Posts Tagged ‘Drag’

Sindri

Next Friday sees the Clash Bash queens return their forth mismatched instalment, SEXY SHAPES! Headlining this asymmetrical experiencé, is LA based DJ & nightlife extraordinaire, Sindri! Having been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ nightlife for 15 years and playing at iconic parties across the pond such as Dickslap (Seattle), Honcho (Pittsburgh) & Blow Pony (Portland), there’s no doubt that Sindri is going to unleash some algebraic absurdity in our lazerhole! We caught up with them to chat about their involvement in Taylor Mac’s ‘A 24 Decade History of Popular Music’, meeting Róisín Murphy and what techni-coloured garms we can expect from them at their Superstore debut!

Hey Sindri! We’re stoked to have you joining us soon for Clash Bash! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m pretty much all things nightlife. DJ, party promoter, performance artist, avid dancer on a Friday night, sweating it out! Been twirling in different facets of club land for about 15 years now. I have a couple residencies and parties I throw in LA, and I dabble in making short films and party promo videos. My newest venture is learning to work with neon and making some fierce art pieces out of that, which I’m really excited about!

You have been involved in Taylor Mac’s “A 24 Decade History of Popular Music”! That’s incredible! Can you tell us a bit about your involvement? 

Yeah, the whole Taylor Mac experience was amazing and truly inspiring. The show is a very particular retelling of history through an exploration of popular music from 1776 to present day. Though told through a very glittery and eccentric lens and done in a 24 hour format. It’s the kind of show that takes audience participation to the nth degree! With surprises around every corner and some of the most over the top costumes I’ve ever seen. I was a “dandy minion” and was in charge of doing anything from handing the audience ping pong balls that they’d later throw at Taylor Mac, to helping hold up a giant 20 foot long inflatable penis around the house, to finding an audience member to make out with during Purple Rain! Taylor was an absolute sweetheart to work with and so genuine, I felt so honoured to be one of the 24 people chosen.

You have played at some of our favourite queer parties across the pond, from Honcho Pittsburgh to Dickslap Seattle and Blow Pony in Portland. What are some of your favourite dancefloors to play at?

I always have the most magical time playing and performing in Provincetown, Massachusetts for Bear Week. It’s a very storybook little New England harbour town that gets taken over by the gays every summer and attracts some of the most amazing queers from all over the world. I dj at Fagbash which has been a staple party there for the past 10 years. It’s also become a tradition that I perform at the massive Horse Meat Disco party that happens during Bear Week! 

What has been your career highlight thus far?

Hands down meeting my music and style icon, Róisín Murphy! I’ve been a big fan of hers since her Moloko days. She rarely comes to the US, and many silly Americans don’t know who she is. I’ve kinda been a major advocate of hers from my SF days, spreading her gospel by throwing many drag tribute nights in her honour, playing her catalogue at the clubs, or making my own fan music videos, one of them going viral to her then unreleased song Simulation. Kinda doing all these things to get her attention oversees, and during a time when Youtube and Instagram were barely coming into existence. It’s to the point now where everyone I know thinks of me when they see or hear anything of hers, and that suits me just fine! I got to throw her an after party for the end of her American tour in 2016. She hadn’t been to the states in 8 years. I got to meet her backstage at the show and then party with her afterwards. It was surreal, and she was everything I hoped she’d be. We got to hang again the next year she was in LA, and we keep in touch online and love to share music with each other. We might even share a pint at a pub while I’m in London! 

Roisin murphy and sindri

You made the move from San Francisco to LA about five years ago. How has that move impacted on you musically and creatively?

Yeah around 2013, after living in SF for 11years, I decided I needed to “grow up” a bit and start fresh in a place where I wasn’t as known. To kinda test myself and see if I can make it in a bigger pond. San Francisco was the perfect incubator for a queer creative mind, but it was time to really spread my wings. I wasn’t even sure I’d find a like minded community of freaks and music lovers down south. But I did, and it’s been such a rewarding journey. There’s just so much to tap into in LA that the possibilities are endless. It can seem daunting how big it is, but I like that challenge. Even after you’ve stuffed your face with one nook of the city, there’s still so much more to discover. It keeps you on your toes. It’s kinda like you can choose your own destiny. But of course it’s still up to you to work at it. It just inspires you to keep doing more!

You’re playing one of our most colourfulparties, Clash Bash. Will you be packing a special outfit for the occasion? 

I’m really excited to come play Clash Bash! Especially with ShayShay being a California native like myself! Although this particular trip to London I’m not bringing my alter ego Ambrosia Salad, her costumes usually require a whole other check-in suitcase. I will be flashing some serious colour wheel and haute boy drag! 

