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.

 

 

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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

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

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

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!