As an impersonator of the Virgin Mary, performance artist Virgin Xtravaganzah talks about how Mary actually loves the gay community and that people got it wrong in the books. That God doesn’t care whether you’re gay or straight; he just…..
Text JF. Pierets
Despite being a biological woman, she dresses as a super, fabulous, over the top version of a girl. So yes, she’s a drag artist. Yet not a queen or a faux queen; ‘there’s nothing fake about me!’ She prefers to be called a Tranny with a Fanny or Drag Goddess and her aesthetic is 80’s big hair, clashing colors, animal print, Divine and Jackie Beat. ‘I’m too freaky to be mainstream’. A conversation about expression, freedom, fun and a very long time spent in-front of a mirror.
I guess everyone starts with this question but nevertheless: the tranny with the fanny?
I was Holestar, the artist at first. Being the Tranny with a Fanny was a gender bending idea born out of frustration with drag queens being misogynist and vile about women. Feminism gave women many fabulous freedoms but it killed off a lot of glamour. My aim was to reclaim over the top fabulousness and exaggerated femininity to the female body. I was initially called the ‘cock-in-a-frock-without-a-cock’ for a while but it’s a bit of a mouthful.
When did you realize you wanted to be a dragqueen? By the way, I’ve read it’s called Faux Queen?
My American sisters call themselves Faux Queens but I’m not fake anything honey. I like the term Drag Goddess. A goddess is higher than a queen isn’t it? Being a drag starlet was supposed to be a one off art piece, but I met a DJ who wanted me to MC with him. He thought it was a good idea to workshop the idea in front of an audience and it took off. Eleven years later, I’m still spending hours in front of a mirror for art and the entertainment of others.
You ever considered surgery?
Hell no. I don’t buy into the so-called western ideal of what someone is supposed to look like to be considered attractive. I like my transformations to be temporary. I’m full of imperfections but love who I am, lumps, bumps and all. Never say never though. There could come a time when I go for the full Wildenstein.
How do the male to female queens react on your appearance?
Most of them are fine and ok with it as I tend to play and perform on the alternative scene where black and white gender expression is less of an issue. However there are a few girls who have been bitchy or aggressive, as if I’m stepping on their toes. They’re frequently the ones with no talent and or anything interesting to say. Que Sera Sera.
I’ve seen your make-up tutorial for Beige and I wondered; who’s the girl behind the make-up.
I grew up all over England and left school with no qualifications as I’d discovered sex, drugs and dance music. I spent two years in the British army, worked as a professional dominatrix for ten years, discovered art, moved to Vienna, became the Tranny with a Fanny, moved to London and got a Fine Art Masters at Central St Martins. I’m now a DJ, writer, artist, singer, Mistress of Ceremonies, club promoter. Lover not a fighter.
‘Being the tranny with a fanny was a gender bending idea born out of frustration with drag queens being misogynist and vile about women.’
What do you do next to performing and making music? Do you have any hobbies or is everything Holestar related?
Drag and creativity consumes so much of my time. Pretty much everything I’m interested in (art, film, LGBTQ issues, music, performance) is part of what I do as a performer so there’s not much left outside if it. I’m quite quiet in everyday life, an introverted extrovert. I love my dog, travel, watching trash TV, cake.
You’re one of the people behind Hot Laser. Can you tell me about the movie?
I founded the documentary ‘Hot Mess/Dress As A Girl’, around six years ago. The East London alternative scene performs every year at the NYC Downlow at Glastonbury Festival and one year I thought; someone should be filming this. I approached my friend Colin Rothbart to direct a British version of Paris is Burning and we now have five years’ worth of footage that is currently being edited. We need a lot more funding to complete it though. It’s an honest film about how fabulous dressing up and performing can be, but also how human we are underneath it all. My aim is for at least one queer person to view the film, see that they’re not the only one who is different from heteronormative or mainstream gay society and that’s perfectly ok. They can be whoever they want to be, come through all manners of adversity to accept and be comfortable with whom they are.
Do you want to get a message out there?
Love yourself. Be the best you can be. Don’t be shady, be a lady. The biggest love affair you should ever have is with yourself. Queer people have come a long way in the west but there is still work to do. We need to stop bitching among ourselves and help, love and encourage each other more.
Lots of love…for everybody!
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