What does your queer utopia look like?

It would probably look like every set from Dario Argento’s cult horror classic Suspiria! Haha except without all the murders!

 

If you had a time machine and you could go dancing anywhere/when, where would you go?

A Bacchanal in Ancient Rome would be fun! But all the of the music I like wouldn’t have been invented yet. So maybe I’d enjoy transporting myself to Italy in the late 70’s early 80’s during the birth of Italo Disco. And hopping across the Atlantic to New York City for a bit of leather bar cruising in the West Village.

You’re taking us on a date in LA. Where are we going to eat/ drink/ dance?

Okay wow let’s see. Mimosa brunch and pool moment on the roof of The Standard Downtown. Packing a dinner and having a picnic at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Starting the night at Bar Mattachine for my weekly residency Salad Saturdays (shameless plug), then heading to my favourite underground, Spotlight, till the wee hours. If anyone’s sober enough to drive after, maybe make our way to Malibu to catch the sunrise.

In five words or less, what are you planning to unleash on the Superstore basement?

All-u-can eat funky beat.


 

Catch Sindri at Clash Bash no.4 ~ Sexy Shapes Friday 25th May from 9pm-4am!

 

Ellis D presents Drag Makeup Demos!

This Thursday, we are beyond thrilled to welcome local East London drag superstar, Lowstakes Festival curator and performance artist Ellis D for a crash course in drag makeup! Expect ‘Low Budget, Lower Concept Last Minute Glam’ from our resident superstar thrifty MUA. She’ll be running through top tips and tricks for executing a flawless face on a budget. Everyone is welcome, and it’ll only set you back a fiver! We caught up with her to chat witchcraft, performance platforms and sources of inspiration!



Hello gorgeous! We can’t wait for your Drag Make-Up Demo this Thursday! You’ve been SLAYING the East London drag scene for years now, but how did it all start? Let’s hear your DRAG-HERSTORY babes.

I started doing drag in 2012(13?) because it seemed like an accessible stage, it’s amazingly easy to find yourself subjecting a packed club to utter trash only two weeks into your illustrious drag career. After a couple of solo ventures I ended up in the Yeast London Cabaret with Oozing Gloop and Rodent DeCay which is where I got most of my terrible librarian drag out my system. Back then it was lipsync or nothing, I was really inspired by performers like Dickie Beau and 2boys.tv. Recently I’ve fallen out of love with lipsync in favour of a semi-improvised, reactionary, ritual mode of performance (performance art – you know the gig). I’ve taken work in that style to performance festivals a few times now and I’m continually frustrated and inspired by it.

The Glory’s cult drag competition LIPSYNC 1000 has now become a phenomenon, and you were its very first winner! How have you developed as a drag artist since that experience?

I wouldn’t perform the act I won with now – it was a little slow and stationary which I do kind of love, my favourite thing is a queen who plants her feet – too many people panic on stage they try and lay claim to every inch by stamping a heel on it and that will always look awful. Be statuesque. But that said it just wasn’t considered enough, it needed a better structural cohesion & a stronger visual – it relied almost entirely on the lip sync precision – which was obviously flawless because I don’t enter competitions I don’t know I’ll win. I had a lot more self-confidence (read: delusion) back then.

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As well as your own work, you’re quite the community queen! Last year, you were one of the curators of the Lowstakes performance festival, which provided a platform for upcoming performance artists! Can you give us the DL?

Lowstakes is a performance festival that I run along with Edythe Wooley and Malik Sharpe. The first iteration at New River Studios was a two-day affair with ?25 artists showing new and developing work. We followed that with a club night at VFD which returns this month on the 23rd. The first festival was done with no money at all and our approach was to programme as many people as we possibly could and work it out on the fly. I’m confident that we had the largest programme of new performance work anywhere in London. We want it to be as painless as possible to access and are always looking to take risks – sketch us a doodle and promise us a show and there’s a good chance we’ll programme it. The two day festival returns in June this year, with the open call to be announced imminently and this time we know what we’re doing. 

From tarot card reading at TUSK to WITCHY performances down the road at VFD, Ritual seems to be the main theme of your recent performances. Can you tell us how this has become the subject of your work?

At first it was a practice of self-care, I found the meditation and goal visualisation of spellcraft helpful, and still do to an extent. I’m not as submerged in it all as I was a year or two ago, but I find the structures and beats of ritual are useful skeletons around which to build performance. The danger being you fall into the trap of spiritual display and exhibitionism which always makes for the most unbearable stomach- churning horrendous work. Mythology has always been what I return to when making new work – I’ve always been obsessed with Norse mythology and read a lot when I was younger, I’m interested in how fictions might inform future socio-political forms, a process called fictioning. Spellcraft is a fictioning, a story told to manifest change. I think performance can do the same.

