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CHOKE ON THIS

GAG. 2018


READING IS FUNDAMENTAL - RU PAUL


GAG.

FOUNDER//EDITOR & CHIEF//ART & CREATIVE DIRECTOR// GRAPHICS//WEB DEVELOPER//PHOTOGRAPHER//WRITER CALE PEERS

VISUAL CONSULTANT ALICE HARRISON

ILLUSTRATIONS CALE PEERS HEATHER CHAMBERS

CONTRIBUTORS CAITLIN GALE (ANTI-SUZANNE) JACOB JED PEREZ (JEZABELLE HERM-APHRODITE BONAPARTE) JONNY KERANS-WILLOUGHBY (LADY STARDUST) IZZY ALGAR (MISERABEL) ALICE HARRISON FAY BRIGGS KIERAN EVANS JONNY CAMBRIDGE

INSTAGRAM @_gagmag For submissions and advertisement email us at gagthemag@gmail.com www.gagthemag.wixsite.com/themag ISSUE 1 04/2018 COPYRIGHT

©

2017 by CALE PEERS

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying or other electronic or mechanical methods, without written permission of the publisher.


Dear reader, The long awaited first issue of GAG - inspired by drag of all kinds. This letter invites you to be submerged into the wonderful world of subversive drag in its true artform. Here at GAG we intend to serve you the gender-bending true artistic form of this ever-growing culture and we want to share and celebrate that with you. This issue focuses on local drag artists within Leeds, from their first performance to their views on the drag world. We find out what defines them as drag performers and what inspires their friends and partners. The inspiration for this magazine came from two very important people in my life. One is my boyfriend, who introduced me to drag when we first met, and had me hooked very quickly. The other is Anti-Suzanne, who opened my eyes to the bigger picture of drag culture and the smaller scale drag events that happen in Leeds. My personal favourite event ‘AgeOfThe’, offering a safe LGBTQ space for you to enjoy. Now read on and CHOKE ON THIS.


CONTENTS. 6-9

THE ART OF DRAG

10 - 23 LADY STARDUST 24 - 35 JACOB 36 - 37 FELINE PURRFECT EVENT REVIEW


38 - 49 ANTI-SUZANNE 50 - 55 HEATHER CHAMBERS ART 56 - 61 ANYONE CAN BE A QUEEN 62 - 73 JEZZABELLE HERM-APHRODITE BONAPARTE 74 - 83 MISERBEL


THE ART OF DRAG

F

rom Drag Queens to Kings – has the world of Drag finally blossomed into fine art? Over the years, drag has gone from a niche interest to a global phenomenon. Drag dates back to performances from the Ancient Greek era and Shakespeare in the performing arts world, where men would perform dressed as women – back before drag had even become a thing. The term ‘drag’ first came around in the beginning of the 20th century, an English slang term amongst some gay communities to refer to male actors dressed in women’s clothing. Not only has drag been a thing since ‘herstory’ began, in the world of fine art some artists started to express themselves through an alter ego – themselves being the muse. Marcel Duchamp was a fine artist who had a female alter ego Rrose Sélavy. When she appeared to the world, people were astonished to see that art had been taken to life form. She appeared in photographs taken by non-other than Man Ray - a historic fashion photographer. Even he was speechless to see Duchamp’s art being personified by Sélavy; he saw Duchamp’s whole aesthetic become alive. Was this the first capture of the crossover of fine art and the world of drag? A more recent artist Grayson Perry also has a female alter ego – Claire. Claire is the female artist in Perry, inspired by his mother. Even though he doesn’t talk to her anymore. Perry told The Guardian that “We almost fetishise the personalities and body types we were exposed to as children. When we suddenly find out we’ve married our mother, it’s liberating to a certain extent.” Everyone knows that artists within the art world express themselves ‘on paper’ but within their attire as well. Perry and Claire execute this to a T. When you search “Grayson Perry drag” into Google, the page fills with numerous iconic couture outfits in which Perry has created to express his alter ego Claire. This is literally fine art coming to life in ‘one of a kind’ pieces like no other. Perry is one of many artists to take drag one-step further to the world.

