In conversation with .. 7!

Welcome to our new digital issue: IN CONVERSATION WITH – Part 7! Featuring Tyreece, Gegen, Bambi Mercury, ArtKB48, Teun Seuren, Maricas, Purrja and Twat Butcher, Marina Kitsukawa, Sherø and many more about safe spaces for the queer community In the last year, many of us have had to redefine our realities. The COVID pandemic not only took lives, but it also took away the veneer of routine we’ve constructed over millennia to make our world functional. As we begin to approach what many regards as a ‘return to normalcy, a rising number of voices have questioned that approach. The pandemic and subsequent series of lockdowns have been a horror show, no doubt; yet this has also been a time of self-reflection, of refocusing and recentering the will toward greater and more meaningful pathways outside of the capitalistic, Work-Is-Life framework that is slowly killing us all. We see you. We’re rooting for you. We will dance together again. Nicola Phillips, Music Editor

Welcome to our new digital issue: IN CONVERSATION WITH – Part 7! Featuring Tyreece, Gegen, Bambi Mercury, ArtKB48, Teun Seuren, Maricas, Purrja and Twat Butcher, Marina Kitsukawa, Sherø and many more about safe spaces for the queer community

In the last year, many of us have had to redefine our realities. The COVID pandemic not only took lives, but it also took away the veneer of routine we’ve constructed over millennia to make our world functional. As we begin to approach what many regards as a ‘return to normalcy, a rising number of voices have questioned that approach. The pandemic and subsequent series of lockdowns have been a horror show, no doubt; yet this has also been a time of self-reflection, of refocusing and recentering the will toward greater and more meaningful pathways outside of the capitalistic, Work-Is-Life framework that is slowly killing us all.

We see you. We’re rooting for you. We will dance together again. Nicola Phillips,
Music Editor


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Tyreece<br />

Gegen Berlin<br />

Bambi Mercury<br />

Twat Butcher<br />

Purrja<br />

ArtKB48<br />




premiata.it<br />




Meet The Team<br />

@marcel_schlutt @naikee_simoneau @nicphilf<br />

@nico_sutor_<br />

@slaterkarl<br />

Editor-in-Chief<br />

Fashion Editor<br />

Art Director<br />

Art Editor<br />

Music Editor<br />

Fashion Editors<br />

Marcel Schlutt<br />

mschlutt@kaltblut-magazine.com<br />

Naikee Simoneau<br />

nsimoneau@kaltblut-magazine.com<br />

Nicola Phillips<br />

nphillips@kaltblut-magazine.com<br />

Nico Sutor<br />

nsutor@kaltblut-magazine.com<br />

Karl Slater<br />

kslater@kaltblut-magazine.com<br />

Contributors<br />

Manuel Moncayo, Lewis Robert Cameron, Johanna Urbancik<br />

Staff Writer A. Susurration<br />

On The Cover<br />

Tyreece photographed by Karl Slater<br />

Styling by Lewis Robert Cameron<br />

MUA Martina Derosa using DEPIXYM<br />

Full Look - Selfhood<br />

Shoes - Tom Ford<br />

6<br />

Full story > p.40<br />

All Copyright at KALTBLUT www.kaltblut-magazine.com @kaltblut_magazine<br />


All of KALTBLUT´s contributors are responsible and retain the reproduction rights of their own words and images.<br />

Reproductions of any kind are prohibited <strong>with</strong>out the permission of the magazine, editor and each contributor.

Club Matryoshka > p.52 ArtKB48 > p.60<br />

Purrja & Twat Butcher > p.66 Bambi Mercury > p.106<br />

Gegen Berlin > p.126 Ten Cities > p.152<br />


Note from the editor<br />

<strong>In</strong> the last year, many of us have had to redefine our realities.<br />

The COVID pandemic not only took lives, it took away the veneer<br />

of routine we’ve constructed over millennia to make our world<br />

functional. As we begin to approach what many regard as a<br />

‘return to normalcy’, a rising number of voices have questioned<br />

that approach. The pandemic and subsequent series of lockdowns<br />

have been a horrorshow, no doubt; yet this has also been<br />

a time of self-reflection, of refocusing and recentering the will<br />

toward greater and more meaningful pathways outside of the<br />

capitalistic, Work-Is-Life framework that is slowly killing us all.<br />

Particularly <strong>with</strong>in the queer community, where outsider status is<br />

the norm, this idea of forging new paths resonates intensely. It’s<br />

a baked-in truth that we make our own families; our own bloodkin<br />

are oftentimes unable or unwilling to connect <strong>with</strong> us on our<br />

level. So we gather like minded folks around us, folks who make<br />

us feel human and loved, who build us up to a place where we can<br />

create worlds <strong>with</strong>in worlds. When that gets taken away, it can be<br />

like watching reality disintegrate.<br />

If one good thing has emerged from this last year, it’s the greater<br />

focus and willingness to talk about mental health, self-care,<br />

and community care. Around the world, the queer community are<br />

channeling this moment and finding new ways to create and connect<br />

<strong>with</strong> their chosen families. Like many artists who once plied<br />

their trade in clubs and festivals, Barcelona’s MARICAS and Manila’s<br />

Jorge Juan B. Wieneke V found the momentum of continuance<br />

by creating digital clublands to get lost in. Queer cultural icon<br />

Alan T, true to his larger than life spirit, has barely slowed down,<br />

using his sudden acquisition of time to finally kick off a long-gestating<br />

project <strong>with</strong> fellow nightlife legend Nicole Moudaber.<br />


New York family Seks 5th<br />

Ave, Siren Starlite and Dick<br />

Van Dick have found a tighter<br />

connection and deeper sense<br />

of self-peace, while in Taiwan,<br />

ARTKB48’s Betty Apple<br />

and Wang Ping-Hsiang stand<br />

in a unique position of having<br />

almost no cases of COVID in<br />

their country at all, due to their<br />

government’s rapid border closures.<br />

Thank you for your continued<br />

work and contribution. To the<br />

many more grassroots organisers<br />

out there who have tirelessly<br />

fought tooth and nail to<br />

hold onto the spaces that we<br />

hold so dear, and that we all<br />

so look forward to returning to<br />

once this nightmare is over.<br />

We see you. We’re rooting for<br />

you. We will dance together<br />

again.<br />

<strong>In</strong> the meantime, come hang<br />

<strong>with</strong> me on Second Life under<br />

the name nicphilf.<br />

Nicola Phillips,<br />

Music Editor<br />

Background image provided by Club Matryoshka<br />



Elo, Peach, Gina<br />

ISAbella & Saoirse<br />


Photos by PINUSFLASH @freepinusflash<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Nicola Phillips @nicphilf<br />

Elo: We founded Maricas in 2018 because we saw a need for<br />

a queer space in the Barcelona nightlife scene. Most parties<br />

here are either typical gay parties run by CIS white men,<br />

<strong>with</strong> mainstream, uninteresting music, or straight parties<br />

<strong>with</strong> even more mainstream, uninteresting music. All of the<br />

techno events were run by straight men as well; we really<br />

wanted a space that was ours, where we could have fun and<br />

hear music that we love. The first midnight event we held,<br />

it was raining—and when we showed up at 11 there was a<br />

massive queue stretching around the corner! We knew then<br />

that this was something bigger than us. As for how we met—I<br />

went on a Tinder date <strong>with</strong> her, we went to see her play and<br />

loved it, we had a crush on her... just lesbians doing lesbian<br />

stuff. I’m now the grand manager of the collective, from<br />

Uruguay.<br />

ISAbella: I’m the resident DJ and booker, from Colombia.<br />

Gina: I’m the art director and designer, and I’m from<br />

Barcelona.<br />

Saoirse: I’m a Maricas resident, producer and promoter as<br />

well as a radio host, from Ireland and living in London.<br />

Serena: I’m Serena, I DJ as Peach and I’m also a resident,<br />

DJ producer and radio host, from Canada but also living in<br />

London.<br />

Nicola: So how did you get involved <strong>with</strong> the collective?<br />

Saoirse: I’d been following Maricas for a while, as well as<br />

ISAbella DJing, and I reached out to them to play, which<br />

ended up happening in Stockholm, I believe…<br />

ISAbella: We were having a Pride party there, and we’d seen<br />

her play Boiler Room and she just killed it. We knew we had<br />

to invite her.<br />

Elo: We’d actually booked her for Barcelona, but then we got<br />

this Stockholm thing and we just asked her to come play for<br />

us.<br />

Saoirse: It was like three days before I was supposed to play<br />

Sonar, and I was just like…”Okay!”<br />


Elo: That’s how we met, and I think we both had a big crush<br />

on each other’s music and personality. When she came to<br />

play for us in September, it was one of our best parties.<br />

Gina: One of the best for sure.<br />

Saoirse: Definitely one of my favorite gigs in the last years.<br />

Elo: Then we met Serena when we invited her to play one of<br />

our last parties here...<br />

Serena: Actually we met before that, at Primavera!<br />

ISAbella: That’s right, we saw you playing and we went to<br />

you like, ahhh, how are you, we’re from Maricas! And she<br />

didn’t know us yet [laughs]<br />

Serena: But then Saoirse was like, no you definitely have to<br />

play for them. We both ended up playing the anniversary<br />

party, pre-pandemic January.<br />

Nicola: So, how have you shifted during the pandemic?<br />

Has the lockdown put a damper on your creativity?<br />

Elo: <strong>In</strong> the beginning, when the first lockdown happened<br />

we started this online platform called House of Maricas;<br />

there was a lot of momentum actually, we started super<br />

high <strong>with</strong> this and we did a lot of diverse content, from<br />

music to exhibitions to performances. The idea behind the<br />

platform was to raise funds for the artists who had been<br />

most heavily affected, especially the queer community in<br />

Barcelona. I think we were happy to realize that we could<br />

kind of coexist <strong>with</strong>in this world. That lasted two months<br />

and then we kind of came back down. Once the restrictions<br />

were eased back, it didn’t make much sense to have so<br />

much content all the time.<br />

ISAbella: Once you realize you have so much free time for<br />

yourself, it’s hard to keep inspiration or productivity all of<br />

the time. For me personally, I found myself making a lot of<br />

ambient music as opposed to music for the dance floor.<br />

Elo: I’m super into ambient music at the moment; I can’t<br />

really hear beats, nothing like this.<br />

Nicola: It’s very reflective of the mood, I think.<br />

Saoirse: I locked myself in the studio for the last year,<br />

which I’ve never been able to do before, really. That’s one<br />

benefit, but I actually did it to help <strong>with</strong> my anxiety and<br />

mental health. I’ve found that this is one of the only things<br />

that can take me away from my worry and feeling anxious<br />

all the time. The second I would get home from the studio,<br />

all of that anxiety would come rushing back.<br />

Serena: You’ve made so much amazing music in the last<br />

year! Meanwhile I’ve been sitting at home doing absolutely<br />

nothing! I’m just trying to survive!<br />

Saoirse: I’m so lucky that I was able to get into that<br />

headspace; I think that if I hadn’t had that chance to<br />

be creative, I’d have lost my fucking mind. It was my<br />

meditation.<br />

Serena: Now I’m feeling better and able to go into the<br />

studio; maybe it’s feeling more hopeful but also feeling<br />

more centered and needing to be productive.<br />

Elo: We also started our label Maricas Records, launching<br />

it in October of last year, and we’ve done a few stream<br />

performances, this 3D DJ set for Boiler Room, CTM, some<br />

other things.<br />

Nicola: I remember seeing your name listed for CTM,<br />

which I follow every year. It can get a bit anxious trying<br />

to see everything there, which I always want to do. So<br />

for me, seeing that everything was streaming online<br />

was excellent. How have you felt about this shift in<br />

digitalization of everything?<br />

Elo: <strong>In</strong> the beginning, it was an unknown scene for us;<br />

we’ve gotten more used to it but it has been a heavy change<br />

for us. It’s affected our mental health a lot, and we talk<br />

about this frequently. When we have a party like ours, the<br />

biggest thing is actually being there, seeing each other and<br />

supporting each other. <strong>In</strong> isolation this family feeling has<br />

broken a bit; even though you can communicate online,<br />

it’s not the same.<br />

Nicola: You see the same people every week, at every<br />

party, and suddenly you’re trapped at home and this<br />

energy exchange is completely cut off. Have you found<br />

this affecting friendships?<br />

Elo: I feel like our close circle, we’re like a family; we take<br />

care of each other. But on the larger scale of friendships,<br />

some have gotten lost. It’s a huge change from doing<br />

events and seeing everyone, and suddenly this input is<br />

just not in your life anymore.<br />

Saoirse: A positive that has come out of it is that, because<br />

a lot of queer collectives have moved online, it’s been<br />

more accessible for people who live in more isolated<br />

areas. Having more access to events and content means<br />

that they’ve maybe been able to forge new friendships that<br />

way, and I think that should continue even when physical<br />

events come back. It’s an important resource for people<br />

who might not live in big cities or be able to go to parties.<br />

Nicola: That accessibility aspect is very important. Do<br />

you think that there will be a balance of the two, online<br />

and offline?<br />

Serena: I think when events do come back….I don’t really<br />

see the streaming thing carrying on, at least not in such a<br />

heavy capacity, but I do think some events will continue<br />

the practice. Like Club Quarantine has been running out<br />

of Toronto every Friday, and that’s a fantastic event that I<br />

think will continue.<br />

Saoirse: Queer House Party is another event here in<br />

London doing online events, and sometimes this will<br />

draw over 2,000 people. They’ve realized that a lot of<br />

those people aren’t even based in London, they’re based<br />

everywhere; so I think they’ll want to continue streaming<br />

their events even when they go live, so that audience has<br />

this access.<br />




Gina: When everything goes back to normal, we’ll have to take it step-by-step because we have no idea how we’ll be<br />

affected once things are open again. You go to a space that’s full of people, a massive festival, after so long in isolation;<br />

we don’t know how this will affect our mental health, how we will react. Merging both online and offline worlds seems<br />

like the best place to start.<br />

Nicola: Hypothetically, following a return to normality, what do you think the next steps would be?<br />

Elo: One of the first things we want to do is to ask our community what they want from us, and how we can change and<br />

be better. A lot has changed over this year, so we need to know what our community needs in response to this. From<br />

there we can build events again, but we have to take all of these opinions into account. I think after this, we want to<br />

build that momentum up again.<br />

Gina: One thing we want to do, after our 3D experiment, is to turn Maricas into a video game. You can download it and<br />

it will be like a virtual world, <strong>with</strong> an avatar you can create and enter our party. We really liked how the Boiler Room<br />

event went, so we’re talking about this.<br />

Nicola: Peaches just did a similar thing <strong>with</strong> Pussykrew;<br />

I feel like when we do go back to live events, just seeing<br />

someone DJ won’t be enough because there’s so much<br />

crazy digital things happening. We’ll want an even more<br />

immersive experience! But going back to what we were<br />

talking about before, how can we keep expanding this<br />

idea of queer accessibility for the future?<br />

Saoirse: More intersectionality; in London, even though<br />

there are loads of gay parties and you have SoHo and these<br />

sort of districts...they’re all very much white CIS mancentric.<br />

Any sort of intersectional events tend to be very<br />

ad hoc, in various venues. There’s no space where people<br />

can go that feels more inclusive, and especially for a city<br />

as big and multicultural as London that’s something that<br />

really needs to improve.<br />

Serena: Also a wider focus on not only parties but<br />

workshops, art spaces, having various levels that are<br />

all-encompassing; that’s something that I really want to<br />

focus on, opening up <strong>conversation</strong>s. And when talking<br />

about making safe spaces, making sure those straight<br />

white men are in the room for those <strong>conversation</strong>s so they<br />

understand. Saoirse is working on a festival right now<br />

<strong>with</strong> a concept that I think is very important, that offers<br />

these different levels: maybe you don’t want to go to a club<br />

night, but you want to be a part of the <strong>conversation</strong>, part<br />

of a panel or workshop <strong>with</strong>out any party aspects.<br />

Saoirse: One thing that really stuck out for me was that<br />

there are quite a lot of queer collectives in the UK and<br />

throughout Europe, but there hasn’t really been anything<br />

here that’s to scale, that is bringing these collectives<br />

together and giving them a much bigger platform, as well<br />

as bringing in local queer talent. All of these UK festivals,<br />

they all have similar lineups, they’re very dominated by<br />

the white and the straight. So I’m working on a festival<br />

<strong>with</strong> my partner from Little Gay Brother, bringing all<br />

the collectives like Maricas together and giving them<br />

their own stage where they can book their residents and<br />

artists. Aside from being a big rave, I want it to be full of<br />

workshops, panels, access to skill sharing that many in the<br />

queer community might not have had access to before. And<br />

I want to make sure that it’s representative of the actual<br />

queer scene, as diverse as possible and representing each<br />

intersection. You look at Pride; it’s been so gentrified and<br />

commodified. You’re walking in Pride <strong>with</strong> like...prison<br />

officers, cops...everything is sponsored—<br />


Nicola: Rainbow flags brought to you by<br />

McDonalds.<br />

Saoirse: Exactly, it takes away from it.<br />

I want this to be Pride, but <strong>with</strong> every<br />

intersection represented and actual<br />

quality, underground music. I’d love to<br />

see more of that; bringing more collective<br />

together, the more powerful you become,<br />

and the more visible.<br />

Nicola: Do you have a name for it yet?<br />

Saoirse: Body Movements.<br />

Elo: We’re all very excited about this<br />

festival.<br />

Nicola: When are you hoping for it to take<br />

place?<br />

Saoirse: It was supposed to take place last<br />

year, actually; then we moved it to July of<br />

this year but we think that’s still too risky,<br />

as it’s a multi-venue festival that’s mostly<br />

indoors. So now it’s planned for the 9th of<br />

October, and it will be an all-day festival<br />

<strong>with</strong> afterparties, and in the weeks leading<br />

up, there will be workshops, skill-sharing<br />

events, panels. Big project, very daunting.<br />

Nicola: Very necessary as well.<br />

Saoirse: I hope that people take inspiration<br />

from it, and we start to see more things like<br />

this dotted around the world in different<br />

cities.<br />

Serena: I think one of the big things that<br />

we need to be aware of, that needs to come<br />

down the pipeline for us in the next few<br />

years, is being conscious of this co-opting<br />

of queer culture and politics, people using<br />

it as a way to promote their brand. I have<br />

had positive <strong>conversation</strong>s <strong>with</strong> clubs in<br />

London where they are doing the work,<br />

where they want to change their crowd<br />

and get more queer parties in these bigger<br />

spaces, which I think is really positive. But<br />

then it can go the other way, where they<br />

use queer bookings to say, Look at us we’ve<br />

gotten all the boxes ticked.<br />

Elo: And when you have your own crowd<br />

already in a non-queer space, it’s hard<br />

to shift that. From our experience, we’ve<br />

been through several venues in Barcelona<br />

and we chose the one we’ve used for a<br />

while now specifically because it didn’t<br />

have a crowd associated <strong>with</strong> it. No one<br />

goes there randomly on a Saturday night,<br />

because it could be a metal concert, a trap<br />

party or Maricas. That versatility means<br />

you never get a random crowd in.<br />



Before we found that place, we had<br />

an offer for our party from one of the<br />

popular, bigger venues here. We did a<br />

party there, but they didn’t have the<br />

experience, team or staff to care for the<br />

necessities that our crowd needs. For us<br />

in Barcelona, we have a responsibility to<br />

give a safe space to our audience, and in<br />

one sense it is nice to come into these<br />

bigger venues because you’re invading<br />

a space that is straight, is CIS, and it’s<br />

fun to shock a different kind of crowd<br />

and to show that you exist. But that can<br />

also go in a bad direction as well. It’s a<br />

delicate matter, and we try to be careful<br />

and cautious.<br />

Saoirse: That’s why there is a need for<br />

a dedicated queer space, that exists for<br />

this purpose only.<br />

Nicola: Even here in Berlin, you have<br />

these issues <strong>with</strong> bouncers who<br />

aren’t trained in these environments<br />

or situations. I’ve been to one of the<br />

biggest gay clubs here and was attacked<br />

by a white CIS male because he was so<br />

high... long story short, it wasn’t a safe<br />

space as they claimed to be.<br />

Elo: The thing is that safe spaces don’t<br />

really exist. You cannot label something<br />

as safe; it’s just safer. You can do your<br />

best, and we do everything that is in<br />

our power to make it safe, but what<br />

you really need is a team that is alert<br />

to what is happening, to have all the<br />

tools that you can to fix problems if<br />

they happen, and to create a deep and<br />

close community. <strong>In</strong> the end, it is the<br />

community that comes that creates the<br />

safe space.<br />

Serena: Education is one of the most<br />

important things we can focus on right<br />

now. I was doing a residency in Leeds,<br />

which is very young, lots of students, and<br />

very straight white male-driven. I was<br />

working <strong>with</strong> this local queer collective<br />

Love Muscle, and we were meant to do<br />

a workshop on understanding safer<br />

spaces, <strong>with</strong> an emphasis on educating<br />

the men in the room.<br />

Nicola: It’s important to give time to<br />

people who actually want to learn.<br />

Being at home and online all the time,<br />

everything is so under a microscope.<br />

Cancel culture is out of control;<br />

as soon as someone says anything<br />

‘incorrect’ they just get a parade of<br />

people jumping down their throats. It’s<br />

an attack as opposed to <strong>conversation</strong><br />

or education.<br />


Serena: It’s difficult; anyone would<br />

have trouble if they’re not educated<br />

on something. You have to learn this<br />

kind of language; if you didn’t go to<br />

school or studied this, you’re not going<br />

to understand why people use certain<br />

words. You need to educate people<br />

because not everyone is on the same<br />

page. But also giving time to people who<br />

do want to learn.<br />

Nicola: What has this last year taught<br />

you?<br />

Saoirse: The past year has really shone a<br />

light on a lot of the injustices people go<br />

through; I feel like, at least <strong>with</strong> us, that’s<br />

made us a lot more self-reflective. I’ve<br />

made a point to educate myself more on<br />

that side of things, and obviously Black<br />

Lives Matter has been an extra kick up<br />

the arse in making me more mindful<br />

of how I move through the world, and<br />

making sure that what I’m involved <strong>with</strong><br />

is caring for Black lives and for people<br />

of color.<br />

Elo: This is very important. I’ve been on<br />

a loop reading about self-care, caring<br />

and kindness, which has inspired me to<br />

leave this city for a new job and path.<br />

Serena: We all live in these big cities<br />

that are crazy busy, and reflecting on<br />

them when they’re standing still is like,<br />

“Hmm, do I want to live in a big city<br />

anymore?” But I could never live in the<br />

countryside [laughs] so…<br />

Gina: A big farm, all our cats together,<br />

come on! We’ll have a huge family. I’m<br />

totally ready.<br />

@maricxsmxricxs<br />

@eloblitzer<br />

@bellasalmonella<br />

@saoirse_music<br />

@itspeach_<br />

@ginaguaschteam<br />


Seks 5th<br />

Avenue,<br />

Dick Van<br />

Dick &<br />

Siren<br />

Starlite<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Nicola Phillips @nicphilf<br />

Will: What’s everyone wearing?<br />

Nicola: You really want to know what I’m wearing?<br />

Will: I have my Bruce LaBruce shirt on, because Berlin. If you’ve never seen the movie Hustler White,<br />

you should see it!<br />

Nicola: It’s very appropriate, I love it.<br />

Original photos provided by the artists<br />

Will: First of all, I’m so happy that we’re able to do this <strong>with</strong> both of our best friends. It’s really nice to<br />

be able to work <strong>with</strong> people that you really care about and who you know what they do, which makes it<br />

easier to talk <strong>with</strong> each other about our experiences and where we’re at. Abel and I are Seks 5th Avenue,<br />

a brand we share together. He does the designing and hands-on work, and I handle everything else. I<br />

also produce and MC, which was a big part of my life before we started this brand.<br />

Siren: I’m Siren; I do drag—sometimes—and I’m a designer as well. I met Abel when we were both<br />

designers for The Blondes, and we just kind of instantly connected annnnd we’re really good friends<br />

annnnd he’s the best—even when he’s not, sometimes he’s not, but most of the time he is!<br />