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We are absolutely GAGGED by the LEWKS you’ve been pulling, where do you get your inspiration? 

I am continually inspired by a whole host of folks. As much as I enjoy makeup, I’ve never really studied it or put much effort into researching references and I am blissfully oblivious to any makeup greats but to name a couple of Instagram favourites: Imp Kid, Nico, Yuri Guaìí. I’m also always here for a Siouxsie Sioux graphic liner moment or a Nina Hagen blush. For the most part I just make it up as I go and trust I’m soaking in influence from somewhere.

Drag-Makeup tutorials are everywhere on YouTube, but they definitely aren’t the most accessible to queens who are new to the game! How will your tutorials help beginners in a rush and on a budget ?

Okay here’s the deal… I’m not Miss Fame, I’m broke as hell and I have very little patience for makeup. Expect tips & tricks, shortcuts and knock-off products. They’ll be as accessible as I can make them for beginners, I’m not giving myself three hours to tinker away –  this is ‘just finished my shift and have two hours to be in face, dressed and out the door’ makeup. I want people just starting out to have a real shot at recreating the look straightaway. That said I can blend a base with the best of ‘em so they’ll be gorgeous no doubt. 

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2018? Give us a sneaky peak of what’s in store for Ellis D.

 Alongside returning to and nurturing my performance practice and continuing to platform some of the best performers and friends I have the honour of knowing 2018 is all about becoming a much pricklier customer, oh and padding. 


Join Ellis D at the “I Have How Much Time?” Drag Demo this Thursday 15 March from 7pm in the Dalston Superstore basement for £5!

Rodent DeCay

Photo credit: Allan Gregorio

With every Halloween at Dalston Superstore comes the cult horror smash hit Mints presents Miss Zombie Drag Queen! For the banging 2017 edition featuring Bell Towers, In Flagranti and Nadia Ksaiba, we are lucky enough to welcome East London’s very own queen of the underworld, RodentDeCay! She’s been haunting stages from The Glory to Sink the Pink, and most recently debuted new commissioned work at Birmingham’s Fierce Festival and we can’t wait to have her join us to judge the competition! We caught up with her to chat queering monstrosity, fighting real-life monsters and things that go bump in the night.


Hi Rodent DeCay! We can’t wait to have you join us for Miss Zombie Drag Queen 2017! How has your year been so far?

I finished my Masters in the back end of 2016 so most of 2017 has been trying to be a RealLifeHuman™. But it’s also been a year of a lot of experimentation and growth, creatively, largely in retaliation to the way the world seems to be closing in on itself. It’s been a very interesting year so far for the Rat Queen.

 You were recently involved in the incredible Fierce Festival in Birmingham, what was that like?

So throughout the end of 2016 and up until this week I was involved with the Fierce FWD development programme for emerging artists in and from the West Midlands. Through the programme I started exploring more sound design elements in my creative practice and presented my first solo work, HOMECOMING:  a 20-minute piece scored by my own original compositions, sound design and text that looked to weaponise the ugly emotions we brew in adolescence as isolated queers into a tour de force of destruction against the systems and structures that separated us. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m hugely grateful to the whole Fierce team for their support and for commissioning me!

We were absolutely GAGGED by your recent Aileen Wuornos lipsync at Cybil’s House! How did that idea develop?

I’ve been exploring monstrosity as a queer metaphor in a lot of my work recently and so stumbled upon Aileen’s story through that investigation. Aileen was a woman who was abused constantly throughout her life, suffering numerous toxic relationships and mental health abuses. She’s infamous as one of America’s most prolific female serial killers, murdering johns that she alleged abused her. Throughout her arrest, trial, incarceration and ultimately her execution, her life was used as a toy and bargaining chip by religious and political bodies: largely all men. I wanted to bring this “monster” back into our consciousness and use her final interview as a way to skewer abuses of power that are levelled against women, queers and those of us with mental health problems while also offering some kind of vindication.

 What is your process like when developing a show?

Usually I start with a nugget of an idea, a mental image or a piece of spoken word or audio that resonates with me. I magpie lots of bits and pieces from all over the Internet or in real life and make Frankenstein composites to try and weave new narratives. With my Sweet Dreams, Aileen act I found Aileen’s final interview with Nick Broomfield and overlayed this with an instrumental track of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). I thought the merging of Aileen’s narrative as an abused queer woman and the image or Annie Lennox as a powerful androgynous woman had some really powerful potential, especially with the pounding “Some of them want to use you… some of them want to abuse you” lines.

