So that was 2013

It's the end of 2013, time to reflect and all. Here's a list of pop culture things that tickled my pickle and some of my doings.
It's been a pretty good one.

Things and people of the year

Vladimir Putin
(Go buy a 'Piss on Putin' shirt from Victory Brand)
Steve Kardynal  Wreaking Ball
Unintentional hilarious video
Geri Halliwell - Half of Me 
(Kayne's Bound 2 a close second)
Group number
Gay Bingo at Hackney Empire - Rasputin
Catwalk moment
Nigela Lawson
Lucy Fizz
Pop song Little Mix –Move
Unimportant things I'd like to see disappear in 2014.
Onesies. "Ironic" Christmas jumpers. Payday loans. Beats by Dre headphones. EDM. Dalston gentrification. Anything that says "Keep Calm & Carry On". TOWIE. Katie Hopkins.

2013 started off pretty shitty as I was
punched in the face for defending someone in a transphobic attack.
Police have since said there's no CCTV and they can't trace the phone. It happened near The Ritz, pretty damn sure there are cameras everywhere. The phone the asshole dropped was a Blackberry, highly likely it WAS registered. Despite bruises and being shaken up, we weren't bloodied or seriously injured, they simply can't be arsed.
This has left me pretty disillusioned with the police but despite being another statistic, we still need to report all homo and transphobic attacks, even if those who are supposed to protect us can't be bothered with the paperwork.

Went off on my bi annual adventure, spending two months in Thailand and Cambodia. Swimming in the pitch black in the Gulf of Thailand off Rabbit Island, covered in neon plankton like something out of Tron being one of those life enhancing moments. Did a show in Phnom Phen and bagged my first magazine cover for The Advocate in Cambodia. Had to fly half way around the globe to be a solo cover girl.
Gave a lecture about my “practice” at the Bishopsgate Institute, wrote some articles for
Beige magazine and hosted the only official UK screening of RuPaul's Drag Race. As well as screening the show, I wanted to give new girls a platform to show off (there being so few these days) and hope to do so again this season.
May saw my d├ębut full length solo show, Sorry I'm A Lady which successfully ran for a week. It taught be so much about myself as a performer and the freedom that comes from admitting you're vulnerable. Thanks to Jonny Woo for helping me shape it and Ben Walters for his constructive critique.

Hosted karaoke for drunk posh people in west London (something I see akin to when I was in the army. Once you establish you're the boss, they tend to fall into line), sang my Jungle Book megamix at the London Zoo (very surreal) and returned to turn it out at the NYC Downlow at Glastonbury which was a return to form.

Did a fair few charity gigs, my own night POP came to the end of it's run at Vogue Fabrics (reviving in February at the Black Cap) and DJed for Sink The Pink, Popstarz and LLGFF.
Within two weeks, I performed with alt drag hero, David Hoyle in Liverpool, performed in front of film hero, John Waters and sat behind music production hero, Giorgio Moroder, while he was being interviewed for TV.
Talking of TV, I've been asked to be filmed for three different things this year. Non of which I've said yes too. I'll do TV, should the right thing come along. Until then, I'll laugh at myself on my own terms thanks. Also bagged my second magazine cover for Out North West. Someone got a bit carried away with the photoshop mind.

Debuted my new character 'Fat Madonna' at the RVT (she's bored of hot Brazilians, yoga and trying to maintain a mainstream idea of youth. She's moved to the north of England to eat pies, go dogging and sing megamixes of her old hits in a misheard lyrics style).
Performed at the Hackney Empire as part of the ten year anniversary of Gay Bingo. The Rasputin/Russian finale was quite the spectacle and an incredible night. Do wish there were more occasions where the drag fraternity could get together to create something fabulous, but y'know, bitches be busy.

Spent most of December as part of The Imaginarium which despite it's problems, was filled with an incredible cast of freaks, eccentrics and lovely people. There's usually at least one person who gets on my tits in a similar production but all the performers were adorable and professional.

So now. It's New Years Eve and I'm sat at my parents having just played Trivial Pursuit. Like my birthday on the 28
th December, I hate NYE and prefer to stay away from the madness. It's like the Thursday before Easter weekend, when most rational and sane people turn into utter monsters.

Coming up for 2014, there's a second London run of Sorry I'm A Lady as a Love Edition in February (also taking it up to Edinburgh Fringe Festival and should I find a producer, on the road). POP! moves to The Black Cap in Camden, more teaching queer performance and alternative drag at a few universities (heavens!), co promoting new 90's house night, 'Handbag', more from Fat Madonna and a brand new singing/performance concept which I'll keep under my bonnet for the moment.

So that's it. Come to my show if you're in London February 10
th – 15th. It's quite good.

Hope you have a ruddy marvelous 2014 etc etc.


How To Be A Drag Queen

I've written a piece for the winter 2013 edition of Beige magazine about how to be a drag queen. You may mutter to yourself "who is she to write something like this?" Well after ten years in the "biz", why not me? Only a misogynist would say I have no right to. So there.

Drag is the new club kid, everyone seems to be at it. More the merrier I say but there are a some who could do with a few pointers.
I've no time to be your Drag Mother, see me as a naughty Aunt.
This isn't a definitive guide to drag, merely ideas and suggestions. Take from it what you will.

