Drag Queens Intimate Portraits

ShayShay, October 2017
Shane first started using the nickname ShayShay at university when they were a radio DJ and event host. Later, when they started performing in drag, ShayShay was the name they continued using. Now commonly going by their stage name in and out of drag, there isn’t much difference between Shane and ShayShay, other than a change of outfit. The Japanese side of ShayShay’s family were forced into interment camps during WWII which resulted in their family pushing away and hiding their Japanese culture. In the photo ShayShay is wearing a kimono, a family heirloom that was hidden away for decades.

 

Photographer Jan Klos is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of these portraits.  From the ‘Queens at home’series.  To see Jan’s body of work, click on any image.

 

Tete Bang, May 2018
TeTe Bang is an infamous bubblegum legend in London’s underground queer drag scene. Her strong feminist point of view has been pushing the boundaries of what drag is and making people reassess the inclusivity of women in a predominantly male dominated space. Born to a working class single stripper mother, she has taken her upbringing and struggle and morphed it with her own queerness and campiness to bring Girl Power to all!

 

Karma, November 2018
A dystopian diva, Karma was born from an unhealthy obsession with all things glamour and horror but, unlike starlets from old Hollywood movies, she does not long to be saved by some random dude. Often blurring accepted depictions of gender, she prefers to use her costumes and make up to transport the audience to a world that is equal parts beautiful and grotesque, and uniquely Karma.

 

Fanny Minka, April 2018
Fanny Minka has been obsessed with drag since her very early teens. The soundtrack to Priscilla was the first CD she ever bought, a drag bar in Sydney was the first place she snuck into underage, and it was at the tender age of 19 that she started going out dressed as a drag king. Flash forward a couple of decades and she is now living her drag dream: performing at trashy clubs, wearing ridiculous outfits and married to fellow drag diva, Robyn Withawhy. She is also the world’s only (well, that she knows of) drag queen travel blogger, documenting her fabulous adventures over on Minka Guides.

 

Lydia L’Scabies & Alfie Ordinary, Brighton,  December 2018
Lydia L’Scabies the ‘Queen Flea’ of Brighton, this sexually charged bed bug has been wailed at in terror and delight across the UK since contraction in 2013. An award-winning international burlesque superstar, she puts the art in tart, the pro in prolapse and the fun-gal in fungal infection. As a drag prince, Alfie identifies as one thing and one thing only and that’s goddamn FABULOUS! He’s the happiest person you’ll ever meet, so content in his own world of sequins and sparkles. He’ll sing, dance and tell you stories about what it’s like to grow up fabulous, and, ultimately, remind you that it’s absolutely gorgeous to just be yourself.

 

Shot away from the bars, clubs and stages they’re most often associated with, these portraits go ‘behind-the-scenes’ and capture drag performers in the spaces most familiar to them: their homes. A home is another extension of a person’s identity and “Queens at Home” juxtaposes the carefully crafted drag alter ego with the day-to-day identity of their creator, marrying the two personas and giving the full picture of each sitter’s identity.

 

Sue Gives a Fuck, August 2017
Sue Gives A Fuck began drag life as a finalist on Rupaul’s Drag Race UK Ambassador. It was her first time in drag, she was out of her depth and she didn’t really enjoy it. She was, however, immortalised by Katie Price in the lines ‘Can I have a porn star martini? No? Ugh. Fine, my favourite’s Sue’. Since then she’s gone on to win The Glory’s Lipsync1000 competition, host sell out shows including Camposphere and Play Date, and has performed with Charlotte Church and Ian McKellen. Now she’s abandoned her adoring fans in cabaret and performs on the stand-up circuit, because someone has to educate straight people.

 

Crystal Beth, November 2017
Originally hailing from Canada, Colin became involved in circus and aerial performance when he moved to London. Teaming these talents and experiences with a love of drag, Crystal Beth was born three years ago. A talented performer who loves pushing boundaries and creating work that plays with ideas of gender and current politics, she is the brain behind Mariah and Friendz, a popular monthly drag party at Bethnal Green Working Mens Club.

 

Holestar, May 2018
Holestar, a biological woman, has been performing internationally in the guise of a female drag queen since 2003. A belting vocalist, DJ of other people’s music, writer of popular culture, promoter and Mistress of Ceremonies. A former British soldier, brothel receptionist and dominatrix with an MA in Fine Art (from Central St Martins, London) who blurs the boundaries between gender, the avant-garde and mass entertainment, pop culture and the underground through music & performance.

 

Margo Marshall, October 2017
After working as a contemporary dancer for years, Thom became frustrated with the limitations of the dance industry, especially regarding gender roles. Drag was always a secret dream job, and it was after an disappointing audition in January 2017 where Thom was asked to ‘dance more like a man’ that a post for LIPSYNC:1000 at The Glory came up. They decided to enter and the rest is history. Margo was created with reference to the old starlets of Hollywood such as Marilyn Monroe but with more of party girl Anna-Nicole Smith spirit. Playing on the edge of overtly glamorous and feminine looking but with a very forward aggressive energy many considered Madonna to have when she did Erotica in 1992 is where Margo’s character forms and plays with gender roles.

 

Stella Meltdown, October 2017
Inspired by infamous blondes who have torn up the world of celebrity by falling for bad boys and out of cars, Stella Meltdown is the trashy alter ego of Drew. A book publicist by day, Stella is the total opposite of Drew – where he is professional, switched-on and bookish, she is fun loving, messy and takes nothing seriously. Channelling larger-than-life blondes from Pamela Anderson and Courtney Love to Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith, Stella is a wannabe It Girl, famous for being famous. She came about quite organically – since his university days where he studied English and Drama, Drew has delighted in confusing straight boys, experimenting with makeup and fashion. Over the years a pair of heels or a wig were added until Stella just was.

 

All images and text © Jan Klos

 

 

See also:

Gallery of Photographs

By Jan Klos

 

 

 

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