Where do you find inspiration?

At the moment, monsters, both real and fictional, but I’ve always been inspired by things that exist on the fringes of culture or society. As a queer non-binary person these modes of existence really resonate with me so I try to revel in otherness, difference and defiance. I’m really obsessed with the power of horror to shock and jar people from complacency and the ordinary, which is why my work plays with images like witches, werewolves and feral children.

rodent decay at dalston superstore

Photo Credit: Graeme Braidwood

We love your dark aesthetic.. how has it developed from when you first started out doing drag? 

It’s really bloomed over the past year now that I’m full out of education. My drag was always a little bit on the dark side, but was quite juvenile to begin with, mostly because I don’t think I initially had the confidence to celebrate a lot of the things that make me tick at the time. Coming into my own with my gender has definitely had a major impact in wanting to present something more liminal. I’ve evolved from being a MySpace emo princess, to an alabaster vamp, to a ferocious witch to now start pushing my drag in a direction that makes it more genderless and inhuman altogether.

If you could change anything about London’s LGBTQ+ scene, what would it be?

More celebration of and visibility for non-white and non-masculine bodies. The link between sexualities and bodies is inevitable in club culture but I’d like to see more room for discussions and challenges that take queerness away from the physical and the meat of us. I’d like to see a celebration of sexuality and queerness that doesn’t anchor itself to one singular kind of queer subject that is predominantly cis, white and male. I think a lot of people talk about these kinds of changes but I think our community has a very real problem with taking ideas off of Facebook and applying them in the real world.

rodent decay at dalston superstore

Photo credit: Phillip Prokopiou 

What does your queer utopia look like?

An intersectional equalisation of power, abolishing class, gender and racial barriers and fully automated luxury queer monster communism.

You were the winner of The Glory’s cult drag competition LipSync1000, and Miss STP a few years ago… what’s the next step in world domination for Rodent DeCay?

Rising like Surtsey out of the oceans to take over everyone’s minds and hearts with cold, nihilistic beauty. Seriously though, more of the same. Keeping my momentum up and putting out more unique and original content and trying to be more disruptive, political and vocal.

And now for the upcoming Halloweekend!! What are you looking for in Miss Zombie Drag Queen 2017, and what advice would you give any wannabe drag zombies readying their lewks?

 I wanna see some hilarious causes of death. A fully intact fresh from the grave zombo is all well and good, but I’m really hear for chunks missing, implements in eye sockets, zombie experiments gone wrong and radioactive super zombies. Top tip: twisting your head around 360 degrees successfully, without severing any major nerve or spinal system, is a definite winning move.


Catch Rodent DeCay at Mints Miss Zombie Drag Queen 2017 on Friday 27 October from 9pm-4am at Dalston Superstore!

 

Rify Royalty

Next week we’re honoured to welcome a man of many talents to Dalston Superstore… Rify Royalty! A New Yorker known for his inventive looks, go-go dancing prowess, drag-infused acts and so much more, Rify joins us for another edition of cult night Dirty Diana! Ahead of the party we caught up with him to find out more about what we can expect from his performance…

Actor, model, go-go boy, make-up artist, burlesque performer… what doesn’t Rify do?

Ummm… Rify does not limit himself to anything. He doesn’t sing live though. Haha. That’s not his forte.

What other things are you doing with your time at the moment?

I’m just embracing all the work that I’m getting, broadening myself as an artist. That being said, I do a bit of drag, I do a bit of burlesque, I do performance art, and because I’m an actor and I have this acting background, I really like to play different characters. A lot of my peers are just burlesque artists or just drag queen artists, and that’s great for them. But I would get bored of doing the same thing over and over, so I always switch it up and do something different and new and fun.

What’s been your fiercest looks of late?

Oh that’s a tough one. I’ve been working really hard to put on really fun looks. I did a blue look for Bushwig, this festival that happens in Brooklyn. I had these two friends of mine who sew, make me this very slutty blue fishscale outfit. And I had a blue wig and a blue mask and I had a Smurfette lunchbox… and stripper heels. Yeah, it was a really fun look.

How many people go into creating your looks?

I usually just use my girls, they’re called The Big Hair Girls. They’re recording artists and they are also seamstresses so they help me sew but usually my looks will come from me. Sometimes I work with different make-up artists. I had this famous make up artist called RainBlo paint me one time… twice actually, for a few events. But usually my looks come from me, and every now and then I’ll work with an artist who wants to paint me, or put me up in a design that they’ve made… with a little bit of my feedback of course.

