Lessons in Camp

These days, drag queens are like Gremlins (drop water on one, they rapidly multiply). There's a lot of Drag Race referencing (reveals, bloody deathdrops, yaaas qkweeen language etc) which is all good and well but a bit of homework is helpful.
I put together a playlist on YouTube of over 350 camp clips, films, people that are worth looking into. Bit of education is always a good thing.


I won an award, D.R.A.G., swinging and domination....that was 2015

Hello. Hope you had a marvelous festive/silly season. It's been a while since I wrote so here's my annual round up.

Started off 2015 winning Best Drag Act at the London Cabaret Awards. Was surprised to be shortlisted, never mind win. The reactions since have been interesting, especially from others who should probably know better. Despite being a tart in a wig for twelve years, there's still a plethora of misogyny to plough through. 

Once again, I hosted the only official UK screening of season seven of RuPaul's Drag Race at Jonny Woo's new bar,
The Glory and did more pub drag performances around the country. Performing a full set to a rowdy bar is a whole new skill set for me but have managed to get it down. I'm unable to do anything alt or arty but get to be incredibly self indulgent and sing pop bangers. Plus it's incredibly fun.

I may have mentioned it before but the film about London's alternative drag scene I co-founded (about seventy years ago), Dressed As A Girl, was finally released to three sold out screenings at the BFI London. It went on tour, a plethora of screenings all over the UK, I even popped to Copenhagen. It's now available to buy on DVD, chock full with juicy extras. The film still needs help with covering post production costs so please help it out by ordering one. Treat yourself.

I appeared in a book with my boobs out and another about drag, DJed at some bizarre events, popped to Edinburgh for Pride, appeared in a six hour project with artist Brian Lobel at Latitude Festival and as the beloved Black Cap closed, my daft pub quiz Let's Get Quizzical went weekly at new queer Camden hot spot, Bloc Bar.

I've just concluded the year playing the evil Ebola Abanazer in Alezzin. After being involved in five adult pantos (staring or directing) I've always wanted to play the villain and it's been an utter joy to mwuhahaha down in Clapham for the past six weeks.

Coming up, well I'm off to Vietnam for an adventure then getting to work on two solo shows. 
First up is 'Holestar Does Prince'. Covering the Prince songbook, how his gender bending brilliance has influenced me and an excuse to sing his wonderful songs.
The second show is something I've been researching for the past nine months, Swinging.

After no personal sexual frissons with gentlemen for twelve years (not because of any willy embargo, just ended up that way), thought I'd give them another whirl (as casual fun with women is very, very tricky). I've learnt a lot about myself and so much about swinging that is unspoken in the British mainstream. I intend to make a sex positive show highlighting those discoveries.

I've also realised I miss the one to one theatre of being a  Dominatrix (gave it up after dislocating my knee onstage at Glastonbury in 2009. A Domme in flats isn't much of a look) so will be returning to that after my adventure. Also hosting bi monthly fetish party Submission at swanky London sex club, Le Boudoir

So there you go. It's been a funny old year and presuming 2016 will be pretty much the same.
Bring it!

Have a good one

R.I.P. The Black Cap - Thank you George Antony

Sunday 12th April 2015, the iconic Black Cap closed its doors for the last time. Social media has been awash with opinions and theories but as someone who has performed, promoted, directed and DJed there over the past eighteen months, here's an insiders view.

