We’re back and today we have a wonderful drag King to showcase on World Wide Wednesday. Contributor Ashleigh House brings you an artist from down under, meet Belial B’Zarr who describes themself as a psychedelic Goblin, Ashleigh talks about the local drag scene, some sound performing advice, and the future!
DA: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? How would you describe your drag?
Belial B’Zarr : Hiya! I’m Belial B’Zarr, a funky psychedelic goblin who’s recently moved from Newcastle NSW to Melbourne VIC. I’m a drag King/Creature who enjoys prop-heavy conceptual performances that tell stories with subtext relating to lived experiences, social commentary and existential concepts. In the past, my drag has been described as “the result of a hatef**k three-way between Pennywise, the Joker and a 2000s anime villain” which I feel is apt.
DA: Where do you usually perform? What is the drag scene like in your local area?
BB: Melbourne’s scene is incredibly diverse, and I’ve met an array of King and Creature performers. Unfortunately, the non-Queen community doesn’t often get the spotlight it deserves but if there’s anywhere this community can thrive, it’s a place like Melbourne.
As a new edition to Melbourne I’m still discovering venues and events, however I’ve felt quite at home at Mollie’s, Fitzroy. The Fitzroy area in general is amazing for queer folk. In Newcastle, Blush (hosted by Timberlina) was my home stage. I began as the first King there and nowadays several non-Queen drag artists exist in Newcastle and it makes me incredibly happy to see that kind of diversity supported. Whenever there’s an event on in Newy I keep my eyes on everybody’s Instagram stories – it’s incredible how much my Newcastle family has grown and I’ll forever be proud of them.
DA: Are there any local drag artists or venues you’d recommend if in your area?
BB: I can definitely recommend Kongs Kings– this was the first place I performed after moving to Melbourne. It’s an all-King cast and the atmosphere is overwhelmingly supportive of weird shenanigans on stage. I can also more than recommend Mollie’s/Sircut which has drag on 6 nights a week which is pretty incredible.
DA: When and how did you get into drag? Was there anyone that got you into it? Did you find it yourself?
BB: I properly began drag on May 4th, 2018 (Star Wars day!) and it was mostly a self-discovery.
I’ve always been an artistic person. Mediums I’ve used include oil pastel, acrylic on canvas, sculpture, poetry, short stories and scrapbooking. I also studied RAD ballet as a kid then AMEB piano/theory and later jazz until I reached an associate diploma level at age 18.
I cosplayed a lot of male characters in my teens, learned how to properly use makeup and after years of messing around with a needle and thread (since pre-primary school), I began offering alterations and commissions. Turns out the way I used to paint on canvas is now how I paint my face and drag solidified my love of storytelling, fashion design and being on stage.
Moving from these separate artforms into drag was a natural progression as it allows me to explore all the artforms I love whilst also connecting me to a community and enabling me to explore my identity. It’s something so multifaceted that I can build from the ground up – song choice, choreography, props, makeup, outfit, the works.
DA: What or who are some of your biggest inspirations?
BB: Many of my inspirations come from film/media, my lived experiences and the world around me. I listen to a wide variety of music genres and draw my ideas from this too. Recently, I’ve been really into Bladerunner again, Love Death Robots and Ghost in The Shell which inspired a number at Kongs Kings. Overall, I find my drag goes through different phases depending on what I’m thinking/feeling and what’s happening in my life.
In terms of other drag artists, I really appreciate the cast of Dragula season 3. I’m kind of/kind of not keeping up with the season because listening to drama/arguing stresses me out (I avoid reality TV in general). Regardless, I always watch the floor shows and keep up with the cast’s social media. Seeing artists like Landon Cider and Vander Von Odd makes me want to push my art.
DA: What does being a drag performer mean to you? How has drag helped you on your personal journey, with your self-expression etc?
BB: Drag allows me to say things I can’t normally. Often when controversial topics arise, people listen to respond rather than to understand. I feel expressing ideas artistically allows me to engage with people on a different level in an overwhelmingly positive environment. Aside from that, drag has reaffirmed my non-binary identity, strengthened my resolve and enabled me to overcome some difficult times.
DA: What would you say to anyone wanting to get into drag? Any tips?
BB: Gender does not define drag. You can be AMAB/AFAB/intersex and any gender and explore any sort of drag. For instance, some AFAB people like Queen drag because they have a lot to say about their experiences with femininity and some AMAB people like Creature drag because it allows them to be something beyond human. You are not limited to what cishet society defines as the “opposite” of your gender, which is often incorrectly conflated with sex. Furthermore, you also do not owe anybody prettiness. Your drag can be as gross, unnerving, visceral and absurd as you want and whilst technical skill differs between people depending on where they’re at with their journey, this by no means makes one form of drag more valid than another. All drag is valid.
In terms of performance advice:
- Paint for the person in the back row of the audience. Heavy makeup is dramatic under natural lighting but looks different under stage lighting and from a distance, and if you blend in with the audience then you need to take it up a notch.
- Know your lyrics and exaggerate your mouth movements. Again, think the back row.
- Perform your own experiences. If you’re not a POC, don’t perform songs about experiences from POC communities. If you’re not trans, don’t do a number about transitioning.
- Being on stage means you immediately have people’s attention, so you needn’t fret about trying to win the audience over. Instead, feed off their energy and enthusiasm. They wouldn’t have come out to a show if they didn’t want to see people perform. Trust in yourself and commit 100% to what you’re doing. Take up space.
DA: Is there a look or a performance you’ve done that was really special and impacted you?
BB: Comparing my performances is like comparing apples and oranges so it’s hard to choose. A recent favourite look however was the look I put together for Kongs Kings where I performed “Pink Mist” by Gunship. I spliced two wigs together by handsewing in wefts then cut, styled and rhinestoned it. I wore an outlandish neon comic print dress with a petticoat, striped socks and a red corset with holographic stickers. I painted both my arms to be continuous with my face and wore ridiculous rhinestoned eyelashes. Dyeing my mouth blue tasted pretty awful but the combination of a blue mouth, painted teeth and white contact lenses made for a horrific affect. I’ve always aimed to cover my entire body from my toes to my eyeballs and transform into something else and I feel I finally achieved that through this look.
DA: Where do see yourself in say five years? What do you want to do with your drag moving forward? Any exciting future projects you can share with us?
BB: In 5 years, I want extremity to be my standard. I want my whole body covered – long lashes, huge nails, lenses, a dyed mouth and tongue, painted teeth, body paint, an inhuman silhouette; the works. I want to be completely unrecognisable out of drag. Moving forward I aim to get better at improvisation and movement, categories I’ve historically struggled with due to my tendency to heavily plan concept-based pieces with deep subtext. I feel throwing myself in the deep end with events like Drag Roulette are going to be amazing tools for helping me develop these skills.
In terms of future projects, I’d really love to perform Hotel California one day (the 7-minute Hell Freezes Over tour edition aka the superior version). I have a concept in the works for this, but I know it’ll take me a few more months in the very least to actually develop the skills necessary to properly bring it to life, and I won’t be performing it until I really feel ready. In other news, I’m learning how to play Over the Rainbow on recorder through my nose. It’s a sometimes-known fact that I play the Lord of the Rings theme through my nose too and I’m looking to buy a melodica to expand what I’m able to play. I wonder what my former music teachers would think if they saw this is how I’m using my classical music training.
Written by contributor Ashleigh House
Be sure to follow Belial B’Zarr on the social media below:
Facebook: @ belial.bzarr