Rify by Darrell Thorne 

As a go-go boy who works on Fire Island, you may have noticed Queers For The Climate highlighting that rising sea levels could leave the whole area underwater… if you could galvanize the gay community around one social issue what would it be?

Oh god, there’s so many social issues wrong with the gays. But one of the things I’m really working hard right now on is trying to- and I think it’s getting better, or maybe it’s just getting better around me, so I don’t know how it is for other people- but for a long time I was encountering the type of gay man who is woman-hating and hetero-normative. And I feel like the more I grow as an artist, the more I incorporate drag into my looks… you’d be surprised by how many men are so very intrigued or interested in getting to know me better… for whatever intents and purposes haha.

And that’s why I infuse some drags into my go-go looks as well. I want people to know that this is nightlife, and it should be fun, and we shouldn’t be in this hetero-normative way – man/woman, femme/masculine, etc etc. In many years this will make a difference.

Rify by Maro Hagopian

Photo credit: Maro Hagopian

 

Actually, I don’t know if you saw the past season of Drag Race. I had kinda an issue with it because they had Scruff, the social app, doing some promotional stuff. I had a really big problem with this as Scruff is notoriously known for that kind of behavior…

Straight-acting.

Yeah, sexy straight-acting men. And then you’re gonna put them on a show that focuses on drag queens! It’s kinda disrespectful. It’s THEIR show. Drag queens have it hard enough meeting men in general. Men that take them seriously anyway, seriously beyond drag. And then you’re shoving your agenda down their throat by not even acknowledging that it’s a drag competition. My issue was “Great! You want to put your Scruff pit crew in it, fine. But put them in heels. Or wigs.” And I think it would be really funny and really camp. These really sexy muscled guys with heels and make-up.

And actually integrated into the show as opposed to advertising on top of it.

Exactly. That would be waaay more integrated into the show. It would definitely break boundaries because these men are like idolized amongst other gay men. They have their own following on Instagram and Twitter. I just think the Scruff founders could have been more responsible in incorporating them more, rather than “these are our sexy masculine men” and advertise them on the show.

It sounds more like piggybacking.

Yeah. I mean it doesn’t have to be full drag. But just in heels and a wig. Or diamond bracelets. Then it would have been really sexy and funny. And they could have still kept their integrity but worked with the show a bit more.

Tell us about your involvement in Mr(s) Williamsburg?

This was their second year having Mr(s) Williamsburg and last year I watched and thought how fun it was, but I didn’t compete. This year I competed in round two and I won!

Yay!

Well I won round two, but I didn’t win the whole competition. I was a semi-finalist. Round two was representing Metropolitan Bar. And one person from each bar won. So they had the top three winners and from those top three, one person won. And that person was the one that beat me from Metropolitan. She’s great; we work together all the time. She’s a drag queen. But it was amazing to win round two, as it was my first ever pageant. To place as a semi-finalist, in the top nine, out of 50 performers was pretty great.

You split your time between NYC and London- what are you doing here?

I was in London last year for three and a half months. I wasn’t working. I was doing “fuck all” as you guys say. I was on a long holiday and going to places like Berlin and Munich, Amsterdam, Iceland, Barcelona… but mostly using London as my homebase.

I went back to New York, and within the year, nightlife has really kicked off for me, and I made a lot of connections in London so it all kind of just fell into place. I hope to be booking more work in London on a regular basis that allows me to come here and do what I love to do. And get paid for it. Because ultimately we all want to get paid, we all want to eat! And if I’m flying 3000 miles, that ain’t cheap!

Rify Royalty Hot Rabbit

Who are your current New York nightlife homegirls?

Hmm. That’s a good question. I’d say Merrie Cherry is the like Queen Of Brooklyn right now. She’s been one of my biggest supporters. Since I started performing in nightlife, she’s booked me for a lot of gigs. I do feel like a lot of people in Brooklyn haven’t been entirely supportive of what I do, because I kinda came out of nowhere and I don’t stick to the norm. I’m not just one thing. Merrie’s been like “ Whatever! Do whatever! You wanna show your penis on stage? Go for it! You wanna lip-sync? Go for it!” She doesn’t really care haha!

So I would say Merrie Cherry, I would say Aja…. Ummmm. Thorgy Thor. Who else has been really good? So many people! It’s a good question. I would say Culture Whore. Culture Whore is a group, two guys; they’ve booked me for some stuff as well. And Lady Simon. Yeah. They’re some of my homegirls.

So these are the people who support you, no matter what you do?

Yeah, they support me, I party with these people, and I do gigs with these people. Oh I’d also say Boy Georgia, she’s another go-go dancer who performs with me at a party once a month. So these are people that support me, come to my shows, put me in touch with other gigs and they’re just people that I party with. I mean I have so many homegirls but these are the ones that come to mind.

