And Strike A Pose For Me [Bar Wotever]

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Pictures by Goroyesque for Bar Wotever

I’ve been fairly stagnant, bored and boring recently. My sense of celebration was hibernating. But it all resurrected at Bar Wotever last night. Tuesday night saved my life.

My queer friend ε proposed me to go, so I put too much red lipstick on and the fascinator that I bought at Trashy Diva in New Orleans, and I met her there. I wasn’t suspecting that a miracle would happen.

Bar Wotever is a weekly open queer camp performance stage at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in South London. It’s super good spirit, I have always laughed and had awesome times there cause the shows are high quality but nobody takes themselves seriously. The crowd is a good sample of every gender, fashion style and body shape that exist on earth.

Two pretty people got on stage to advertise the voguing events that they regularly organise in London. One of them was nicknamed ‘Princess Butch‘. She had the prettiest smile. I was sitting on the first row of tables and I suddenly saw a hand pulling me up onto the stage. My fascinator caught their eye. I thought “Of course!” What could be more natural than finding myself in a voguing contest on a queer stage on a Tuesday night? We had to dance and show off like on the catwalk,  walk down to the audience, back on stage again, and the presenter would then say to finish his rap flow “And/strike/a/pose/for/me” and we had to stand still in a glamorous pose. I got the timing perfectly, so people liked my perf. It was so funny. Dudes, if I wasn’t wearing jeans, I would have killed that split. The audience was voting with applause. I made it to the last round (out of two haha).

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Then. The real stuff happened. The serious high level voguing dancers took over the stage and the entire room. Oh Lord. Revelation. Lightnings. Fireworks. Rainbows. I really felt for a second in the New York of the 80s with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Madonna and all the pretty people and I felt the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I had no clue that voguing was a contemporary thing, and certainly not that it was so joyful, artistic and technical. I only knew the clichéd mainstream version of voguing e.g. the Madonna song and the documentary Paris is burning about the origins of the movement. Now that’s it, I want to be a voguing dancer. Voguing is an art form and a lifestyle in itself. Voguing is the new 5 Rhythms, the new quest. Ahhhhhhh. (I’ve already signed up for a hoola hoop/voguing workshop next week). Those pretty dancers were super stylish and set everyone on fire, I had rarely seen such a good atmosphere in a bar. Literally everyone was dancing as a group or battling in improvised duets. At some point, the hot dancers were battling only with their arms and attitude, seating on stools. It became very theatrical without a single word, like ‘I have prettier nails than you’ kind of moves. Oh man! I wanted to be one of them.

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Suddenly, I saw her. She got on stage with a very 90s outfit, like she had been time travelling. She was the voguing doppelgänger of Emma Watson, with the most endearing mix of shyness, grace and attitude. My heart instantly swung in her direction. I hadn’t been that caught by a woman’s strength in a long time. Why do I always fall for people while they are dancing? (I know the answer to that: because they are really present to themselves and don’t bullshit). I asked a guy from the crew what her name was, but he didn’t know. I didn’t talk to her because I’m an idiot around people I feel irrationally drawn to. I’m now on a serious mission to track back the voguing Emma Watson. Girl, if you ever read that post: I want to hear the sound of your voice and learn that arm move from you.

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Came the end of the party. I was ecstatic. Emma Watson was still around, but I knew I wouldn’t have the guts. I never approach people. This is how my life goes.

ε left with me and we walked to the station. We kissed under Vauxhall bridge, just like that cause we were in the mood. Why not? She dragged me in a black cab to her new boy’s house. It was so absurd that it was jubilating to be caught in an impromptu threesome on a Tuesday night after voguing. I laughed on the inside and I felt alive again, after a few dull weeks where my only internal leitmotiv was that no one here really cares about me. I suddenly remembered why I like my life so much, for the joyful vibrant random sexy intensity of it.

I had never been in a trio with a boy and a girl, so I had to make a statement around my male tolerance. I finally relaxed and flowed with the situation. I need new stuff anyway. I need new everything.

I left at 6am and crossed London by tube with my purple stilettos and my leopard coat. My eye makeup was down to my cheeks but I didn’t try to fix it.

I worked all day. I’m writing this twelve hours later, travelling across London again to make the ladies dance at Mad House (the psychiatric hospital) with two and a half hours of sleep in my system. I didn’t want to cancel, because I’m in such a state of nerves that my sensitivity will be closer to theirs. Something magical may arise from our similar state of exhausted nervosity?

This is my conception of happiness. Walking my intensity across the city amongst colourful human landscapes to dance.

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Portraits of America #1 – The Drag Queen of New Orleans

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βμ goes by the name of Eureeka Starfish* as a drag queen in the local clubs of New Orleans. His main job is at the Lucky Pierre on Bourbon Street.

He moved to New Orleans two months ago from his native South Carolina where he used to occasionally perform in small clubs. But that wasn’t taking him where he wanted and his ambitions were frustrated.

A few months ago, his dad manifested from Louisiana where he had moved. βμ hadn’t spoken with him for ten years because he disapproved of his homosexuality and queerness. βμ took it as a sign of destiny and made the move to New Orleans to live with his father on the other side of the river.

He’s quickly built a professional circle here and now spends most of his time in drag, working in average 6 nights a week. His skin can barely breathe, and as he “loves his porcelain skin”, he walks around the hot streets of New Orleans with a vintage sun umbrella.

About a month ago, his dad came to see him on stage. He finally understood. (There is hope for everyone!) Not only is he now supportive of his son’s life style and identity, he’s also super proud to have given birth to a diva with that many eccentric yet classy outfits.

βμ now lives with his boyfriend on the second floor of a gunshot house near the French Quarter, where most of his gigs are happening.

On his days off, βμ goes drag shopping in the vintagy extravaganza shops of the city: Fifi Mahony’s, Trashy Diva… he knows his wig and lingerie stuff.

He’s mixing all kind of influences in his numbers and outfits: Japanese pop culture, Pop Art Warholy icons, house wife from the 50s, vintage, mainstream. He also writes his own electro music and would like to bring more arty numbers to his drag club such as covers of the electro French singer Emilie Simon and other French divas who are unknow here. (I HAD to tell him about Mylène Farmer and he obviously instantly fell in love with her. If some Mylène Farmer covers are ever being performed in NoLA drag clubs, I might be the one responsible for it.) He’s finding his balance between paying mainstream gigs and his real artistic, more alternative vein.

One of his favorite part about drag is contributing to the cultural shift in mentalities, especially when working in more commercial venues. He’s very often confronted to audiences who have never seen drag before. They can even be afraid of queer and gay, because it is unknown to them. He takes time to make them feel comfortable about it, to talk to them with goodwill. In most cases, after the show, uptightness and fear have turned into enthusiasm and admiration. These are his routinely little victories.

βμ is changing the world on his own way.

*His facebook account as Eureeka Starfish was recently suspended by Facebook which censored many drag queen artists and arbitrarily closed their accounts under the pretext that they were using their stage name and not their legal name. Facebook has since then presented an apology to the Drag queens in question.

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