance. While these are crucial, there is also tremendous artistry and technique there. That technique is serious and deserves to be recognized and honored. I also like to use tasks that present difficulty and change my state. I thought a vogue-ballet  in soaking wet clothes in a puddle of water while attached to an aerial bungee cord would do that.

My using Vogue vocabulary with Vivaldi’s ‘Stabat Mater’ in Crying in Public was also partly my processing a thought and a feeling that I have a lot which is that if I had been born about 10 or 15 years earlier all of my friends would most likely be dead from AIDS. So I think I meant to honor my dead would-be friends. And then again, all my friends are not dead. So with that part I am also making fun of my own tendency to be maudlin & overdramatic. At the beginning, I say, in my best imitation of my friend Glamamore ‘Oh Mary! Enough! Quit your blubbering.’ Humor is essential to our survival.

D) How do you feel that these performances are interpreted by your audience, and how do you hope for them to feel when watching or engaging?

M) I am really lucky to have a mostly generous, game and intelligent audience. For the most part, they go along for the ride. I don’t necessarily want them to feel any one thing, and what any one person feels or gets out of it is really subjective, but of course, I want them to feel something. With my last evening-length piece, Instrument, I experimented a lot, and the drag elements were really just traces, so I may have lost some of my Fauxnique audience (one person boorishly & publicly told me so on Facebook), but most of them went out of their way to tell me how much they got out of it.

I think one of the jobs of contemporary art is to push the culture forward. That can sometimes run counter to entertaining and pleasing. Drag and dance can both and alternately fall into the categories of art and entertainment. I think good drag pushes the culture forward just like good contemporary performance.

D) Moving into music, you provided guest vocals for SilenceFiction/Never Knows/marc Kate, whose now iconic video, ‘Lipstique’ has been viewed by thousands of people all over the world! There must be more, tell us there is and also, tell us a little bit about the duo….

M) Oh my! The duo was both a one-off and ongoing, as Silencefiction (now known as Never Knows and also as Marc Kate) is the love of my life! I don’t want to disappoint, but I don’t know when you’ll see anything from us as a duo. He, however is coming out with a fantastic album in the Spring and you will LOVE his podcast ‘Why We Listen’. Listen to the episodes with Justin Vivian Bond, Joshua Grannell & Vinsantos! Find info at marckate.com

I am so proud of ‘Lipstique’ and it was such a pleasure to make. As a live performer, it was thrilling to just do something that can be seen and move forward without my body having to be present! I would love to do more work like that, and I certainly hope there will be more collaboration between me & Marc artistically. However, I think one of the cornerstones of our relationship has been that we are both relentlessly supportive of each other’s projects, and adamantly free about doing our own work.

Parker Tilghman

D) Finally, what for you makes a great performance and what advice would you impart to those seeking to step into those stupendously high heels?

M) Lots of ingredients go into a great performance. The first step is DO IT. And then do it some more. Watch performers you admire with an eagle eye. A great teacher of mine just said that technique is knowledge, not merely repetition. I think that is really important. Go deep. Be honest. Ask questions. Try new things. And wear your own damn shoes, because you are on your own path.

D) BONUS ROUND Where can we catch you next, where can we buy our Fauxnique branded clothing, music and accessories?

Maybe I need to bring back the Fauxnique t-shirt. Or maybe a hankie for those who are easily moved, like myself?

I make regular appearances at Trannyshack, Some Thing, and various theatrical stages around San Francisco. I also perform nationally and internationally. I would LOVE to come to the UK again soon, so let’s make that happen! Also, I will be performing in March as part of Work More at SOMArts, curated by Mica Sigourney & Kolmel Withlove. I will be collaborating with Maryam Farnaz Rostami aka Mona G. Hawd on a piece that is a part of a larger group show paying tribute to the benchmark feminist collective/installation/show Womanhouse.

Join my email list at fauxnique.net and I will keep you posted.

