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?

 

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

Christian Cowpunk and the Queercore Explosion! Glen Meadmore Talks Toxic!

Glen Meadmore boasts a career that spans a broad stylistic collection of media. Be it film, music or performance art, Meadmore has embodied the availabalist technique of drag in both his solo and collaborative career with such luminaries as Vaginal Davis (as part of Queercore legends, Pedro Muriel and Esther) and worked with recording legend Steve Albini. Read on as we talk serial killers, punk notoriety and performance art…

Dis) So, Glen, you got your start as bassist/vocalist of Winnipeg based punk group, the Psychiatrists. How do you view the Canadian scene – it has been commented that at the time, there was only disparate activity for alternative culture in Canada – would you agree with this?

Glen Meadmore)  I don’t really know much about the Canadian scene or any music scene for that matter. I’m pretty much a hermit and live in a cultural void.

Limbo lounge 85-86

D) Your move to Los Angeles saw you teaming up with queercore poster girl, Vaginal Davis, forming Pedro, Muriel & Esther. This signified the beginning of an incredibly fertile and creative period for yourself and your contemporaries. Can you tell us a little about performing with PME and your involvement with the burgeoning queercore scene…

Spew with Glen and Vag

G)  I met Vaginal on the steps of the anticlub a venue we both performed at . At the time I could tell we were kinderd spirits. PME didnt come until several years later. he wanted me to play guitar behind his poetry and I thought it would be a good idea to form a band. I didnt know anything about queercore. I still dont know much about it except the term. As i’ve said I am pretty out of the music scene.

D) I believe at this point as well, that RuPaul was also working with yourselves, are you still in contact with Ms. Paul and how do you view your time working together…

G) I met Ru while performing at the limbo lounge in west hollywood. We would later perform together at club rio in atlanta and later with vag  at the pyramid in ny. Ru and I hadnt spoken for many years till last year he invited me to chat with him in the dressing room of his tv show. He is very ambitious. 

D) Drag, particularly ‘outsider’ or what could be termed ‘availabalist’ drag, became a great vehicle for you during this time as represented in your videos from the ‘Squaw Bread’/’Chicken and Biscuits’ period of your solo career. What about drag, particularly this style, appealed/appeals to you?

G) When I first started doing drag it was mainly just to get attention walking down the street. I would just throw on any old dress without makeup etc. very frumpy. Later in performance I would try for an asexual minimalist look. usually all black sometimes just a body sleeve with no arms so I had restricted arm movement. Later a simple black t shirt form fitting dress. Later a black body suit and later pink spandex and a pink sequin  body suit. minimalist makeup usually just foundation black eyeshadow and red or pink lipstick. My smokey eye look was inspired by Serge Luten. my looks after that were very spontaneous i wore a large plastic sheet I found on the street etc. or some black fabric I found which I fashioned into a burka. later my friend collaborator Jim van Tyne would design and make elaborate outfits for me.

D) You’ve been credited, with creating the genre of ‘Christian-new-wave-country-punk’ – what a mouthful! – blending bluegrass with DIY punk and synth. What drove you to combine this unusual melange?

G) When I started doing music it was spontaneous also. I had given up guitar and started playing synth and was interested in disco and repetition but wanted it to be demented. I liked things that broke rules. Later I got back into guitar and thought I might be able to do something with country music which I found corny and thought if I thought it might be interesting to pervert it in some way. I use the term christian loosely as i’m more of a spritualist. There are some christian ethics I find appealing.

D) Aes-Nihil recently added videos from your early period to YouTube and I believe still distributes a number of films and albums of yours. ‘No Money, No Honey’ for instance, features Ms. Davis again, how do you characterise your relationship with each other and the work you’ve produced?

G) Vaginal is a dear sweet soul and we are of a like mind, so working together comes naturally.

D) The video for ‘Do Me’ featured a risqué performance during which you performed a hyper-acidic and cartoonlike black face character being hired by a suspicious, suburban couple to keep house for them. What drove you to create this character and employ this imagery?

G)  The video for ‘Do Me’ was a video created by ken camp . the look was one i put together for performing. like i say all my creativity comes spontaneously not much planning. What can I say, I was possessed!

D) Your third album, ‘Boned’ dropped the synth element of your sound in favour of a more aggressive ‘Grunge’ flavour, what was your reason for this diversifying of your sound?

