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emmamaddenwrites

another moron trying to be trendy

Month

May 2016

~

Learning to kill for the sake of a name

Right here, now, on this sugarless day.

Lioness with no survival instinct

Calling on the nurse to mend everything

Thorn in a paw, cat cut off your tail

So you’re tardy and hardly on your way

Yawning yourself out of your own clothes.

Healthily you say: pull up the covers

Leave me motherless, dark this day away.

We spit at each other in our spite

Our two bull’s horns knocking together

Tearing, causing blood, violence, not much else.

Clumsily, I try to free you from me

Toasting to good health, I say deathly:

After a Conversation with Derrick Barry

First off, the family resemblance to Britney is uncanny. Derrick’s sat in his home in Las Vegas after a sapping six-day work week, but I am still startled by the alikeness. Even though this is his one day of the week where he doesn’t have to wear that silken blonde wig and the Baracuda-like corset, he is inexplicably Britney. With his short hair and all, right now he’s maybe more of a 2007 Britney – which I assure him is a compliment – but the image of Britney loosens as I begin to talk to Derrick Barry. Out of all the queens I’ve interviewed, Derrick is by far the most professional. He doesn’t interrupt, he is very courteous, and each of his sentences comes to a hush when he decides he has said all he has needed to. The person who often appeared to be oversensitive and tumultuous on RuPaul’s Drag Race is now very composed and sedate. For someone who can take on Vegas six nights a week with such command and confidence, I hadn’t expected Derrick to have found his experience on Drag Race so difficult. He tells me that he felt completely out of his comfort zone in an environment which he describes as ‘adolescent’. When packing his suitcase the night before Drag Race, Derrick tells me that he was breaking down, that he didn’t feel ready to go. He had no hesitancy in telling me so either. This is why Derrick is a Drag Racer that we’ve not yet seen before. As I’ve seen, he definitely has the composure to remain professional at all times, but he is incredibly generous with his vulnerability also. There is no shame in trying something and having it not work, there is no shame in being homesick, and there is no shame in feeling like a victim. Yes, we love drag for these so-called Glamazonians, these self-sufficient beings who can ‘love themselves’ in any situation above anything else. But drag is about the transition as well as the end-product. Most nights Derrick gets to perform as Britney Spears – one of the world’s greatest cultural icons, and Derrick’s personal muse. With all the love he has for Britney – who he discovered one morning whilst eating cereal before school – it’s not difficult for him to love himself as faux-Britney. However he admits to me that he didn’t have the confidence on Drag Race as he does on stage in Vegas. Derrick likens performing as himself to being naked, and when he performs as Britney he feels as though he’s put on a cover-all superhero cape. Although it’s convenient to play someone else, to base your life on conclusions that you haven’t yet come to – but as Derrick is learning – eventually it is necessary to become yourself. In Derrick’s case, he was truly birthed into the world when he first drew on those godawful brows in his final Drag Race episode. A year on from filming now, and not only are the brows well and truly on fleek but it is clear to see that Derrick Barry is finally mushrooming into himself. I listen to his latest single, BOOMBOOM as I write this and it’ll no doubt be the song that gets me out of the house over the summer. As well as the single, he’ll be acting in multiple projects, as well as submitting an audition tape for SNL. Derrick is no doubt learning that he doesn’t just have to play Britney to take over the world.

After a Conversation with Magnus Hastings

Today, in almost any photograph of a drag queen that you come across you’ll find Magnus Hasting’s name in the bottom corner of it. In his latest and greatest offering to the world, he asks the most proficient queens around the globe: “Why Drag?” The project has taken many years in the making and is finally ready to be revealed on May 17th, when Magnus’ first book will be on sale. Originally from London, Magnus spent much of his early career photographing the most delightfully trashy celebrities that Britain had to offer. The kind of celebrities used to sell subpar gossip magazines; the most seemingly vapid celebrities whose sex tapes were too gross to go viral – those sorts. Whilst these essential D-list celebrities were being used by the media as empty props, Magnus gave them a bit more credit than that. He tells me about the time he had photographed Katie Price and Peter Andre (our British equivalent of luminaries like Ryan and Trista Sutter). Instead of asking them to vacantly pose, with both abs and cleavage slumping outwards  – he gave them the direction to whip all clothes off and to pose on top of a cross in mock-crucifixion. What seems wildly inappropriate on paper is executed with the utmost effectiveness that only Magnus could muster. In the juvenile stage of his career he allowed the public to see these figures in ways that never could have been had Magnus Hastings not existed. The provocative and the jarring remain ever-present in Magnus’ work today, but he ascribes these qualities to people who are far more deserving of them – drag queens. Although there’s nothing that the queer community savours more than a D-list celebrity that was neglected from the heterosexual zeitgeist, Magnus’ work is at its prime when there is a drag queen in front of his camera. His apartment is abounding with photographs of drag queens that he has taken. I am a little distracted by the one of Milk with its striking blue-white hospital colors, which is mounted up behind him – the size of a coffee table. He gives me a tour of each of his rooms, every one of them overclouded by photographs of drag queens. We leaf through his book Why Drag together and he talks in paragraphs which often ramble and rove towards the end. He regularly becomes so animated and effused that he forgets his point and has to start again – which, as we look through his photographs, is how I’m beginning to understand the processes behind his work. As we pass photos of Sharon Needles in a straitjacket and Courtney Act receiving cunnilingus in a bathroom, I feel right at home. For us Gaybies who spent our formative years being desensitised to violence and the ultimate oddness (how old were you when you had to endure Divine inserting a steak into “her own little oven”?) this stuff is hardly new. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of content that we signed up for. However, there is still some shock left in the squeamish straight people of the world. Magnus tells me that whilst his photographs of fishy queens seem to get a universal approval – his bearded queens – or really, any of his queens that show signs of transformation – are shunned away by the straight audience. In fact, a lot of the queens he photographs are keen to erase any signs of transformation. “So, are you going to photoshop that out?”, “can we airbrush that?” are questions Magnus gets asked and then rejects often. This is exactly what Magnus’ photography opposes. Unlike the average celebrity photographer, Magnus has a very warts-and-all approach, which in drag terms means that he will very much let the front of that lace-front wig show.

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