A huge thank you to Fauxnique for taking part in this edition of Talking Toxic! I loved every second and every syllable! And, if like me, you want to keep up to date with all of the lovely ladys’ latest goings on, subscribe to the mailing list and buy a copy of Lipstique available on Amazon, now…

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lipstique-featuring-Fauxnique-Original-Mix/dp/B001N8M010/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1390252985&sr=8-5&keywords=silencefiction

Bile and Bruises

Dis Charge

xo

Black Unicorns and Queens (Or Kings) of the Freakers Ball: Talking Toxic with the BOULET BROTHERS

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Yes, hello and welcome back to Talking Toxic and our first installment for 2014! I hope you’ve all been bad boys and girls over Xmas, because frankly, if you’ve all been on your best behaviour – how in hell did you wind up here?

To drag us in to January (take that pun, TAKE IT!) and all of its frozen wonder,  we welcome Los Angeles and NYC nightlife legends; The BOULET BROTHERS, curators of Dragula and Black Unicorn, the wildest of wild fetish and alt. lifestyle parties. They’re dashing, they’re delicious AND… they’re positively dirrrrrty…

D) First off, a little background; Why did you choose the name, Boulet Brothers and how did you get your start in club promotion and performance – in a recent interview with Frontiers magazine you touched on your days in New York visiting the legendary club kid parties. Can you elaborate a little more on this time?

Boulet Brothers) Well, in our opinion, the period in New York nightlife we were brought up in was one of the“glory day” periods of the city’s party scene. This was the period of Disco 2000 at the Limelight, the actual party that the movie Party Monster was based on. Gay nightlife then was amazing. You had your choice of everything. You had these elaborate, three thousand people gay house clubs that wouldn’t even start until 4AM and would go all Sunday afternoon – where drag queens like Kevin Aviance would come out in these dramatic performances high in the clubs rafters, and it was just magical. At the same time, the east village was in its heyday with these amazing grungy gay rock clubs like Michael Schmidt’s legendary Squeezebox, and Mario Diaz was just starting to throw these dirty little gay rock clubs with these really talented punk drag queens (who were new at the time, but you now know as drag legends). There was just everything you could imagine going on – underground tranny clubs, gay sex clubs in illegal warehouses in the meat packing district, rock and roll gay dive bars, leather / fetish parties – it was a vital, pulsing time to be living in New York and we reveled in it all.Now as for how we started doing club promotions and performance, it was a natural evolution for us both. We were both artists and both loved nightlife. One of us was a nightlife magazine editor / art director, and the other was a theater actor and art student who performed and gogo danced in clubs on the side. When we moved from New York to Los Angeles, we just didn’t find our cup of tea in the nightlife scene, so we decided to start our own club – the rest is history. Oh
and as for how we came to be called the Boulet Brothers, that’s our own little secret.

Pretty in Pink

D) The Dragula and the Black Unicorn events you co-run and organise favour a much darker aesthetic than typical drag and mainstream gay or straight performance based events, what draws you to this aspect of the culture?

BB) It’s just what we like, plain and simple. It’s the same interests we had before we started doing clubs, and our events are just a celebration of what we love.

D) The performers you work with such as the inimitable Squeaky Blonde, are stalwarts of both LA nightlife and outsider drag. How do you go about selecting your hosts/entertainers? Do you have a specific criteria?

BB) Yes. It’s all about chemistry for us, and that formula is for our eyes only.

WITCH!

D) The Boulet Brothers image is extremely theatrical and blends the masculine and
feminine with influences that are as much subcultural as they are glamorous. How do you
design your complimenting imagery? Where do you draw your inspiration?

BB) We draw inspiration from ourselves and each other, it’s just who we are when we are set free. We want to take you outside of your normal life and give you a little fantasy. We want to scare you a little, tease you, and maybe turn you on for reasons you don’t understand. We like to think we are exactly the characters you would meet if you were in a sadomasochist, drug filled fairy
tale. It’s our job to guide you through the fantasy and tempt you, and we have to look the part to be effective.

