The Adore Delano tour has begun! The ‘Whatever’ tour starts with a bang tonight in Manchester before the rockstar struts her stuff. The night will be warmed up by the fantastically talented DragPunk. This Birmingham collective will be being touring the UK after their successful run with on BibleGirl’s ‘She looks 2’ tour. We grabbed a chat with the group and got to know each member, what drag punk is and what fans can expect on the tour!
DragAdventures: How did you all meet and start working together as a collective?
DragPunk: We all met through the Birmingham gay scene, and are all artistic people so it felt really natural to come together and start working under a name. We all wanted to change the scene in a positive way and create safe spaces.
DA: What made you come up with the name Drag Punk? And what is punk to you?
DP: It initially came about as a phrase akin to steampunk, cyberpunk, to describe an aesthetic essentially, like a certain type of drag. Now, however, it is to represent drag as a whole – as punk, as different, as doing what you want regardless of what others think, which is essential for queer art and activism. The two words separated for us are:
Drag – Drag artistry is the expressive and creative art for anyone regardless of their gender, sexual identity and orientation. It knows no gender but subverts and mocks all gender and art norms.
Punk – Expressive, individual freedom that is anti-establishment and anti-mainstream society.
DA: What made each of you start a career in drag who are some of your inspirations?
DP: I think we all still see it as an enjoyable and challenging output for our creativity and are still seeing where it will take us. I think our queer identities, which makes us all natural outsiders in a pretty straight-laced world, plays a huge part. We’ve all faced discrimination, we’ve all got an urge to play with makeup, looks, and perform. Initially, it was more the freedom to just go out to a club in drag, in whatever form it took, to make it interesting and feel more fun. We truly believe in the value of creativity, improvising, and doing it for ourselves – helping each other constantly – but valuing learning the skills and challenges that come with not having loads of money, making something out of nothing.
Now we have a growing platform, we want to use it more and more for activism. To encourage all manners of queer people to express themselves freely, play with makeup, wear whatever they want, and voice their opinions and discover more and more about themselves. Drag should always be fun, but that doesn’t stop it being challenging, provocative, and making a statement about your values, especially publically in the wider non-queer world.
We find inspiration everywhere, conscious or not, from emo music, musical theatre to video games, Disney, and anime. Some of our most important personal inspirations involve drag artists such as Cheddar Gorgeous and Birmingham’s own Twiggy, Cindy Sherman, Claude Cahun, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Tim Burton, Marilyn Manson, Puddles Pity Party, Bruce Lee. It’s often as much for their art as their attitude and place in history.
DA: How would you all describe each member of Drag Punk in three words?
DP: Amber Cadaverous – Femme Gothy Brat.
Lilith – 2000s Emo Trash.
Paul Aleksandr – Creepy Clown Uncle.
Tacky – Anime Angel Princess.
DA: Dragula and Rupaul’s Drag Race has opened the eyes of fans to drag. If you got to appear on one of the shows which would you all apply for and why?
DP: We’re fans of both shows but I think we’re all more Dragula than drag race. There is something raw and unedited about Dragula that is really interesting and appealing, and our aesthetics tend to be darker, weirder, and not as pageant-based as a lot of drag race queens can be. The fact Dragula is open to all genders in a way drag race isn’t is also very important to us, not least because of our identities, values and the current political climate.
DA: Amber, do you feel a stigma attached to you being a female drag queen?
Amber: I personally use being a woman as an integral part of my practice as an artist. Drag for me is a direct tool to dismantle misogyny. With social media and the age of the internet, being visible as a strong queer woman that is making this type of art in the face of those within and outside of the queer community that simply struggles with the presence and successes of women. Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to being a woman in this field as misogyny and sexism are still a huge issue in LGBT culture and the wider world.
DA: Adore Delano’s ‘Whatever’ UK tour starts this week which is incredibly exciting. How did you get to become the support act, and what can we expect from a Drag Punk show?
DP: We were asked, which was really amazing. It came off the back of doing well with Biblegirl’s UK Tour in collaboration with Dragworld. We fit in that edgier punk brand Adore is loved for so our show will reflect that. There will be a lot of weird and wonderful performances and we hope to show what Birmingham and UK drag has to show, especially merging entertainment with making a statement or two.
DA: What would your dream performance consist of?
DP: Ultimately any track or mix can be performed if the artist has conviction and finds a way to sell it. Whether high energy dance or a ballad or burlesque, it can all work. We’re working on having more and more production value – props, clever mixes, décor, but without losing the substance of the core performance and lipsync. We’ve really tried to do this in the Adore Delano tour, which hopefully will be clear.
DA: Is there anyone else you would like to work with- drag or other?
DP: Amber Cadaverous “90s Marilyn Manson (to be honest we all would!).”
Lilith – “The whole of My Chemical Romance (in the 3 Cheers era).”
Paul Aleksandr – “Puddles Pity Party (he likes clowns).”
Tacky – “Anastasia.”
DA: Are there any other Birmingham drag performers we should be looking out for?
DP: Ginny Lemon, Tanja Mackenzie, Nora Virus, Yshee Black and Eva Lution are just a few of many that all bring something unique to our growing community.
DA: How has the Birmingham drag scene evolved over the years?
DP: In the last few years, the Birmingham drag scene has grown considerably and remains very raw, grassroots and creative. It’s pretty open to anyone and everyone to take part and come out in drag for the fun of it more than anything else. Just a few years ago there were really no performance spaces, safe-space queer nights for the whole of the LGBTQ spectrum, and the scene seemed to be in decline and insular. The Birmingham drag scene is now a pretty diverse place with a lot of different genders doing drag, a huge range of weird and very unique aesthetics and a necessary lack of drama. Drag, therefore, has an important place in Birmingham by leading new nights, events, and drawing more and more people in, and spreading positive vibes.
Catch DragPunk supporting on the Adore Delano tour, which kickstarts tonight. Keep up to date with all things DragPunk on their social medias:
Instagram: @paul_aleksandr , @ambercadaverous