In the UK, there are currently three types of drag.

'Trad Drag'
These ladies love sequins, a solid wig and singing covers or lip synching. They come from the tradition of music hall and variety, their poster girl, Danny La Rue. It's a grand tradition but there are some on the circuit who rely on being vile to the audience and recycling the same naff lesbian and knob gags. I've no problem with offensive material, just make sure it's funny.

'Fash Drag'
These girls are big on their labels, you won't see them down Pradamark or see their hair poking from behind their wig. Their look is high end fashion, finished, polished and can paint their face to perfection. Frequently party hosts or DJs, occasionally singers and performers. Poster girl; RuPaul.

'Alt Drag'
No rules. These dolls are not aiming for femme realness. More queer gender fuck, dressing up, playing and performing. Some have beards, some are of various genders and some are a complete train wreak. More racy, arty, political and underground than trad drag yet equally accessible. Their poster girl, Divine.

These categories can mix and mingle. I've seen alt girls in a high fashion, sequinned gown lip synching to Streisand. Boxes are for pigeons so do whatever you please, just have fun. When it stops being fun, hang up the wig.

People like drag queens, we're fabulous. You're not the first person to wear a wig honey, so no need to be a bitch. It's a terribly old fashioned and dated look. It is possible to be fierce and friendly.
However, if someone tries to rip your wig off (as a queen, it's your crown) you have my express permission to pull their hair or punch them in the tit.

Like cackling birds, drag queens tend to develop heightened camp behaviour and language. We don't have a British version of the influential show, RuPaul's Drag Race but I'm literally sickening of the overuse of “fishy”, “hunty”, “werk” and other RuPaulisms used by British based queens. Brits created modern drag*, surely we're marvelous enough to create our own language?
(* D.R.A.G. originates from the margins of Shakespeare where women weren’t allowed to perform so male actors had to Dress As A Girl).

* Powders, paints, liners and lipsticks can be purchased from high end to high street, there's goodies to be had at all prices (though I won't endorse a particular brand unless I get some product, tit for tat dear).
* Invest in some good quality brushes and foundation (waterproof if you sweat like I do).
* If you're more Y than X and going for a femme look, cover stubble with beard cover and learn how to contour your face.
* Always define the eyes. If wearing coloured lashes, wear a black pair underneath to open up the eye, otherwise it looks crap.
* Build. Start with less product, add bit by bit and blend, blend, blend.
* Hairspray your finished face. It fucks your skin but keeps it all in place.
* Always remove at the end of the night and moisturise!
* There are numerous makeup tutorials online but every face is different. Just practice.

There's nothing worse than a limp, bag fresh weave. Shake it out, brush it, cut it a little or back-comb the hell out of it, just do something.
Look after your wigs. If you're not keeping yours in a box or on a wig stand, spray it with a fabric freshener, turn it inside out and stick it in a pop sock. An angel dies every time a wig is left to turn into a ratty mess.
And on the subject of hair, if you're going for a super femme look, shave your chest and back. If you're a Bear, enhance it with mascara!

If you're dressing up for fun, go wild but if you're looking to make a career out of gender bending, I'd suggest having or learning some kind of talent. Few get by on just being pretty.
We live in a culture where you don't need talent to be famous or well known. A cold hard fact but get used to it. Sharpen your claws because it can be a jungle out there and some of those cats are lethal (i.e. insecure).

A knowledge of current and past pop culture, divas and stars is essential. I've yet to find an ultimate book of drag heritage but the internet is your friend.
My film tips include Victor/Victoria, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Paris is Burning, The Cockettes, La Cage Aux Folles, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Some Like It Hot, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Wigstock, To Wong Foo, The British Guide To Dressing Up, I Am Divine and everything by John Waters. And French & Saunders.
Be inspired by others but emulate your idols with caution, be your own special creation. Be the best you can be rather than a pale imitation. It's comforting to be part of a tribe that look similar but you run the risk of losing your individuality and blending in. And the only thing you should blend is your make-up.

Be tidy
I'm not the tidiest of people but drag filth boils my wee, especially when sharing a dressing room, which is frequently the case. Have a little consideration for others and get organised, otherwise don't moan when your left shoe can't be found two minutes before show time because of your tardiness.

Lip synchers
Learn your bloody words. It's not hard.
Listen to the song 50 times and learn the breathing and timing of the singer.
When in doubt mouth “watermelon” continuously, spin, swish your head around in different directions and smile.

Respect your transvestite and transgender siblings. Some may not appear as femme fresh as others but don't be judgemental or mean. If you expect respect and to be accepted for who you are, you have to give it too.

Go and see others perform. If we don't support live entertainment, it will disappear and we'll be stuck with cookery shows and reality show numpties forever.Hey, I feel a plug coming on. 

Come see the special Love Edition of my show “Sorry I'm A Lady”. It covers how I became the Tranny with A Fanny, my time in the British Army (hard to believe now I know. Khaki isn't my colour), as a dominatrix and artist, mental health issues and queerness all interjected with a few covers and cabaret versions of my own music. 
Vogue Fabrics, 10th-15th February 2014. 
She you there.

Photo Alex Craddock
Head piece Alun Davis