Wearing a Rick Castro bodysuit

G)  ‘Boned’ was the album where I first got the band together. I think it was recorded right after the band was formed and the songs were thrown together and not rehearsed much if at all. Which is how we usually work.

D) Advancing further, your next record, the acclaimed, ‘Hot, Horny and Born Again’ garnered your inclusion on the soundtrack for Bruce LaBruce’s ‘Hustler White’, did you have a pre-existing relationship with Bruce through the Homocore association?

G) I dont think I knew Bruce before the film but I did know the girls from fifth column (GB Jones et al.) and the boys from shadowy men

D) I’ve heard that songs from this album are to be included in a compilation record entitled ‘Queercore Explosion’. What’s your reaction to being canonised within this cultural frame?

G)  I dont know about the queercore explosion but I’m all for being canonized

D) Returning to ‘Hot, Horny…’ it would be remiss of me to overlook the cover art, created by infamous serial killer, John Wayne Gacy. What lead you to contact Gacy and, further to this, include his artwork in your release?

Cover by Gacy

Cover by Gacy

G)  I had heard that Gacy did commissions so I wrote to him and he agreed to my portrait. I have 4 altogether based on photos Rick Castro took of me.  I suppose I was interested because I was curious about how the criminal mind would interpret art . Also being able to talk to Gacy a few times I was able to get a glimpse inside the personality of a murderer. He seemed like an average guy. Nothing unusual at all.

D) After a long hiatus, PME returned in 1998 on the Spectra Music label with ‘The White to be Angry!’ which featured a sardonic VD proclaiming herself a white heterosexual male and keeper of all societal privilege’. What encouraged your return, collectively, to this project?

The White to be Angry

G) The PME cd was sponsored by our friend Mark Freitas , without him it wouldn’t have been recorded. He was the one who wanted to do it.

D) Steve Albini produced this record and then returned to produce your following album, ‘Cowboy Songs’, how did this partnership occur and do you plan to release any further material with Albini in future?

G)  I asked Steve if he would record my country band and he agreed. I would love to work with him again. He is very efficient and gets a  great sound. He works very fast too , plus he is very funny and sweet 

Glen 4

D) Thank you so much for your time today Glen, can you tell us, where is best to purchase your awesome music and merchandise? Where also, can we see you next and what upcoming projects do you have in the works?

G) You’re welcome Dis! The best way to purchase music is to write to me 225 s olive st #1607 LA CA 90012. no gigs as yet but we are always ready and able for any.

Glen

PSYCHO:DRAMA – B-MOVIE BIRTHDAY!

Image

4 Years!!! Can you believe it?! That’s 4 whole years of serving the alternative queer community in Bristol, with huge helpings of rock, punk, industrial, electro, queercore, riot grrrl, metal and more. It’s been crazy! We’ve seen performance art super sexy strippers doing what they do inside gigantic inflatable balloons, we’ve seen gladiators, electro insanity, punk rock rising stars and a whole hosts of gorgeous guys and gals from the Bristol Burlesque scene shaking their money makers for wonderful causes …as well as for sheer entertainment, oh yeah, and recently we had Vladimir putin beaten with nettles live on stage by a member of Pussy Riot… These things make us seriously smile!
To celebrate this milestone in PD history we welcome back the sensational, T-toe to our stage. This whacked out, dub-stepping, trombone tooting electronic wizard will have your fannys shaking and your feet freaking! Recently interviewed by ShoutOut and now a native of Bristol, make sure you grab him a pint after his set and tell him how much you love him, if you can tear us away from doing the same that is :o)
As you may have guessed, there is a theme here! B-MOVIE! That’s right, dress to distress darlings, it’s time to break out your best monster or your baby jane, bad-taste is best-taste for PD and prizes will be awarded to best (or worst) dressed!
So come, join the PsychoDrama crew as we celebrate 4 years of music, magic and mayhem at The Queen Shilling – 10pm til 4am £3 before 11, £4 after – money will be donated from this evening’s entertainment to a worthy cause TBA…
Be seein’ ya…
‘ONE OF US, ONE OF US…’

You’ve heard from The Wasp Women, now it’s the turn of the Maggot Men! Talking Toxic Presents, an interview with Gregory Langston!