What is the motto you live your life by?

I would say: Do What Works For You. In all aspects, all across the board… do what works for you. I think people jump the gun, thinking, “Oh I could never do that!” And that is great if you are aware of your surroundings but I think people should just do what works for them. And for me a lot of things work for me, so I do them. I get that some drag queens don’t feel comfortable doing a burlesque act, they just love lip-syncing to their favourite songs, and that’s great. There are a lot of rules, but I think you should just do what works for you. Do what makes you happy. And get paid! You can perform in all these places all you want but unless you’re paying your rent, then you’re not really working. And I think that’s really important, because money circulates. A lot of my paid gigs have helped me get other costumes, and I’ve been able to pay people to design things for me. So it comes into full circle. Well, it is a job, nightlife has become a full-time job. So do what works for you, and do something you love. 

Join Rify next Friday 26th September at Dirty Diana from 9pm – 4am at Dalston Superstore.

Main photo credit: Ryan Pfluger

Imma/Mess

New York performance artist Imma/Mess joins us here at Superstore this Friday to make his London debut at, of course, Dirty Diana. We sat down with the enigmatic artist to find out more ahead of the party…

Who is Imma/Mess?

Imma/Mess is kinda like this mix-up of who I long to be and my childhood references and memories. I grew up around majority women… and when I say “grew up” I don’t mean in physical presence. I was always listening to Tina Turner and watching ‘80s TV. So “women” in the broad sense of what a woman could be. Even down to my grandmother, just watching her cook, and things like that.

Imma/Mess is kinda like a combination of all those memories piled up into one and then me, now, the journey that I’m on. So I kinda use childhood memories to manipulate the present.

What can you tell us about your performance this Friday?

Since I’m new to London it needs to be about me introducing myself. A lot of performances are dependent on space, and so here at Superstore it’ll be about having fun… a lot of body haha showing a lot of body… a lot of make-up… but other than that, just a good time.

You lived in NYC- are you from there originally or did you gravitate towards there because of the richness of the performance art scene and the avant-garde scene?

I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama but I have always been drawn to New York. Even as a child I would draw the city’s skyline… then one day I was moving to Atlanta and my teacher was like “You should audition for Alvin Ailey.”

Who is that?

It’s an African-American dance troupe, artistically run by Robert Battle, and Judith Jamison was the director but now she’s not.

So it was pretty crazy for my teacher to suggest that I audition there as my aunt had just taken me to a performance there a week before. And that’s what took me to New York. 

Where has your art provoked the biggest reaction?

I will say that race comes up a lot. And racism comes up a lot, and all that. Because sometimes I will do blackface… but I don’t want to call it “blackface”. Sometimes I will use all black make-up or all-white make-up and people want to say “Oh my god why is there a black guy putting on black make-up?” and then they call it “blackface” or “Why is this black guy covering his whole body in white?” I think in the art world, sometimes, a sense of humour can be lost, or diluted down a bit…

ImmaMessmakeup 

Or maybe they don’t have the same drag references?

Right. I love performance art; it’s allowed me to get to where I am now. But I feel like a lot of times when my art comes up it’s always in reference to someone who is maybe not even medium-wise close to me…. But like the closest thing. So like Nick Cave because he’s an African-American performance artist who does these amazing, beautiful Soundsuits. And a lot of people, just because I use dance, are like “Oh Nick Cave.” And it’s like “No. What about Leigh Bowery? And all these people that ARE my references?”

Leigh Bowery

I guess the closest thing that is my reference is Grace Jones. That’s it. Okay, yeah maybe you’re right. Maybe they don’t have the same book of references as me.

You mentioned studying at Alvin Ailey- have you always studied dance?

My training background? I originally began studying gymnastics. Then my gymnastic teacher TRICKED me into doing dance because she used to do dance competitions and I was the only boy- actually it was me and her brother. He was four years older than me. She got both of us to do a duet- Mortal Kombat- Oh my god, and she was like “It’s gonna be the coolest duet! If you guys do it you will win the trophy.” And all I cared about was the trophy…

Did you?

And we did! It was called I Love Dance and we went, and I was so into it! I was so into it because I was thinking Trophy Trophy Trophy… And I got the trophy. Anyway, that’s where I started. And then I went onto a performing arts high school in Atlanta. Then it was onto Alvin Ailey, then I went to a Conservatory in Connecticut- in the middle of nowhere- some of the best years of my training life. Then after that I went to Holland and then I was offered a training position with Atlanta ballet so I went back and I grew up in the ranks pretty quickly. The director was so amazing. After the third year there I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to dance anymore. I wanted to do more with my voice. So I applied to school in secret and went to Parsons where I graduated with honours. I just recently applied to CSM (Central Saint Martins) so I’m going there for my MA in fine arts.