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Other examples of drag being seen as part of fine art, is shown in exhibitions around the world such as The Tate’s exhibition ‘Queer British Art’ featuring paintings, film and photographer’s work such as John Deakin who photographed cross-dressed men and women. It has even become apparent that one of the people in his 1930’s collection was an artist – Francis Bacon in drag CIA facial software uncovered this. Andy Warhole also filmed drag queens as part of his expression of art. Some musicians also express themselves through the way they look as well as through their music, from Freddie Mercury to Lady Gaga. Also the Whitney Biennial in New York used RuPaul as inspiration and he served tour guide realness by showing people around the exhibition. The world’s biggest drag superstar, RuPaul. The worlds most famous and influential drag performer took drag and the art form to a whole new level. He created a realm in which drag performers can express themselves and compete to become “The Next Drag Superstar”. We met Mamma Ru as a musical artist in 1993 when he slayed the world with his single “Supermodel (You Better Work)”. When he sashayed his way into fame, he created one of the most ever growing popular TV programmes RuPauls Drag Race. This program changed the world of drag. From season 1 – 9 people of all ages tuned in to see who would become Americas next drag superstar. Season 9 saw a huge increase in popularity with the viewers, a staggering 218% increase since the last season, beating records of the VH1 show. Each week contestants have to rise to various different challenges to see if they’ve got what it takes to follow in Ru’s pretty big footsteps. A certain queen in particular Sasha Velour took the program in a way no other drag performer ever has before on stage. She is a bald queen who had a popart take to each run way look, with eyebrows inspired by Frida Kahlo she strutted down the runway like no other queen. In an interview between Sasha and Jeremy Hobson on the Here and Now radio show, Sasha explains her approach to drag.

“The truth is I do take drag really seriously, and I think that there’s kind of a place for that — to see it as this political and historical art form, and to want to continue pushing it in new directions. And also honour the old directions as well. So I’m sort of like a drag intellectual/drag queen.” “I went to Vassar College for undergraduate and studied literature and queer theory, and all of the above. And then I took a Fulbright scholarship in Russia. And that’s really where my direction shifted a little bit, because I became really interested in what kind of work actually helps to change things for queer people. And I became really fascinated with drag because it’s such an accessible and joyful art form. I wanted to create beautiful images in drag that would not just inspire queer people who need to see some beauty and need to experience some joy, but also would engage people politically.” Sasha speaks for herself and explains her successful unique style isn’t something she just does, but something she believes in, to better other people and we thank her for that. The detail in which drag artists and drag performers go too, to create their alter-ego persona is something to be appreciated, just as much as any other artist within the arts world. From couture to contour, the skills that go into drag crossover the world of design, fine art, musical artists… and art in general. Drag is something in its ‘own right’ and something that should be embraced by spectators with pride. RuPaul’s contribution has gone along way to humanising drag queens and challenging gay stereotypes. The only minor difference would be that some fine artists express themselves on an external blank canvas – whereas drag performer’s canvases, are themselves.

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LADY STARDUST

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Lady Stardust, AKA ‘Jonny Kerans-Willoughby’ is a

time traveller who got stranded in 1969 after David Bowie stole her universe bending drugs. She became a fixture of the glam and punk scenes, but these days she’s a twisted and surreal figure after enduring the endless trudge of chronological time. Outside of the drag world the glam punk queen is doing an MA in History. “History has always been my passion and I love the freedom you get at postgraduate level. My work focuses a lot on cultural perceptions and historical mind-sets, I bring a lot of that in to my drag. In my own time I love walking, watching documentaries, going to gigs. I went to see Fever Ray recently and it really energised me.”

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Where did your inspiration come from? “To create Lady Stardust I take a lot of inspiration from History, Surrealism, Punk, and nature, though my mind is always grabbing at new and unexpected influences. Leigh Bowery is hugely important in my creative outlook. For this look I was inspired by the French Revolution and the art of Jacques-Louis David, which was all dazzling colours, dynamic movement, and reverence for nature.”