Today marks the anniversary of my fist ever post on Talk Toxic! A whole year has passed and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in two fashion film projects for Jed Phoenix of London, multiple amazing events with the fabulous Psycho:Drama crew and of course… A whole bunch of incredible interviews with luminaries of outsider drag, burlesque performance and electro homo solo musicians!

To commemorate this fact I have the great fortune to release the latest instalment of Talking Toxic – this time, with the wonderful Gregory Langston, former member of the Wasp Women’s backing band! The wonderful Greg has been involved with the S.F. punk scene since the early eighties and continues to play within a number of brilliant groups.

Read on as we piece together the history of the Wasp Women, talk post-punk and new-wave as well as the infamous, ‘Whatever Happened to Susan Jane’…

The Maggot Men and one Queen, courtesy of Wendy Mukluk

The Maggot Men and one Queen, courtesy of Wendy Mukluk

Dis) As part of the Wasp Women backing band, jokingly referred to as, ‘The Maggot Men’ – what was your role and how did you become involved with the group?

Greg) I was the drummer for the Wasp Women. Some time in 1979, I joined a band called the Touchtones. I was interested in the experimental side of Punk/New wave, and they fit the bill. After a short Time Guitarist Jan spoke of seeing the weirdest wildest band ever. I did not know that Teena one of our three Keyboard/ synth players was one of them! Touchtones practices morphed into Wasp Women practices as well.Teena as well as Walter Black shared both bands. We often Played on the same bills together, often at the famed Mabuhay Gardens, just seconds down Broadway from our practice space. The Wasp Women’s songs got me to explore the heavier, hard rocking side to my playing. I am more well suited to this style of playing.

Last ever performance of the Wasp Women

Last ever performance of the Wasp Women

D) The Wasp Women really stood out from the pack and still do! The band was so unique, what was it about the WW that made them so special?

G) The Wasp women were unique for a couple of reasons. First, visually. Three women, (one was a man in drag), dressed in tight black dresses and extreme make-up and large white bee hive wigs. At a time of musical and sexual freedom, the time was right and the doors were open to the new and extreme. Second, Musically. The band freely mixed styles and used several influences. What pulled it all together was the front line, the singers.

D) Of surviving documents, Marc Huestis’ film ‘…Susan Jane’ is the most famous. How involved with that project were you and what was filming like?

G) “What ever happened to Susan Jane” turned out to be far bigger than I expected. We were being booked into several venues with regularity, and each show seemed to be a real production. I knew this was a special show, and filming was happening, but it really turned out to be a whole lot more than just another show. We were called back to record some songs for the film, but I can’t remember how much was actually caught on tape.

the Wasp Women at the Castro Fair 1979 c/o Wendy Mukluk

the Wasp Women at the Castro Fair 1979 c/o Wendy Mukluk

D) Recently, Dark Entries Records released a re-mastered version of the song ‘Kill Me!’ – but what many of us want to know is… Does the album named in the film or an EP exist and if so, when can we hear it?

G) Sadly, what was announced in the movie was only part of the script. Not many recordings of the band exist, and those that do, are poor quality practice tapes. We recorded Lou Reed’s “Vicious”, in the studio. Teena is the only singer on that one. It came out on an obscure CD compilation a few years ago, “best of the Mabuhay”

D) Recently I spoke with Teena regarding her involvement with the group, looking back, how do you feel about the SF scene at that time?

G) The SF scene at the time was great! It was a time of great creativity, Ten years of musical progression in two! With the early underground SF punk/ new wave /experimental scene, we all supported each other in a way that was not compartmentalized. It quickly changed.

D) Of course, you were also a member of Tuxedo Moon and of the Vibrant S.F. post-punk scene. Which of these projects are you most proud of and are you still in contact with many of your collaborators from those days?

G) Surprisingly, I am in contact with many people from that time period. I briefly was with Tuxedomoon before the Wasp women and I spent a little time with Winston Tong last weekend. I have been In contact with Blaine too. Since I have been regularly playing drums and recording for almost thirty five years, I am in contact with many musicians from the past. Way too many to mention!! Other than previously mentioned, I have played with No Alternative, the Sea Hags, Fang, Fade to Black, The Renegades (Wire Train), Hellbillys, Offs, Insaints, The Next, Bryan Gregory’s Beast to name a few…. Oh, there are others too!

c/o Wendy Mukluk

c/o Wendy Mukluk

D) Returning to the Wasp Women, I’d like to clarify a bit of the timeline – how long did the group last? I’ve heard it was just over a year before you ceased activity with the group, why did you guys stop?