Besides Leigh Bowrey who you already mentioned, which artists- of any medium or method- inspire you?

I am drawn to people who I feel I can take something away from. I love Cindy Sherman. I love Nick Cave. George Condo. All art-wise. I’m kinda conflicted with Grace Jones, between performer or artist… for me I feel like she’s an artist, so she’s one of my biggest references. I LOVE John Waters. And from that I love Divine. And all his movies. So that’s where I’m at reference-wise.

Nick Cave

I love beauty but I love… beautifying the grotesque. I LOVE grotesque. The nastiness. Like how Divine is. It’s so amazingly ugly. It’s like wearing Prada: it’s so ugly it’s good. It’s like who puts those colours together and that crazy fucking goat fur and when you see it all together you’re kinda like bleurghh, but then a little bit down the road you’re like huh, this is not so bad.

Can you talk us through your style a bit… how would you describe it, do you make your own costumes, who are your favourite designers to wear?

In my normal life I wear all black. I wish I could afford Comme des Garçons. I’d wear Comme des Garçons every day. The avant-garde pieces. The womenswear. Rick Owens I would love to wear. Gareth Pugh… oh my god I LOVE. But right now, what I can afford is Y3 and pieces I find in vintage markets.

In my normal style I like a little bit of the crazy, but since I wear all black it’s easier for me to put it together. I can focus more on the texture, shape and form and all that. But, as Imma/Mess… I love glitter. Oh my god. I LOVE glitter oh my god. I wanna paint my nails glitter, my face glitter… I’ve yet to get a glitter bodysuit… I need to meet Manish Arora or Ashish. I need to meet one of them because they just do glitter and sequins haha and I like it. But I need it slutty. Y’know, less is more. As Imma/Mess I just glitter and fake eyelashes. I always end up losing my lashes by the end of the night and then I go to take off my bra and they’re both in there! Oh! There you are!

What has drawn you to London?

I feel that here I am able to be myself, and I don’t mean to just do whatever, I just feel that London is so open to opportunity, compared to New York, where opportunity is there- don’t get me wrong- but it’s such a dreadful journey to even just find the door of opportunity, let alone getting inside. And then once you are inside, there are so many subdivisions of opportunity but I feel like in London, opportunity is so readily available. The community here is always on the search for something new. Just London in general, just walking down the street, people are curious… and not to make fun of you, but are interested in you as a person. In coming to London I am finding out more about myself through engaging with the people that are here.

Who would you most like to collaborate on your art with- from contemporaries to up-and-comers you’ve got your eye on?

Boychild, I also love FKA Twigs, Zebra Katz, Angel Haze, and this new girl, a rapper called Dominque Jones Unqiue… but, I just wish I knew more people in the nightlife here.

Come get to know Imma/Mess at Dirty Diana this Friday 28th March at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4.30am.

Photo Credits: Lee Morgan Photo / Tyler Dean King / Imma/Mess

No Bra

This Saturday sees Susanne Oberbeck, founder of one-woman industrial band No Bra, grace the Superstore basement for a special DJ set at Club Lesley. Having been a staple on the East London club scene, Susanne has since made the move to New York where she continues to perform live and DJ, including for controversial gay pornographer Bruce LaBruce’s live shows. 

We caught up with her to chat art, the avant-garde, mustaches, books, tits and more ahead of Saturday’s set!

Why did you decide to move from London to New York?

I was drawn by its energy. 

What book(s) are you currently reading?

These are the books currently on my bed: collected poems of Langston Hughes, Hot And Cold by Richard Hell, Our Lady Of The Flowers by Jean Genet, The Job: Interviews With William Burroughs, Kafka Toward A Minor Literature by Deleuze and Guattari, The Women by Hilton Als, M by John Cage, Sister Outsider by Audrey Lorde and the I Ching. They are all worth reading!!

You’re known for having a pretty eclectic taste in music. What can we expect from your DJ set here at Dalston Superstore?

Am I? I will be playing a lot of new music coming out of New York, I don’t think it’s overly eclectic, a lot of the music I play at my own club there, and it’ll be very danceable.

Why is there such a strong relationship between club culture and the avant-garde?

Because it’s instant and up to the minute and doesn’t cost much… you can experiment and you don’t need someone more conservative to give you money to do it. People coming together in this way generates energy and new ideas.   

However I find using the term “avant-garde” today a bit dubious because it could be read as just another marketing cliché intended to keep the “avant-garde” in a safe place where it won’t lead to any genuine change.