Dick Van Dick: I’m Dick. Most people know me as sort of a<br />

club rapper, but I also make clothes, accessories, and these<br />

sort of costume pieces. I love to help my friends style their<br />

photoshoots as well. <strong>In</strong> general, I’m just a bon vivant, I love<br />

to live well, eat well, play well.<br />

Nicola: So, obviously a lot has changed over the past year.<br />

I’m wondering how all of you have been coping <strong>with</strong> it;<br />

how has it affected your day-to-day and your work?<br />

Siren: I used to have a weekly live show on Sundays where I<br />

would perform, which has not only stopped, clearly, but the<br />

bar it was at has shut down. It’s sad; I did this party weekly<br />

for almost two years, but my design work has actually<br />

picked up during the same time. So I was blessed to have<br />

that, but it’s so weird to have something that you do every<br />

week for so long just not be a thing anymore. Now I just do<br />

it in my apartment—which honestly, I kind of like because<br />

I get in full face and then just stay home. It’s easier than<br />

going to a bar. But the idea of that bar not even existing<br />

anymore is strange.<br />

Nicola: Had that bar been around for a long time?<br />

Siren: Not a long time, and it also wasn’t the best location.<br />

It was really far from the train, actually. One of the reasons<br />

the party was there was that the owners wanted to make<br />

the bar more of a thing, and Sunday nights actually became<br />

a really cool thing. I made them so much money. That space<br />

was always kind of on the brink, and our one party kept it<br />

going.<br />

Nicola: Are you doing drag online as well, like <strong>with</strong> a<br />

streaming setup?<br />

Siren: Because I work full-time as a designer too, drag was<br />

more...I just do it for fun. It’s always been more of an escape<br />

for me, and it was a lot of work doing it every week when<br />

you’re working full-time as well. I’m really grateful for that,<br />

but now I’ve gotten to the point where I just do it because<br />

I want to. I’m loving that even more because it’s made me<br />

remember why I started doing it in the first place. It’s taking<br />

me back to that more creative space, and in a weird way, the<br />

last year has been a blessing in disguise.<br />

Before the pandemic, I was just going going going, no<br />

brakes, always working, and this was a chance to slow<br />

down. So I have had more time to seek out people and call<br />

them, but that chance to just breathe by myself and just<br />

chill—I don’t think I realized how much I need that until it<br />

happened, and then I went, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m exhausted!’<br />

Nicola: It’s been like a reset button for some, hasn’t it?<br />

When did you start getting in to drag?<br />

Siren: I think it was three years ago. I was really good from<br />

the beginning, and Abel was—<br />

Abel: I was there the first night you were in drag.<br />

Siren: With those horrible eyebrows.<br />

Abel: Yeah…<br />


Siren: I had the worst eyebrows ever.<br />

Dick: We all had bad eyebrows in the<br />

beginning, don’t worry.<br />

Siren: That’s why I make them as small as<br />

I can! They’re still the hardest part for me.<br />

Dick: I’ve definitely had the blessing in<br />

disguise as well, in just having free time<br />

to do what I want and do it at a pace that<br />

feels appropriate, instead of having to rush.<br />

I have a day job as a bartender, I run a bar<br />

at the top of a restaurant, so I’m usually so<br />

busy that I don’t have all the time to do what<br />

I want to do. <strong>In</strong> the past year I’ve recorded a<br />

mixtape and half of an album, written most<br />

of a book...I’ve definitely been able to put<br />

myself first for a while. I don’t take it easy; I<br />

need things to do. I feel grateful; it’s a global<br />

tragedy, but somewhere—at least inside of<br />

me—was able to improve. I have to try to see<br />

the good in that.<br />

Will: I’ve been reading part of that book, and<br />

it’s like...how do you write a whole fucking<br />

book?? [laughs] But, yeah. We’ve definitely<br />

had a much harder time over here. We were<br />

four months away from the brand launch<br />

of our business that we just started right<br />

before the pandemic. Things started really<br />

excitedly; right away, we connected <strong>with</strong><br />

Patricia Field, and we were supposed to do<br />

our first meet-and-greet at her showroom.<br />

We almost had an event <strong>with</strong> SoHo House<br />

here in New York. We really felt that all of<br />

the energy and momentum was cut short,<br />

and not just for our business.<br />

Our plan when we started was to be very<br />

involved <strong>with</strong> the community; we didn’t want<br />

to be just, ‘Oh, here’s some clothes you can<br />

buy’. We didn’t want that at all, we wanted<br />

to bring people together, bring music into<br />

it and create a safe space for everyone and<br />

encourage others to create—’Bring your old<br />

clothes and we’ll upcycle it together’, all of<br />

our ideas that we had, suddenly we couldn’t<br />

do any of them. The connection that we had<br />

in mind when we made this brand, what<br />

we wanted it to reflect...we felt like that<br />

was lost, and we suddenly didn’t have this<br />

option to present this brand the way that<br />

we really wanted to. We wanted to have<br />

Dick and Siren performing, then bringing<br />

in this DJ or that performer, and really have<br />

people come together. I’m sure all of us can<br />

attest to the fact that we’re doing what we’re<br />

doing because of the community. We’ve all<br />

connected <strong>with</strong> people who have inspired<br />

our art and brought us forward, and now<br />

we feel isolated from that.<br />


Nicola: Have you considered more online options?<br />

Will: Not any I like. Like, an online Zoom party…<br />

Dick: No.<br />

Will: It wouldn’t be how we wanted to start, because we<br />

never had our first in-person party. Creating a community<br />

online is doable, and I believe in that. I’m thankful for<br />

the internet for allowing people to connect, but we really<br />

wanted that live space, bitches in drag vogueing next to us.<br />

It’s hard to recreate that online. As a fashion brand, it’s easy<br />

to be shallow, and even easier <strong>with</strong>out in-person events.<br />

Nicola: I’m sure there’s a massive Zoom fatigue at this<br />

point.<br />

Will: For sure, and we see the people who are like “the<br />

biggest” in-person party people in New York City, and<br />

their Zoom parties didn’t translate. So if even the biggest<br />

people and the best club nights didn’t translate on Zoom, I<br />

feel like our things would be like... this interview right now.<br />

Nicola: How do you think the communities have shifted?<br />

Are you still in touch <strong>with</strong> a lot of people? When all of this<br />

started, everyone was constantly messaging each other<br />

and checking in, and now I feel like people are giving<br />

each other more space.<br />

Will: I personally, Abel and I both, have really lost touch<br />

<strong>with</strong> a lot of our friends that we would see and clubs and<br />

events, even people that I considered close friends that<br />

we would see all the time. I’m actually very bad at text<br />

messaging; I think the only person I was really able to<br />

keep in regular touch <strong>with</strong> was Dick, Abel, Siren; very few<br />

others. I lost a few people who I really wish I didn’t, and<br />

who I think about, and if the club scene was still around<br />

and we could connect in person, that would never have<br />

happened.<br />

Siren: I’m actually really good at talking to people if I want<br />

to talk to them. I know Abel won’t reach out, that’s just who<br />

he is so I almost harass him until he answers my phone<br />

calls. ‘Answer me’. ‘I miss you’. ‘Let’s talk.’ I do feel that <strong>with</strong><br />

my parties, it was a place for all my friends to come hang<br />

out. And they did, and I’m really grateful for that. But, you<br />

know, it’s harder when it’s not in person. There’s definitely<br />

people I don’t talk to as much, but I’m so grateful when,<br />

for example, Abel answers my calls. When you’re stuck at<br />

home in isolation, you need these people. It’s maybe not<br />

the way you would like to communicate <strong>with</strong> them, but you<br />

still need it. If the relationship is worth it, you try to make<br />

it happen. And you can’t do it <strong>with</strong> everybody, which has<br />

kind of shown me which relationships were meant to last<br />

and which ones were maybe a little more frivolous. But the<br />

ones you can make that online transition <strong>with</strong> are, I think,<br />

the ones that mean the most to you and will be the ones<br />

that stick <strong>with</strong> you.<br />

Nicola: There’s definitely different levels to friendship;<br />

there’s the ones you drink and party <strong>with</strong>, and the ones<br />

you can have real in-depth <strong>conversation</strong>s <strong>with</strong> when you<br />

feel crappy.<br />


Siren: And that’s okay too! I also learned that; you don’t<br />

need to put so much pressure on your friendships, it’s okay<br />

to have surface-level friends and deep friendships. That’s<br />

been very cool to realize and understand that not everyone<br />

is going to be the friend I thought and that’s okay too.<br />

Dick: I’ve managed to keep my relationships <strong>with</strong> my<br />

friends around the city. We kept a tight COVID pod of us<br />

throughout, hanging in parks, taking the ferry around; we<br />

really got to know a lot of outdoor spaces in that time. There<br />

have been a few relationships that fell by the wayside, and<br />

that just had to be okay. I couldn’t be stressing out about<br />

which relationships were going to maintain themselves<br />

and which would not. I think we’ve all had time to learn<br />

what we really need from ourselves and each other, and<br />

sometimes that means space from people. Trying to create<br />

an online relationship <strong>with</strong>out a physical onces? It doesn’t<br />

always work. And that’s okay sometimes. Self-involvement<br />

is paramount to everything, and I’m not ashamed of that.<br />

I can only really know myself, and I can only really care<br />

for myself. If you can do that first, then you can have really<br />

good interactions <strong>with</strong> other people.<br />

Abel: I agree. My experience was a little different from my<br />

friends and COVID experience. I lost my mother through<br />

this, and it really makes me see who are the friends who<br />

will be by my side in difficult times. Especially when you<br />

can not hug a friend, or be close to them makes it much<br />

more difficult to stay in touch.<br />

Nicola: I lost my dad during this whole thing as well, at<br />

the beginning; I couldn’t go back to the UK, we couldn’t<br />

have a funeral, so it’s been a very long, hard process. But<br />

having those friends around me, ones I didn’t even know<br />

I could count on appearing out of nowhere, sending<br />

flowers or messages...friends from Manchester even sent<br />

loads of bagels, which in Berlin are very hard to find in<br />

good quality. So it’s been a very surreal experience.<br />

Dick: Self-care is the word of the day.<br />

Siren: I feel like this has given our introverted friends<br />

a chance to shine as well, since we don’t do anything in<br />

person anymore, and I think that’s really interesting and<br />

cool. It’s changed how I see a lot of my relationships. I don’t<br />

really have the bandwidth for everyone when I don’t see<br />

them in person, to set up calls and write a lot of messages<br />

for these relationships that were easy to maintain before.<br />

Self-care has actually been forced on us; like, you have to<br />

really think about yourself first, or you’ll just go crazy.<br />

Nicola: Being involved <strong>with</strong> nightlife events you’re around<br />

so many people all the time, but at home, you have to be<br />

selective. Especially now that we all work from home as<br />

well, and office culture has completely disappeared.<br />

Will: <strong>In</strong> our scenes as well, when nightlife was actively<br />

happening, it also brought work and business opportunities,<br />

connections, all of these things all of the time. You see this<br />

person, ‘Oh you’re working on this? Oh cute, I’ll message<br />

you’—that’s been eliminated, and that was a big part of all<br />

of our art. So now, for us at least, we have to really get every<br />

opportunity. We have to be focused; if we say,<br />


‘We want to do this’, we have to actively make it happen<br />

because now there isn’t that natural carousel of<br />

acquaintances and people you’re always seeing presenting<br />

new things.<br />

Nicola: Have you found it working out for you at all?<br />

Will: It’s interesting; I think we’re really lucky to still<br />

have opportunities, but it’s definitely different. I feel like<br />

from that bigger circle of loose acquaintances and club<br />

people you always say hi to, there were a lot of interesting<br />

collaborations still. I do feel that void, but we’re still lucky<br />

enough to be able to connect online.<br />

Nicola: Has it changed any of your perceptions about how<br />

you’d run your brand?<br />

Will: I still want to start engaging the community aspect<br />

of it as soon as we’re safely able to, like ASAP. I’m already<br />

looking into the next month or so to have our first pop-up,<br />

but you have to be vaccinated—<br />

Siren: Well, I can’t come, f-uuuck!<br />

Will: [laughs] But I want to start figuring out how to safely<br />

integrate <strong>with</strong> the community again, and once that’s more<br />

common we’re definitely going to get back to having a good<br />

time. As designers, a lot of our inspiration as well comes<br />

from being out in New York, being around the girls and<br />

that life, and imbuing those moods, those experiences into<br />

our clothing. So a level of our creativity was impacted by<br />

isolation, so we’ve changed where we found inspiration,<br />

but we definitely miss that aspect in our work.<br />

Siren: I don’t think I’d want to do a weekly party again;<br />

rediscovering this joy in drag, I don’t want to lose that<br />

again. When it becomes a job, it’s something different, and<br />

I honestly don’t think I’ll do this as a job ever again in that<br />

sense. A lot of us have realized that, what makes us happy<br />

and brings us joy, we do so many things in our lives that<br />

aren’t conducive to that or work against it, everything has<br />

to come down to a paycheck, always going all the time. And<br />

since I realized I don’t need to do that, I can do things that<br />

I like for myself. We’re so forced into leading one type of<br />

life—go here at this time, every day. When you’re free from<br />

that, so many more opportunities show themselves.<br />

Abel: It’s forced people to be more creative too. I feel like<br />

there are more artists making things, using whatever they<br />

have at home because it’s harder to get things now.<br />

Will: We have this custom thing we’re working on, and<br />

some of the materials that were readily available before we<br />

just can’t get right now.<br />

Sirene: You mean the custom thing you’re making me that<br />

I’ve been waiting on?<br />

Will: [laughs] That’s the one!<br />

Nicola: Being part of the queer community, we tend to<br />

find ourselves stumbling into a kindof “chosen family”.<br />

Would you say that’s accurate in your case?<br />


Will: I think all gay and queer people have<br />

this <strong>conversation</strong> a lot, about chosen family.<br />

It’s something that’s very important to queer<br />

people. Abel is my partner, but he’s also my<br />

family. When we think about brothers and<br />

sisters, we do think about Dick and Siren.<br />

Especially before the pandemic, we love<br />

making our house a space where people can<br />

come. I love having dinners and gatherings,<br />

especially because we’re all from different<br />

places. I think none of us have any blood<br />

family in New York. So when we do these<br />

things together, we are each other’s family.<br />

We’re everything to each other, which is<br />

why I have a hard time getting rid of even<br />

surface friends. Those quick hellos to<br />

people we’d see all the time, that felt like a<br />

big family, where you know if you go here<br />

at this time you’ll see 30 people you can<br />

give hugs to, who you’ve shared moments<br />

<strong>with</strong>, and that’s family to me. You can have<br />

a supportive blood family, but I think that<br />

we really are, sometimes, all we have in our<br />

daily lives when we really need the support<br />

of our queer brothers and sisters.<br />

Abel: For sure.<br />

Siren: I came here because I needed a place<br />

where I felt I could finally be myself. I love<br />

my parents, but they’re so Christian and<br />

conservative that I’m never going to be able<br />

to have this kind of relationship <strong>with</strong> them.<br />

Ever. So being able to have the support and<br />

acceptance from other people who you<br />

can really be yourself <strong>with</strong>, that is what’s<br />

so important, and needed and necessary.<br />

I think about Abel, he’s one of my best<br />

friends, he’s so important to me and such<br />

a necessary person in my life because he’ll<br />

be honest <strong>with</strong> me even when I don’t want<br />

it. He truly cares, and I’m so lucky to be able<br />

to build that relationship. That’s what New<br />

York is for so many people...<br />

Dick: We did all move to New York to be<br />

ourselves, for sure.<br />

Will: I was born and raised in Canada, Abel<br />

was born in Argentina—<br />

Abel: <strong>In</strong> Mendoza, a very small town. I<br />

always dreamed of having friends like Dick<br />

or Siren, and now they’re my family.<br />

Dick: Will’s mom is like my mom, I call her<br />

separate from calling Will! It’s just nice to<br />

have these relationships that don’t feel...<br />

forced on us, or foisted on us maybe, that we<br />

ourselves have reached out for. It’s a huge,<br />

huge difference. My family...I love ‘em, but if<br />

I had to choose between spending time <strong>with</strong><br />

Will and Abel, or an uncle or cousin...<br />


you know, the chromosomes don’t really matter. It’s an<br />

obvious choice.<br />

Siren: You make that choice, and when you get that love<br />

back from that person you know it’s the right choice, that<br />

the trust you put in was returned. When you find that, it’s<br />

magical. You take that chance, you’re nervous, and when<br />

that person returns that trust...there’s nothing else like<br />

that.<br />

Dick: It’s like finding the perfect pair of shoes.<br />

Siren: That’s it, that’s the best metaphor for it. You’re like<br />

Robert Frost.<br />

Nicola: How was the New York club scene pre-pandemic?<br />

<strong>In</strong> places like London, there were already a lot of smaller,<br />

safe spaces being shut down, mostly due to gentrification.<br />

Will: [heavy sigh] Yeah...I feel like right before this<br />

happened, there were fewer things, and those were the<br />

bigger things—large gay parties as opposed to smaller<br />

artsier parties. But Dick is the resident club kid here.<br />

Dick: Pre-COVID, compared to 10 years ago there’s<br />

definitely fewer spaces in New York City that feel like ours,<br />

in that sense. There used to be these parties that were<br />

legendary, like VANDAM on Sundays. You could go and see<br />

literally everybody, and there used to be a lot more of these<br />

kinds of things. It’s like the death of the middle class. High<br />

production values, big parties, Susanne Bartsch. Or it’s a<br />

cool DIY basement in Bushwick. There’s kind of nothing in<br />

the middle anymore. It makes it hard to find your niche<br />

sometimes.<br />

Nicola: Did you feel there was a resurgence for<br />

underground parties before COVID?<br />

Dick: It was on its way, but now I think it has to happen, it’s<br />

imminent. There was that rave under the bridge, and it was<br />

thousands of people. Thousands. I’m not saying I went, but<br />

if I had—it was really fun. If I had gone, I had a great time,<br />

wore a mask, stayed away from people and felt totally safe.<br />

But nightlife is going to be a shaky place until everyone is<br />

vaccinated. I run a bar, so I was in the first wave of folks to<br />

get the vaccination. It was Moderna.<br />

Siren: Any side effects?<br />

Dick: Minimal side effects. Half of my family got Pfizer,<br />

half Moderna, and all of us had minimal side effects. A little<br />

muscle ache, little headache. Nothing crazy. Get it as soon<br />

as you can.<br />

Nicola: So what comes next, once you can go back out and<br />

start doing things again? What has this year taught you?<br />

Dick: What I’ve learned most from the last year is this—<br />

love yourself. I mean reeeeeallly love yourself. Actively.<br />

Siren: The things we’ve been so constrained by don’t<br />

matter. Not taking these things seriously, I think, is where<br />

you find your true creative side and that sort of freedom.<br />

I’m really trying to find ways to be that person I didn’t<br />

realize was buried under all that shit. I feel like Thoreau at<br />

Walden and whatever bullshit he brought up.<br />

Abel: I hope that things will go back to normal, but I’m<br />

cautious. I still don’t see myself in a packed indoor club<br />

anytime soon.<br />

Will: It’s going to take a while for us, but we’re really<br />

excited. We just got our first vaccination, and we’re really<br />

looking forward to how it will feel, actually going out, and<br />

to feel less pressure to feel safer. But the time before, we<br />

never imagined this at all. We were innocent, and now<br />

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to just hug someone as<br />

spontaneously.<br />

Siren: I’m hugging you both when I see you, sorry.<br />

Will: It’ll get there for everyone hopefully, but it will definitely<br />

take some time. I’m not even sure if masks will go away, or if<br />

they’ll be part of our lives forever. But I hope we can find that<br />

same level of freedom again, to be able to connect <strong>with</strong> the<br />

moment and let loose <strong>with</strong>out thinking of any of this bullshit.<br />

The few people we have in our lives...we need to appreciate<br />

them and try to be conscious of every moment we can be<br />

<strong>with</strong> them, because moments go so quickly, and we need to<br />

cherish them.<br />

@seks_5th_avenue<br />

@thickrosstheboss<br />

@sirenstarlite<br />



Alan T & Nicole<br />

Moudaber<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Nicola Phillips @nicphilf<br />

Collages by ALAN T @fiercenessis<br />

Gecko: [ethereal honking]<br />

Nicola: What is that?<br />

Nicole: It’s a gecko. I’m in the middle of<br />

a jungle right now! You get used to it; I<br />

have two that stroll through the garden<br />

sometimes, and they’re massive.<br />

Alan: It’s beautiful here, I don’t want to<br />

leave. But—thank god we’re back to work!<br />

Alan: So you’re in London right now<br />

[Nicola]?<br />

Nicola: I’m in Berlin.<br />

Alan: Ahh, chasing the ‘80s again!<br />

Nicola: That’s why I have this mullet cut.<br />

Alan: Everyone’s chasing the ‘80s again;<br />

it’s like, guys—everyone’s dead! To be able<br />

to live through this amazing period and<br />

to still be alive to tell about it. So many<br />

people have died. I buried everybody;<br />

the more famous they were, the faster<br />

they went, it was terrible. There’s not<br />

many left, but whenever we talk it’s like,<br />

‘Wow...I can’t believe we made it.’ [laughs]<br />

Everyone wants to fist again; that’s so<br />

‘80s! I’m an ‘80s rat, oh my god. I went<br />

to school in London in the ‘80s, at the<br />

Architectural Association in Bedford<br />

Square. Best school in the world. I studied<br />

<strong>with</strong> Nigel Coates, a lot of big architects,<br />

which was the thing to do back then. Then<br />

I moved to Rome <strong>with</strong> my lover.<br />

Nicola: That’s so romantic. How long<br />

did you stay?<br />

Alan: 12 years. It was very romantic,<br />

but it was before cell phones. Italy’s so<br />

difficult <strong>with</strong> convenience, especially<br />

back then. To pay my loans, I used to have to go to American Express,<br />

get traveller’s checks, and just pray that they got to America because<br />

the post is also horrible in Italy. It was a lot. But it was like graduate<br />

school for me; it was a course on life. Every night you would meet the<br />

same people for dinner, and it was written in stone that you would<br />

meet at 9pm, no matter what you were doing. I remember ordering<br />

Aunt Jemima pancake mix at the Vatican! I would have these pancake<br />

parties, all these Italian queens would come over and be grossed out.<br />

Italians loved America, there was a real camaraderie there but they<br />

are not fans of big breakfasts.<br />

Nicole: Just coffee and cigarettes for me.<br />

Alan: God, I haven’t done a Zoom in a long time! I was doing them at<br />

the beginning of the lockdown, but then I just got turned off by them.<br />

Everyone was doing so much online, it was just like euuuch.<br />

Nicola: I think everyone has Zoom fatigue right now.<br />

Alan: Some people were losing it on camera; god, what’s that<br />

French DJ? Tip of my tongue...he was really losing it...dressing up<br />

a mannequin, it’s like dude. And he had hundreds of thousands of<br />

followers...Bob Sinclar! People I know who hadn’t slept in years were<br />

sleeping, finally living their best lives, looking and amazing, but he<br />

just looked so gaunt and emaciated.<br />

Nicola: People finally had the time to reset, to put on a real face<br />

filter.<br />

Nicole: The first three months of the pandemic, I was in a catatonic<br />

state. I just couldn’t believe it, especially that the rug had been pulled<br />

from under my feet. I knew that it wasn’t going to be finished in two<br />

weeks like everyone was saying, as they partied and got drunk. I<br />

took it quite seriously and was quite affected by it. But after, when<br />

I started working <strong>with</strong> Alan, that ignited my motivation again. I got<br />