G) Yes, a year sounds about right. I don’t remember why we split. I jumped right into No Alternative after the Wasp Women.

D) Yourself and Teena worked on a few projects following the bands demise, is there much surviving from these projects and what were they called?

G) Yes! I still regularly play with No Alternative. The Offs, and the Next. I do reunion shows with a couple of others from time to time.

c/o Dark Entries records - Greg on Drums with the official Wasp Women line-up

c/o Dark Entries records – Greg on Drums with the official Wasp Women line-up

D) I know you have quite an archive built up – is there any plan to release this material?

G) Interestingly enough, much has already been released or is not quite the quality it could have been to make it outstanding. If anyone shows interest, I try and accommodate them in any way I can. Luckily, my band history has not been lost, stolen or misplaced.

D) Which projects are you currently working on and what would you like to plug?

G) I recorded an LP with the Next about a year ago. the songs all date from 1978-80. This is one of the best punky albums I have ever recorded, but the interest and the music industry have changed so much, that nobody is hearing it! The musicians all have so much talent and history, but we are not so young and cute any more. We have It all together, artwork and all, yet it remains unreleased.

A massive thank you to Greg for taking the time to Talk Toxic with me today! This helps piece together a part of The Wasp Women history and uncover another vibrant aspect of the SF punk/alternative scene. Make sure you continue to support Greg and his phenomenal musical output by going to see No Alternative live and buy all of their merchandise! Also, head over to Dark Entries records and grab yourself a copy of Bay Area Retrograde featuring the WW whilst you can, here: http://www.darkentriesrecords.com/

Trannyshack Temptress, Volcanic Icelandic Vixen and Legendary Legend, Talking Toxic presents… HEKLINA!

It’s hard to know where to start with todays feature star. Heklina has become one of the most important figures in contemporary drag culture, founding the infamous Trannyshack travelling stage show as well as starring in a number of short films, stage productions and performing world wide, Heklina is one of the hardest working queens in the biz!
The previously mentioned Trannyshack has provided a space for outrageous and groundbreaking drag performance for over a decade and now regularly tours San Francisco, Los Angeles and even boasts a division in NYC.
Come, kick back as we chat punk rock icons, courting controversy and contemporary drag culture with HEKLINA…
Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux

Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux

Dis) Trannyshack founder, drag legend, actress and counter culture icon! Did you ever think that you would have led (and continue to lead) the kind of career you have or impact drag culture in the way that you have?

Heklina) Ha! I’m so flattered that people think I’ve had an impact, or that I’m an icon or what have you (in some circles, “legend” is another way of saying “Old”). You won’t catch me saying it, people already think I’m conceited enough, but it’s nice to hear others say it. If you had told me 20 years ago that one day I would make my living as a drag entertainer I would have told you you were crazy, but I am so grateful to have the life that I have today. 

D) The Trannyshack performers incorporate a great deal of the punk DIY aesthetic into their show stopping routines. How has alternative culture helped shape your style?
H) Well, I didn’t come from a traditional drag background , or house of drag, so I never really had drag idols in the sense of a “mother”. The people who influenced me when I was growing up were theatrical rock stars like David Bowie. I was also heavily into the punk scene, horror films, John Waters (and Divine), artists like Leigh Bowery. But, I would also say that I love camp, and Hollywood glamour, as well….Liz Taylor, Shirley Bassey, Joan Crawford, Dusty Springfield, Valley of the Dolls, The Golden Girls. I soak everything in!
heklina_250px

D) How has the mainstream (both gay and straight) reacted to the Heklina character and towards Trannyshack?

H) The easiest answer to that is that they haven’t! They haven’t reacted at all, haha!

D) Over the years you have worked with a tremendous number of performers who have garnered harsh critique as well as great praise. Which have been some of your favourites and which of the most controversial acts are you most proud to either have taken part in or promoted?

H) There have been several kinds of controversy at Trannyshack.Racially related, I suffered a huge backlash about a decade ago when one of my performers did a piece in blackface. It didn’t matter that the performer was half black and was trying to make a statement, or what have you. It was just instant outrage. Lesson learned on that one.