Can you describe your first drag performance? “I did a lipsync to Tigerlily by La Roux in a garment made of tree branches, ivy, and carnations. I’d been formulating a look inspired by the Green Man and Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2007 collection when I saw Sasha Velour’s iconic ‘So Emotional’ performance, which gave me the idea of the garment falling apart onstage and showering the audience with plant matter. The show itself was a collaboration between Love Muscle and AgeOfThe in August ’17 but I’d been putting looks together for Love Muscle since October. It was a magical night, a lot of the people I perform with now did their first performance there.”

What would you say your persona brings to drag culture? “I’d say I bring quite a thought provoking perspective to drag culture, although this can be said for drag’s contribution to culture in general. I love the idea of Stardust as a drag educator, using the surreal as a tool to offer insights into the psyche, even if it’s an audience member bemusedly asking themselves ‘Why would anyone ever think to do this?’”

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What are the reasons you do drag? “I’ve loved dressing up since I was a kid. I used to sing and dance for the class and run around the playground pretending I was Robin Hood when I was in primary school. I lost touch with all that as I got older, but Drag’s been an amazing way to access it again. I became really motivated to get involved in drag in 2016 after David Bowie died in January and the Pulse shooting in June. I have a deep admiration of Bowie and I saw his death as a challenge to take up his mantle. The Pulse shooting was deeply traumatic, but the community’s response to it filled me with hope and love. I became intensely aware of the need to be fearlessly queer. Other than that, I love the process, drag involves so many creative inputs you end up constantly learning and recombining skills and inspirations. It really challenges me to think in new ways, and to have people respond to it is incredible.”

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Why do you think drag is so important right now within this era? “Working life for young people is unspeakably dreary these days, and events often make one feel like a lifeless yet conscious body being dragged out to sea. Drag is all about possibilities, individuals building each other up and offering alternative ways of seeing things rather than being mired in doubt and fear. You can’t always escape these things but drag can transform them into something thought provoking and beautiful.”

What are your opinions on transgender and gender issues within drag culture? e.g Female Drag Artists “Transgender people and women have always been part of drag heritage. Figures like the Chevalier D’Eon, and the Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven have been at the forefront of the genderfuck throughout History, and the LGBT+ community is built on the tireless activism of trans women like Sylvia Rivera. At this moment in time, it’s thrilling that so many more women are getting involved in drag, it’s a testament to how plastic and accessible it is as an artform. Most of the AgeOfThe family are women, and their creativity and talent leave me spellbound. Now more than ever it is important to build inclusive and resilient queer communities and drawing boundaries around drag is self-defeating.”

What are your future aspirations within drag? “For the immediate future, I’m aiming to work with as many people as possible to build Lady Stardust as an existing entity. My last performance was a collaboration with my good pal Venuz, and I want to continue drawing inspiration from and creating with artists in Leeds. Other than that, I’d love to blend my academic life more with my creative projects. I think History is of vital importance to the world, and it’s sinfully neglected and distorted in curricula and in the media. I want to use the figure of Lady Stardust to engage people with the past, hopefully encouraging them to see it as a living phenomenon and an endless resource for understanding ourselves. “

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With the rise of popularity of drag, what efforts could be made to ensure drag stays true to its roots? “I think it’s important to show up and support your local drag artists above all. The art will continue to thrive as long as all kinds of artists are supported and encouraged. Drag’s origins are so impossibly wide and tangled that it’s hard to talk about ‘roots’ meaningfully. There will always be a canon of artists who’ve built drag to what it is now, but I see the current moment as a challenge to search ever more widely for inspiration. The more people bring to it, the stronger drag will become.”