super excited about it; it took longer than I normally do things in—<br />

Alan: Because you had more time to nitpick, and you thought I was a<br />

really critical queen so you were extra.<br />

Nicole: Bouncing ideas back and forth, yeah. It was the fun part of<br />

2020 for me; it was the best thing that could have happened in the<br />

state of mind I was in. I didn’t take any substances: no alcohol, nothing<br />

during that time. Which was amazing, giving my body and mind a<br />

break. But it took me six months to get to the point of creativity.<br />


Alan: Nicole, she was travelling so much; we’ve been<br />

talking about this project for years now, because her<br />

roadie-slash-manager Kevin has been a good friend<br />

of mine since he managed Danny Tenaglia, who’s my<br />

best friend. The schedule just didn’t permit it. But in<br />

lockdown we were having these WhatsApp <strong>conversation</strong>s<br />

all the time, discussing all these designers like Zandra<br />

Rhodes and Katharine Hamnett, and then we just<br />

started talking about projects. <strong>In</strong> the beginning, there<br />

was this undivided attention; people were really more<br />

focused than before.<br />

Nicola: I think it really made people realize what’s<br />

important.<br />

Alan: And what kind of arsenals you actually have at<br />

hand! I was doing these collages of club photos that I’ve<br />

had for 30 years, and people were so nostalgic that they<br />

were buying them like crazy! I couldn’t make them fast<br />

enough. I worked at YMC Records, which all the big DJs<br />

used to go to back in the day. It was a really instrumental<br />

part of many people’s careers, such a hothouse of talent.<br />

I had all this promotional material and literature in my<br />

hands, and I would always take a piece and put it in my<br />

pocket. Even at clubs, I would always save the flyers.<br />

That whole kind of paper trail is nonexistent now, but it<br />

was a huge part of people’s lives and profession, of their<br />

success. It was how you found out about everything! We<br />

used to go downtown to Patricia Fields, where everyone<br />

used to go to get their outfits for the big New York nights,<br />

and the flyers would all be there. You could figure out<br />

who your tribe was through the literature.<br />

Nicola: I love the fact that people are looking back at<br />

this history and realizing how important these times<br />

were, especially for the queer movement; it reminds<br />

you of why Pride exists in the first place. It wasn’t<br />

always this big sponsored party weekend.<br />

Alan: I do all the Pride parties, they always book me for<br />

those because I have this weird...bridge <strong>with</strong> the hetero<br />

community and the gay community. I have this huge<br />

arsenal from the gay community; it’s weird, I feel like<br />

I’m a vehicle to merge the two, but not merge them if<br />

you will? To take things from each...gays dream of being<br />

popular in the straight world and vice versa, everyone<br />

wants what they don’t have. I’ve always been kind of<br />

non-binary in that way.<br />

Nicola: People sometimes forget that you don’t have to<br />

please everyone all of the time.<br />

Alan: If you stand for what you believe in both camps...<br />

it’s when you start to mask things and conceal them,<br />

where it’s not transparent that I think people get a<br />

little dubious. I’m very transparent. I have no filter;<br />

whatever’s on the top of my head I say it. People are<br />

alarmed by that, but they get used to it. All of my<br />

employees are so used to my cock jokes, and straight<br />

men I’ll just walk up to and go ‘Oh my god, how did that<br />

bitch get you?!’ and people are like whaaat??<br />


People like that validation from<br />

someone from another camp. But you<br />

have to be consistent! If you just do it<br />

once in a while…<br />

Nicola: No, it’s true.<br />

Alan: People are like, ‘You’re lucky they<br />

don’t call HR on you.’ I’m like, ‘What<br />

HR?’<br />

Nicola: I think people really take that<br />

for granted, people being honest.<br />

Alan: They’re so used to people just<br />

pussyfooting around, it’s like ughhhh.<br />

Nicola: I get that same feedback<br />

sometimes, but I’m in Germany.<br />

Germans don’t beat around the bush<br />

Alan: They don’t! I knew Helmut<br />

Newton, and he was brutally honest,<br />

but he was so matter-of-fact about it<br />

that it was just like if you don’t like it<br />

then keep going! People thought that<br />

he was this sex machine, that he just<br />

wanted tits, which came out through<br />

his work. But he had a wife that he<br />

was so dedicated to. People were like,<br />

‘Aren’t you appalled by your husband,<br />

putting Claudia Schiffer naked in high<br />

heels in front of an oven??’ and she was<br />

like, ‘No, I was right there helping him<br />

do it.’ She just died like a week ago,<br />

actually.<br />

Nicola: I feel like the controversy<br />

<strong>with</strong> Nobuyoshi Araki, he took a lot<br />

of Polaroids of the same woman, his<br />

muse basically, and she came out<br />

later saying that she wasn’t 100%<br />

comfortable being in that position…<br />

Alan: I mean if it’s a voyeuristic thing...<br />

Andy Warhol was like that. He liked<br />

to watch people degrate. He cast my<br />

penis when I was 15 years old! I was<br />

screwing around <strong>with</strong> a guy who was<br />

very good looking, Victor Hugo, who<br />

was this gorgeous Venezualan boy who<br />

happened to be a stylist, so he would<br />

do the windows. He became pretty<br />

popular because he was so loud about<br />

his work; he would do abortions for<br />

Mother’s Day on Madison Ave., all this<br />

crazy stuff, red paint all over everything.<br />

So I was screwing around <strong>with</strong> him, and<br />

Andy Warhol was obsessed <strong>with</strong> his penis.<br />

But he told Andy, ‘You should cast Alan’s<br />

penis!’ So he asked me if I was up for it<br />

and I said sure, let’s do it! <strong>In</strong> those days,<br />

everyone had a taste of something, you<br />

know? But it wasn’t sexual; it was just<br />

plaster, 1-2-3 let’s do it. I wish I had it, I’d<br />

be rich!<br />

Nicola: So you started off in Miami?<br />

Alan: I’m a native; I was born here but I<br />

went to New York to model before I went<br />

into engineering school. Then I came<br />

back to Miami for university before going<br />

to London in ‘88. Then one more year of<br />

school in Miami before I moved to Italy—<br />

and then back to New York! <strong>In</strong> ‘91 New<br />

York was still hot, but it wasn’t like the<br />

‘80s, that’s for sure. By 2000 everywhere<br />

here fizzled; ‘04 was I think the last of it.<br />

Nicola: Did you have much to do <strong>with</strong><br />

the Club Kid scene?<br />

Alan: I just got a new book on the<br />

Limelight, actually! It’s beautiful.<br />

Nicole: That was such an incredible place.<br />

Alan: Getting blowjobs in the Rectory,<br />

oh my god. It was Disco 2000, that whole<br />

crew <strong>with</strong> Michael Alig, James St. James...I<br />

took him home one night, oh my lord.<br />

That was scary.<br />

Nicola: Why?<br />

Alan: Because he needed one drug to go<br />

up, he needed one to go down, it’s like<br />

pick a direction you want to go! They were<br />

doing heroin, MDMA, cocaine, ketamine,<br />

just cruising down every direction of<br />

the highway at once. It made no sense. I<br />

wasn’t so much in <strong>with</strong> the Club Kids as<br />

I was <strong>with</strong> the Voguing scene; that was<br />

more my thing. The Club Kid scene was<br />


Nicola: Would you say you found good<br />

friendships in the vogue scene?<br />

like, a lot of white people...meh. It was more<br />

this pre-trance...<br />

Nicole: You can’t really dance to that, can<br />

you?<br />

Alan: Well, they didn’t really dance, more<br />

just bobbed up and down. Then they got<br />

into this Electroclash stuff, which was more<br />

them…<br />

Nicole: Very.<br />

Alan: And that was more fun, like this ‘80s<br />

thing, always stealing from Italo or The<br />

Flirts <strong>with</strong> Miss Kittin or whoever on top,<br />

you know? It didn’t have much longevity. I<br />

like more of the soulful music, deep house,<br />

and I was very good friends <strong>with</strong> David<br />

Detino. So I was more in that camp before<br />

Madonna swept them up and hired them.<br />

So I would go to all the balls, lend them<br />

clothes to walk in...<br />

Nicola: So how accurate is Pose?<br />

Alan: It’s pretty spot-on! They had to hold<br />

a bit back for TV because there was some<br />

serious stuff, you know; some of the leading<br />

members of the Houses, the kids would die<br />

and they would mummify them. Partially<br />

because they were broke, and also because<br />

it was part of like a Santeria, keeping them<br />

alive type-of-thing. Angie Xtravaganza and,<br />

I think it was Dorian Corey, they found<br />

these bodies, these mummies under their<br />

floorboards. A friend of mine got married,<br />

and the wedding announcement was in<br />

the New York Times and on the back page<br />

it was this leading story about Angie dying<br />

and the police finding two bodies under<br />

the floorboards. Yeah. Crazy. But it was<br />

part of that whole being an outcast, plus<br />

the Santería...it’s underworld stuff. There’s<br />

a reference to it, actually, in Pose where—I<br />

think it’s Candy?—keeps a body in the<br />

house. That’s a vague reference to it. I think<br />

the show could have gone deeper into the<br />

artistry behind it, what goes into making<br />

these vogue tracks, but maybe that’s a little<br />

too deep for TV.<br />

Alan: Oh yeah. Which is hard because it<br />

was very, very...what people talk about,<br />

flimsy and light, but it was deep if they<br />

accepted you. If they accepted you it<br />

was a rite of passage, it was the real<br />

deal. They’re very, very apprehensive<br />

of people. I was trying to get them into<br />

the real world <strong>with</strong> famous designers,<br />

and this was way before ‘Vogue’ came<br />

out, and these designers were wanting<br />

them to participate in their shows. I was<br />

getting them gigs in Milan to walk for<br />

these famous collections, and they would<br />

get to the airport and not realize that you<br />

needed documentation! These are trans,<br />

non-binary kids but not having an ID of<br />

any sort….so I just gave up a bit because I<br />

looked like an idiot <strong>with</strong> these designers,<br />

hooking them up <strong>with</strong> people who don’t<br />

even have an ID.<br />

Nicola: But if they weren’t educated<br />

about that, I guess they wouldn’t have<br />

any idea.<br />

Alan: It just shows you how different<br />

times are; there weren’t any phones,<br />

although now I imagine they would still<br />

have problems <strong>with</strong> two-step verification.<br />

Nicola: So this issue is about the queer<br />

community, and finding your chosen<br />

family. Myself, I have a small, not very<br />

close family, and the people I would<br />

consider my actual family are not<br />

blood-related.<br />

Alan: That’s how I became close <strong>with</strong><br />

Nicole actually.<br />

Nicole: We met in Miami, didn’t we? Early<br />

2000s...<br />

Alan: Exactly. We met through a lot of<br />

Danny Tenaglia events because of Mitch<br />

Clark.<br />


We would meet at these functions that were insane,<br />

these meetings of the minds like Art Basel where<br />

everyone would converge, and it was like visiting your<br />

family for the holidays. We’d just dance for 18 hours and<br />

talk about everything from what we were wearing to<br />

what we were eating, it was the time to spill that tea.<br />

From there we developed friendships that turned into<br />

mailing packages to each other, sending music, all the<br />

good stuff you do <strong>with</strong> family.<br />

Nicole: We kind of bonded more in 2020, I think. We<br />

stopped our lives, and we just connected more.<br />

Alan: It was undivided attention, instead of rushing<br />

through <strong>with</strong> luggage in one hand and a ticket in the<br />

other. [laughs]<br />

Nicola: And also just taking that time off from<br />

drinking and partying can be such a mental boost for<br />

creativity.<br />

Alan: Alcohol is just the worst. I don’t even drink when<br />

I go out.<br />

Nicole: I was never a drinker as such, and these days I<br />

do it two or three times a year. I select when I’m going<br />

to get completely trashed; it has to be an occasion.<br />

Alan: All the young hipsters now are drinking these old<br />

alcohols, these anise alcohols that my grandma would<br />

drink! I thought I’d take my first anise shot and I was like,<br />

oh—I had this when I was a child! [laughs] They’re out<br />

here drinking old lady drinks!<br />

Nicola: I remember when Pernod and Coke became<br />

a thing; when you mix them they turn gray. It’s the<br />

worst looking drink I’ve ever seen.<br />

Alan: That sounds English! ‘A little baked beans on<br />

toast?!’ That goes right there <strong>with</strong> that Marmite.<br />

Nicola: Marmite’s amazing!<br />

Alan: I can’t. I can’t, I can’t. When I used to have my<br />

Prisoner parties in London, they’d bring out that<br />

Marmite, I was like girl. Try the bruschetta instead.<br />

Nicola: Wait, what’s a Prisoner party?<br />

Alan: Prisoner, that Australian show? [singing] ‘He used<br />

to give me rooosessss…’ I used to have watching parties<br />

at my house on Thursdays and make all these incredible<br />

pestos, pasta dishes, and all these queens would come<br />

over—Marc Almond, Leigh Bowery, and they’d be eating<br />

Marmite! Like, how dare you! I’d much rather a scone.<br />



I used to live in this place off Marble Arch, and there<br />

was this East End cafe where all the cab drivers<br />

would go <strong>with</strong> the most insane scones. They’re the<br />

size of a frisbee, huge. I love ‘em. I’d go in at noon<br />

for crumpets, cream and tea and just make my way<br />

through London, eating. I’d end up on Canterbury<br />

Street <strong>with</strong> fish and chips wrapped in newspaper.<br />

<strong>In</strong> the ‘80s was a place up on Baker Street, this<br />

kickass vegetarian kitchen right behind the YMCA,<br />

and they would serve these super organic dishes<br />

every night. I’d always go there at the end of all that.<br />

All the hippies would go there, and I’d stumble in<br />

wearing my leather drag and long blonde hair and<br />

they’d go, “Where are you coming from, American?’<br />

Wearing all leather while eating vegetarian.<br />

Nicola: That sounds like every expat Berliner<br />

now!<br />

Alan: Well, I was doing it in the ‘80s, so there.<br />

Nicola: Alan, how did you move from architecture<br />

into the music industry?<br />

Alan: It was funny; I was put on a record by a<br />

producer and famous writer who liked my voice.<br />

They used a sample from an answering machine on<br />

a Jody Watley record, and it blew up! People were<br />

like, ‘I love that voice, we gotta get him in a studio!’<br />

and I just went off for two hours. That session<br />

ended up on a record called The Door that I did in<br />

‘96, and when it came out people were going crazy!<br />

Gay, straight, you name it, all of these producers<br />

were calling me. It was funny because the record<br />

was very sassy, about working the door at a club,<br />

and I’d never worked the door at a club the way I<br />

am now! I was just kind of transmitting all of the<br />

people I’d developed as a kid, all that sassiness, onto<br />

this record. It was this rapid-fire, verbose stream<br />

of consciousness, insulting and complimenting<br />

people all at once. So I started doing records for<br />

everybody.<br />

Over here, the architecture...the construction<br />

is meh, the craft isn’t that great. I don’t want to<br />

redefine how people are taking a shit <strong>with</strong>out being<br />

paid for it, you know? The music aspect just kind<br />

of took over. But if you go through the rigorous<br />

course of studying architecture, it prepares you<br />

for anything. I went to school for 10 years, nonstop,<br />

and what got me through it was listening to<br />

music—live sets from Frankie Knuckles while I’m<br />

doing all-nighters on speed. We were so brutal on<br />

ourselves, wow; pouring resin and going to bed,<br />

not even thinking about the damage to our brains.<br />

Wooof.<br />

Nicola: What are you doing now?<br />

Alan: I’m the head doorman here at Club Space in<br />

Miami. It keeps me very busy and they pay me very<br />

well.<br />


Nicola: Has it closed down temporarily during the<br />

pandemic?<br />

Alan: We opened at Halloween at 20%. We’re doing<br />

very well; we developed these pods, and it’s become<br />

like a nature escape a little botanical garden, if you<br />

will. It’s very much about going to a jungle and feeling<br />

the plant life around you, all to a DJ. There’s groups<br />

of 10, and it’s tables only so you just get together<br />

<strong>with</strong> friends and have a ball. People love it more than<br />

mingling, and in your own pod, you can have your<br />

mask off. We test every week, and I’ve been vaccinated.<br />

The health department came to me because I’m such<br />

a public figure and said, ‘We’re sick of you tagging us<br />

every week when you test. Let’s get you the vaccine.’<br />

Popularity got me a vaccine! How are things over<br />

there?<br />

Nicola: Really bad, to be honest. They just announced<br />

a new hard lockdown and loads of people are<br />

refusing to take it so they’re just throwing it away.<br />

It’s a complete nightmare.<br />

Alan: The thing I find is that nobody is on the same<br />

page. And that’s a big problem at this scale; Brazil is<br />

going through a major crisis right now, the hospitals<br />

are overrun. If you have a heart attack you can’t even<br />

get a bed. It’s insane.<br />

Nicola: It’s interesting to see how people and their<br />

governments have acted individually.<br />

Alan: Canada’s a mess too. Nobody can get a vaccine.<br />

I know people who work for big figures there <strong>with</strong> big<br />

money who can’t get a vaccine. It’s a major lockdown<br />

situation. I used to go to Canada so much in the early<br />

2000s, I loved it. Total debauchery.<br />

Nicole: I love Canada. Especially Stereo, I played there<br />

twice a year for a time, 14-hour sets.<br />

Alan: I did the opening of Stereo, and I’ll never forget<br />

it. It was three days long. But when the Village died<br />

down, Montreal got boring.<br />

Nicole: What happened there? Why did the gay scene<br />

disappear?<br />

Alan: <strong>In</strong> Montreal?<br />

Nicole: Everywhere! I mean, it completely disappeared<br />

in London…<br />

Nicola: Yeah.<br />

Alan: Which is so weird, there are so many powerful<br />

queens in London!<br />

Nicole: I know, Trade, honey! We started that shit way<br />

before places like Berghain and all that.<br />

Alan: Oh my god, Trade.<br />


Nicole: The best thing ever!<br />

Alan: Alan Thompson used to turn<br />

me out. Those beats were so fast,<br />

and they made everything work!<br />

They could play a mellow rock song<br />

over that shit, it was crazy!<br />

Nicola: What do you think did<br />

happen to the Village then?<br />

Nicole: I think maybe we just<br />

blended more, mixed together <strong>with</strong><br />

the general populace. We’re not as<br />

segregated as we were in the past.<br />

Which is a good thing, because why<br />

would you want to be segregated all<br />

the time? It’s much more fun and<br />

more creative <strong>with</strong> other people.<br />

Alan: I used to dabble in all of the<br />

clubs—grab a guy in the straight<br />

one, then go over to the gay one and<br />

work, then maybe go grab another<br />

straight one...I was barrier-free. I<br />

never found much meaning in the<br />

gay clubs; it was always quick sex.<br />

I’d go to the straight ones to find the<br />

long relationships. I like the closet<br />

cases, actually; I can be so much<br />

more fertile, free, because they like<br />

you for those attributes. It’s like,<br />

well stick around and get more!<br />

Here I am, honey!<br />

Nicola: What about the scene in<br />

Miami?<br />

to work now that everything is<br />

opening again, but people got really<br />

creative again.<br />

Nicola: Do you think that even when<br />

the clubs open up again, these illegal<br />

raves will continue?<br />

Alan: I think so. People get a taste for<br />

an alternative, and then they want<br />

that. That’s why so many people<br />

came here, to Miami...everyone<br />

from LA, so many Europeans. <strong>In</strong><br />

Canada they’re saying be inside by<br />

8pm now, and they’re fining you a<br />

thousand bucks or more if they catch<br />

you. LA is locked down indefinitely,<br />

everyone there is coming here. And<br />

now people <strong>with</strong> the vaccine are still<br />

catching it, and what’s that about?<br />

It’s like there’s no end in sight.<br />

Nicole: I think this is going to last at<br />

least five years. At least.<br />

Alan: That’s why I’ve been doing my<br />

best to support smaller businesses.<br />

One thing that I think is horrible:<br />

everything here is open, all the<br />

restaurants—except for the Chinese<br />

places. There’s such a raging<br />

prejudice right now that none of<br />

the Chinese places will even open.<br />

They’re just doing take-away. Every<br />

other faction of Asian culture is<br />

open, but not the Chinese.<br />

Nicole: Wow; that is very weird.<br />

Alan: Oh yeah. The beach was<br />

totally gay-operated. But they didn’t<br />

feel safe anymore so they moved<br />

up to Fort Lauderdale. Whenever<br />

gay people move into a spot, the<br />

straights catch on and go, ‘Oh wow,<br />

this spot got so nice now’ so they<br />

move in and push out the gays,<br />

or they get threatened and they<br />

leave. The Versaci murder really<br />

put the nail in the coffin. I actually<br />

got taken into questioning for that,<br />

because I had let Cunanan into the<br />

VIP room the night before. I knew<br />

a lot of people under investigation<br />

because they had either chatted him<br />

up or seen him. He had two queens<br />

on his murder list that I knew. It<br />

was horrible, and it really ended<br />

everything here. But since lockdown,<br />

people are really spreading out,<br />

taking over hangars, warehouse<br />

districts. I’m not sure how it’s going<br />


Alan: I mean I just want dim sum<br />

and a kiki, you know? And the cruise<br />

ship industry, that’s done. That’s<br />

just over. I know a lot of big music<br />

people who were in the cruise ship<br />

industry for 30 years, and now it’s<br />

just like, sorry. Find another job.<br />

I mean really, they were the worst<br />

ones for spreading disease. If you<br />

ever went on a gay cruise, you would<br />

not believe it. Those gay boats are<br />

insane. I did one four years ago—oh<br />

my god. 24 hour a day themed parties,<br />

5700 queens on one boat. And I was<br />

sober the whole time, taking craft<br />

classes to fix necklaces, I was such<br />

a queen. And they would fly in the<br />

entertainment by helicopter! Olivia<br />

Newton John, Jennifer Holiday, all<br />

these people being flown in. Imagine<br />

5000 queens T dancing to ‘Let’s Get<br />

Physical’! It’s atrocious on one end,<br />

but so camp that you have to love it.<br />

Nicola: So what are you working on<br />

next?<br />

Nicole: I’m playing Seismic Festival<br />

in May, and Skyline in Orlando. I<br />

can’t wait to do these shows; it’s<br />

been a long time since we played for<br />

people.<br />

Alan: I’ll be there as well.<br />

Nicola: I’ll have to come next year.<br />

I have a fringe leather jacket I’m<br />

dying to wear in the US.<br />

Alan: Okay, George Michael, come<br />

through. [singing] I won’t be your<br />

father figure! Although now people<br />

are more interested in hearing<br />

what you have to say, I think. The<br />

young kids on my <strong>In</strong>stagram are<br />

just like, wow. They’re all over it. I’m<br />

not afraid to post my age anymore<br />

because they’re like, ‘Wow, you’ve<br />

made it so far!’ You know that whole<br />

age-shaming thing, ‘oh you’re so<br />

old-fashioned’...but now people<br />

think it’s cool to have those notches<br />

on your totem.<br />

Nicola: People are thinking about<br />

their mortality more.<br />

Alan: I lived through the ‘80s and<br />

the AIDS pandemic! And when<br />

people see me still out there, living<br />

loudly they say, ‘You’re such a role<br />

model for me, thank you for these<br />

videos, these photos.’ And I’m doing<br />

it safely, I’m doing it responsibly.<br />

Nicola: You have to keep up morality.<br />

Alan: I’m an Aquarius!<br />

Nicola: And it’s Aquarius season.<br />

Alan: It’s always Aquarius season.<br />

[laughs]<br />

@fiercenessis<br />

@nicolemoudaber<br />


Total Slag:<br />

Tyreece<br />

the Next<br />

Destroyer<br />

Creative Direction + Photography Karl Slater @slaterkarl<br />

Styling + <strong>In</strong>terview Lewis Robert Cameron @lrcfashionstylist<br />

MUA Martina Derosa using DEPIXYM @martinaderosa_mua<br />

Talent Tyreece Nye @tyreece2.0<br />


Wish granted. KALTBLUT chats to the<br />

delicious bundle of energy, joy, charisma,<br />

uniqueness, nerve and tal-unt that is<br />

Tyreece Nye. A certified lewk kween,<br />

a TikTok trendsation, an all round<br />

magnetic gender non-conforming human<br />

being, a POC, a dancer and sex worker<br />

and now, the triumphant WINNER of<br />

one of the most talked about queer reality<br />

TV shows in herstory aka Slag Wars. I’m<br />

talking Slag royalty as the Next Cock<br />

Destroyer and the heir to Cock Destroyer<br />

dynasty. Gentlefolk, start your engines,<br />

and may the best Slag…win. Disclaimer,<br />

no slags were harmed in the making of<br />

this interview.<br />

OMG. You’re a winner baby. How did<br />

being on the show expand what you know<br />

about yourself and your queer identity?<br />

The show taught me that queer identity is<br />

special. How you choose to identify has 0%<br />

to do <strong>with</strong> anyone else but 100% to do <strong>with</strong><br />

you. We don’t have to explain ourselves and<br />

make people understand who we are. We<br />

are not the status quo. Queer identity is<br />

unique. And rightly so.<br />

Has Slag Wars changed how you see<br />

yourself?<br />

Slag Wars hasn’t actually altered me as a<br />

person. Being on the show itself hasn’t<br />

altered me really, but knowing the outreach<br />

of people from my GNCPOC community<br />

who listened to my story and identified<br />

<strong>with</strong> me gave me an extra drive to be 110%<br />

myself. That added notion of people looking<br />

up to me and becoming inspired by me by<br />

the way I dress or how I present myself on<br />

social media brings a deeper meaning to<br />

‘I’m just Tyreece’.<br />

Choker - House of Pascal<br />

Bodysuit -The Kript<br />

Boots - Pleaser<br />

How do you think your style has<br />

evolved since being on the show?<br />

My style has become instantly<br />

outrageous. And I say that <strong>with</strong><br />

the most amount of love I have<br />

for myself, which is a lot. My<br />

taste level has definitely received<br />

an upgrade in an elevated/<br />

expensive perspective expressing<br />

the message and stamp of<br />

queerness that truly represents<br />

my personality. I honestly have<br />

two moods. I either have bundles<br />

of pink tulle garments and dresses<br />

<strong>with</strong> trains giving pink princess<br />

realness; or I have my punk buckled<br />

up pleather outfits which are<br />

much more suited to nightlife. I’m<br />

basically Hannah Montana.<br />


Dress - Misty Couture<br />

Corset - Adidas Originals<br />


Bralet - Public Desire<br />

Dress - Ana Ljubinkovic<br />

Corset - House of Namaste<br />


How did you create your online persona?<br />

It was only about a year ago I started really delving into my online identity. I<br />

basically had to start from scratch because last year my account was permanently<br />

deactivated so I had to make a new one. I promised myself that I would not post<br />

anything that didn’t promote who I truly am. We often hear people say “you don’t<br />

need to make being gay your whole world‘’ or you aren’t extra like most gays’’<br />

etc. and that really stuck <strong>with</strong> me. So I decided I was going to make being gay my<br />

whole existence. It is who I am and what makes me happy, being my gay/queer/<br />

non-binary bad self. It is my suit of armor.<br />

Your content is so fun and dripping <strong>with</strong> fierceness. Where do you get your<br />

ideas for your content and where does this confidence come from?<br />

Honestly. So many places. It comes from my love of comics, worshipping runway<br />

icons and striving to create the type of fashion editorials that make people stop<br />

and look.<br />

You are very empowering in expressing yourself when it comes to wearing<br />

clothes. Describe how you feel when you wear these looks we see you strutting<br />

in?<br />

I feel like I am the last human to ever walk a runway. I love turning a look or a<br />

moment and making a total spectacle on the streets of London. Showing off in<br />

public in an outrageous outfit is such a rush for me. It’s a feeling of G-Force,<br />

like a sudden flow of air into your lungs. It’s more empowering for me to be in a<br />

public space than in a studio because if I’m going to look this good I expect there<br />

to be an audience.<br />

What would your dream queer space look like?<br />

My dream queer space would probably have to be a nightclub. A nightclub or a<br />

festival or a queer event that everybody feels safe and empowered to dress how<br />

they want, to be who they want to be, to kiss who they wanna kiss <strong>with</strong> absolutely<br />

zero judgement. f I had my way the walls on stage would all be pink, fluorescent<br />

lighting all over the gig and a huge extravagant disco. I live for performing in<br />

nightlife settings because it is the essence of wear what you want and do what you<br />

want.<br />

What are your personal goals at this moment in time?<br />

I want to be in magazines, walk fashion shows, and actually be known as Tyreece.<br />