And, surprisingly, gender. Whether you have a penis or a vagina has never been a huge deal at Trannyshack, all that matters is what you do with your time on stage. No one had a problem with it until a genetic female (Fauxnique) won the coveted Miss Trannyshack title in 2003. Then all of a sudden it was “That’s not drag” and all that. I even went on NPR to discuss that “scandal”. Crazy!

D) Drag, for many reasons, is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. How do you view the contemporary drag circuit?

H) If by renaissance you are referring to RuPaul’s Drag Race, then yes. I would say it’s a mixed blessing-drag is very much in the public eye because of that show in particular, but it at times makes instant stars out of people who haven’t quite honed their craft yet, so it seems like there has been a bit of a “dumbing down” effect. There’s very much a feeling of “this will do”. Of course, some of the people on that show are amazing performers, but I recently went to see the one-woman show of someone from RPDR, and there was no substance at all to it-no show!

D) The outsider scene has also been referenced in the media on more than one occasion also, how do you see the scene evolving and what are your hopes for alternative drag styles?

H) It’s interesting….Trannyshack was started as a response, or an alternative to, more traditional drag shows, and now we (Trannyshack) are the establishment. We thought we were reinventing the wheel, but truthfully we were just doing our own thing, with no real rules or boundaries. That is all I can hope for in these young girls nipping at my heels; that they do their own thing, develop their own personas, you know the drill.

D) Which performers have driven you to create and continue to inspire you to perform?

H) It always goes back to the previously referenced icons. Most influential to me? Bowie, Madonna, Siouxsie Sioux, The Golden Girls, and cult movies.

Heklina and Peaches Christ

D) You have worked closely with Peaches Christ on a number of projects including live performances and short films. Are there any further collaborations in the works?

H) Always! Peaches is hosting my Trannyshack Halloween show with me on October 25 , and I am doing her tribute to the film 9 to 5 at the Castro Theatre with her on November 23 (go to www.peacheschrist.com for all Peaches related info).

D) We all know that your schedule is jam packed; Where can we see you next, what events are you supporting and where can we buy your latest merchandise?

H) www.trannyshack.com has all my events, check it out!

Bloody Beauty Treatments and Twisted Torch Song: Talking Toxic with VINSANTOS DeFONTE

A dark figure has been spotted stalking the streets of San Francisco and New Orleans. A twisted marionette whose sparkly visage is capped by tangled dreadlocks and ghostly white skin. He/she sings songs of twisted brilliance – chanson that spin tales of shadowy humour with wry smiles and lush, expert instrumentation!
Dolls, keepsakes known as ‘Kreetures’ have found their way into the collections of men and women the world over. Audiences have been baffled as he seemingly performs miracles on stage – turning water into wine to the tune of popular music.

But who is this gender-bending creature of the night? And what is the secret behind his ageless beauty?

Ladies and gentlemen-women, I present to you the wonderful… Vinsantos DeFonte!

Photo shot by Austin Young

Photo shot by Austin Young

D) your style of drag blends the masculine and feminine in a theatrical yet darkly subcultural fashion. How did you develop your aesthetic?

Vinsantos) The Vinsantos character is a blend of all of my early influences dating back to my childhood. My parents were big opera freaks. Groupies, really. I was forced to attend countless performances at the War Memorial Opera House and at the same time, when children weren’t allowed, my folks would drop me off at my Grandmothers house for the weekend. She and I had a running date for years where she would make either pizza or soup, and we would stay up late to watch Creature Features, a late night horror movie series on Channel 2. This resulted in many nightmares which to date are my favourite kind of dream. As a young boy, I caught the Rock and Roll bug very early on. KISS was hands down my favourite band. In the 4th and 5th grade, my best friend and I would regularly paint our faces and rock out on our badminton air guitars. Probably the most well known version of the story is as follows… The year was 1979. It was the summer before I entered middle school. I was able to convince my father to take my friend and I to see KISS at the Cow Palace. I’m pretty sure there were tears involved. He agreed but with one condition. We all had to attend the matinee of Madame Butterfly in San Francisco before heading the concert. In a single day, I saw more comedy mixed with tragedy mixed with GLAMour mixed with over the top theatrics and a boat load of makeup. This is where the Vinsantos character was born. Deeply rooted in androgyny and theatre, heart wrenching story telling and frivolous spectacle. When you look at the Vinsantos characters makeup style, you’ll notice that I borrowed my signature lips from Ace Frehley.