D) To return briefly to you Frontiers magazine interview, the question was posed to you that in spite of the ‘Brothers’ name, you are in fact lovers. How did you meet and when did you begin working together in club land?

BB) We met in New York through a mutual friend, and moved to Los Angeles together a few years
after that. We started our first event Miss Kitty’s Parlour about thirteen or fourteen years ago.

D) The world of drag is currently undergoing a major renaissance – what do you make of the contemporary circuit and how do you feel the mainstream as well as the counter- culture interprets what promoters and performers such as yourselves contribute to the
landscape of LA nightlife?

BB) Well, Rupaul’s Drag Race has changed the landscape drastically, and we both love and hate what it has done to the scene. We hate it because you have these queens that were on the show that really aren’t very talented being booked and paid big money for being mediocre, and some of the local queens who have amazing talent are getting trampled and left in the dirt. They can’t
compete with the draw that the tv queen’s names bring. At the same time, the show is bringing a level of mainstream acceptance to drag that I would have never thought possible, and that is a great thing. Ultimately it’s progress, and progress is good and seldom smooth – you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette as they say, so it is what it is.

Leather and Lace

D) Your recent event: Dragula, Makeup Massacre – Siouxsie vs. Divine celebrated twin icons of Queer and Punk/Goth culture. You place images of subcultural significance with twisted glamour onto fabulous pedestals. How important have performers such as Siouxise and the Banshees and Divine been for you both?

BB) We wouldn’t be who were today without them. They were the embodiment of how we felt as kids in a place and time where no one was like us. They showed us we could be who we were on the inside on the outside, and how to tell people who didn’t like it to fuck off.

D) Fetish plays a large part in what you do, of course you will be hosting at Wasteland in the coming weeks. How did you come to be involved with this scene?

BB) We hosted the LA Bondage Ball last year, we are hosting the Vancouver Fetish Ball this summer and next week we are going to host a fetish party for the AVN awards at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. We’re just attracted to the sexuality, freedom, fashion and creativity of the fetish scene. We’re not really into the nuts and bolts of BDSM, it’s all about the fantasy, fashion and mind fuck for us. It’s more Anne Rice in our heads and less out of shape older guy beating a captured girl in a d-grade basement porn. In fact, we absolutely hate to even see the latter.

D) Both of you are very busy boys! I’ve heard there are great plans in store for your Halloween event, set to be the biggest of the season for LA’s nightlife denizens. Can you give us a sneak peek at what’s in store for attendees?

BB) Well that event is now done, and in the history books where it deserves to be. It was an absolute fucking madhouse, and we loved every minute of it. I can say with confidence that there is no Halloween party in Los Angeles like it – we blow our own fucking minds every year. We’re pretty humble normally, but we will always jerk our own dicks in regards to that party because it
deserves it.

D) Where can we catch your gorgeous selves in not so distant future?!

BB) Well we are about to relaunch our own monthly Black Unicorn party in a major way for the 2014 season, and DRAGULA starts back on Saturday January 25 which we can’t be happier about – it is our absolute favorite party ever, hands down, and we have some new surprises for the new year. Oh and speaking of, we are debuting DRAGULA San Francisco on Feb 8 at the SF Eagle –
that is going to be amazing, and we have Heklina from Trannyshack helping us with that and we are adding Laganja Estranja as a guest exorsister, and just a ton of amazing alternative queens. We are also happy to be hosting our regular gig EVITA which is also reopening at a gorgeous new venue and will run every Tuesday night starting the 14th. Last but not least, we are helping
promote Trannyshack Los Angeles featuring Lady Bunny and Vicki Vox on Saturday January 31 with Heklina at the Dragonfly.

A massive thank you to Boulet Brothers for Talking Toxic with me! Make sure to hit them up on Facebook for details of their latest parties (and on Twitter too!) https://www.facebook.com/bouletbrothers?fref=ts

In related news: Psycho:Drama, Bristol’s only gay alternative event is back this Friday at the QS: https://www.facebook.com/events/265396813609308/

January