I want to be a household name. A brand. A superstar in my own right.<br />

Dream big. How have you been encouraged to be yourself throughout your life?<br />

My mum and boyfriend are an amazing support network to have especially my<br />

mum because she’s been there well since I could walk and wanted to wear her<br />

thigh-high boots when I was 3. She encouraged me not to hide away or to change<br />

and I could not be more grateful or thankful.<br />

What do you think is your best quality?<br />

My protectiveness. I will fight anyone who would cause me harm but especially if<br />

they came for anyone else I care about. I’m ready to attack. And protect of course.<br />

I’m slightly scared now. Remind me not to piss you off haha. Let’s move on lol.<br />

Do you have a favourite queer artist right now?<br />

Rina Sawayama<br />

Love her. Tokyo Hotel is a bop. She’s so authentic and comfortable <strong>with</strong> her<br />

artistry. Do you have any advice for queer people looking to feel comfortable in<br />

expressing who they are?<br />

I would say take your damn time. Go at your own pace. If it takes a week, a<br />

month, a couple of years. It doesn’t matter! There is no race to finding who you<br />

are! It’s a beautiful journey of self-discovery and I haven’t found myself fully<br />

yet. I’m still fully prepared for myself to develop in new ways I would never have<br />

known or even dreamed of becoming. We as beings are forever changing, forever<br />

growing, forever evolving. Just start by loving who you are and what you see and<br />

go from there.<br />


Full Look - Selfhood<br />

Shoes - Tom Ford<br />


“If I’m going<br />

to look this<br />

good, I expect<br />

there to be an<br />

audience.”<br />

You are literally a queer prophet. Speechless. Can I get an Amen. There’s<br />

been a lot of hate against Lil Nas X recently, how do you deal <strong>with</strong> online<br />

trolls and hurtful/negative comments in your line of work?<br />

If someone is so pressed about me living my truth, about me enjoying my<br />

life, clearly they have some issues they need to work through. I usually don’t<br />

pay any attention, because why invest energy into something that’s not<br />

going to better yourself. (And on occasion I throw some witty shady back<br />

just cause it entertains me).<br />

No Tyreece no shade hunni. How do you stay positive and inspired as a<br />

queer individual?<br />

Look we’re only human, we ALL have good and bad days. It’s hard to<br />

see the positive when there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the<br />

tunnel sometimes. So in a lot of instances, we have to become our own<br />

ray of sunshine which isn’t always easy because we get inside our head a<br />

lot, especially creatives and queer folk. There’s always something in the<br />

pipeline we just have to stay focused and look to tomorrow and the next day<br />

and the day after that.<br />

You are so open and honest in your sexuality, how have you learned to<br />

explore this so freely?<br />

I was told a very important fact growing up. There would be a lot more<br />

queer people for younger generations to look up to if the AIDS and HIV<br />

epidemic had not destroyed our community. I want to be someone who<br />

can be looked up to as a queer non-binary person of colour who is proud of<br />

the culture, community and liberation found in both. Live a life happy and<br />

free.<br />

What do you enjoy most about expressing<br />

your non-binary position?<br />

Showing people that you don’t have to look<br />

androgynous. I don’t know why this myth<br />

has escalated into a fact over time that nonbinary<br />

people are androgynous. Someone’s<br />

gender identity and someone’s gender<br />

expression are two completely different<br />

things. We cannot keep on mixing them up<br />

and confusing the narrative.<br />

What is your earliest queer memory?<br />

My mum and I dressing myself up as puss<br />

in boots on Halloween when I was like 5/6<br />

because I just wanted to wear thigh-high<br />

boots.<br />

Kinky boots realness. We love to see it.<br />

Next, describe your perfect date?<br />

My perfect date is somewhere that does<br />

dirty/greasy food and beautiful cocktails.<br />

A burger <strong>with</strong> a zombie cocktail is heaven!<br />

I’m actually quite easy to impress but<br />

finding a restaurant that does both is<br />

a challenge in itself. Humour and well<br />

manners are the most attractive thing ever<br />

to me.<br />


Earrings - Thomas Sabo<br />

Choker - HOMO London<br />

Dress - Misty Couture<br />


48<br />

Earrings - Thomas Sabo<br />

Choker - HOMO London<br />

Dress - Misty Couture

Full Look - House of Namaste<br />


The struggle is real babes. Do<br />

you have any favourite queer<br />

characters you identify <strong>with</strong>?<br />

HIM from Powerpuff Girls.<br />

100%. <strong>In</strong> TV & FILM and<br />

cartoons they always try to<br />

demonise the queer characters<br />

or make the villains as queer<br />

as possible. This is why the<br />

queers love the villains. They<br />

have always been banished or<br />

cast out on a certain trait or<br />

characteristic. HIM is a fashion<br />

icon and is the moment.<br />

Full Look - Selfhood<br />

Shoes - Tom Ford<br />

Finger snaps. What was the<br />

last show you streamed?<br />

Rewatched POSE. Iconic.<br />

Come through Elektra. I<br />

could totally see you in the<br />

House of Abundance. What<br />

was the last album you<br />

listened to?<br />

Kylie Minogue- Disco<br />

Queer heaven is a disco.<br />

Describe yourself as an<br />

alcoholic beverage.<br />

A Zombie: cute to look at but<br />

packs a punch.<br />

I have no idea what a Zombie<br />

is. I’ll Google it after. What<br />

was the last message you<br />

sent?<br />

‘Owners really do look like<br />

their dogs’.<br />

Nice and shady. What is the<br />

first thing you plan on doing<br />

when the 400th lockdown<br />

ends here in the UK?<br />

Club, bus, train, another club,<br />

another club, another club,<br />

no sleep, plane, club. I plan<br />

on doing the exact thing this<br />

country has prevented me<br />

from doing the past year, living<br />

my life.<br />


Tyreece out.<br />

Words Lewis Robert Cameron<br />

@lrcfashionstylist<br />

Talent Tyreece @tyreece2.0<br />


Full Look - House of Namaste<br />

That’s all.<br />


Jorge Juan B.<br />

Wieneke V<br />

Club Matryoshka<br />

Jorge: Not a lot of people know that Club<br />

Matryoshka started pre-COVID. Some<br />

people find it interesting because they<br />

have this idea that it’s just a response to<br />

the pandemic. But actually, there were<br />

already a lot of issues that we all faced<br />

<strong>with</strong>in the club scene in Manila that gave us<br />

the push to move beyond physical spaces<br />

and give birth to Club Matryoshka—<br />

though a lot of our beginnings were more<br />

focused on the lighter side of things. I’ve<br />

been organizing shows for more than<br />

10 years in Manila, so I have experience<br />

<strong>with</strong> flying people in, organizing real-life,<br />

physical shows, renting out and having<br />

residencies at clubs.<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Nicola Phillips @nicphilf<br />

Original photos provided by the artist<br />

There were always a lot of problems that<br />

we faced; club politics, venue politics,<br />

people judging you based on gender<br />

preferences, the way you dressed, the way<br />

you looked, on your streaming numbers<br />

and cloud followings. I run a collective<br />

and a community of musicians that is<br />

built on us being the ‘odd fit’, the odd ones<br />

out of the scene. <strong>In</strong> Manila, at the time<br />

that I was starting, it was very black-andwhite.<br />

If you’re making hip-hop, they’d<br />

find it weird that you’re also listening to<br />

rock or metal.<br />

Electronic roots aren’t that strong in<br />

Manila. When I was starting out, I’d be<br />

booed off stage for showing up to a club<br />

and performing a set <strong>with</strong> a GameBoy.<br />

The Philippines is a very young country,<br />

and it’s pretty much like, you know...we<br />

were colonized. So a lot of our culture<br />

is mixed, and a lot of people still sort of<br />

have this heavy sense of Western worship.<br />

We wanted to escape these definitions<br />

that are not ours, to begin <strong>with</strong>. All of<br />

my projects are these things that try<br />



to move away from cultures that aren’t necessarily<br />

ours, or trying to recontextualize things for our own<br />

interests and to serve the community. That’s why Club<br />

Matryoshka was born—it was a response to all of these<br />

things that we were frustrated about.<br />

Nicola: When you were going to clubs in Manila, did<br />

you find that you had to be in a particular group or<br />

have a specific music interest in order to get in?<br />

Jorge: I’ve honestly seen such a great development<br />

in terms of having more hybrids. People are more<br />

open-minded. Whenever I travelled to Berlin or other<br />

places on tour, I realized that people have a culture of<br />

listening that wasn’t so present in Manila before. The<br />

clubs started off as being clique-ish—only the reggae<br />

people showed up at the reggae show, only the metal<br />

people showed up at the metal show. It was only in<br />

the last maybe four to six years where people started<br />

having mixed lineups, or you’d be able to see a normal<br />

set up where there’s a metal band next to an electronic<br />

performer, or a solo artist doing live electronic stuff, or<br />

even having DJs mixed in <strong>with</strong> bands. That was sort of<br />

the model that the collective and I were trying to do in<br />

real life. Before we would just bootstrap art galleries;<br />

there weren’t any venues that would accept a bunch of<br />

weirdos...you know, they would always call us hipsters<br />

<strong>with</strong> laptops, displaying beats <strong>with</strong> visuals. That was<br />

part of what we were pushing against. Then later on it<br />

became more normalized in Manila, before becoming<br />

saturated <strong>with</strong> more EDM-based stuff.<br />

After a while, I got tired of holding events because of<br />

that. All the venues were doing the same thing, playing<br />

the same sort of future R&B, future bass and trap. It ate<br />

up the entire club scene in Manila; we lost a lot of our<br />

opportunities because the underground venues that we<br />

used to play at and hold events at got devoured by this<br />

aesthetic. Everyone just wanted to hear trap music and<br />

this futuristic strip club music [laughs], that’s what we<br />

call it. Which, the internet SoundCloud stuff, I also had<br />

some roots in that. We all sort of passed through that<br />

as well, but when we started to try to move beyond that<br />

‘avant-garde experimental club music’, it was so hard to<br />

penetrate.<br />


Nicola: What was it like when you launched your first<br />

Club Matryoshka?<br />

Jorge: That one was very rushed. Long story short, I<br />

stopped doing events for a while. I became uninspired<br />

to even make music, and I turned towards gaming,<br />

which I hadn’t done in years. I’m the type of person<br />

who’s always either making music or working, and I<br />

felt like gaming was a waste of time. Then suddenly I<br />

tried to flip it on its back and say, maybe I should. I<br />

reversed it and was like, let’s just play. I started getting<br />

into survival games; my friends and I spontaneously<br />

bought a Minecraft server because we got into Ark,<br />

we got into Rust, but we were thinking, ‘Why don’t<br />

we play the original game that sort of started this<br />

trend of survival?’, which was Minecraft. It’s like the<br />

grandfather of all of these other survival games that<br />

we love now.<br />

<strong>In</strong> the game, I accidentally burned my house down<br />

[laughs] and that night I wanted to build a club that<br />

was inspired by Berghain, which I’ve never been to. I<br />

went to Berlin in 2018, but I was too sick to even go to<br />

Berghain. So I was like, ah, I might as well just try to<br />

build one based on what I saw in another Minecraft<br />

map. So I made some sort of hybrid map that looked<br />

like the clubs in Manila, combined <strong>with</strong> a dungeon, a<br />

fantasy jungle, and Berghain. The day after I told my<br />

friends on the server, which is just a small community<br />

of creatives, ‘I’m going to turn this into a club. I’m<br />

going to call it Club Matryoshka.’<br />

I made a website and an event page, just for fun. Then<br />

we opened it up to the public, and it flooded. We didn’t<br />

even think people would go! After that, we really<br />

started to embrace the idea. The next event was more<br />

serious: a fundraiser for the Amazon rainforest. We<br />

started inviting international acts, paying people out<br />

of our own pockets and then asking for donations for<br />

the fundraiser, and it just snowballed into all of these<br />

things. It just kept becoming bigger and bigger, and<br />

then it became this fun space. More people would start<br />

joining, different kinds of people that you wouldn’t<br />

necessarily see together in the same club and people<br />

that wouldn’t even go to clubs, people that had never<br />

even imagined themselves in a club. It was amazing for<br />

us. It just felt like magic. Everyone felt like things were<br />

hitting the right spots internally, and for our guests as<br />

well.<br />


Nicola: It’s like an introvert’s dream.<br />

Or if you’re just feeling socially<br />

anxious then you can go online and<br />

hang out <strong>with</strong> like-minded people.<br />

Jorge: That’s what I love about it, too.<br />

We have a lot of friends from the queer<br />

community in Manila that are rejected<br />

at clubs just because of how they present<br />

themselves, so they tell us it’s cool<br />

that in this space you can be whatever<br />

gender. You can be you. You can be an<br />

animal! We have a lot of people who<br />

want to present themselves as foxes or<br />

rabbits and they love it. Everyone’s just<br />

celebrating music together.<br />

Nicola: There’s definitely been an<br />

increase of similar events to the Club.<br />

Jorge: I’m not the type where I’d try<br />

to gatekeep this whole Minecraft<br />

thing. We’re not the first, there’s a lot<br />

of smaller Minecraft events that we’ve<br />

reached out to and offered to help. I<br />

don’t think that this sort of technology<br />

or DIY way of doing things should be<br />

just kept to ourselves. I like it when<br />

people reach out and ask, ‘How did you<br />

do this?’ That’s always been my thing.<br />

There’s no secrets; I’m an open book.<br />

If you want to know something, I’ll just<br />

tell you.<br />

Nicola: What will happen when<br />

COVID kind of dies down and we can<br />

go to events in real life again? Will<br />

online events still continue?<br />

Jorge: Yeah, definitely. To be honest,<br />

it’s been tiring because of the COVID<br />

stress. A lot of our events that we were<br />

supposed to do, like the ones that<br />

were planned once every few months,<br />

became almost every month. We’ve<br />

made friends through every one of<br />

the events, especially <strong>with</strong> the CTM<br />

collaborations—that’s been one of<br />

our favorite events—but it’s tiring. It<br />

takes us around four months to build<br />

something that big. Down the line, I<br />

do think that we would still continue<br />

because there are still problems <strong>In</strong><br />

Manila that we feel are solved <strong>with</strong> this<br />

format.<br />

I’ve been reading a lot of these things<br />

about how psychologically, people are<br />

waiting to go to gigs. I attended a talk<br />

the other day and someone called it like<br />

‘revenge gigging’, because everyone’s<br />

so mad at COVID they’re going to be<br />


like, ‘I just want to go to a gig. I just want<br />

to go shopping. I just want to make a<br />

song, revenge, everything’. So I feel like<br />

for a while online clubs might die down,<br />

but there are some people that we sort of<br />

cater to, like our audience that really just<br />

doesn’t want to go clubbing physically.<br />

We’re also looking towards hybrid shows.<br />

I feel like we try as much as possible to<br />

be inclusive for people who actually<br />

can’t physically go, or people who have<br />

problems in social settings as well.<br />

Nicola: I think we are 100% in need of<br />

a hybrid and actually be more aware<br />

of the need for alternatives, especially<br />

when it comes to sharing something as<br />

universal as music.<br />

Jorge: I really love how these events bring<br />

so many types of people together. It’s like<br />

how there’s a stereotype that people who<br />

love games are geeky, they don’t listen<br />

to a certain type of music. The same for<br />

techno; here in Manila, if you’re a technohead<br />

you’re not really into nerdy stuff,<br />

but suddenly it’s like everyone’s a hybrid<br />

in Club Matryoshka. People that used to<br />

hate on Minecraft suddenly started to<br />

love Minecraft.<br />

Nicola: So what’s happening next?<br />

Jorge: Well, we just did our first 24-hour<br />

festival called <strong>In</strong>finite Summer, and we’re<br />

planning to do something similar later on<br />

in the year. It’ll be a spiritual successor<br />

of <strong>In</strong>finite Summer where we’ll be hitting<br />

every timezone again. I felt like that<br />

was one of the main reasons for <strong>In</strong>finite<br />

Summer’s success. We were booking<br />

people from different parts of the world,<br />

like a whole block of all Japanese artists<br />


that we love. But I think the<br />

plan is to collaborate on<br />

a bigger scale <strong>with</strong> labels<br />

that focus on marginalized<br />

people and marginalized<br />

communities.<br />

It’s always a challenge for<br />

us to try to keep people<br />

involved for 24 hours,<br />

keep them entertained<br />

and immersed, but I think<br />

it’s become second nature<br />

for the team. We don’t<br />

really think about, ‘Oh,<br />

let’s make the best event<br />

ever’. We didn’t even know<br />

that our Minecraft builds<br />

were crazy until people<br />

checked them out on<br />

Twitch, because we never<br />

really like comparing. We<br />

just really have fun and get<br />

geeky <strong>with</strong> it.<br />

Nicola: How did you get to<br />

know everyone who works<br />

at the Club?<br />

landed on Minecraft, and some were creatives<br />

that joined the Minecraft server when they were<br />

just playing and looking for a way to destress<br />

from daily life.<br />

The team now is built primarily of a group of<br />

developers. Some of them are fashion designers<br />

or illustrators. Some of them are film scorers,<br />

sound practitioners, some are streamers on<br />

Twitch. We all do different things. It’s like a<br />

hybrid collective of people trying to start a<br />

hybrid club. We don’t really stress about many<br />

things; the planning is very democratic. We all<br />

come together in a call and just geek out. If we’re<br />

planning stuff, we watch movies to get inspired<br />

together. It’s become<br />

some sort of extended<br />

family. It’s funny—they’re<br />

all different varying ages,<br />

varying backgrounds,<br />

but it all just felt natural<br />

to work <strong>with</strong> each other<br />

despite not being friends<br />

in real life.<br />

I guess the common sort<br />

the thing is that we all<br />

love music. Everyone has<br />

different tastes, but we<br />

always find the similarities<br />

somewhere down the line;<br />

they intersect somehow.<br />

Jorge: A lot of the people<br />

I work <strong>with</strong> now, I never<br />

imagined to be working<br />

<strong>with</strong> them on something<br />

this up-close and personal.<br />

This project is very sacred<br />

to me. I’ve met a lot of them<br />

from gaming, a lot of them<br />

I would just see randomly<br />

in shows in real life, and<br />

some of them aren’t even<br />

in Manila. Everyone is<br />

from a different timezone.<br />

There’s some people that<br />

I was playing other games<br />

<strong>with</strong> where they eventually<br />


Nicola: Are you going to be introducing any new components to the<br />

Club?<br />

Jorge: We started a new component last time <strong>with</strong> CTM where we<br />

introduced game mechanics as an RPG. So the event was actually an RPG,<br />

but a lot of people struggled <strong>with</strong> this sort of RPG format [laughs]. We’re<br />

trying to refine that a bit more. We also had two cams so you could either<br />

watch the stream from the perspective of the main character or the ‘God<br />

perspective’ overhead. It helps that our camera persons and our streamers<br />

are actually cinematographers [laughs]. So the shots are really nice.<br />

Nicola: Have you thought about using<br />

different platforms to host the Club<br />

on? I’m mostly asking because I just<br />

reactivated my Second Life account<br />

to creep around goth clubs <strong>with</strong> a<br />

katana.<br />

Jorge: Oh my god. I love Second Life.<br />

I’ve always wanted to do something<br />

on Second Life prior to this, but when<br />

I was researching about it you have to<br />

rent some land, which actually costs a<br />

lot of money when I last checked. It was<br />

almost like hosting a real event in a real<br />

space, and the software you needed for<br />

the music was so clunky. But I think the<br />

music streaming system that we use in<br />

Minecraft is also applicable now for<br />

that platform, so we could definitely<br />

switch.<br />

Over the last year, a lot of other virtual<br />

clubs have been wanting to collaborate.<br />

I want this next event to be some sort<br />

of multi-platform thing if everyone is<br />

down for it. I’ve been hopping on VR<br />

clubs, like IMVU, VRChat, Second Life,<br />

there’s some on Mozilla Hubs. There’s<br />

all sorts of different virtual clubs that<br />

I think could be interesting if you just<br />

make one big event <strong>with</strong> different<br />

platforms.<br />

Prior to Second Life, when I was a kid I<br />

played this avatar chat thing called The<br />

Palace, and it opened up a world to me<br />

because there were online events even<br />

back then. I was just talking to people<br />

about music. Now I’m here doing my<br />

own version of that—and yeah, it’s<br />

crazy.<br />

I really enjoy virtual clubbing, but I’ve<br />

really missed physically being in a club.<br />

When you can feel the bass in your<br />

chest.<br />

Nicola: Me too. I’m actually quite<br />

excited for it again. Maybe not as much<br />

as the revenge gig-goers though.<br />

@clubmatryoshka<br />

@obese.dogma777<br />


Betty Apple & Ping-Hsiang<br />

ArtKB48<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Nicola Phillips @nicphilf<br />

Original photos provided by the artists<br />

Betty: <strong>In</strong> Taiwan, most people think of queer identity as being the<br />

same as regular gay culture, like drag. But my culture, my idea of<br />

queer identity, is focused more on sound art and performance art. I<br />

want to create a community which can use this to be experimental and<br />

provocative. <strong>In</strong> Taiwan, this idea in music and sound is quite new; <strong>with</strong><br />

DJing, people understand this, but for me this kind of performance is<br />

also about protest. What I’m doing <strong>with</strong> my community, is to create a<br />

way to talk about noise, performance, and protest, so that more women<br />

or non-binary artists come to play. That’s why I started this group;<br />

it’s only been a year since then. My first topic was ASMR, because it’s<br />

a public artform—it is not a professional doing sound art, but maybe<br />

someone <strong>with</strong> professional equipment. I’m crushing on ASMR and this<br />

sort of public cyberculture, how people start to present their identity<br />

and this sort of contemporary intimacy.<br />

<strong>In</strong> Taiwan, not many people are doing this non-professional thing and<br />

this sound-based discipline. It’s such a different culture; everywhere<br />

there is sound, people don’t understand a need for quiet. And most<br />

artists here don’t go to clubs! We don’t have that many clubs anyway,<br />

at least for dancing; most mainstream clubs here are not for dancing<br />

or listening to music. There are different cultural backgrounds here,<br />

different layers, so the idea of a ‘safe queer space’ means something<br />

different. But that’s what I want to create, a space where artists will<br />

want to come, maybe create some dance music or experimental music,<br />

and want to work together <strong>with</strong> us. I want to change the idea of the<br />