SilenceFiction – Lipstique (Feat. fauxnique) starring Vinsantos, Peaches Christ et al.

D) I first became aware of you in the Peaches Christ Madonna Parody, ‘Spin the Bottle’. How did you become involved with the San Fran scene?

V) I became involved in the SF scene from two very different avenues. I have always been in a band ever since I was a teenager. There are too many to mention, but probably one with the most longevity was a band called Agness. This project was heavily costumed and I often ended up drenched in stage blood. We would play anywhere from underground parties, warehouses, theatres, dive bars, and even that Thing they now call Burning Man. This was really my introduction to the freak scene that was thriving at the time in the city. Somewhere along the way, I was invited to a club called Trannyshack because I was told that it was a great place to meet cute boys. I knew that it was a Drag show, but as a musician, that didn’t really speak to me. Then I saw the show! One act after another, these performances were speaking directly to me. It was if I had found my calling, or at least one of them. I can remember seeing a “woman” named Putanesca hit the stage, rocking out to AC/DC, and thinking to myself, “I could totally do that.” Not more than a year after that, I was crowned Miss Trannyshack of the year 2000. It was through Trannyshack that I met all my best girlfriends, including the infamous Peaches Christ.

D) You’ve made some amazing short films of your own that are online and available to stream via YouTube; ’33’ for instance, is HYSTERICAL! SO funny, so wonderfully punk rock. Have you got any more projects in the pipeline? What about a DVD of your collected films?

V) In the early 80’s and late 90’s, I began to experiment with making short films. I took a few classes at a community college and ran with it. My emphasis was on Super 8 silent film narratives. At the time that I was becoming involved with the Drag scene, Peaches was also starting to make her own shorts. Along with Putanesca, she and I started a Halloween Drag weekend in Guerneville Ca called the Russian River Massacre.  The weekend would start off with a scary movie in the woods and end up with a big show at the local nightclub. We decided that we would each make our own horror films to present to the crowd as an added bonus. This is where 33 was developed. The weekend of the premiere, I pulled a publicity stunt gone wrong. I made up flyers of the missing children characters in the movie and pasted them all over town. It was a real inside kind of joke. As it turned out, people that weren’t on the inside, didn’t find it funny at all. They were disturbed at what they thought was the reality of these posters. Suppositori Spelling was a wrecked by it as were the towns people. Not until the movie was shown, and the same flyers appeared on screen did people get that it was just a stunt. Suppositori was especially relieved. To date, this little gem is my favorite film project of mine. I have others on various discs and tapes and even film reels. Yes, it’s on my list to compile them on to one spectacular DVD, but the truth is, I will probably be dead first and a loving fan will have to take on the project for me. Any takers?

D) You made a big move and swapped SF for New Orleans, what prompted this decision to leave? Also, how is New Orleans treating you?

V)  About 5 years ago, our son was grown and off to college. He was headed to New York. For the first time in 18 years, I was free to move about the country and world as I pleased. My husband Gregory had lived in New Orleans as a teen for a bit and had always had a desire to move back. We had visited some years before that for a LOST weekend. There was a lot of booze involved and I remember distinctly saying as we departed from New Orleans on our plane, “I will never set foot in that fucking town ever again”   Never Say Never.      

The move has been life changing. I went from having a day job to being a full time artist. I started making and selling my visual arts. I have become not only a drag artist and a musician but also a storyteller. I have found new families both in the drag and music world. Currently I am in two troupes that have monthly shows. The Dirty Dimestore Peepshow is a Burlesque type of show where I flaunt my Drag Arts. At Freaksheaux to Geaux, I work with a band or as a solo performer and tell stories mixed with live songs. The audiences have been very welcoming as well as the performers and producers. It’s especially fun to be newer in town and reach an audience that isn’t already used to my unique and sometime tragic style of performing arts. This town definitely has it’s challenges. Growing up in a progressive city like San Francisco definitely spoils you. You just assume that the rest of the planet is as advanced and as PC as what your are accustomed too. Not the case! It’s also a lot smaller of a city than I’m used to. I think it works somewhat to my advantage in the respect that I spend most of my time focusing on my art and home life. There isn’t an amazing party to go to every night of the week, so it’s easier to focus on what’s important to me right now. Mainly making arts and being on stage often enough to stay sane. Oh, and laundry.