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JACOB

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Jacob

is a queen in development, made up of two different personas. 50% of the time the inner club kid takes over, and Jacob plays around with make-up and makes looks from anything that can be sourced – at Christmas HE used the Christmas decorations of HIS mums Christmas tree. The other 50% of the time HE’S in super feminine make-up and hair wanting to feel his supermodel fantasy. “Fashion is huge inspiration for me. So are female hip hop musicians and queer artists. I was a teenage goth so that’s stayed with me too.” Outside of the drag world he is a freelance professional dancer specialising in contemporary dance theatre companies such as Vincent Dance Theatre and Gary Clarke Company. “I’m also a member of a vogue house called the House of Decay (based between Manchester & London), and perform at Tunnel nightclub on Lower Briggate as part of the WERK team.”

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Can you describe your first drag performance? “It was a lip-sync to ‘Fierce’ by Azealia Banks and ‘Philly the Blunt’ by Maluca Mala, which has this sound bite from the film Paris is Burning. It’s Octavia Saint Laurent describing how she already felt like a star, but wanted the wealth to equal that.”

What would you say your persona brings to drag culture? “I give lots of ass haha. But people also say I have lots of energy which I like. I’m never going to half-arse any performance on stage. It’s offensive to the art form sorry; you never know who’s watching. I got 3 gigs out of the video of my first performance that was put on Facebook.”

What are the reasons you do drag? “Not many people discover the thing they felt like they were put on this earth to do, but for me it’s performance. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. Doing drag is the opportunity for me to express the extravagant, camp, queer, feminine, sexual, dark, aggressive aspects of my personality that I don’t usually feel so confident showing on a normal basis. The more I do it the more I discover about my own identity. I feel that life is absurd and ridiculous, and so are our rigid notions of gender and sexuality. Drag is a great way to poke fun at this, and to disturb our ideas of what is considered acceptable behaviour. “

Why do you think drag is so important right now within this era? “I think it’s always been important, it’s just got a lot more visibility now because of TV. But it carries an important political message about accepting and loving who you are and being brave enough to present yourself to the world in whatever way you like. That you can go through a lot of shit but you can carve out a place for yourself in this world and feel that there is a reason why you’re alive. And on an artistic level its so beautiful and aesthetically interesting. A colourful, dramatic antidote to all that’s grey and mundane.” GAG ISSUE 1 | 29


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What are your opinions on transgender and gender issues within drag culture? e.g Female Drag Artists “I think drag is the perfect arena to comment on these issues, and is a very obvious example of playing with gender. But it can be confusing for people with no experience of the LGBT community to understand what the differences are between drag and transgenderism. Sometimes I’m shocked about how little people know, but also how little I know too. Drag is also traditionally exclusionary of females which is bullshit. Even referring to them as ‘bio’ or ‘faux’ queens so as to differentiate them. There’s nothing biological about a drag queen. There’s nothing biological about gender. Its all performance, and what varies is the degree of extremes. I honestly feel a lot of queens aren’t educated about transgender issues and because drag and transgenderism a.re so talked about right now that a lot of bullshit gets said that needs to be checked. Traditional gay bars or drag venues aren’t safe spaces for a lot of queer people – they are largely owned by white gay men serving other white gay men. It’s in the smaller more underground venues where you find all different kinds of people that accept all different kinds of drag. “

What are your future aspirations within drag? “To become much better at make-up and also to design my own looks. I have so many ideas in my head but not necessarily the means or the skills to execute these ideas well. I also want to start competitions and meet other artists just to build my experience and create opportunities for myself. I want to actualize all the performance ideas I’ve got. I want people to see that I do care about the art form and how nuanced & clever & crazy it can be, and that I’m not just another one jumping on the band-wagon - this has been said to me before.”

With the rise of popularity of drag, what efforts could be made to ensure drag stays true to its roots? “It has to keep its sense of humour. It has to keep commenting on pop culture and contemporary issues, it has to be a way to deal with how shockingly awful life can be for people on the margins. But some things can be left behind. Such as the idea that it’s something only men can do best. That there are only some forms of drag considered valid or ‘proper’ drag. In America at the start of the 20th Century black drag artists were banned from balls and pageants because of obvious racism but also because drag was about emulating the show girls of Hollywood, who were all played by rich white actresses. Drag has moved on from then, and it will continue to become more open & inclusive. It has to, whether people like it or not.”