Asian patriarchy. You know K-Pop, all the girls look like [makes chibi<br />

noise]? I want to use that, transform it to make people feel feminine art<br />

differently.<br />

I have to tell you, unfortunately, we didn’t close our club during COVID.<br />

[laughs] <strong>In</strong> Taiwan, it’s like a bubble…<br />

Ping-Hsiang: A parallel universe.<br />

Betty: We still have a lot of queer events in our club; we only closed once<br />

during this whole thing. A lot of clubs have closed because they didn’t<br />

think people would want to come—not because of government spies.<br />

Because we have less local cases, not over 20 until now. At first everyone<br />

here was so scared; you remember SARS? So suddenly all the borders<br />

were closed, and the government started taking measures early. That’s<br />

also why there aren’t as many online events taking place here—everyone<br />

can still go out, and a lot of my friends elsewhere can’t. When I did an<br />

online performance, all my friends here were in a club [laughs]. But<br />

here we also don’t have vaccines due to political problems, so it’s harder<br />

to travel abroad right now. Taiwan, we can’t really define ourselves<br />

right now. We are like a country, the world recognizes us, but there’s<br />

also pressure and propaganda from China, and there’s a lot of colonized<br />

culture here so Taiwanese people don’t feel strong, like, oh we have to<br />

be Taiwanese. Political problems are<br />

something I like to talk about in my music<br />

and art; that’s part of me and something<br />

I think could also be part of ArtKB48—<br />

although I don’t want it to be like these<br />

branded collective: “Oh I’m Google, I’m<br />

Apple”, and then you have to be loyal <strong>with</strong><br />

that one brand or idea.<br />

Ping-Hsiang: What I’ve found most<br />

interesting about these communities, at<br />

the beginning the idea behind ArtKB48<br />

was not just a place for queer artists to<br />

join together, but also a place where we<br />

can learn from each other. Betty didn’t<br />

start as a music artist or sound artist<br />

but in theatre, so when she gets into<br />

music...there’s a lot of formula you need<br />

to feel yourself in, or be this level of skill<br />

<strong>with</strong> a machine or instrument...there’s<br />

a struggle that you can’t fit in to this<br />

mechanical world, so you have to find a<br />

new language to speak for yourself. That<br />

was the genesis; the people who join here<br />

are not as professional, not authoritative.<br />

As artists we want to channel our energy<br />

to break these rigid ideas—”This is a rule<br />

you need to follow to do this”—so when we<br />

started to have lots of workshops, there<br />

were some really heartbreaking moments.<br />

It’s hard to channel your own voice when<br />

you’re learning new pathways. But it can<br />

create such a powerful way to yell out, to<br />

escape the systematic world. I love this<br />

friction; oftentimes you know your own<br />

limitations, but when you get together<br />

<strong>with</strong> someone else it stretches those<br />

limits and makes you realize what you’re<br />

capable of. Apple’s style is a very rough,<br />

punch-in-your-face method sometimes,<br />

which I really enjoy. I didn’t think that<br />

my artistic practice could be expressed<br />

this way, but when I work <strong>with</strong> her you see<br />

this, kind of like a middle finger to this<br />

strong mechanical world. [Ping-Hsiang’s<br />

connection cuts out]<br />

Betty: Oh noo! China’s government must<br />

have heard him talking about me and cut<br />


the WiFi! [laughs] Me, I’m not really….especially in Taiwan,<br />

the lesbian scene here is a bit scared of me because I don’t<br />

conform to the idea of what is typical for them. I confuse<br />

them; mainstream gays as well, and this is something my<br />

queer friends and I talk about. But this year we had the<br />

first gay marriage in Taiwan; now we can get married<br />

here, the first country in Asia! <strong>In</strong> Taiwan, the idea of ‘queer<br />

identity’ has just started; gays and lesbians have decent<br />

communities, but queer is new for people here.<br />

Nicola: That’s amazing. My partner and I have been working<br />

on this new community for women, trans and non-binary<br />

folks; since everyone has been stuck inside we’ve started<br />

doing this ‘speed mating’, for making new friends. There’s<br />

a lot of admin you’re doing when you’re starting a new<br />

community, so that people feel comfortable <strong>with</strong> pronouns<br />

and everything.<br />

Betty: For me, my body is ‘She/Her’, but inside it’s ‘They/<br />

Them’. <strong>In</strong> Chinese characters, there isn’t a lot to separate<br />

gender, so if you meet someone in Asia and they say<br />

something a certain way, it’s not necessarily out of<br />

disrespect. <strong>In</strong> our language we don’t separate gender,<br />

compared to Latin or English.<br />

[Ping-Hsiang returns]<br />

Nicola: Ping-Hsiang, you’re currently living between three<br />

places right now?<br />

Ping-Hsiang: I’m working <strong>with</strong> a Spanish theatre company<br />

right now, so I’m going there for rehearsals. Then we’re<br />

going to Serbia for a tour, and then I’m heading back to<br />

Germany. Which means that my nose will be penetrated<br />

several times.<br />

Betty: Oh nooo, I’m so scared of this!<br />

Ping-Hsiang: I feel like my brain is getting poked by the<br />

q-tip.<br />

Betty: But do you have any of the vaccines yet?<br />

Ping-Hsiang: Right now here it’s only open for Chinese<br />

citizens—<br />

Betty: You are Chinese to them!<br />

Ping-Hsiang: [laughs]<br />

Betty: When we Taiwanese go to Hong Kong, we always go<br />

to the foreigner’s line <strong>with</strong> our passports, but then they<br />

say, ‘No no, citizen!’ ‘Oh, but I’m Taiwanese…’ ‘Citizen!!’<br />

Ehhhhhh….[laughs] So I think you should be able to get a<br />

vaccine!<br />

Nicola: So maybe you can tell me about the queer<br />

community in Shanghai?<br />

Ping-Hsiang: I still feel like a tourist here, so I’m not sure I<br />

could make a statement—<br />

Betty: But are the clubs and bars open?<br />


Ping-Hsiang: They’re open; a friend of<br />

mine was actually trying to organize a queer<br />

theatre festival here, and he knows its going<br />

to be like 100 times more difficult than it<br />

normally would be. A few years ago, people<br />

really tried to make Shanghai Pride happen<br />

but it just got shut down. Right now there’s<br />

only one queer event here, which is a film<br />

festival. The community has found a way to<br />

survive under the pressure; the government<br />

might say something is forbidden, but<br />

people will still find ways to do it.<br />

Nicola: So it’s more like an underground<br />

situation.<br />

Ping-Hsiang: Yeah.<br />

Betty: <strong>In</strong> Berlin, are there a lot of<br />

underground queer events happening now?<br />

Nicola: There have been; I think it’s been<br />

cut down a lot due to the rising COVID<br />

numbers here, but last year around this<br />

time nobody was paying attention and just<br />

throwing huge park raves—which is quite<br />

common here anyway, but when you’re not<br />

meant to meet in groups larger than two or<br />

three. I’ve been talking to other collectives,<br />

how they’ve spent this sudden free time<br />

reflecting and not focussing so much on<br />

work, having this sort of reset. Obviously,<br />

your experience is different there.<br />

Betty: I think that the interesting thing is<br />

that Taiwan has always brought a lot of<br />

artists and performers from abroad, and<br />

lots of local artists don’t have any chance<br />

to perform at major mainstream festivals.<br />

But because of the border closures, in the<br />

last year, we stayed inside our local artist<br />

bubble. At first this was a disaster; here<br />

there isn’t much chance for a performance<br />

artist like me to make money, and I had<br />

planned to travel and do shows.<br />



The pay here is very low and if I play a show<br />

somewhere outside Taiwan, I can make 10,<br />

20 times more. For a long time, people would<br />

only come out to parties or shows for European<br />

artists, American artists. But now that bars and<br />

clubs cannot hire outside DJs and artists, there’s<br />

been more of a local resurgence. Now if someone<br />

asks me to give a talk or a performance, I can<br />

bring in friends to play, and this gives us more<br />

of a chance to be seen. I think now is a good<br />

time to make the audiences here understand<br />

us. Local artists actually have more of a chance<br />

now than before; that’s kind of weird!<br />

Ping-Hsiang: I think that, when it comes<br />

to visibility, what I appreciate most about<br />

working <strong>with</strong> Betty is that she shares her<br />

platform <strong>with</strong> the community. How do we<br />

make queer art approachable for people, for a<br />

mass audience? It’s changed for the better, but<br />

the old institutions in Taiwan were controlled<br />

by the CIS person, the straight person. You’re<br />

never presented <strong>with</strong> queer art as a serious art<br />

form, as the center of an exhibition or idea.<br />

Betty is an important person right now in<br />

the art community, and she really shares her<br />

platform <strong>with</strong> young queer folx. And it isn’t the<br />

fame aspect; she wants to give these people a<br />

voice, a platform to become more visible <strong>with</strong><br />

their art, to have a strong impact. It’s important<br />

to help young artists be seen.<br />

Betty: <strong>In</strong> Taiwan, it’s not that easy. Most young<br />

artists, there thing is not...quality? [laughs]<br />

I’m a little bit old at 35, but for me...I think that<br />

because there is such a patriarchal structure<br />

here, Asia-style, especially female artists don’t<br />

have someone to encourage them, and if you<br />

break from the mainstream, ‘“sexy” way of<br />

doing things people get confused—”Why would<br />

you do that if you want to be a DJ, if you want to be famous??’<br />

But if you get a lot of people breaking these codes together,<br />

that can be very powerful. Ping-Hsiang is younger than me,<br />

and he’s so talented. If we had more people like us, maybe we<br />

could finally start to help artists in Taiwan.<br />

Ping-Hsiang: <strong>In</strong> our performance, we try to use the idea of<br />

‘sexiness’ as a weapon, as a tool to shock people—if one person<br />

shows skin, that’s shocking. But if a group of people show that<br />

skin, it makes a stronger impact. I think that’s much more<br />

interesting, going beyond ‘acting weird’ and just normalizing<br />

it, to encourage people that their appearance is not wrong.<br />

That’s a beautiful thing, to be a part of such a family. And now<br />

I show more skin when I go clubbing!<br />

Betty: <strong>In</strong> Taiwan, if we talk about a queer music event, in my<br />

opinion...I play, for example, the kind of music they would<br />

play at Gegen, in Berlin. Not many people here understand it;<br />

most queer event music here is softer, more subtle. For me<br />

there is not much punch to it, and some people might hear<br />

what I play and find it too patriarchal, too hard, although I<br />

don’t feel that. There are different ways of expressing ideas<br />

of queer identity. Right now I’m just trying to brainwash my<br />

crew [laughs]...<strong>with</strong> these kinds of things!<br />

Ping-Hsiang: [laughs]<br />

Betty: Taiwan is very inspired by America, so when people<br />

here think of music they think of hip-hop, of EDM. They don’t<br />

really understand this Berlin style. If they’re sound artists<br />

they can make the most amazing noise, but to apply the same<br />

sound to clubbing...they don’t understand that, because<br />

they’re oftentimes rather nerdy and anti-club. For them I’m<br />

so weird, so when I say this, this or this is queer...for me it’s<br />

not just about gender, but what you do, what you create and<br />

how you open yourself to influences. Queer, for me, is open.<br />

More flavor, more layers, for me this is a beautiful thing. It’s<br />

art.<br />

[Note: this interview took place March, 2021.]<br />

@ping_hsiang<br />

@lovebettyapple<br />

@artsmr.art<br />



Purrja & Twat<br />


Photographer Manuel Moncayo @manuelmoncayo.eu<br />

Purrja: Tell us a bit about yourself. I don’t know anything about you!<br />

Twat Butcher: My name is Ruby, but my other name is Twat Butcher which I<br />

think goes over the head of a lot of people that are not from the UK, sadly.<br />

Purrja: It’s a good name.<br />



Twat Butcher: It’s a great name, but<br />

it’s a play on Pat Butcher for those that<br />

don’t know. I’m a Berlin-based AFAB,<br />

CIS-identifying, drag performer,<br />

dancer, stylist, and one-third of the<br />

Flaming Gogos. Before Ms. Corona<br />

came along, I performed a lot in the<br />

nightlife scene. I tend to go by she/her<br />

but my drag is sometimes male and<br />

sometimes female. What about you?<br />

Purrja: My name is Yusuf, also known<br />

as Purrja. Basically, my pronouns<br />

are he/him when I’m out of drag and<br />

she/her/they/them when I’m in drag.<br />

I’m also based here in Berlin, but I’m<br />

actually from Ireland. I moved here<br />

four years ago now, and I started<br />

performing drag since I’ve been here.<br />

Since the pandemic started, I moved<br />

into doing makeup artistry on a more<br />

professional level; As someone who<br />

isn’t formally trained in makeup,<br />

I self-taught myself everything.<br />

It’s been a bit slower to get into the<br />

industry, but since last year I’ve been<br />

doing more makeup jobs, working on<br />

shoots, editorials and advertisements.<br />

Twat Butcher: That’s how it’s been<br />

for me and styling as well. I think it’s<br />

really nice to have a job that you can<br />

make commercial money off of and<br />

which is linked to your art as well. I<br />

feel very lucky to do something that<br />

isn’t completely removed from the<br />

things I’m passionate about in my<br />

creative outlet.<br />

Purrja: Totally. I think both of them<br />

inform each other in a way, you know,<br />

my drag plays into my makeup work,<br />

and the things that I learned from that<br />

also play into—and feeds back from—<br />

my life as a drag artist as well. So I’m<br />

constantly learning in both fields.<br />

I guess for both of us, it was quite<br />

difficult moving from working and<br />

performing so often in nightlife and<br />

in clubs to then have that all taken<br />

away from us. <strong>In</strong> a sense we’ve been<br />

able to continue to work creatively<br />

during the Pandemic; it’s not as much<br />

work as I would personally have liked<br />

for myself, but I guess expanding<br />

horizons, branching out and doing<br />

new things has been beneficial in a<br />

way.<br />

Twat Butcher: Yeah, and the fact<br />

that we can still work through the<br />

pandemic, doing things we enjoy.<br />

Commercial shoots, fashion shoots,<br />


all that shit hasn’t stopped because it was easy to work the Corona restrictions around them. It’s been pretty<br />

great to be able to keep doing that. So what drove you to create your platform?<br />

Purrja: Before I started doing drag, I had no performance experience whatsoever. I didn’t come from a<br />

very creative background; I went to school, and when I finished I studied science because chemistry was<br />

the only thing I was interested in at the time. This is the thing about growing up in Ireland, and maybe you<br />

understand this from growing up in the UK as well—you just go through the stages of schooling and it’s just,<br />

next milestone, next milestone, next milestone. During that process, there’s no real time where someone<br />

sits you down and says, ‘Hey, what are you interested in? What are you passionate about?’ I remember when<br />

I was telling my mother that I was studying science, she didn’t care. She couldn’t have given two shits while<br />

I was studying. Do you know what I mean? She’s like, ‘As long as you’re happy’.<br />

Twat Butcher: Yeah. As long as you’re happy, it’s fine.<br />

Purrja: I’d come home and be , ‘Oh, I just failed that exam’. ‘That’s grand. Don’t worry. As long as you’re<br />

happy and healthy’, you know? So I never had that <strong>conversation</strong> <strong>with</strong> my mother about what I wanted to do,<br />

and I guess because of that, I just went and studied something that I was interested in, which ended up being<br />

horrible. I hated it. During this time I ended up taking two years off and started working in a wine bar, and I<br />

realized that actually I’m way more interested in alcohol, food and gastronomy. I did that for two years and I<br />

really loved it. I started working up the ranks; I was almost a Sommelier at one point in Dublin.<br />

Twat Butcher: I remember when you first told me you were a Sommelier; I’m all about wine.<br />


Purrja: <strong>In</strong> the first<br />

year that I moved<br />

to Berlin, I was<br />

working in service<br />

gastronomy. It was<br />

very intense; I had<br />

a very stressful<br />

year of long hours,<br />

neglecting myself<br />

and my body and<br />

my interests. When<br />

I finally found the<br />

courage to leave, I<br />

said to myself that<br />

I was going to do<br />

something for me.<br />

I’m not sure how<br />

exactly drag was<br />

that thing, but I<br />

had saved up some<br />

money and I just<br />

spent 600 euros that<br />

week on wigs and<br />

makeup and a basic<br />

drag case.<br />

I spent the following two months at<br />

home, painting my face over and over<br />

again, watching YouTube tutorials<br />

and photographs and Drag Race,<br />

really submerging myself into the art<br />

form that is drag and trying to learn<br />

as much as possible about makeup.<br />

After about two months, I performed<br />

for the first time in August of 2018. It<br />

was at Judy Lavina Dragaholic; that<br />

was where you performed for the first<br />

time as well, right?<br />

Twat Butcher: It was indeed, either<br />

the month before you or after. I hadn’t<br />

realized that you quitting your job<br />

coincided <strong>with</strong> this shift toward doing<br />

something new for yourself.<br />

Purrja: At that point, all I knew was<br />

gastronomy and being a waiter. I’d<br />

done it for 10 years at that point. I<br />

still continued to work in service, but<br />

I knew then that I was not my main<br />

thing, couldn’t be my main thing.<br />

I needed to find something I was<br />

passionate about, and was good at.<br />

Which was drag. People always ask,<br />

‘Oh, where does it begin? How did it<br />

start?’ and to be quite honest I feel<br />

Purrja just took over. I took my hand<br />

off the wheel and I wasn’t driving<br />

anymore. It was her energy and this<br />

crazy desire to just get dolled up and<br />

perform.<br />

How about you? I remember the first<br />

time I saw you dancing and I was<br />

completely transfixed. This is before<br />

I even knew you. I was, who the hell<br />

is this person? Your energy was just<br />

insane. It was love at first sight.<br />

Twat Butcher: It’s interesting what<br />

you said about, first you go to primary<br />

school, then secondary school, then<br />

university...it’s definitely the same in<br />

the UK, but for me, I never related to it.<br />

I knew that I wasn’t going to follow that<br />

path from when I was 13. I knew that I<br />

wanted to be a dancer, that I wanted to<br />

go to professional dancing school. But<br />

when I auditioned for the vocational<br />

schools in the UK, the Royal Ballet and<br />

Ron Baer and all the big ones, I didn’t<br />

get into any of them. I was absolutely<br />

devastated. But that same pattern you<br />

were speaking about, that’s the same<br />

way that you become a dancer—you go<br />

to secondary school, you do GCSEs, you<br />

go to one of the vocational schools. I’d<br />

missed it already, all of the opportunity,<br />

all of the years that I could have started<br />

doing that. So I thought, oh, well then—<br />

how am I going to make this happen??<br />

When I was 18 I decided I was just<br />

going to move to Berlin and just start<br />

dancing. I figured I’d work in the Kit-<br />

Kat club, which I thought was the Kit-<br />

Kat club from the film Cabaret. That<br />

didn’t work out. During my audition I<br />

fell in the pool and almost drowned.<br />

I finally ended up getting into a<br />

professional dancing school in<br />

Montreal, so I moved there for two<br />

years. I was able to live <strong>with</strong> my aunties<br />

for the first year, which was very lucky<br />

so Montreal wasn’t completely strange<br />

to me, but it was also the other side<br />

of the world, which is quite a lot at<br />

18. Afterwards, I auditioned for an<br />

apprenticeship program in Israel for<br />

the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance<br />

Company . I did the apprenticeship<br />

program for a year and then was taken<br />


into the main company and dealt <strong>with</strong> them<br />

for another two years. That’s how, basically,<br />

my dream came true. I did it completely not<br />

following the path that I had always thought<br />

I was going to take, going to these schools<br />

in England that had rejected me, and then<br />

getting into a company that—no shade—<br />

people who I knew who had gone to those<br />

UK schools and had taken that traditional<br />

journey, they didn’t get into this company.<br />

It was a really validating moment for me,<br />

to realize you can do things your own way<br />

and end up in a better place than you ever<br />

imagined just by following your intuition.<br />

After that, I moved to Germany for the next<br />

boyfriend, then moved to Berlin, where my<br />

boyfriend realized I was raging lesbian. And<br />

here we are.<br />

I think my interest in drag started when I<br />

was living in this small town in Osnabrück<br />

in Germany. I was taking classes <strong>with</strong> a<br />

dance company there, and one of the guys<br />

introduced me to Drag Race—which is<br />

so problematic for so many reasons, in<br />

representation and all the rest, but I think it’s<br />

a segue into queerness, if you didn’t know,<br />

or if you had a hard time connecting <strong>with</strong><br />

it. I think for many people, and for me just<br />

watching Drag Race, it was suddenly just…<br />

’Oh my God, that’s me.’ It was everything that<br />

I’ve ever felt in terms of being really loud and<br />

being extra. Even though I was accepted in<br />

high school, and was even part of the popular<br />

crowd, , there were things I changed about<br />

myself in order to fit in. All of a sudden there<br />

were these people creating art which touched<br />

part of me that I’d always hidden. It took me<br />

a long time to find the courage to start doing<br />

drag. There weren’t very many CIS women in<br />

Berlin doing it; there’s still isn’t, and I felt like<br />

an imposter, like it wasn’t my space. I knew<br />

that, if I was really going to do this, then I<br />

really would have to do something amazing<br />

in order to validate my taking that space in<br />

the scene.<br />

Purrja: I think we both have a very similar<br />

journey towards drag. When I was growing<br />

up, music was a huge part of my entire being<br />

when I was growing up. The first CD that I<br />

ever bought was ‘Scandalous’ by Miss-Teeq.<br />

Twat Butcher: That’s such a good one! I<br />

think mine was from The Smurfs—or possibly<br />

Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ single.<br />

Purrja: Such a good one. It’s really funny<br />

because art and music in the UK during<br />

that time, in the mid to late nineties, early<br />

noughties, was just next level. Our charts<br />

were exploding every single week.<br />


Twat Butcher: I was obsessed <strong>with</strong><br />

taping everything off the radio.<br />

Purrja: My mother listened to pretty<br />

good music. When I was growing up<br />

there was Ricky Martin, a lot of Kylie, a<br />

lot of Dire Straits. So music was always a<br />

huge part of my life. The first time that I<br />

really felt this personal connection <strong>with</strong><br />

it was when my cousin asked me one<br />

day if she could put some music on my<br />

iPod. I was 14 at the time, and she was<br />

20 years older. I didn’t know anything<br />

about myself. I didn’t know who I was;<br />

just coasting on through life and being<br />

a very normal child. She filled my iPod<br />

full of music I had never heard before.<br />

It was all a lot of female musicians, a lot<br />

of queer music, and I remember going<br />

home that evening, getting into bed and<br />

putting it on shuffle. And I just cried the<br />

whole night because the stuff that she<br />

put on was really just resonating <strong>with</strong><br />

me. It was that night that I realized I was<br />

gay. That’s a very overwhelming feeling!<br />

Since then, I can never not listen to<br />

music in my day-to-day life. I always<br />

have something on, in the background,<br />

if I’m walking in the street. Going to lots<br />

of concerts and growing up and getting<br />

to see these huge artists in real life is<br />

just such an exhilarating experience.<br />

Twat Butcher: Do you feel like Purrja is<br />

an outlet for your love of music?<br />

Purrja: It really is. Before I started doing<br />

drag, I got it into my head that I wanted to<br />

become a music supervisor—someone<br />

in charge of curating soundtracks for<br />

TV shows, advertisements and films.<br />

It’s more about procuring the rights<br />

to the track itself, but it is still creative<br />

in a way. I remember just watching TV<br />

series when I was in my late teens and<br />

early twenties and just being completely<br />

moved by the perfect placement of<br />

the perfect song at just the right time.<br />

That always fascinated me; I would<br />

wonder who did that job, because it<br />

is so important. I’m just sitting here,<br />

watching a queer TV show or something<br />

and just sobbing, and I’m like, ‘I have to<br />

do this job.’<br />

I realized that this wasn’t going to be<br />

so easy to do in Berlin. It’s not a city for<br />

doing things in terms of TV production;<br />

London would have been way better, for<br />

example. When I started doing drag,<br />

however, I realized that it’s the same<br />

thing, you know— you’re choosing a<br />

song, you’re portraying an emotion.<br />

You’re making people feel. That’s what<br />

really drew me to drag. I pride myself<br />

on the fact that I can choose a more<br />

obscure song that nobody knows, and<br />

people will still enjoy the performance.<br />

I grew up listening to a lot of different<br />

kinds of music, and I want to perform<br />

songs that not many people know. I<br />

find that really interesting. Of course,<br />

I love going to a drag show and seeing<br />

someone perform a song that is super<br />

well-known. It’s so much fun, you can<br />

sing along and you know all the words.<br />

But I also love the unknown, of doing a<br />

performance where nobody knows the<br />

song and you just have to sell it. You<br />

know what I mean?<br />

Twat Butcher: Yeah.<br />

My dad is extremely<br />

into music, so I first<br />

heard Eminem,<br />

Massive Attack,<br />

Nirvana, Leonard<br />

Cohen and Bette<br />

Midler, all from him.<br />

You love finding new<br />

music, whereas for<br />

me it’s all about old<br />

music. Somehow<br />

I actually have a<br />

harder time! I’m<br />

not so drawn to<br />

new music or to<br />

discovering stuff, but<br />

rather to discovering<br />

old stuff. When I<br />

first started drag I<br />

really wanted to do<br />

this Old Showbiz,<br />

grande dame thing,<br />

rather than feeling<br />

the pressure to be<br />

this super-current<br />

woo-woo <strong>In</strong>stagram<br />

queen, if that makes<br />

any sense.<br />

What I also realized when I started<br />

doing drag was that <strong>with</strong> the music<br />

I love, it’s actually the lyrics that I<br />

appreciate the most. It was only after<br />

I started taking drugs that I began to<br />

appreciate music that didn’t have any<br />

lyrics or actual melodies and so on,<br />

because I’ve always loved writing and<br />

poetry, and if I didn’t really connect<br />

<strong>with</strong> the words of a song I found it<br />

hard to connect <strong>with</strong> the song at all.<br />

That’s changed now, but because of<br />

lyrics, I’m very much into storytelling.<br />

That’s also how I got into drag—<br />

wanting to tell the stories that I’d<br />

love listening to through these songs,<br />

to do it on my own, to take them and<br />

have it be a really narrative thing. I<br />

just haven’t been able to dance for<br />

so long because of COVID, but doing<br />

drag had absolutely nothing to do<br />

<strong>with</strong> dancing for me. I didn’t dance<br />

in any of my numbers, despite being<br />

a trained dancer, because the thing<br />

that I love the most is performing. I<br />

love performing and telling a story<br />

more than I love dancing. I wanted<br />

to exercise and build that part of<br />

myself, <strong>with</strong>out doing it through the<br />

lens of dance. With drag it’s much<br />

more about how you use your face;<br />

<strong>with</strong> dance, you’re not thinking<br />

about what your facial muscles are<br />

doing. <strong>In</strong> the company that I was<br />

in, the choreographer never really<br />

let us look at the audience. It was<br />

all because it was about complete<br />

movements; your head is either<br />

down or up. It was so huge for me to<br />

be able to do that <strong>with</strong> music, <strong>with</strong><br />

lyrics, telling a story.<br />

Purrja: When you create a drag<br />

persona, it is an act. Parts of your<br />

personality are absorbed into this<br />

drag character. Having that moment<br />

where you’re <strong>with</strong> an audience and<br />

you’re just telling them a story, it’s just<br />

so powerful that everyone’s watching<br />

you, so intensely fantastic. The thing<br />

that I love the most about drag is that<br />

nobody listens to me when I’m not in<br />

drag. You know what I mean? When<br />

I’m in drag, I then have this power<br />

that commands a room and people are<br />

listening to what I’m saying. So I need<br />

to make sure that what I’m saying is<br />

important, or that it’s something that<br />

I strongly believe in, or it’s a message<br />

that I really want to get across. That<br />

is the power of drag. It’s having the<br />

power to basically command people<br />

to listen to you.<br />



Twat Butcher: When you’re on a<br />

stage you definitely have what is<br />

essentially a captive audience. It’s<br />

an audience that has chosen to be<br />

there because they want to hear<br />

what you have to say, they want to see<br />

your interpretation of something.<br />

I think it’s very important that in<br />

drag shows, all across the world<br />

but definitely here in Berlin, there’s<br />

such a variety of different things<br />

that people are using that space for,<br />

to talk about personal stuff. Your<br />

Habibi performance about your<br />

personal history was fantastic. I<br />

love that loads of artists and friends<br />

of ours do these super political<br />

personal pieces.For me, I felt that<br />

coming from a contemporary<br />

dance background, everything that<br />

I did was so serious, you know,<br />

contemporary dance takes itself<br />

so seriously. Everything is about<br />

the meaning and the rule of law. I<br />

take it seriously, but having that<br />

captive audience and trying to do<br />

something really joyful, that doesn’t<br />

take itself seriously...that’s really<br />

fun. Giving that energy to a room<br />

full of people, who are often also<br />

very serious. I think it’s wonderful<br />

that some people use those spaces to<br />

work through their issues and give<br />

people who could be going through<br />

something similar this feeling that,<br />

okay, I’m not alone. On the flip side,<br />

to just do a silly performance and<br />

give people an escape from having<br />

to think about everything that they<br />

go through is just as wonderful.<br />

That’s also something that I really<br />

love about drag, especially here is<br />

that in one show, you can have both<br />

of those numbers.<br />

Purrja: Anytime you go to a Twat<br />

Butcher show, you know you’re<br />

in for a treat. I’m always laughing<br />

crazily in the back, feeling so<br />

energized and inspired by your<br />

performances. They’re always so<br />

much fun, everybody is getting<br />

so much life from what you do on<br />

stage. That’s something that I really<br />

admire about your performances.<br />

They’re so much fun, and<br />

sometimes I wish that mine were<br />

a bit more fun. I’m not saying that<br />

mine are always depressing, they’re<br />

not! I try and do a lot of different<br />

stuff. But you have such a strong<br />

stage presence that it’s hard to<br />

ignore.<br />

Twat Butcher: I think it’s also to do it <strong>with</strong> how comfortable you feel <strong>with</strong><br />

being vulnerable. Being on stage is a very vulnerable thing, and I think for<br />

some people being super energetic and trying to be funny actually makes<br />

them feel more vulnerable. Whereas being serious or conceptual is less.<br />

The Habibi number that you did was very vulnerable, in my opinion. It was<br />

amazing that you did that, it was so personal and so powerful. You always<br />

have a full visual, your background visuals <strong>with</strong> your look and your wig and<br />

the makeup, everything is a whole experience. Like an art piece; it all fits<br />

together.<br />

Purrja: That’s very sweet. You just made me really want to perform tonight!<br />