What made you make the move from film-making to music?

I thought I would be better at it and I was desperate to perform! It’s more fun, you have more freedom to be inventive, it’s considerably cheaper and you don’t depend on other people to make it happen. But I do want to get back into making narrative films and more music videos in the future… I think it’s easier when people know who you are and you don’t have to struggle to be respected. [Especially] If your ideas are perceived as slightly unorthodox.

Where do you feel has had the biggest influence on you- your hometown in your native Germany, your adopted albeit temporary home of London or your current home of New York?

Probably London. Also I am not from a town but a village!

You’ve spoken previously about the need to balance getting your tits out with wearing a moustache. Is this something that still informs your performances and if not what does now?

Where is this quote from? It sounds like it was meant to be a joke. I guess using gimmicks like that has shock value and it looks extreme and serves as a short hand for something maybe more subtle I might have feared people would not get. Really it was just kind of a satire on double standards surrounding ideas about speaking and performance, subject and object, male and female, active and passive etc. Plus I felt comfortable in half-drag. Anyway now that I have grown as a musician, if I may say so, I’m more interested in just being myself on stage and let the songs speak for themselves, because it’s actually more powerful, [to] create something new rather than make music that is partially rooted in satire, or holding a mirror at the audience like in the Leonard Cohen song.

How did you come to DJ for Bruce LaBruce?

We have been friends for a while. He asked me to do it.

Bruce LaBruce's show

How do you go about picking music to soundtrack “gay zombie soldiers”?

Bruce named one song (For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield) that he thought would be good and so I think I got the idea of what he was after… [and] er maybe mixing in my own feelings about the topic at hand. We were at this strip club called Macho Mondays and there were better things to do than discuss a DJ set. I didn’t really prepare it, it’s always best to improvise on the spot because then the audience becomes part of it.

And finally, what was the last piece of art you came across that genuinely moved you?

As in sending shivers down my spine? It was actually a fashion show but I’m not gonna tell you which one! Is that considered art?

No Bra plays Club Lesley this Saturday 22nd September from 9pm – 3am with The Lovely Jonjo, Michelle Manetti and MDMX and you can catch her performing live at the Twat Boutique warehouse party on Friday 5th October.

Photo credit: Bruce LaBruce via Vice.com

Top 5 Drag Looks

Sink the Pink are a unique force for good in East London… Their distinctive events combine a tongue-in-cheek sense of fun with a genuine sense of queer community. Recent parties at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club have included a Su Pollard tribute night and a visit from the cast of My Transexual Summer.

Su Pollard –  Starting Together

Ahead of their Happy Shopper residency at Dalston Superstore we asked STP (Glyn & Amy to their mums) about their ultimate top 5 drag looks…

STP- Dalston Superstore Drag by Jacob Love

Nana May (aka RonJonSon)
He’s not a drag queen, but one of our oldest friends who we bully into dresses.  After a few shandies he doesn’t need much persuasion and this was the first festival we ever performed at. We bought him this dress in the Bestival Oxfam, we didn’t have a lot of make up so we decided to brand the hell out of him.  This became an iconic image for our flyers for year after, DIY drag all the way!!

STP- Dalston Superstore Drag Holestar by Jacob Love

Holestar
This was from a shoot we did for our massive party in July 2010, Gay Bash.  We love Holey, she’s a regular DJ of ours, she rocks a killer look time after time and no one messes with her!

STP Dalston Superstore Drag by Jacob Love

Jonny Woo (Miss Sink The Pink 2008)
It was first Miss Sink The Pink we ever did, Jonny wasn’t even meant to be a contestant but turned up drunk and was Miss Lunn Poly, the reason we loved her look was it was last minute thrown together and trashy, everything we are!  Bad make up and revealed testicals, a Sink The Pink icon!

STP Dalston Superstore Drag by Jacob Love

Ma Butcher
Shoreditch’s answer to Elaine Page. Ma came to the first Sink The Pink and we haven’t been able to get rid of her since. There’s no one that can rock an evening gown with such minimal grace and as we know, no Ma Butcher look is complete without her trusty snout and some budget accessories.

STP Dalston Superstore Drag by Jacob Love

Amy and Glyn, STP President, CEO and brand ambassadors.  
Colourful porn show? Check.  Ridiculous head dress? Check.  Luminous green mesh dress? Check. Banana in hair? Check. Ready for work? Check!

 Sink The Pink presents Happy Shopper on Saturday 11th February with residents Prince Nelly and James Philips plus special guests The Men Who Fell To Earth.

Drag look images courtesty of Jacob Love:  www.jacoblove.net/