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FELINE PURRFECT Feline Purrrfect Hosted by AgeOfThe

How would you describe your events?

On Friday 9th March ‘AgeOfThe¬’ hosted an event at Live Art Bistro (LAB) called Feline Purrrfect. A kitty cat inspired event meant that 10 performers stepped their pussies up to the stage for a night of subversive performances. The puss-ee-nas all represented a different member of the cat family whilst performing in each different habitat.

Our events are a cocktail of art, installation and performance. We aim to showcase the best up and coming talents that Leeds has to offer. We hope to create an open environment where people can come and feel accepted for themselves.

LAB is one of my favourite venues within Leeds; situated in the heart of creative quarter of the city centre, LAB plays host to various LGBTQ events. Cheap drinks, friendly staff and a good space – what more ingredients do a venue need to get any better? One might say a giant catwalk runway, so you can strut your stuff and feel fierce, just as much as the queens. One of the highlights for me personally was walking in to see a venue fully kitted out with various décor to match the themes, one of the most aesthetically pleasing events within Leeds. With this event being hosted by AgeOfThe there was no doubt in my mind that I was in for a treat. In the past AgeOfThe have hosted some of the best performance art events. They

describe

themselves

as

“a collective of performers, artists and eccentrics creating MINDNOBBING GENDERFUCKING QUEERBRATING events to celebrate the unusual in life”.

How do you think your events inspire people to get involved with drag? By creating a safe and friendly atmosphere, people are welcome to ask questions that they may feel otherwise intimidated to ask. By enabling drag and performance to be talked about openly, people may feel inspired to experiment themselves! Where does your inspiration come from for your events? Honestly, just our crazy brains. Inspiration comes from anywhere from fantasies to cooking. We tend to have a lot of bath meetings where we can fully delve into ideas. Feline Purrrfect came from my obsession that my friends and I look like a Pride of strong beautiful lions. Cal had introduced me to Big Cats (TV show) as well and something just clicked! What are your key goals with each event that you put on?

Personally my key goal is to provoke. I aspire for each event to linger in the minds of those attending and to stimulate conversation. Each event we From performance to performance, everyone was want to get bigger and better than the last. having a good time; everyone was mingling, which is always nice to see at events. The vibe was on What is the message you are trying to portray? point and so were the moves. The performance of the night had to be Donna The Dom from The main message is that if you have an idea, Doncaster. All round perfect performance, it had JUST DO IT! energy, it had sass but most importantly… it didn’t have class! Donna never fails to amaze me, getting down on all fours, grasping the audience What future aims do you have with your events? with every second she was on the catwalk. AgeOfThe are planning to put on events separately After the show, we caught up with one of as well as together. Hopefully this means there the co founders and hosts of Feline Purrrfect will be a wider range of events to feast your - Maya Sherp. Here’s what she had to say: eyes on! You’ll have to stay in tuned to see… GAG ISSUE 1 | 36


What future aims do you have with your events? Age Of The are planning to put on events separately as well as together. Hopefully this means there will be a wider range of events to feast your eyes on! You’ll have to stay in tuned to see… Why are events progression?

important

for

societies

Events are important in encouraging growth and uniting communities. By putting on events there is a freedom to play with any issue or ideas you have. This is important for societies progression as your thoughts reach a wider audience that may lead to further ideas. What are your thoughts on the transgender issues within drag? Anyone can be a drag queen. There isn’t one path to success and why should you try and squeeze yourself into someone else’s reality to get there. Just stay true to yourself. There will be people who accept you for who you are. What three words would you use to describe your event to someone who isn’t involved within the drag scene? Immersive,

energetic

and

liberating.