The Black Cap eighteen months ago was a very different place. Numbers were down, it hadn't been turning a profit for years, the manager was caught with his fingers in the till and it was starting to be seen as a bit naff. But assistant manager George Antony saw potential in the old girl and gave her the boost and revamp she deserved. With an enthusiastic knowledge of past and present scenes, he brought in new promoters, DJs, performers and in those past eighteen months, the Cap exceeded its targets and reclaimed it's reputation as a destination for a wide variety of fantastic queer club and cabaret nights. 
But she desperately needed a new frock. The toilets were a mess, the sound system and tech was a source of constant frustration, the dressing room was a dump. The only way for to raise capital for said frock was to redevelop. Plans were designed to destroy the first floor Shufflewick Bar and Regina Fong beer garden to become flats. The ground floor would have been widened and restored to how it was over 20 years ago (when both the bar and club were on the ground floor) and given an entire revamp. The money from the proposed flats would have been enough to secure the loan needed for the makeover.
There were previous planning proposals put forward to build flats on it's sacred ground and I wrote to the council protesting it myself but this was a completely different situation. The venue needed to regenerate to survive at all.
Well meaning but ill informed academics and armchair activists who hadn't done their homework decided no, no, no. How dare they squash yet another LGBT venue? Usually I'd wholeheartedly agree as but this was an all or nothing situation. Redevelop or no Cap. Strong hints were given but ignored. Planning permission denied. It's over. She's gone. Sold. R.I.P. The Black Cap and over 50 years of LGBT and queer heritage.

I've known about this for a while but out of respect for the staff and people whose livelihood depended on working there, I kept my mouth shut. The company that owned the venue, Faucet Inn Limited have done a hideous job with this. They didn't make any public statements until today's official closing announcement. They've kept their lips firmly shut during procedures, not attended planning permission meetings or engaged with those concerned about it's future. This could have been avoided if they'd opened the channels of communication with those who work at, attend and love the place or publicly told people that if she were to get permission to be restored to her former glory she would have survived. Albeit with sound proofed flats above, something that worked for one of their other venues, Comptons.

The old girl's gone but had a cracking send off with the final weekend featuring Myra Dubois night Naff on Friday, my queer disco night POP! on Saturday and Sunday's final event being the ReResurrection hosted by Virgin Xtravaganzah.
The final show was incredible with every performer bringing their A game. It was an honor to be asked to join the lineup and sang something I thought fitting and a nod to London's queer heritage; Soft Cell's Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. It was hard to get through without breaking down as the whole place has become more than a disco, but an incredible family.
As a respectful nod to 50 years of glorious drag heritage, legend of The Black Cap stage, Mrs Moore was invited to close the show, belting out 'I Am, What I Am'. All performers took to the stage to sing Happy Birthday to George, we had a big cry and group hug and a final dance of the bar to Like A Prayer.

To those bitching they weren't asked to perform one last time, this wasn't about you. The night had to go ahead as programmed with only a few knowing the situation (out of respect for the staff and their futures). Mrs Moore respectfully and fantastically represented the heritage of the Cap, so shush.
To the armchair activists who should have read the planning proposals properly, meh.
To Faucet Inn, fuck you.
To gentrification and sanitisation of the LGBT scene and London in general, a massive go fuck yourself.

Black Cap legend HIH Regina Fong (do your homework kids) has haunted the venue for years. The times I've felt her presence was never more clear than over the weekend, she's fucking livid. Whatever generic glass fronted gentrified piece of shit it becomes, I hope she curses your genitals.

To close, there are so many wonderful people to thank in the creative and financial success of The Cap over the past eighteen months but there's one who worked selflessly, enthusiastically and often without sleep. He paid for missing stock from of his own wallet, worked the door, behind the bar, booking events, attending to social media, encouraging new talent, sorting tech, placating stroppy drag queens (cough) and genuinely gave a shit about the very bones and future of the venue and not his ego. George Antony.
She would have faded away without you. You made sure she went out with a fucking bang.
George, thank you. 


P.S. For those asking why I didn't release this information sooner, I didn't out of respect for the staff and their futures. They have moved and been given jobs within Faucet Inn. I would suggest going to say hello to them but that would be supporting an underhand and deceitful company, so don't.

P.P.S. Sorry if I've offended anyone other than Faucet Inn.

Misogyny and my definition of queer

I'm a tough broad but I feel like shite right now, rather than wallow, I'm purging to you dear reader.
In the twelve years I've been Holestar the drag artist, I've been the subject of misogyny on numerous occasions. Since winning the London Cabaret Award for Best Drag Act, that misogyny is less passive aggressive, the hate is real.