Courtesy of DeFonte's cousin Diane

Courtesy of DeFonte’s cousin Diane

D) You’re an extremely talented musician – your full length release, ‘Light Awake Inside’ blends Chanson with dream pop and gothic chamber music to brilliant effect! Your wry sense of humour permeates the album wonderfully – what drives you to create in this fashion and how did you get your start?

V) As a child, I was forced to take piano lessons by my parents. I have always been a great music lover, but it seemed like a chore to me. In hindsight, it was the  best thing that they could have done for me artistically. That’s really where I got my musical start. I have been in bands since my teenage years. I have served as a bassist, guitarist, vocalist, producer and songwriter. Moving into adolescence, the piano was replaced by things more Rock and Roll. I didn’t re-discover the piano until much later. We were working on material for the second Agness album and really into experimenting with different instruments and sounds. I found a piano that someone was giving away on Craigslist. I moved it into my garage, and instantly fell in love. It was so familiar to me and made me feel so nostalgic. It was during this time that I wrote my first solo song, AFTER ALL. From there, more songs started to materialize, and I felt more connected to the process and it just snowballed.  In my later years, it just became harder and harder to have a “band.” Adults seems to have a lot of responsibilities and distractions that make it hard for a group of folks to stay focused, much less be able to all meet in one room together on a regular basis. 

As much as I have loved the collaborative process, especially in my two favourite projects, AGNESS and EVOLUTION RAINBOW, I found it was better for me mentally and emotionally to break out on my own. ‘A Light Awake Inside’ deals a lot with that struggle both to tell my own story and to stay connected to the people around me. I’m super sentimental and family oriented, but at the same time have always had a fascination with fame and fortune. At least the glamorous aspects of it. When I was young, and writing music, I was really less willing to let people get to know me, and my subject matter was quite ambiguous. I guess I considered it poetic. When I joined Agness, I was co-writing with my best girlfriend AGNESS TWIN and she had a real knack for being honest and telling it like it is. She’s really the one that got me to tear down the walls and just get real. From there I started to find my own voice and write based on my own experiences of love, life, success and failure. You know, human stuff. During this process, I had developed a pretty solid body of material. I was introduced to David J from Bauhaus through a mutual friend. He took an interest in what I was doing. Without his support, I’m not sure A LIGHT AWAKE INSIDE would have ever been fully fleshed out. I had never worked in a professional recording studio, or with a producer (David). He really was instrumental in guiding me through the process and helping me get my act together and organize my thoughts and material. I’m not really sure that I even knew at the time that I had it in me. I’m really proud of the work on this album, and all of the people involved. I continue to write songs here and there, when I’m feeling inspired. There will no doubt be another album or two before my time is up.

Photo courtesy of Kook Teflon

Photo courtesy of Kook Teflon

D) Kreeture New Orleans, your beautiful bespoke craft project is absolutely stunning! I love the little wonders you create and sell – how did this practice begin?

V) Kreeture New Orleans began shortly after my move here. I was working in a place called the French Market which is like an open air flea market type of thing. There were other artists there selling their cool stuff and making a living of it. This concept turned me on right away. I had been a mosaic artist in San Francisco for many years, so I took those skills and started making little miniature things to sell. I was almost immediately bored with it, having worked in that medium for so long. I came up with the idea of taking the broken shards of glass from my mosaic projects and creating little characters out of them and putting them in scenes around town. During that phase, I began to notice shiny and rusty things littering the grounds around me. These random pieces made their way into the characters and scenes as accents. Eventually, I stopped using the glass all together and was working primarily as an assemblage artist. I would use these little porcelain Mardi Gras masks as the faces to bring the characters to life. It was pretty cute, but not exactly where I wanted it to be. Through a good friend and fellow artist, Kook Teflon, I was introduced to Sheri DeBow at a group doll show here in town. I instantly fell in love were her stuff. I never pictured myself becoming a doll maker before this. I asked her to teach me her techniques so that I could create the faces that I was seeing in my head. I spent a weekend with her at her home in Napa, Ca and it all fell into place. Now my assemblages have been brought to LIFE and I even dabble in making proper dolls as well. It’s truly addictive. I think it’s the variety of techniques in the work that keep me so engaged and inspired. It’s sculpting, painting, hair, makeup, costume design, assemblage, and overall presentation all rolled into one. To date, I have created and sold literally hundreds of pieces. Custom creations are my favourite thing to work on. Clients will come to me with an idea for themselves or a loved one and let me run with it. They can also submit their own personal mementos to be featured in the piece. The most rewarding of these commissions are the MEMORIALS. My clients will put together a box of treasures from loved ones no longer with us and send them to me along with stories and photos about their dearly departed. It’s always an emotional experience and I often have to sit with the items and stories and really meditate on them until I fell compelled to take these precious items and start manipulating them into something new and beautiful. I’m not wholly superstitious, but I get the sense that I’m actually channelling these people through their collected items and histories.