Overall, I just want to take my hat of to Feline Purrfect and Age Of The, for continuously putting on such events and thinking a few steps deeper into the night with their themes. Keep it up guys, you’re doing yourself proud!

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ANTI-SUZANNE

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Anti-Suzanne is “the classic drunken auntie who

ruins Christmas by getting too drunk and crying to Abba”. The definition of ugly beautiful, wearing ‘inappropriate clothing’, although you can definitely count on her clothing to be ripped off and flung in your face at some point. Suzanne explains that “Outside of drag I’m a support worker for adults with Learning differences and epilepsy.”

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Where did your inspiration come from? “My drag persona Anti-Suzanne was dreamed up by my inner child. Throughout, my adolescent years I’d always been riddled with neurosis and fear of what other people thought of me, however I always found dressing up and performing as a character much easier then just being myself. The name and persona of Anti-Suzanne came from my great auntie who died in a plane crash at the age of 24. She was a Manchester girl who was such a free spirit at a time where women were still expected to act a certain way. As the story of my Anti-Suzanne caused so much pain throughout both the women in my family and myself, I wanted to turn something sad into something humorous and embrace how this amazing woman was unapologetically herself.”

Can you describe your first drag performance? “My first drag performance was AgeOfThe Virgin in August 2017a Leeds pride event, set up for first time drag performances. I’d always wanted to perform throughout my childhood but was always scared of what other people thought. Therefore, this event felt like the perfect opportunity to explore another part of myself. Plus the Queer scene in Leeds is such a safe open space and because I loved it so much I’m now a regular performer for AgeOfThe.”

What would you say your persona brings to drag culture? “I love and respect my character so much because she is everything a woman is told not to be. She’s overly sexual, she dresses depending on how she feels rather than for what suits her body, she is a complex woman who is the pink sheep of her family but she doesn’t give two fucks what anyone thinks. I think Suzanne makes other women feel empowered rather than threatened and through performing I have encouraged a range of other women to give drag a go, despite it not always being a space women are accepted.”

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What are the reasons you do drag? “I do drag because it’s escapism from myself. When you are someone who is constantly in their head, it’s such a release to perform, as a character that doesn’t care what other people think and Suzanne’s fearlessness is something I’ve transferred over to my day-to-day life as Caitlin.” Why do you think drag is so important right now within this era? “I think drag is so important in today’s society because drag is an art form that challenges people’s narrow perceptions of topics such as gender and sexuality and through humour and performance art you are able to bring up issues in a way that resonates with the audience. Also, Queer safe space nights allow platforms for people within the LGBTQ+ community to feel secure and part of something special.”

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What are your opinions on transgender and gender issues within drag culture? E.g female drag artists “If you look into drag history, drag started within the trans community. Therefore, Ru Paul’s recent comments regarding drag only being for gay men is extremely narrow minded and I think this ‘open’ community leaves out many important groups within the LGBTQ community and I think it’s important that drag nights showcase a diverse range of performance art.” What are your future aspirations within drag? “For my drag future, I would love to eventually step away from performing as a queen and start organising my own drag nights.” With the rise of popularity of drag, what efforts could be made to ensure drag stays true to its roots? “To stay true to it’s roots I think it’s important that people support the smaller scale drag nights and that individuals collaborate with other members of the LGBTQ community.”

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HEATHER

CHAMBERS ILLUSTRATIONS A STUDY ON SUZANNE Heather Chambers aged 21, Illustrator - Manchester / Newcastle Free thinking Visual Artist Open for commissions + collabs contact her via emial heatherchambersart@outlook.com or visit her instagram at @heatherchambersart Portfolio: heatherchambersart.wixsite.com/heatherchambersart

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Instagram at @heatherchambersart

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Instagram at @heatherchambersart

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Instagram at @heatherchambersart

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Instagram at @heatherchambersart

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ANYONE CAN BE A QUEEN GAG ISSUE 1 | 56