Speaking of which, what’s your relationship <strong>with</strong> nightclubs and nightlife, in<br />

Berlin and in general? Do you feel safe in these spaces? Do you go there to<br />

release? What’s your motive for going clubbing?<br />

Twat Butcher: Queer spaces are really<br />

important for me, and spaces that are<br />

really geared towards drag because I<br />

love being able to go there even if I’m not<br />

performing; just to go and be <strong>with</strong> that<br />

community and see a show. It’s a very<br />

different vibe than Cocktail D’amore,<br />

Buttons or Berghain, all that stuff. I think<br />

it’s a little bit sad how the club world and<br />

the drag world don’t necessarily overlap<br />

that much; my partying friends don’t<br />

go to drag shows that much, and vice<br />

versa. I think there’s a level of discomfort<br />

sometimes between the two people, which<br />

is something to think about. Maybe you<br />

can speak on this more, but I do think that<br />

more femme people—whether non-binary<br />

or CIS—don’t necessarily feel as safe in<br />

the clubbing scene, that there is still an<br />

overwhelming preference, or dominance,<br />

of CIS masculine gayness in the clubbing<br />

scene, which can make a lot of people feel<br />

uncomfortable. But yeah, the nightlife<br />

scene has had a massive impact on me,<br />

especially coming out later in life and<br />

having these spaces.<br />

I miss dancing so much, but the thing that is a bit of a shame is that there<br />

aren’t really any lesbian spaces in Berlin. I feel lesbians don’t get to have<br />

the same spectrum of queerness that gay men get to have, you know; most<br />

people that we know aren’t going to go hang out in those bars in Schöneberg.<br />

Somehow lesbians are all supposed to stay in one bar and do one night in<br />

this one place where we don’t have our own policies. That’s not to say that it<br />

should be exclusionary, but just a lesbian-run policy.<br />



Purrja: It’s really interesting that you say that,<br />

especially about safe spaces and drag bars and<br />

clubs. When I first moved to Berlin, I got sucked<br />

into this party lifestyle, where I was out at clubs<br />

a lot, taking a lot of drugs because I wanted so<br />

desperately to fit in because I felt it’s what I<br />

needed to do to make friends here. After a year<br />

of this I had developed a pretty intense panic<br />

disorder and very strong anxiety, and I realized<br />

the party scene was not for me. I’m a very social<br />

person, I really love socializing <strong>with</strong> people and<br />

I’ve always been that way, but I prefer more<br />

casual settings. That realization coincided <strong>with</strong><br />

me discovering drag and existing in drag spaces,<br />

and for me that’s where I feel the safest in<br />

terms of nightlife, in terms of clubbing. I don’t<br />

necessarily feel very safe at clubs; when I used<br />

to go to Cocktail or Buttons or Berghain, I would<br />

feel intensely out of place, like I was performing<br />

for these people, for these guys and, you know<br />

displaying masculinity in a way that was just<br />

uncomfortable for me.<br />

Twat Butcher: I’ve heard from a lot of female<br />

friends that you feel pressured to go and partake<br />

in this hookup culture. But in order to do that<br />

you have to wedge who you really are into a more<br />

masculine version of yourself.<br />

Purrja: Absolutely. Before I started doing drag,<br />

I had a very big beard that I’d had for years and<br />

I never saw my face underneath. When I shaved<br />

for the first time and did drag, it was liberating<br />

in the sense that— okay, I’m finally doing this<br />

and I’m expressing myself in this way, but a<br />

month after I was so depressed. I hated the way<br />

that I looked; I felt so unattractive and so ugly<br />

and nobody was looking at me and it was just this<br />

horrible feeling. I know people who go to clubs<br />

just to dance, because they need to get rid of<br />

their energy that way. I completely understand<br />

that, but it’s not my story. I love to socialize and<br />

be <strong>with</strong> friends and have a kiki and have a cute<br />

time. I express myself and let out my steam.<br />

Actually, when I started doing drag, I started<br />

going out less.<br />

Twat Butcher: Yeah, because you got the thing<br />

that you had been searching for basically.<br />

Purrja: I know it sounds lame, but I found my<br />

purpose and I didn’t need to continue <strong>with</strong> that<br />

stuff anymore.<br />

Twat Butcher: Maybe now’s not the time for<br />

that whole <strong>conversation</strong>, but I think that this is<br />

something that needs to be spoken about a lot<br />

more. And I know Pansy, I know Danilo from<br />

Buttons; some people in the scene are doing a<br />

lot more to talk about staying focused on your<br />

purpose whilst being in the nightlife scene, AKA<br />

not getting lost in it. Being able to be out from<br />

Friday to Monday, taking tons of drugs and all<br />

that...I think in the queer community, that isn’t something that gets talked<br />

about enough, and I think it’s such a relatable thing for so many people. So<br />

much of our community revolves around partying and drugs, and that’s totally<br />

fine and good, but I think a lot of people don’t speak about the fact that actually<br />

you’re looking for that community because you’re looking to fill some deep<br />

need inside yourself; whether it’s a rejection from your family, from not fitting<br />

in at home, wherever, that’s why you’re out there in the first place.<br />

If you aren’t able to make those meaningful connections in that context, it<br />

actually becomes a really toxic cycle. You look for it by going out to parties, but<br />

you don’t find it so it makes you sad. So you take more drugs because you’re<br />

scared to connect <strong>with</strong> people in the first place, but then you’re just connecting<br />

<strong>with</strong> those drugs. Then you become dependent on them to connect at all. At<br />

the end of the day, we all have this vulnerable and inherent need in us to feel<br />

safe and to feel connected <strong>with</strong> people.<br />

Purrja: Yeah, for sure. I know so many<br />

people who come to Berlin solely to<br />

party; it’s obsessive the way that some<br />

people view it. I mean, I get that, but it’s<br />

so intensely focused on getting fucked<br />

up and going to parties. When you don’t<br />

really identify <strong>with</strong> that lifestyle, it can be<br />

quite difficult to find your place, as you<br />

said—’Why don’t I fit in? Why can’t I be the<br />

same as these people? Is something wrong<br />

<strong>with</strong> me?’ You feel weird about living a life<br />

in Berlin where you’re not partying, where<br />

you go for walks. It’s a different life, and<br />

I’ve been living that for the last three years<br />

now. There’s more than one face to Berlin.<br />

Twat Butcher: That’s also something that I feel isn’t spoken about, this—and<br />

it’s not necessarily intentional—the cliquey vibe of the cool kids that go to<br />

every party and everybody knows who they are; like in high school, you feel<br />

pressured to be a part of the ‘cool’ crowd, and it’s the same here in the party<br />

scene.<br />

It’s just unfortunate that we as queer people are so often insecure and unsure<br />

about making meaningful connections <strong>with</strong> people, because either we tried<br />

and experienced rejection from our friends and family back home, or we<br />

haven’t been able to fully nurture and accept who we really are. So that’s<br />

a weird place to start trying to make an honest connection <strong>with</strong> anyone, if<br />

you haven’t been able to fully look at who you are. You’ve got love yourself;<br />

otherwise, how can you have anyone else?<br />

Purrja: The point about connection is a good one, because that’s what draws<br />

me. When people come to a drag show, they’re going <strong>with</strong> the intention of<br />

seeing a show, of being moved and touched and entertained. That’s where<br />

I’ve formed the strongest connections in my life at the moment. That’s where<br />

this concept of chosen family comes into it; these are the spaces where family<br />

members reveal themselves because it’s where I’m being the most vulnerable<br />

that I’ve ever been. When people see that it just opens up so much connection;<br />

that’s what I really enjoy the most about being in drag spaces. Have you had a<br />

similar experience?<br />



Twat Butcher: When your passion is something<br />

creative and you work <strong>with</strong> people who share the<br />

same passion, you tend to run into people who you<br />

fit <strong>with</strong>. That’s how we first met, actually! These<br />

are the people who I’ll be friends <strong>with</strong> for the<br />

rest of my life—all these friendships born from a<br />

place of shared passion and shared creation. You<br />

get to know people in a really deep way if you have<br />

that connection <strong>with</strong> them. There’s nothing more<br />

important than that, I think, as a queer person.<br />

Purrja: A hundred percent. And even this whole<br />

thing of chosen family doesn’t necessarily have<br />

to run so deep. I can go into Tipsy Bear on a<br />

Saturday night during a non-pandemic and feel<br />

such a strong sense of family. From the owners<br />

and bartenders and everyone that works there to<br />

bring these shows together, for me, they’re my<br />

family too.<br />

Twat Butcher: Your chosen family is the same<br />

way your real family is—you’ve got your mom<br />

and dad, brother, sister, and then you’ve got first<br />

cousins and aunts, second cousins, all the way<br />

down to family friends, and it’s the same in a<br />

queer family. And the space where you feel safe is<br />

also a member of that family.<br />

Purrja: Yeah, I feel the same; it’s mostly queer<br />

spaces or drag spaces where you go and you just<br />

feel a sense of a family and community, of feeling<br />

united. Well, before we wrap up, I just wanted to<br />

ask you where you see Twat in the next year?<br />

Twat Butcher: I do also want to push myself to do<br />

more emotional performances as well, because I<br />

think that’s an important thing for me to access<br />

in the context. But what I’ve come to realize is<br />

that I want to continue to use my drag as research<br />

for acting. Because now I feel safe in drag, and<br />

drag is so over the top; you can be so comfortable<br />

inside extremes, to go big and then to pare it<br />

back and see , okay, how does, how do these<br />

experiences, these performances in drag inform<br />

how I could perform as Ruby, in the context of<br />

a narrative storytelling situation, acting, a play,<br />

whatever. That’s what I see for me.<br />

With the Flaming Go-Go’s, we’d worked a lot<br />

and had loads of shows before COVID. Once<br />

everything’s open, we’re going to be back <strong>with</strong> a<br />

bang. I’m looking forward to doing that again,<br />

having that freedom of expression as well. I miss<br />

it a lot, but the biggest thing for me is using drag<br />

to push my performance skills, as a characterbuilding<br />

tool that I can then apply to my own<br />

performance as myself. What about you?<br />


Purrja: Well, first of all, I’m really excited<br />

to hear that the Flaming Go-Go’s will be<br />

back! Some of the most fun times ever.<br />

It’s such an interesting year because the<br />

pandemic has obviously blown everything<br />

out in the open and you’re left feeling<br />

, what am I doing? I dabbled in online<br />

digital performances and I enjoyed that,<br />

so going forward, what’s fascinating<br />

for me is to incorporate different media<br />

into my performances; visual stuff and<br />

maybe more soundscape things. I recently<br />

started this music production workshop,<br />

where I’m learning how to use Ableton and<br />

produce my own music. I want to make<br />

music, I want to produce and perform<br />

my own songs, I want to create visual<br />

landscapes for the music. My goal for the<br />

next year would be that I could release an<br />

EP. Which sounds wild, but...<br />

Twat Butcher: I don’t think it sounds wild,<br />

I can completely see it! I’ve said this to you<br />

many times, but I see Purrja as someone<br />

<strong>with</strong> their own sound; not just, lip-syncing<br />

somebody else’s music but creating your<br />

own thing.<br />

Purrja: Before I even did drag, I wanted to<br />

produce music. I didn’t know what context<br />

that would be in or what my viewpoint<br />

would be, or even what I wanted to say, but<br />

through doing drag and really exploring<br />

this character, I feel I have a much stronger<br />

point of view and a very solid idea of what<br />

I want to create. So yeah, I guess that’s my<br />

plan.<br />

Twat Butcher: We all know how much I<br />

love to sing. So I’ll be there.<br />

Purrja: We still have to do that karaoke<br />

night where nobody else is allowed to sing.<br />

It’s just an invited audience.<br />

@twatbutcher<br />

@purrja<br />


History of Drug Harm Reduction<br />

<strong>In</strong> 1971, Richard Nixon declared drug abuse to be the "public enemy number one of the United States" and thus<br />

launched the Drugs War. The DEA was formed in 1973 and imposed mandatory prison sentences for nonviolent<br />

drug-related crimes. It wasn't until the 1980s that Ronald Reagan really buckled down on drugs, causing<br />

an upsurge in prison, primarily targeting low-income communities and people of color.<br />

The drug war continues to rage today, though less public and <strong>with</strong> a shifting dynamic. It is universally accepted<br />

that the aggressive tactics of criminal punishment and stigmatization continue to fail to prevent people from<br />

doing drugs. <strong>In</strong> fact, studies show that they are more than likely to have the reverse effect, while also causing<br />

severe trauma to impoverished communities of color. The harm reduction movement came about in response<br />

to the grave crisis.<br />

Historically, harm reduction is a collection of public health and social practices that communities engage in to<br />

properly care for each other <strong>with</strong> the intention of minimizing the social and physical consequences of drug use,<br />

regardless of their legality. The ultimate goal is to see where people stand on drug consumption and meet<br />

them there by adequately treating them <strong>with</strong> boundless compassion.<br />

Rave Scout x DanceSafe National<br />

Rave Scout Cookies is committed to endorse harm reduction practices and provide resources to the<br />

community and society at large as one of its rave preservation projects. <strong>In</strong> 2019, we partnered <strong>with</strong> DanceSafe<br />

National to raise awareness on harm reduction and cease the shame and stigma of drug use. Criminalization<br />

remains the primary weapon of the drug war. The use of the criminal justice system to solve public health<br />

problems has proved to be ineffective but also socially destructive. It promotes stigma and discrimination,<br />

largely carried by already marginalized and vulnerable communities.<br />


<strong>In</strong> each issue of its periodic handbook, Rave Scout<br />

Cookies, in collaboration <strong>with</strong> harm reduction nonprofit<br />

organization DanceSafe National, publishes a<br />

collaborative guide for safer consumption of a<br />

differing drug–– which includes some helpful tips in<br />

the form of an anecdote written by the Rave Scout<br />

and DanceSafe teams. These tips will be relevant<br />

for both users of the drug and party organizers. For<br />

our Kaltblut feature special, we’ve selected to<br />

discuss what is possibly the most controversial and<br />

stigmatized substance on the rave scene right now<br />

and many decades that came before, GHB.<br />

(GBL, B)<br />

GHB stays on everybody’s lips. It reigns uncontested as the most<br />

controversial drug on the scene right now. It feels good and it’s a<br />

cheap date, but it’s also extremely delicate and a lot of people are<br />

overdosing on it. Is GHB acceptable as a party drug? It depends on<br />

who you’re asking. People who use it see it as a cut above substitute<br />

for alcohol, <strong>with</strong> similar effects of euphoria plus increased social<br />

confidence and libido, <strong>with</strong>out the grogginess or the hangover.<br />

Scientific studies on the long-term effects of GHB on the body are<br />

little known and only now emerging, and ignorance is bliss. It is<br />

relatively inexpensive, making it particularly attractive to poor<br />

communities, which often means queer folk and people of color.<br />

These things considered, its ever-increasing popularity at raves and<br />

sex parties comes as no surprise.<br />

On the flip side, event organizers categorically reject it. On the international<br />

party scene, it is common to see posters plastered on walls of venues<br />

warning attendees against using G at risk of immediate eviction and<br />

permanent bans for users and their friends. DJs publish Anti-GHB warnings<br />

in their <strong>In</strong>stagram stories, so you know where they stand when it comes to<br />

their own parties. <strong>In</strong> Berlin, bouncers are known to take baby whiffs of partygoers'<br />

bottles of poppers to make sure the liquid isn't GHB. Without opining<br />

on organizers' methods, their insistence and vigilance on the matter are<br />

understandable. With the spike in consumption of GHB comes a spike in<br />

overdoses, which can be fatal to people and parties alike. It is an especially<br />

delicate drug, <strong>with</strong> a drop or two being the difference between feeling your<br />

sexy self and slipping into a very unsexy and potentially fatal coma. GHB<br />

overdoses are particularly visible, <strong>with</strong> people passing out and even going<br />

into seizure. Besides being scary, these loud symptoms attract the<br />

unwanted attention of paramedics and cops, considering a 911 call can give<br />

away a shindig's location and get it shut down. Parties across the world have<br />

been forced to either permanently close up shop or go on hiatus because<br />

of GHB overdoses. The clear liquid, easily mistakeable for water, was<br />

accused of singlehandedly bringing the U.K queer nightlife scene to the<br />

brink of destruction in the late aughts.<br />

Qiblawi,<br />

Danny<br />

Scout Segment Editor<br />

Rave<br />

Jaberi,<br />

Salman<br />

Development & Design<br />

Content<br />

Brown & Carl Todd,<br />

Flatbush<br />

of Graphics<br />

Selection<br />

It is unclear if the warning signs and<br />

<strong>In</strong>stagram posts are effective, but instead<br />

of quitting or turning to alternatives, it<br />

seems users are instead resorting to taking<br />

the drug in secret, which is proven to be<br />

even more dangerous <strong>with</strong> any substance.<br />

Look, we get it, drugs are fun. More than just<br />

being fun, we understand the physical,<br />

psychological, and spiritual benefits that<br />

recreational drug use brings to people's<br />

lives. Equally, our nightlife spaces,<br />

particularly queer ones, are precious. Our<br />

responsibility, when consuming any drug,<br />

extends beyond just ourselves to the<br />

friends who take care of us, the parties that<br />

cater to us and to the community at large.<br />

What's a raver <strong>with</strong>out a rave? The<br />

relationship is symbiotic and must be<br />

respected for the good of everyone<br />

involved. It is important to note that unlike<br />

the war on drugs, which was essentially rich<br />

white people in power controlling and<br />

punishing denizens of poor, queer, brown<br />

communities, the calls to remove GHB from<br />

the rave scene come from the mouths of<br />

our own chiefs.<br />

So, is GHB acceptable at parties? Well, for<br />

the purposes of this guide, the question is<br />

moot. Right now, people are using it<br />

regardless. We do not condone or promote<br />

the consumption of GHB. The only way to<br />

eliminate the harm that consuming any<br />

drug can bring to you and your community<br />

is to stop consuming it entirely. With that<br />

said, if you have decided that the benefits<br />

of using this drug outweigh the risks, we've<br />

published DanceSafe National's GHB harm<br />

reduction guidelines and anecdotal, in<br />

addition to some Rave Scout anecdotal<br />

safety tips.<br />


f o r<br />

g h b<br />

u s e r s<br />

s a f e t y<br />

t i p s<br />


AID<br />


Prepare your own doses.<br />

Always measure G carefully using a syringe or<br />

pipette. This you do in milliliters since you are now<br />

dosing out the liquid. Never swig G from the bottle,<br />

it is a very delicate drug. Trust your friends, but stay<br />

wary of people who offer you GHB <strong>with</strong>out<br />

consulting you on your experience <strong>with</strong> the drug.<br />

Again, when taking GHB from other people, make<br />

sure to ask if it is GHB, GBL, or BDO.<br />

Make sure you have<br />

the right gear.<br />

(GBL, B)<br />

Do drugs <strong>with</strong> intention.<br />

Whatever drug you're taking, take it <strong>with</strong> a responsible<br />

mindset. Know what you want out of it and set<br />

boundaries for yourself on where you're willing to go. This<br />

is a requirement for safer consumption of any drug,<br />

particularly for one as volatile and delicate as GHB.<br />

Know what<br />

you are buying.<br />

GBL, GHB, and BDO look pretty much identical, but<br />

they are not. GBL is chemically very similar to GHB. It<br />

actually converts into GHB quickly once it enters the<br />

body. However, it's also two to three times stronger,<br />

making the amount required to overdose much lower.<br />

The amount that will cause an overdose is also<br />

bodyweight dependent, which means taking a GHBsized<br />

dose of GBL can easily lead to overdose and<br />

death, especially for smaller people.<br />

GHB melts plastic. This means that it can make holes in<br />

the wrong bottles, and even erase the measurement<br />

markings on a pipette or dropper. By the end of the<br />

night, you won't be able to accurately measure your<br />

doses, which is hard enough to do by strobe light of a<br />

dark club even when you're not high. A better idea is to<br />

prepare your doses before your night out and keep<br />

them in vials. This helps you stay consistent and<br />

accurate.<br />

Always<br />

start small.<br />

New to dosing? Bottle from a new<br />

source? Play it safe. We all have<br />

different thresholds. As <strong>with</strong> all drugs,<br />

you have to build a relationship <strong>with</strong><br />

GHB and understand how it affects<br />

your body.<br />

not mix GHB <strong>with</strong> alcohol under<br />

Do<br />

circumstances.<br />

any<br />

This is a surefire way to ruin everyone's<br />

night and land yourself in the hospital.<br />

mix it <strong>with</strong> Ketamine<br />

Don't<br />

opiates either.<br />

or<br />

This is known to cause nausea, and barfing<br />

looks even less cute than it feels.<br />

a source you trust.<br />

Have<br />

The potency of G can significantly differ from bottle to<br />

bottle. It's best to be familiar <strong>with</strong> what you're taking, so<br />