Memorial piece for Phillip Wellford

Memorial piece for Phillip Wellford

D) Returning to performance, you’re hardly one to shy away from controversy! I will never forget howling with laughter at your slightly blasphemous Christ, water into wine performance. What compels your character to perform and what material resonates with you to the degree that makes you decide to construct a performance out of it?

V) As a songwriter and story teller, I draw my material from personal experiences. As a drag artist, it always starts out with the song. They just speak to me. I think after you do just one lip-synch, you start to listen to music in a different way. You are always trying to make a story out of it. Some of those stories are worth pursuing and others are just fun fantasies that fall by the wayside. I think the number one rule for me when it comes to my Drag work is that there is a story being told, no matter how subtle or conceptual. If there’s one thing I can’t stand from a performer, it would be self indulgence. You get plenty of that just being up on the stage. I like to connect with my audience and give them what they came out for. In my live performances, I like to reach people on a really personal level. In drag, there is a little of that mixed with A LOT of entertainment. Sometimes, just a gown and a wig and a great song are all I need to get my point across. Sometimes, it’s more about a specific character, like Christ that really drives the story home. As far as the turning water into wine thing, well, who doesn’t like magic?

D) Silencefiction featured yourself along with Fauxnique, Kiddie and Peaches Christ donning maquillage in the single ‘Lipstique’. How did you get involved in this?

V) The Lipstique project was created by the real life power couple of Silence Fiction aka Marc Kate and Fauxnique aka Monique Jenkinson, or as I like to call them, “the Fiercingtons.” We are all good friends and Sisters on the Scene. Shortly after they had recorded and performed the track live, they approached a few of us with this idea for the video. It was met by most of us with some trepidation. Most performers that I know do not like being portrayed out of character, and especially not mid-character. Being that it was the Fiercingtons asking, saying no wasn’t really an option. As a result, it is one of my favourite projects to date. I think it exceeded all of our expectations and made us all really proud. When I moved to New Orleans, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was playing up in the gay bars. Of course, I used my new found celebrity to work a few free drinks out of it. After I was able to convince people that it really was me up there on the screen!

D) ‘Manicursed’!!!! Where can we get our copies??? I as im sure many. have been tantalised by the possibility of this tranny-horror epic for some time now! How did it happen, where can we see it and is there more to come?

V)  Manicursed is one of my favourite little gems. It was created for another Drag weekend event up at the Russian River called Pipstock hosted by the “lovely” Pipi Lovestocking. I do have a copy on DVD that I promise to transfer and release soon. VERY soon. I could go into detail, but I think the trailer tells enough to get you interested. Keep on me about this one. It has some epic moments featuring Phatima, Metal Patricia, Fatsantos ( my BEAR alter ego) and even Cookie, my black cousin from Detroit.

D) I know that you have the Freaksheaux to Geaux performance coming up, what else do you have in the pipeline? Films, music, star studded world tour?

V) In the future, you can expect more of the same from me. I would like to get back into a little film-making. I will always be performing. The Kreetures will hopefully continue to pay my bills. I will move other places. I will adopt more Drag daughters. I will release another album. I will most likely finally finish my screen play. I might get another puppy at some point, but only if I have a nanny to take care of it. I will grow old and die. Or I might just get hit by a bus. In that case, see you all on “THE OTHER SIDE.” XOXOXOXOXOXO

Vinsantos DeFonte

Assuming Vinsantos hasn’t been mown down by a careening cab on the streets of New Orleans, I would like to issue him with a massive thank you for Talking Toxic with me today! It has been AWESOME!

If you would like to see more of Vinsantos’ work you can do so here:

facebook.com/vinsantos

Buy his Kreetures, here:

facebook.com/kreeture

etsy.com/people/kreeture

And buy his amazing album, ‘Light Awake Inside’, here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/a-light-awake-inside/id359762400