Last night, after the weekly screening of RuPaul's Drag Race I'm currently hosting, I was called a cunt for being a female drag queen and stealing jobs from gay men.
What saddens me is that this young gay man clearly has insecurities of his own to deal with. He comes to drag with certain expectations where gender is binary and gender roles and expression of those roles are distinct and final. Rather than have a conversation with me about it, he chose to attack.

He also attacked my sexuality, presuming me to be heterosexual. Not that it should matter either way but I'm not. I'm not a lesbian either, or bisexual but pansexual. My longest relationship may have been with a woman but I fancy humans. What I find attractive in someone is not designated by what's in their pants. My gender is queer. I may have female body parts but I have high levels of testosterone coursing through my veins and my ovaries don't function properly. Makeup free, out of drag, I'm frequently mistaken for a man. I don't feel female. I feel and am human, other, queer.

Academics will give you numerous theories but for me, being queer means sexuality, gender and/or lifestyle, is open and fluid. Nothing is final or black and white on the scale of sexuality, gender or life choices. Queer runs the gauntlet between male, female, gay, straight, heteronormative and anarchic bohemian lifestyles.
I'm not queer for politics, it took me a long time to accept that I don't need to be in the boxes that mainstream society expect of me. Growing up, I had no queer heroes telling me I could be whatever I choose to be. Heteronormative society told me to be a breeder, passive, cute, depend on a man, marry young, 2.4 kids, car, mortgage etc. Lesbian and feminist media told me to be angry and I'd be betraying the sisterhood if I even considered the "dark side". Certain sectors of the entertainment world told me I can't be a woman parading around as a drag queen (as I maintain, drag isn't what exists between your legs but the art form, transcending gender).
It it took me a long time to ignore these negative messages and accept who I am. A big old fabulous queer.

I'm no role model in a quest to fulfill my ego by standing on stage, screaming at people to change their minds. You fight fire with fire, you get more fire.  My role is to continue to be me and to be visible. If anyone having difficulty dealing with who they are can take strength from me being open about my queerness, showing off, depression or any of the other twaddle I come out with, then that's marvelous. Virtual hugs all round.
Be you. Be nice. That's it.
We all shit out of the same hole. Crude but true.

As for the small minded, misogynist boy. I hope he can get over his hate and misogyny soon but shan't be welcome to the screenings again.  I've a whole room full of people to entertain. Ain't nobody got time for that!

WINNER! Best Drag Act at London Cabaret Awards 2015!!!

Yes me, I won!!! Shit the bed etc... Being long listed was nice, shortlisted an honor but to win the darn thing is incredibly exciting and humbling.
I honestly wasn't expecting to win so my speech at the awards ceremony at the Cafe De Paris was a baffled ramble so here's one in the form of blog.  How very modern.

"First of all I'd like to thank the judges who judged me on my talent, not what's between my legs. My parents who taught me to keep my feet on the floor and take each day at a time. Excess All Areas, my fellow nominees, everyone in the wider performance community and anyone who has got on stage to make an arse of themselves for the entertainment of others.

I'd like to thank me, myself and I for persevering through a minefield of misogyny for the past twelve years. To the small minded promoters and venues who won't book me because of my gender, stop underestimating your audiences. It's 2015. Get with it.

The biggest and huge thank you to anyone who has helped, encouraged or booked me. Bought one of my pop songs, been to one of my shows, sang or danced along, liked or followed me, read my witterings, wrote about me or supported me in any way.
Without you, I'd still be fantasising about larking around onstage instead of living my dreams. Thank you."

I know I'm supposed to be all louche and indifferent about winning but I'm utterly chuffed. There have been some who have tried to rain on my parade ("Holestar shouldn't have won, she's a woman") well let them. I've got a big brolly and the hide of a rhino. I won for BEST DRAG ACT. I'm a Drag Act. So there.

I've a nice little trophy, the title for a year and the biggest smile on my face. Will it lead to other opportunities? We shall see but to be given the nod for what I love to do in a mans world, I'm a very happy girl.


Above image (c) Lisa Thomson exclusively for This Is Cabaret