you know how to dose yourself. When buying G, make<br />

sure you ask about its concentration, which is actually<br />

measured in grams. i.e., "How many milligrams of G are<br />

there in this solution?" If you can't get an answer, you<br />

shouldn’t consume the drug until you test it.<br />

someone when you've<br />

Tell<br />

a dose.<br />

done<br />

G messes <strong>with</strong> your memory; it's easy to forget<br />

if you've put some in your (always nonalcoholic)<br />

drink. This way, if you've lost track of<br />

whether you've taken one or not, you have<br />

someone to check in <strong>with</strong>. Do not take another<br />

dose if you are not sure. Wait it out.<br />


f o r<br />

g h b<br />

s a f e t y<br />

t i p s<br />


AID<br />


Tips For<br />

Organizers<br />

Have an onsite medical team. Depending on<br />

the size of your party and of the drug habits of<br />

your attendees, consider hiring medical<br />

professionals. Have a clearly designated area<br />

where people can receive medical attention. If<br />

you have the funds for high end production, you<br />

certainly have the funds for a private medical<br />

team.<br />

u s e r s<br />

(GBL, B)<br />

Redosing GHB is tricky.<br />

Set timers and do not re-dose before at least 90-120<br />

minutes have passed, even if you don't feel high. If you do still<br />

feel high, you may need to wait 120-180 minutes. Keep in<br />

mind that redosing hour after hour becomes increasingly<br />

dangerous, particularly after the third or fourth round.<br />

Educate rather than punish. As opposed to<br />

banning it outright, warn about the harm GHB<br />

can cause people and your party. People will lie<br />

about what drugs they have taken to avoid<br />

bans and shaming, which is very dangerous.<br />

Regulate behaviors as opposed to drug use.<br />

Have clear policies on essential subjects like<br />

consent, passing out, and violence. This<br />

protects everyone involved should you find<br />

that the appropriate action is to remove<br />

someone from the venue, <strong>with</strong>out stigmatizing<br />

drug use.<br />

Have places to sit. It's not just about comfort,<br />

it's also about safety. Seating areas allow for<br />

rest and recovery.<br />

something before you<br />

Eat<br />

GHB. do<br />

bright food coloring in your<br />

Put<br />

bottle.<br />

GHB<br />

This helps ensure no one accidentally<br />

mistakes it for water or liquor.<br />

Avoid shaming<br />

your friends for<br />

doing GHB.<br />

Marginalizing and stigmatizing people is proven to<br />

have the opposite of the desired effect of getting<br />

people to stop doing drugs. Your friends will more<br />

than likely just end up doing G in secret and passing<br />

out in hidden corners, which is scary. If you think<br />

your friends have a problematic relationship <strong>with</strong><br />

the drug, rather than treat them as untouchable,<br />

connect them <strong>with</strong> local resources that will help<br />

them.<br />

What to do if<br />

someone<br />

overdoses?.<br />

Put the person in the recovery position. Place<br />

the person on their side, <strong>with</strong> legs bent, and<br />

head resting on the arm on the floor. This<br />

position prevents choking by letting the fluid<br />

drain from the person's mouth. Check in on<br />

them and their breathing.<br />

An ambulance should be called if the breathing<br />

slows to less than eight breaths a minute.<br />

Slapping people to sober them up or giving<br />

them other drugs like coke or speed does not<br />

work. The person has overdosed, and their body<br />

needs to work through it.<br />


G daily is dangerous. If you have been using G<br />

Using<br />

and want to stop, there are severe <strong>with</strong>drawal<br />

daily<br />

symptoms, including confusion, paranoia, delirium,<br />

memory problems, tremors, and<br />

hallucinations,<br />

If you do want to detox, do so under<br />

more.<br />

supervision at a medical facility.<br />











nuuna.com<br />


Between<br />

memory<br />

and a<br />

modern<br />

aesthetic:<br />

Valentino<br />

Men’s<br />

Pre Fall<br />

Collection<br />

May I introduce you to the new Valentino Men’s Pre Fall<br />

Collection starring model Teddy Corsica in exclusivity<br />

for this project. The Men’s Pre Fall Collection is a new<br />

vision and proposal of Formalwear and men’s mindset.<br />

The signs and codes of Valentino today are re-signified<br />

through knowledge and freedom of personal expression.<br />

The Maison’s heritage is re-signified, updated and<br />

innovated, <strong>with</strong>out losing its rooted values.<br />

The nature of men’s wardrobe is versatile, a totally<br />

free and nonconformist attitude. The craftmanship<br />

conveys value to the research of the classic items of a<br />

wardrobe in perpetual evolution, moved by an instinct<br />

of de-structuring and reconstructing, according to<br />

experimental gestures that add to the iconicity of the<br />

pieces.<br />

There is a strong focus on embroideries, a drive<br />

towards the suit and the study of textiles. By being<br />

fragmented in a multiplication of views, the Valentino<br />

identity finds its inclusive, lively unity. The opportunity<br />

to contaminate aesthetic languages and codes makes<br />

everyday decisions more interesting and fluid. Free.<br />

Valentino is one of these worlds, synonym of<br />

craftsmanship, expertise, elegance, Couture.<br />




The basic elements of formal wear, white<br />

shirt and black tie, redefine the value of<br />

identity in which the Creative Director<br />

Pierpaolo Piccioli firmly believes in.<br />

Everyone can live side by side, meet,<br />

transform each time in something unique,<br />

<strong>with</strong>out losing their real self. Romantic,<br />

subversive, punk, gentlemen, free.<br />

www.valentino.com<br />

@maisonvalentino<br />



One to<br />

watch<br />

Marina Kitsukawa<br />

Photographer Alîn Zerya @alinzerya_<br />

Fashion Marina Kitsukawa @marina_s_online<br />

Model Arnord <strong>In</strong>gendju @arnord.ingendju<br />

Make Up artist Evin Yeyrek @evinmuaberlin<br />

<strong>In</strong>troducing Marina Kitsukawa: The French-Japanese Fashion Design Graduate of the University<br />

of the Arts in Berlin. Photographer Alîn Zerya captured model Arnord <strong>In</strong>gendju in the amazing<br />

creations from the young designer.<br />

“The starting point of this work is the analysis of the craft technique Suminagashi (inc floating on<br />

water); a traditional Japanese technique practiced as early as the 12th century. Later in the 17th<br />

century, the art of Suminagashi spread throughout Europe known as marbling.<br />

The interesting thing about the marble technique is, when you drop different colours in water, the<br />

colours always stand for themselves and never get mixed <strong>with</strong> each other. And this is the point, what<br />

makes this technique so beautiful and interesting. There are many different colours, existing side by<br />

side and in this way, they create one harmonious pattern together.<br />

<strong>In</strong> this handicraft technique, I saw the symbol for what I wish for our society: The living together of<br />

many different individuals, each <strong>with</strong> its own wonderful and unique colour, which together form a<br />

harmonious assembly or a harmonious pattern. The message I want to create <strong>with</strong> my work is the<br />

call for more tolerance and acceptance of individuals in society <strong>with</strong> a mood of fun and freedom.<br />

For the silhouette, I was inspired by the beauty of free-minded pride parade people. People who<br />

are demonstrating multisexuality and multiculturalism. They want to be accepted from society<br />

as individuals: as homosexuals or as a person from a different nationality. After I analysed the<br />

garment of pride parade people, I chose the chap trousers and the tight top as a reference garment.<br />

The classic jacked, also often worn on the parade, stands historically for uniformity and conformity.<br />

By choosing a transparent and colourful material for this jacket, this piece challenges the meaning<br />

of this classical uniform in a playful and permissive way. Colour: I used some colours of the rainbow<br />

symbol from the pride parade. Therefore, pink stands for sexuality, yellow for the sunlight and blue<br />

for harmony,” says Marina Kitsukawa.<br />








Bambi<br />

Mercury<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Marcel Schlutt @marcel_schlutt<br />

Photography by Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert @jwo_studio<br />

Bambi Mercury’s real name is Tim and is known as one of the most exciting drag queens on the Berlin<br />

scene. He has made a name for himself <strong>with</strong> years of hard work in the club scene as a DJ and club kid<br />

and lives openly <strong>with</strong> his alter ego. Bambi does not embody the classic image of drag queens, as we know<br />

them from Rupaul’s drag race, for example. Tim is a father, an icon and podcast star. Special thanks to<br />

photographer Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert for capturing Bambi Mercury for this issue!<br />

Hello Bambi. Welcome to our family.<br />

Let’s start directly. Please tell our<br />

readers where you are from and<br />

what is your mission?<br />

Hey! Thank you so much for having<br />

me. I’ve lived in Berlin for several<br />

years and during that time I created<br />

my Drag Persona “Bambi Mercury”.<br />

I think she was always inside of me.<br />

But in Berlin, in my queer bubble and<br />

<strong>with</strong> all those creative people around<br />

me, Bambi came out and said: Hi<br />

there! Let’s get it on!<br />

What drove you to create your drag<br />

persona? How did your drag name<br />

come about?<br />

I always had friends who did Drag.<br />

One time, one of my friends took<br />

me to a bar for a public viewing<br />

of RuPaul’s Drag Race. After<br />

the screening, the local Queens<br />

performed and I saw the diversity<br />

and creativity of their art and I was<br />

enchanted.<br />

I had the chance to perform on that<br />

stage weeks later, and figured out,<br />

make up is harder than you think in<br />

the first place. I looked awful, but it<br />

was a lot of fun.<br />

My friends have always called me Bambi since my teen<br />

years. I added Mercury, because of my passion for<br />

Freddie Mercury and Queen. Bambi Mercury was born.<br />

<strong>In</strong> 2019 you took part in Queen of Drags, a drag<br />

show <strong>with</strong> Heidi Klum on German TV. How has that<br />

affected your career?<br />

It was such a joyride and another small step for<br />

German television. <strong>In</strong> the beginning of 2020 we all had<br />

our live shows at Metropol Berlin and my whole year<br />

was already packed <strong>with</strong> bookings. (Performances/<br />

Host/DJ)<br />

Then the pandemic happened. But it didn’t stop my<br />

creativity. We found our way to stay relevant and use<br />

our voices.<br />

How important is a TV show like Queen of Drags and<br />

RuPaul’s Drag Race for the community? For many<br />

drag queens and fans, these TV shows are more than<br />

just a safe space.<br />

Our queer clubs are our safe spaces. Still there, but<br />

closed. They are essential for us.<br />

Showing visibility, diversity and all colours of our<br />

community is the most important thing. Germany<br />

still needs time to soak it up. As a queer child, it is<br />

such a relief to see drag artists and queer people on<br />

televison. There is an identification that takes place<br />

and is very important to become who you really are<br />

and makes you stronger.<br />




Talking about safe spaces... How important are such<br />

places for you personally and which places in Berlin<br />

do you call a “safe space” and why?<br />

For me personally, my safe space is my close friends,<br />

my chosen family and my club Schwuz. At Schwuz I had<br />

my first DJ gigs and it was the first club I went to when<br />

I was in Berlin. There are several clubs and bars where<br />

we can be ourselves.<br />

On the topic of nightlife and LGBTQIA+ communities,<br />

what is it like in your city? How could visibility be<br />

increased?<br />

I would say that the media is one factor. You will always<br />

see stereotypes, but not everyone who lives under the<br />

same umbrella. Berlin is a very international city, but<br />

it is still filled <strong>with</strong> hateful people and crime against<br />

LGBTQIA+ people. This is why we still need a Pride<br />

and talking about being queer. So many people, mostly<br />

straight people, don’t understand the struggle. My<br />

friend Barbie Breakout said once, “Just take someone,<br />

who’s the same gender as you are and have a walk, hand<br />

in hand on the street and wait for the response.”<br />

The drag industry is no longer an underground scene.<br />

The mainstream and pop music world is celebrating<br />

drag queens around the world. But here in Germany,<br />

I think, we still have a long way to go. What would you<br />

change if you had the power?<br />

Oh yes! I would love to have a chance to change a lot.<br />

Going to church in drag and asking them why God<br />

hates gays. I would love to do a 7 day documentation<br />

where I go to several spots like a kindergarden or<br />

retirement homes in drag and have a talk <strong>with</strong> people.<br />

Discussions on television shows or maybe a series<br />

about authentic queer life and not only the cliché stuff.<br />

You are an artist, DJ, performer, father and an icon<br />

for many Berliners. What advice can you give to the<br />

next generation of drag performers? To survive the<br />

industry.<br />

Have fun! Don’t take yourself too seriously! You won’t<br />

get rich, the biggest gift is friendship and experience.<br />

For me the most beautiful moments I have had are<br />

when people told me that they or their children have<br />

been encouraged to be themselves (Outing) and being<br />

supported by their loved ones, just because of me.<br />

These moments give me the recognition that I am right<br />

in what I do. Priceless!<br />

We have been affected by<br />

the pandemic for more than<br />

a year now. How do you<br />

survive these times?<br />

I saved a lot of money,<br />

originally for a trip <strong>with</strong><br />

my bestie Candy Crash. We<br />

wanted to go to San Francisco<br />

for Christmas and New Years<br />

Eve 2020. It helped me to<br />

survive, I had some DJ gigs<br />

on streaming platforms or<br />

corporations like Xbox.<br />

These strange times gave us<br />

the option to rethink what<br />

we do or what we can do.<br />

It makes us more creative<br />

and powerful and we are all<br />

connected, because of social<br />

media. I am working on<br />

several projects.<br />

What does a typical<br />

lockdown day look like for<br />

you?<br />

Long sleep, checking email.<br />

Watching old movies and<br />

also adult ones. I eat a lot of<br />

crap but try to balance it <strong>with</strong><br />

walks in the park or playing<br />

<strong>with</strong> my 2 little girls. I really<br />

miss having food <strong>with</strong> my<br />

friends and meeting in our<br />

favourite restaurants.<br />

What will be the first thing<br />

you do when the pandemic is<br />

over?<br />

Grab my best friends and<br />

have a big big celebration in<br />

a restaurant <strong>with</strong> masses of<br />

food. Visiting my parents <strong>with</strong><br />

my children and their mother.<br />

Family and friends are very<br />

important for me. During<br />

lockdown my grandma was<br />

not able to meet my children,<br />

she passed away in March.<br />




112<br />

“Our queer clubs are<br />

our safe spaces.<br />

Still there, but closed.<br />

They are essential for<br />

us. Showing visibility,<br />

diversity and all<br />

colours of our<br />

community is the most<br />

important thing.“


You just released the podcast Mehr Glitzer <strong>with</strong><br />

the wonderful Candy Crash.<br />

Wonderful? She is a beast! Haha! She is one of my<br />

oldest friends and Iam very proud to have been on<br />

several events <strong>with</strong> her.<br />

What is your podcast about? And why did it take<br />

you until 2021 for you to do a podcast?<br />

You will find Mehr Glitzer on Audible, where we<br />

talk about everything also our views from our<br />

sights, ‘cause for straights its always a different<br />

view than living in a queer bubble. And we will also<br />

drink Champagne from LIDL and throw shade.<br />

It took 1 year preparing everything. Audible<br />

took its time but we are more than happy<br />

that they gave us the platform for our<br />

queer themes.<br />

What are you striving for next? What do you want to see<br />

change or improve?<br />

I have plans to work on television and writing a lot, I also<br />

create upcycled sweaters. I stay creative and just go <strong>with</strong> the<br />

flow. I would love to see more kindness and understanding<br />

from all the people out there. The Me Too and Black Lives<br />

Matter movements are 2 serious themes that will be <strong>with</strong> us<br />

for a very long time. Educate yourself and start supporting<br />

our sisters and brothers!<br />

<strong>In</strong>stagram<br />

@bambi_mercury<br />



BE YOUR<br />


SELF<br />

116<br />


Words Lewis Robert Cameron @lrcfashionstylist<br />

Photography Gijs van de Veerdonk @gijsvdvd<br />

Fashion Teun Seuren @teun_seuren<br />

Makeup + Hair Vito Armando @vito.armando<br />

Models Jules Jaden Avery @julesjadenavery<br />

Wouter Rave @w.rave,<br />

Aryelle Freeman<br />

@aryellefreeman_hopelezz<br />

Jewelry design Simone Schampers @sisijohanna<br />

Gloves Jeanne Hermans @cest_jeanne<br />

Nail art Manon Van Eldik @manon_elvera<br />

Assistant Robin Promma @r.b.n_<br />

Special thanks to Fashionclash<br />

@fashionclash_festival<br />



Netherlands based designer and KALTBLUT fam-fav Teun Seuren unleashed another successfully explosive<br />

collection for AW21, entitled Pick My Flowers, They’re Wild presented at Fashion Clash, bursting <strong>with</strong> unapologetic<br />

queerness from head to toe, henny. Petals were flowing, prints were popping and shapes were served in<br />

Electra Abundance. Delivering inclusivity in isolation and finding inspiration in drag communities and the<br />

beauty of the natural world, Seuren gives us the revelation of the you do you variety we so desperately need<br />

right now.<br />

Hi Teun, long time no speak. How have you been?<br />

Hey KALTBLUT, yes indeed. I am doing wonderful,<br />

thanks for asking. I have lots of exciting projects<br />

coming up, and I am starting a small production<br />

line. So I don’t have any complaints.<br />

Wow you have been busy! That is amazing news<br />

and congrats on the new collection also.<br />

Thank you very much. It was such a strange yet<br />

amazing show this time. Fully digital this year, which<br />

was pretty exciting.<br />

What was the inspiration behind the name of the<br />

collection?<br />

The main inspiration was my love for wild flowers<br />

and nature. Particularly how each plant lives its own<br />

life <strong>with</strong>out necessarily getting in the way of others.<br />

Also the fascinating occurrence of weeds sprouting<br />

out from between the pavement and flowering despite<br />

all adversity. The power of standing out, living<br />

your own life <strong>with</strong>out interference from others.<br />

How do you think recent world events have impacted<br />

and influenced you as a designer and more<br />

specifically, this collection?<br />

I’ve developed myself more as a person and started<br />

getting into the world of drag. I realized this lockdown<br />

is actually a mirror of how society deals <strong>with</strong><br />

people who renounce social norms. People whose<br />

appearance does not conform to social norms and<br />

standards can also feel isolated a large majority of<br />

the time. This was a starting point for the collection<br />

in which I offer a platform for diversity and identity,<br />

where we can create a safe space to be yourself no<br />

matter what. I want to make people feel good <strong>with</strong><br />

my clothes. Let them feel and enjoy their identity<br />

while being absolutely fabulous.<br />

This collection feels a lot softer and more sensual<br />

than your previous collections. Why do you think<br />

this is?<br />

I agree, this collection is indeed a lot softer than the<br />

previous collection. <strong>In</strong> this collection my focus was<br />

very much on putting together a beautiful bouquet<br />

of colours and structures. Everything in the collection<br />

has a warm side, which makes it a lot softer.<br />

Which makes it very sensual. But a long fake nail<br />

here or an obscuring mask there makes it refined, but<br />

also hot and sexy.<br />

I love the powerful silhouettes and contrasting elements<br />

you have included. Tell me more about these<br />

specific choices?<br />

After the success of my previous collection, and the further<br />

development of myself as a designer, I wanted to<br />

implement all these new skills I’ve gained throughout the<br />

process. I brought back various items from the previous<br />

collection. Like the femme biker peplum jacket. But this<br />

time <strong>with</strong> a full length mermaid skirt. I also wanted to<br />

experiment more <strong>with</strong> movement and how clothing can<br />

respond to it. The look <strong>with</strong> the ocher yellow jacket and<br />

peacock print ruffles in combination <strong>with</strong> the leopard<br />

print mesh top and pants is a perfect example. Even while<br />

standing still it is already an impressive look, but once in<br />

motion the look comes to life and it almost looks like a<br />

coral reef swaying in the current of the ocean. Same goes<br />

for the soft biker helmet, while headbanging, the ruffles<br />

tend to bounce in a hypnotizing swirl, like wind blowing<br />

through a field.<br />

Talk me through your print and pattern choices. What<br />

inspired you to work <strong>with</strong> these specific fabrics and<br />

prints this season?<br />

We had zebra last season. And since I like animal prints,<br />

I decided to go for leopard this season. A luxurious pink<br />

satin also caught my eye, I immediately fell in love <strong>with</strong><br />

the combination of pink and the warm hues and spots of<br />

the leopard print. I got the embroidered floral mesh from<br />

my local fabric store. The flowers of this print match<br />

beautifully <strong>with</strong> the pink satin and pop off the mustard<br />

yellow stretch cotton I used for my suits and jackets.<br />

What did you enjoy most about designing and making<br />

your new collection?<br />

What I enjoyed most was developing my leopard wedding<br />

dress. The skirt consists of 11 meters of heavy furniture<br />

fabric <strong>with</strong> an intricate lining. This was a dress that I<br />

have wanted to make for a while. What I also loved was<br />

collaborating <strong>with</strong> different local artists. For example,<br />

my personal nail artist Manon van Eldik made the fake<br />

nails covered <strong>with</strong> the same fabric as the bodysuit itself.<br />

Also Simone Schampers who makes jewelry was able to<br />

send me very bold earrings and necklaces to compliment<br />

the looks.<br />







What do you think it means to<br />

be an unapologetically queer<br />

designer in 2021?<br />

I think it is extremely necessary<br />

that we are unapologetic<br />

right now. We are in the middle<br />

of a social shift in which gender<br />

identity, and mental health are<br />

getting a lot of attention. These<br />

are issues carrying enormous<br />

stigma. Now is the time to break<br />

through those stigmas, and why<br />

not use fashion. Through the<br />

years fashion has always been<br />

a part of political and social<br />

revolution, like Hillary Clinton<br />

making a huge political<br />

statement by wearing a<br />

pantsuit.<br />

How do you think your own<br />

queerness has influenced<br />

you as a designer?<br />

It’s funny that you ask<br />

that, because I think in<br />

my case it is also the other<br />

way around. My queerness<br />

has given me the strength<br />

to be loud and rebellious, I<br />

use this in my work. But my<br />

work has also taught me to<br />

become more open-minded<br />

and discover new scenes.<br />

Thanks to my collections<br />

I’m exploring the drag<br />

scene. I would never<br />

have been able to experiment<br />

and rediscover<br />

myself like<br />

this <strong>with</strong>out<br />

my work.<br />


What would you say is your own personal protective<br />

space? Where do you feel the safest in<br />

your own identity? And where do you feel the<br />

most queer?<br />

Good question, I’ve been asking myself this question<br />

for a while now. I want to say at home I have<br />

a small studio, over 50 plants, lots of mirrors, lots<br />

of little interesting ornaments and in the evening<br />

I have different colored mood lights. Through the<br />

leaves of the plants, and the shattering of the light<br />

through the mirrors, the room fills <strong>with</strong> beautiful<br />

drawings on my ceiling and walls made of a combination<br />

of lights and shadows. I describe it as<br />

my personal museum. This, plus my favorite music<br />

(including ARCA,SOPHIE, and Lana) makes it<br />

a true safe space for me.<br />

That is a lot of plants. Sounds like heaven. With<br />

regards to queer spaces, do you think catwalks<br />

are doing enough to explore queer identities?<br />

I think we are at a big turning point in regards<br />

to gender, queerness, and sexuality. I see a lot<br />

of queerness happening around me. Such as<br />

non-binary drag artist Bimini who is now extremely<br />

popular in the fashion industry. They<br />

have been asked to walk for London Fashion<br />

Week, featured in Dazed, after their participation<br />

on RuDrag’s Drag Race and recently signed<br />

to Next Models. Also icon Mark Bryan is known<br />

worldwide, because he likes to walk in heels and<br />

skirts <strong>with</strong>out any shame. I think we’re well on<br />

our way to normalizing and properly representing<br />

queer identity, but we have a long road ahead<br />

of us.<br />

What is the main message you are trying to get<br />

across <strong>with</strong> your work and this new collection<br />

in particular?<br />

Basically; Be your fucking self, and mind your<br />

own fucking business. I am thriving for a world<br />

where your gender, sexuality, ethnicity and age<br />

are no longer important. Fashion is universal. It<br />

doesn’t need to divide us, it should connect us.<br />

Amen/finger snaps. Finally what would you describe<br />

as your best queer experience or queer<br />

highlight as a designer so far?<br />

Receiving all the kindness and love, getting messages<br />

from young queer kids being inspired by<br />

my work, taking the time to let me know they are<br />

inspired by me. I’ve always known I would never<br />

have kids myself, but this way I feel like I am leaving<br />

a legacy. That feels so powerful.<br />

House of Teun Seuren. We love to see it. Live<br />

long and prosper.<br />

<strong>In</strong>stagram @teun_seuren<br />


Rave Against<br />

The Machine:<br />

10 Years of<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by A. Susurration<br />

All illustrations/Flyers by Stefan Fähler @stefanfaehler<br />



When you first enter Gegen, the immediate<br />

feeling is of having gained entrance to the sorts<br />

of mutant saturnalia you always dreamed of as<br />

a kid—Pinnochio’s Pleasure Island, Bradbury’s<br />

Dark Carnival, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; seedy, a little<br />

dangerous, and full of hidden delights. Stretching<br />

throughout the whole of Berlin’s KITKATCLUB, its<br />

atmosphere whirrs <strong>with</strong> the promises of forbidden<br />

debauched deliciousness, woven of disco light and<br />

beads of sweat.<br />

As the reveller winds their way through the veins of the club,<br />

passing steel poles where pulsating flesh spins a techno<br />

tarantella, winding passageways between rooms where<br />

genres become amorphous, melding into each other in<br />

ecstatic cacophony, slipping between the dance-wracked<br />

louches lounging lasciviously by the lapping indoor pool<br />

(they say there’s no p in it, which is clearly taking the piss..)<br />

it is this atmosphere that suffuses mind and body. Its unique<br />

perfume of filth-black Berlin grit and international queer<br />

expression is an intoxicating cocktail, especially for the<br />

many who have travelled here searching for an escape into<br />

this world that could only exist in this place. Gegen is a party<br />

like no other, and that smart, sexy power has kept it thriving<br />

in a city long known for its mad raving stark.<br />

This desire for more, for newness, to push the idea of what a<br />

party can be deeper, harder, was the genesis of Gegen in 2011,<br />

a fusion of three minds entrenched <strong>with</strong>in different aspects<br />