When most people think of the term ‘Drag Queen’

their first thoughts tend to be a man dressed resembling a woman. Some people think ‘transvestite’. This is one of the key reasons GAG has been put together, to help educate promote and celebrate this part of LGBTQ culture. Within the scene there are many different types of drag, all equal and vital as each other to the culture. No longer are there restrictions to drag, it has become fluid along with gender. You don’t need a penis to tuck, padding to put on or even super exaggerated femme makeup. Just bring you and your persona and then set them both free. You, our dear readers, are the reason that drag is becoming one of the most celebrated gay subcultures, as well as appealing to the mainstream. For the LGBTQ community, this is a huge breakthrough in terms of mainstream society’s acceptance of one another, regardless of who they are, which team they bat for or the colour of skin. Drag is bringing us together, united as one. The next few pages are illustrations inspired by the naked body to embody the fierceness of a being a queen. Enjoy!

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JEZABELLE HERM-APHRODITE BONAPARTE

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Jezabelle

Herm-Aphrodite Bonaparte aka Jed Perez is a beautiful, goddess-like, whore with plans to take over the world – there’s only one problem… she’s dumb! She’s a vintage kook with delusions of grandeur, a great body, some fab dance moves, and always wants to take her clothes off! Outside of the drag world she explains that “I am a ballet/contemporary dancer. Right now I am trying to save to launch my own dance company in 2020.”

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Where did your inspiration come from? “The inspiration comes from all the powerhouse women in my life. And Nicole Kidman. Over time I have developed her; adding in my own quirks, interests, humour, and fetishes until she became the whore you all know and love today!” Can you describe your first drag performance? “I got into Drag in two different ways… While working as an aspiring model I was asked to do a photoshoot in womenswear. It was well received and then lots of different people asked me to do womenswear shoots/shows etc. I realised I might have something fabulous here. As a result of the approval I just kept on doing it and it began to feed into performance work. At the same time, because of this, I stupidly decided to enter a drag competition. With A LOT of help from friends, who did my makeup, hair, styling, the works I ended up becoming Miss Trafalgar Square at Pride 2016. That was the moment I realised how much I loved it.” What would you say your persona brings to drag culture? “I don’t know, and I am not sure I care. (Is that bad?!?!?) I perform as Jezabelle because I want to. I hope I bring a sense of where Drag comes from. I try to be referential and forward thinking. Hopefully I bring a sense of our underground past where, as a marginalised and hated community, we nurtured each other and created weird, wonderful, sexy hilarious artists. Oh! And just a hot steamy load of Glam Slaggery!” What are the reasons you do drag? “There are two main reasons I do drag… Growing up the men in my life were unanimously total fucking pricks! But the people in my life who were strong, stable, loving, nurturing, hardworking, brave and reliable were all women. The women in my life were also always glamorously dressed, doing fabulous things, looking beautiful, so as I grew up (and to this day) I admire women and femininity and reject masculinity. I love women and am inspired by them constantly. Men I just want to fuck. Again, growing up, I was bullied for being an effeminate boy. Before I even knew what sex or sexuality was I was being called gay by kids and adults alike. The way I walk/talk/gesticulate/my interests/style were all things to belittle and mock me for and for a long time I couldn’t understand it. But, the things that people laugh at Jed for are the things they celebrate about Jezabelle! Through her I turn my “weaknesses” into my strengths! As I have gotten to know her better the two personas have really helped mould each other.”

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Why do you think drag is so important right now within this era? I.e. Artistic landscape, Political Attitudes, Current events “I think it’s a fab example of a community that has for so long been marginalised, hated, down trodden and forgotten. But despite all that we created our own culture, our own art. We nurtured it, we developed it, we celebrated it. We embraced gender, sexuality, people outside the norm despite a vast majority being so against us. So now that these conversations are finally being had much more openly people look to it as an example of the fact that we are valuable members of society, we bring you art, humour, fashion, and community. Look at what we can achieve and look how fabulous it is. We have something to offer to and we have done it with love, pride, community spirit and without ‘your’ help.” What are your opinions on transgender and gender issues within drag culture? E.g female drag artists “I am in a really difficult place with this topic. And I think I have a lot of mixed feelings and opinions. One of the things I really love about drag is its heritage. Men fought, and in many cases, died for the freedom to don a dress and wig and heels and makeup but women could always walk down the street in a dress, heels, makeup. These men developed drag for themselves, to experience liberation and freedom and be who they wanted to be. I admire the work that women in this field do, as artists I think they are AMAZING. However, the title Drag Queen is a badge of honour to the men that call themselves that, it is our legacy, a history of fighting and therefore I think we need to find a different title for the women who work within this world. Of course Drag Kings have also earned their title and have been part of that battle right beside Drag Queens from the beginning.” What are your future aspirations within drag? “I hope, to just keep doing what I’m doing now. But with bigger crowds, bigger budgets, bigger pay cheques. Eventually I would love to find a platform and share my beliefs with people. I mean who doesn’t want to be interviewed by Holly and Philip?!?!?!?” With the rise of popularity of drag, what efforts could be made to ensure drag stays true to its roots? “The truth is I just don’t know. I definitely don’t think it is a bad thing that it moves away from its roots. Art should always develop and grow and reflect what people are thinking and feeling now. Young marginalised people have their own different battles to fight today and if they use Drag to fight them then of course it will change. I just hope that they remember where it started and are grateful for it.”

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MISERABEL

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Miserabel is a sad clown. I am Miserabel. A sad

clown. The name comes from a particularly disgusting boy in my high school class who would sit across the classroom from her and, if he decided she was looking particularly done with his harassment that day, would call me Miserabel, a super clever nickname joining her name (Isobel) and miserable. So, it’s sort of a big F-U to this dude who did make her life miserable for a while, and a way to own her sadness, and her resting bitch face. Miserabel won’t take your shit, Miserabel is a bondage space clown and Miserabel is nothing, Miserabel might stomp on your toes so get out the way, but she does it all from a place of love. Let’s all be sad with Miserabel! Outside of the drag world she states that “Currently I perform at clubs and festivals as a walkabout performer and dancer, create wonderful events and silly spectacles with my collective, Halli Galli, study theatre, design posters and costumes, am teaching myself circus, and holding on very tight because it’s all just getting to the good bit.”

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Can you describe your first drag performance? “Shallow. Exhilarating. Sexy. Got people feeling some type-a way. All down to my sister Maya, I owe her so much.” What would you say your persona brings to drag culture? “Cheekiness.” What are the reasons you do drag? “I often feel more uncomfortable sitting in jeans on a bus than I do in full makeup and outfit, screaming and writhing about. It’s the kind of confidence that I own, that is mine, and that no-one else can define for me. It feels good to be beyond the many expectations of myself, whatever those may be.” Why do you think drag is so important right now within this era? I.e. Artistic landscape, Political Attitudes, Current events “Because, at its heart, it’s really a space for people to be true to themselves, which is exactly what people need. A drag space has always been, from the beginnings of recognisable 21st century drag with the beautiful trans women, gay men and other queens of colour who built the New York (and other) scenes with their lives, to a group of us fucking about in the function room of a local pub, a space where people come, shed the layers of everyday expectation, and put on their layers of costume, whatever that may be to the individual. Dark times are here, and these bubbles of light that drag spaces create for those in them are what’s keeping it alive on a street and community level. It is something we can have for ourselves.” What are your opinions on transgender and gender issues within drag culture? E.g female drag artists “Anyone can do drag. Everyone should be included. Our roots are in transgender and gender issues and we cannot forget that and recede just into binaries!” What are your future aspirations within drag? “Have some fucking fun with some fucking amazing people!”

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Profile for Cale Peers

GAG  

Drag culture magazine, focusing on the diversity local Leeds queens, and drag as an art form to be freely engaged by ANYONE.

GAG  

Drag culture magazine, focusing on the diversity local Leeds queens, and drag as an art form to be freely engaged by ANYONE.

Profile for calepeers
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