of Berlin’s queer club scene: Fabio Boxikus of Sabotage, Phag<br />

Off’s Francesco Warbear, and Tomas Hemstad, who helmed<br />

Darkness. Seeking refuge from the more homogenized,<br />

stereotypical aspects of the gay circuit, the three sought<br />

to create a space that could be subversive as well as safe,<br />

and beholden to no specific ‘scene’; a space where sleazy<br />

sounds and socio-political commentary make for beautiful<br />

bedfellows.<br />

“Although coming from a similar queer political background,<br />

we all had different life paths; we communicated <strong>with</strong><br />

different scenes in Berlin,” explains Fabio. “Our coming<br />

together acted as a magnet for these scenes and created a<br />

vortex which led them to clash <strong>with</strong>in our event— <strong>with</strong>out<br />

which they would never have been interested in clashing<br />

before. We created a spark, which then became bigger and<br />

bigger, and which then attracted various external realities.<br />

This was exactly what we wanted: to create a space where<br />

beauty was in diversity and where liberation came through<br />

the freedom of the body’s expression.” While Tomas and<br />

Warbear have since left Berlin, Fabio keeps the fires burning<br />

together <strong>with</strong> resident advisor and DJ Marius Sagau, aka<br />

Mar/us.<br />

One of the things that makes Gegen such a joy is that it shows<br />

a variety of nightlife’s many faces, every floor presenting a<br />

different expression of queerness. It is this, says Fabio, that<br />

brings the people bacch to this bacchanalia. “We don’t want<br />

to categorize our audience, because we are against labels and<br />

classifications in general. The whole thing is a genderfluid<br />

amalgamation of bodies, where everyone has the possibility<br />

to express—and have expressed—emotions <strong>with</strong> those<br />

around them.<br />



Photography 130 by Andrea Galad for GEGEN002 @andreaglalad

The energy at Gegen is much different from other parties.<br />

There is no performance anxiety, where you have to<br />

be perfect to get in. We don’t force people to conform to<br />

a set look to get in, but you should be prepared to know<br />

where you are entering. Through the four musical floors,<br />

we create a diverse musical space so that each person is<br />

able to find their place, where they can let themselves go.<br />

The music acts as a magnet, the dance as communication<br />

and from there, the liberation of the individual itself.<br />

They then rediscover and question themselves in a space<br />

where they meet people outside of their particular scene.<br />

Diversity and multiplicity are precisely what enriches us<br />

as people and as a party, and it’s important for us to give<br />

space that allows the free expression of the individual.”<br />

That space didn’t come naturally—especially in Berlin,<br />

where space has fast become a pricey commodity. Following<br />

the debut of three separate nights held at the<br />

sadly now-departed warehouse MIKZ, the venue then<br />

promptly closed due to the surging rent prices. Finding a<br />

new location proved convoluted; the trio knew what they<br />

didn’t want—the classic post-industrial Berlin techno<br />

flavor, the too-cool-for-pool vibe of the bigger clubs and<br />

parties that they wanted to subvert. This eventually led<br />

them to their now-permanent home at Kit Kat, which Fabio<br />

says is the perfect fit for Gegen’s ethos.<br />

“The KITKATCLUB is a space that has had a clear political<br />

concept from the first moments of its existence,<br />

which is allowing the utmost expression of<br />

the liberation of the body through communication.<br />

At the gate on your way in you can read<br />

‘Life Is A Circus’; we knew that this was the<br />

perfect place for a mass of freaks like us.<br />

And so we began our journey inside this<br />

space twisted on itself around tunnels,<br />

secret passages, swimming pools, fluorescent<br />

colours and intertwined masses<br />

of semi-naked bodies.<br />

The concept of the club was—and still is—completely<br />

out of the usual conventions of the music industry,<br />

which has the headliners as the main ‘value’ of the evening.<br />

Those who go to KITKATCLUB do so because of the<br />

atmosphere it creates, and because of that sense of not<br />

belonging to the stereotypical standards of many other<br />

clubs, of straying from the cliché. <strong>In</strong>stead of a dresscode,<br />

revelers are invited to let go and explore their new<br />

selves once they have crossed over, creating a wave of<br />

warm positivity that includes, involves and engages you,<br />

that you can find in the smiles of the people you meet.<br />

All this gives free rein to self-expression in a space devoid<br />

of prejudice, and from here, the amalgamation of<br />

bodies, as if they were a single body wriggling to the beat<br />

of the music, exploring new horizons carnal and otherwise.<br />

The presence of the Awareness Unit also plays a key role.<br />

We were among the first to create these omnipresent angels<br />

dedicated to communication and harm reduction—<br />

easily identifiable and approachable team members<br />

whose role is to watch over and support all the participants<br />

in our sabbatical ritual.”<br />

Binding all this beauty together is the incredible visual<br />

imagery which Gegen has become known for. Each<br />

event poster is a work of art, evoking the fantastic and<br />

the otherworldly, perfectly capturing the yearning for<br />

metamorphosis that suffuses their revelries. These<br />

ephemeral visions are birthed from the mind of Stefan<br />

Fähler, Gegen’s go-to illustrator since 2013. He has become<br />

a sort of reference point for graphic communication<br />

in Berlin, creating artwork for big events in the<br />

scene as well as newspapers and other cultural happenings.<br />

Queens and angels, dreams and delirium all cavort<br />

in equal terms throughout his work, tongues and<br />

limbs blossoming like a velvet concussion across your<br />

ventral pons, a jewelled universe of delirious, mutated<br />

monstrosities which Fabio says perfectly capture the essence<br />

of Gegen. “Even today, looking at his old graphics,<br />

I keep discovering small details that surface, that were<br />

hidden among the various explosions of color and minutiae<br />

that fill his work. ”<br />

That mutational exploration extends to their booking as<br />

well. Gegen’s decade of esoteric lineups has brought together<br />

artists and DJs across a wide variety of genres—<br />

grime and glam bumping beauties basement-level,<br />

harsh noise and R&B rubbing shoulders before the<br />

phrase ‘post-club’ was a gleam in a journalist’s eye...<br />

each time, there is always something to shock and delight<br />

the eyes and ears.<br />

“An important aspect on which we work a lot, is searching<br />

for the artists we involve during the evenings. We try<br />

to involve mainly Flint* / LGBTQIA+ and foreign artists,<br />

although it’s not always that simple, because the club<br />

scene is heavily dominated by the white CIS male. We<br />

don’t work on a concept of genre exclusivity but of inclusivity;<br />

this can be seen not only in the lineup of our<br />

events, but also in the work we are doing <strong>with</strong> our own<br />

label Gegen Records.”<br />


On this page, the first Gegen flyer made by Nina Reisinger<br />



Formed pre-COVID, the label maintained Gegen’s<br />

questioning approach, created not only as an imprint<br />

but as a personal critique against the music industry.<br />

“We started working on the label <strong>with</strong> Marius in October<br />

‘19. It was rather bad luck that we found ourselves<br />

launching the label in the middle of the pandemic. The<br />

good thing about this whole period is that it allowed the<br />

record label to become our main focus and help us not to<br />

disappear into the fog, as <strong>with</strong> so many other events. It’s<br />

giving us hope, and at the same time we’re giving artists<br />

in our community a reason to keep their head up, to keep<br />

creating and not lose themselves in depression—a state<br />

that is currently afflicting many people in our scene.<br />

Despite this current climate, we are working hard to<br />

ensure the survival of our club culture and therefore<br />

continuing to support and promote queer artists by<br />

offering them a platform <strong>with</strong>in the music industry.<br />

As the work behind a music label is very complex and<br />

challenging no matter what you do—but especially<br />

while juggling a pandemic, the survival of a culture<br />

and forward-thinking work ethics—we have expanded<br />

the label team to include La Fraicheur, another Gegen<br />

resident, who’s giving us a lot of support in this project.<br />

Another new addition to the team is Andrea Galad, a<br />

photographer <strong>with</strong> a neoclassical aesthetic who uses<br />

bodies as the ultimate expression of the statuesque<br />

beauty of Hellenistic works. We love the compositions<br />

and stories he tells through his shots, which is why<br />

we’ve entrusted him <strong>with</strong> the aesthetics of our label.<br />

He’s narrating stories through bodies. Bodies are<br />

expressions, and Gegen is an explosion of stories.”<br />

The physicality of this new label’s releases is also key<br />

in Fabio’s mind. “The vinyl format, although more<br />

expensive in terms of production, has another positive<br />

impact on musicians as well as music lovers, because you<br />

create a concrete product that feels grounding, an asset<br />

that you can touch and live <strong>with</strong> a greater satisfaction,<br />

in addition to the fact that the beautiful cover artwork<br />

by Andrea can be hung like paintings. The images, or<br />

rather the visual presentation is, as we all know, the first<br />

impact you have introducing any project, that speaks to<br />

the audience even before you start reading or listening.<br />

On the cover of the GEGEN002 release you see a white<br />

man embracing a person of color—a very clear signal<br />

that we want to convey, especially after the various<br />

violences that the POC community have had to suffer<br />

and are still suffering.”<br />

While originally conceived as a vinyl-only music label,<br />

given the circumstances of the world the team decided<br />

that including a regular digital release format as well<br />

would be easier. “The simplified task of releasing this<br />

format has given us more of an opportunity to promote<br />

lesser-known artists in the scene, as well as chip away<br />

at the gender issues that afflict the music industry. Our<br />

first digital release involves only female and non-binary<br />

artists, precisely because we wanted to involve and give<br />

visibility to a group of producers who are unfortunately<br />

undervalued in a very sexist world and a mostly white<br />

music industry where women are often discriminated<br />

against on the basis that their appearance is more<br />



important than their skills and never on a par <strong>with</strong> a<br />

male figure in terms of representation in lineups and<br />

pay equality. Trans or non-binary genders are rarely<br />

considered. Gegen Records will always try to promote<br />

more artists from the LGBTQIA+ scene and female<br />

producers, because this is the work we were already<br />

doing <strong>with</strong> our events and one of the reasons why we are<br />

still moving forward.”<br />

As humanity slowly shambles out of our homes in<br />

long-awaited preparation for a return to ‘normalcy’—<br />

whatever that might mean—the future of so many of the<br />

parties and events that once defined our evenings seem<br />

nebulous right now. Fabio, however, is confident that<br />

what makes Gegen so different from other parties is also<br />

what will keep it alive, and has a message for all those<br />

who would queue once more before its portal.<br />

“To paraphrase Dante’s <strong>In</strong>ferno in a modern key:<br />

Leave all prejudices behind, you who enter.<br />

Our individual freedom ends where another person’s<br />

begins.<br />

Where there is no respect, there is no place inside<br />

Gegen.”<br />

This interview has been edited and condensed for<br />

readability and clarity.<br />

<strong>In</strong>stagram @gegenberlin @soundcloud @bandcamp<br />



10 Years<br />

Photography 138 by Gili Shani @gilishani


140<br />

Photography by Sophie Aghia @aghiasophie


142<br />

Photography by Discordant @ema_discordant


Photography by Gili Shani @gilishani<br />



146<br />

Photography by Gili Shani @gilishani


148<br />

Photography by Gili Shani @gilishani


150<br />

Photography by Gili Shani @gilishani


A TALE OF<br />

Johannesburg and Kyiv’s<br />

Explorations of club culture have been<br />

essayed forth almost since clubbing<br />

began. For as kinky, stinky, filthy<br />

and exhausting as it can be, there’s<br />

something pure and deeply spiritual<br />

about the act of surrendering yourself<br />

to the pulse of the beat, feeling your<br />

body immerse into a crowd and become<br />

part of it. It’s a universal language.<br />

TEN CITIES is an intimate look at<br />

clubbing from <strong>with</strong>in the perspectives<br />

of urban denizens who lived through<br />

the ebbing tides of nightlife groovage<br />

<strong>with</strong>in their own backyards. It’s<br />

filled <strong>with</strong> tales of DIY creation and<br />

promotion, of building temples to disco<br />

and decadence against sometimes fatal<br />

odds. These tales were transcribed right<br />

before COVID hit.<br />

A year later, virtually every club in the<br />

world has ceased operations—nightlife<br />

has become either nonexistent, or<br />

furtive and illegal. From their homes<br />

in Cape Town and Kyiv, TEN CITIES<br />

essayists Sean O’Toole and Vitalii<br />

Bardetski discuss how their own<br />

clubscapes have shifted in this time—<br />

and how they will continue to survive.<br />



Club Culture, Post-Pandemic<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Daniel J.<br />

Free Style Pantsula, Soweto Twonship, Johannesburg, 2016<br />

Chris Saunders @chrissaundersphoto<br />


The Jazzolomos: Jacob ‘Mzala’ Lepers (bass), Sol ‘Beegeepee’ Klaaste<br />

(piano) and Benni ‘Gwigwi’ Mrwebi (alto sax), Johannesburg, 1953<br />

Jürgen Schadeberg @jurgenschadeberg<br />


Sean: Here in South Africa, the lockdown itself was quite destructive;<br />

we don’t have much flex in our financial institutions to handle longer<br />

lockdowns, as has been the case in Europe. As a result, people just<br />

started going out. There was an attempt to reopen the clubs late last<br />

year, but then raids happened targeting the bigger institutions, and<br />

licenses were pulled.<br />

So was there a bigger impetus to do informal, illegal parties. Have<br />

you seen any of the lockdown-flouting DIY raves that have occurred<br />

sporadically here in Berlin?<br />

Sean: It’s much harder to police pop-up, one-off events. It’s important<br />

to note that alcohol was banned during the lockdown here. There was<br />

a total prohibition. If you look at the history of clubbing here, and<br />

particularly in Johannesburg as well as the idea of what people do for<br />

pleasure after work, it’s very tied in to alcohol consumption. Joburg<br />

isn’t an old city; when it was founded, drinking and prostitution were<br />

very much big trades. Some of those attributes still feature in our club<br />

narratives, so when prohibition happened there were very quickly<br />

responses to counter it. Parties became the way to access alcohol.<br />

It’s quite different from having a woodland rave in Berlin, where the<br />

primary impulse is to dance. The alcohol ban has hit people harder<br />

than anything, partly because there’s a high level of alcohol abuse<br />

here.<br />

Vitalii: Well, this is Ukraine—even when everything is forbidden, it’s<br />

still possible to do something. Last year, all the clubs and bars were<br />

supposed to be closed. But after midnight, they just shut their doors<br />

and they’re ‘home’, it becomes a ‘private party’, where people <strong>with</strong><br />

passwords can get in. But here as well, we don’t really get support<br />

from the state. Our businesses have to be open to survive.<br />

I gather there’s not much support for nightlife and underground<br />

culture there?<br />

Vitalii: Frankly speaking, almost none.<br />

Sean: <strong>In</strong> Joburg, it’s mainly theater and live artists who are suffering;<br />

in plain English, they’re all pissed off. Now, there is an Arts Minister<br />

<strong>with</strong>in the central government, and we did have a large sum of<br />

money which you could apply for as a performing artist. But then<br />

the ministry claimed they had over-budgeted, so that money was<br />

suddenly unavailable. Of course, there were allegations of corruption.<br />

As a result, there’s currently an occupation being conducted at the<br />

National Arts Council’s offices, and there have been artist’s marches in<br />

cities. It’s pretty dire. But the clubs are happening here, both formally<br />

and informally.<br />

Vitalii: Here, there are clubs that have paid their rent through<br />

crowdfunding donations from their visitors.<br />

Sean: Here in Cape Town, a friend bought a very expensive sound<br />

system; one of those massive ones where you can dry your hair simply<br />

by standing in front of it, and he set up a listening lounge just before<br />

lockdown happened, and he opened around July. I went to one or two<br />

of his nights; they weren’t busy, but even during a pandemic, some<br />

people just want to dance. Nothing can kill certain basic human urges.<br />

You want to move, you want to get drunk, you want to meet someone.<br />

Those urges will continue, whether permissible or not.<br />

Vitalii: I would agree. When the bar I own reopened after the new<br />

year, we had a couple of events and it was incredibly busy. People were<br />

partying like it was their last night out. Our normal crowd is usually<br />

35+, but these days we mostly have younger kids.<br />


DJ <strong>In</strong>vizable, Orange Farm Township, Johannesburg, 2015<br />

Chris Saunders @chrissaundersphoto<br />



Everyone thinks they’re immortal when<br />

they’re young.<br />

Vitalii: They’re not at all afraid of getting ill.<br />

Sean: <strong>In</strong> South Africa, obviously our<br />

seasons are opposite to you—December, the<br />

height of summer, is our peak party season.<br />

Last year there was an assembly of, I think<br />

graduate students, that now gets constantly<br />

referred to in the news as a super-spreader<br />

event. Which I suppose it was, but you can<br />

see how easily even a smaller event gets<br />

criminalized or pathologized in the media.<br />

Vitalii: How is the vaccination situation<br />

over there, Sean? At the moment, only<br />

two people here are vaccinated. There has<br />

actually been some progress very recently.<br />

For instance, I was vaccinated yesterday.<br />

Sean: As it stands, we’ve had very few. The<br />

process has come very late. What’s perverse<br />

is that we have a factory producing vaccines<br />

for Johnson & Johnson, which are then<br />

shipped elsewhere. It looks like people my<br />

age won’t be vaccinated until 2022.<br />

Vitalii: Same here.<br />

It’s mind-boggling to think about the<br />

long term effects this will have on the art<br />

we create. As nightlife is somewhat taken<br />

underground again by necessity, do you<br />

see this impacting a wider, long-term<br />

movement of more DIY creativity <strong>with</strong>in<br />

clubbing-at-large?<br />

Sean: It’s a good insight; I think history will<br />

show that this sort of DIY creativity always<br />

rises in moments of great social pressure—<br />

look at what the DDR and collapse of the<br />

wall fostered in Berlin, for example. A<br />

lot of what is now considered ‘official’<br />

club culture was birthed from very informal roots. When one looks at<br />

Johannesburg club culture, you see that as well—in your essay, Vitalii, you<br />

mentioned a rise of mainstream clubs <strong>with</strong> American-sounding names<br />

in the early ‘90s. The same thing happened here as well, but they were far<br />

more DIY enterprises. I suppose that when you have these kinds of big<br />

social breakdowns, coded into that is opportunity. It’s often the only thing<br />

you do have in these moments; not capital or resources, but ideas and<br />

enthusiasm. Combine those <strong>with</strong> music, and it’s usually a good recipe.<br />

Vitalii: The club culture here runs through two different channels. The<br />

institutional venues will survive; they can afford to bribe the police when<br />

raids or checks happen. The smaller venues don’t have the money to do<br />

this, so when they police come, they have to shut down. So the police can<br />

send reports back and say, well we closed this and this many venues today.<br />

They would rather harass some artist promoter and 15 kids in a basement<br />

than a fancy club owner who’s probably a government official.<br />

This sounds very similar to how you described early Kyiv club culture in<br />

your essay, Vitalii.<br />

Vitalii: Yes, but on the other hand, so many smaller venues and bars<br />

are already dead simply from not being able to pay their rent. This has<br />

changed the club scene here already; new owners have taken over the<br />

old spots, new places have sprung up. This year Kyiv has maybe 40% new<br />

venues.<br />

Sean: Like a lot of South Africa, Johannesburg is similar in that there are<br />

two cities operating at once. The ones that deal <strong>with</strong> licenses and formal<br />

restrictions, those have been hit hard. But you have these large, communal<br />

neighborhoods here <strong>with</strong> their own cultures and informal establishments<br />

that have been around for decades. They’re a facet of how people navigate<br />

our cities.<br />

The state here is both strong and weak. Because of police action, there’s<br />

great suspicion even though they don’t have the power they had thirty,<br />

forty years ago. Here, the police will do a raid on a bigger, well-known<br />

club that makes a lot of money and say, hey—share some of this profit <strong>with</strong><br />

us and we won’t bother you. If they do this at a smaller club <strong>with</strong> fifteen<br />

people, the owner won’t have anything for them. So the system itself has a<br />

lot of flex <strong>with</strong>in it that enables people to have illegal venues and parties.<br />

Vitalii: When we have visitors from Europe now, what makes them excited<br />

is not just the clubs but that the restaurants are open (well, secretly)! The<br />

atmosphere feels almost like the ‘30s in America.<br />


Shine, from the series Maskirovka, Kyiv, 2017<br />

Tobias Zielony @tobiaszielony<br />



Make Up, from the series Maskirovka, Kyiv, 2017<br />

Tobias Zielony @tobiaszielony<br />


The scandalous era of speakeasies and bootlegging. It’s a<br />

literal interpretation of what you said in your essay, Vitalii—<br />

people ‘having a psychedelic feast in the times of plague’.<br />

Sean: I suppose it’s an old analogy, but if you look at a Breugel<br />

painting, there’s so much happening—people dancing,<br />

beheadings, it’s bedlam. I feel like that’s a good analogy for<br />

now; there’s so much happening that it’s hard to see it all.<br />

Vitalii: Life is very psychedelic right now. Even in death and<br />

sickness, you need to keep living.<br />

Sean: One of the things that was really an eye-opener for me<br />

while working on my essay for TEN CITIES, this urge that<br />

people have to dance, to congregate and listen to music, to<br />

share this pleasure...this happens everywhere, around the<br />

world and in spite of whatever the local politics are. It’s a way<br />

to forget about your life, your job, those local politics. <strong>In</strong> South<br />

African, the history of Apartheid has become the dominant<br />

way of telling our story. While working on the essay, I was<br />

looking for photographs of pleasure—and I couldn’t find<br />

any. Every photograph was just of things happening—people<br />

working, police killing people, death. Yet at the same time<br />

these photos were being taken, people in those same cities<br />

were going out, having fun. They were finding these little<br />

moments to hide from their social conditions.<br />

The pandemic is very real, and it is very devastating. But even<br />

now, finding these moments to forget the bleakness of the<br />

world—this is imperative.<br />

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity and flow.<br />


Graffiti in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, 1955<br />

Jürgen Schadeberg @jurgenschadeberg<br />


I NEED A<br />

SHERØ<br />

<strong>In</strong>terview by Daniel J.<br />

Pictures by Alain Egues<br />

Stéphanie D’Olieslager hasn’t been slacking during the last year’s pandemic.<br />

Recognized throughout the club-sphere for her prolific work and collaborations—a career beginning in 1991 that<br />

has seen the Belgian-born producer rise through her local house and techno scenes and beyond—D’Olieslager is<br />

armed <strong>with</strong> those most intrinsic of tools for any creator: an unbreakable passion and deep love and knowledge of<br />

her mediums. Currently based in Berlin, the former D’Steph/anie now operates under the alias Sherø, producing<br />

music inspired by her clubbing origins, when house music was the operating dancefloor currency for the<br />

optimistic underground.<br />

Following a killer debut in her Berlin Moon EP, Sherø’s follow-up Adult EP triumphantly dual-wields acidsoaked<br />

house and techno bangers that would make your Hackers soundtrack jealous. Both dropped on her<br />

imprint KlubKids Records, formed in 2020 as an aural collective supporting the queer artists that are the true<br />

alchemists of nightlife. On both releases—one released pre-pandemic, one post—the markers are the same, yet<br />

Adult’s bombastic energy feels like a distillation of all the fun we’ve been missing since lockdown first started. It’s<br />

the balm we all need right now, forged in a world where clubbing now feels like a distant memory...<br />

You always seem to have a lot of interesting<br />

and fun remixes and collaborations; I saw<br />

recently that you’re working <strong>with</strong> Sulene<br />

Fleming again.<br />

Sulene and I go way back. I did a remix for<br />

T.Roy´s single “A New Love” <strong>with</strong> Sulene<br />

on vocals 10 years ago. We finally talked to<br />

each other again last month, and decided to<br />

work together once more. I like to have an<br />

organic flow <strong>with</strong> people; somehow it needs<br />

the right timing.<br />

What other folks have you been making<br />

aurals <strong>with</strong> lately?<br />

The next one on KlubKid is <strong>with</strong> Joy Wellboy.<br />

I met Joy on New Year’s Eve 2001 in a club<br />

in Antwerp. We were both on the lineup,<br />

but we only really got to know each other<br />

much better lately, since we both live in<br />

Berlin now. <strong>In</strong> 2019 around Christmas, they<br />

sent me a demo album and asked me for a<br />

remix. One song immediately stood out—<br />

the lyrics were so catchy! I could totally<br />

see a house version of it, but somehow I<br />

couldn’t get the right tone and flow. It was<br />

a huge struggle, so I gave up and told them I wouldn’t do it;<br />

also, my label wasn’t ready to release such a big artist yet.<br />

Then last Christmas they played the song live on a streaming<br />

event and it just hit me again, the beauty of it. I got out of bed<br />

looking for the parts I made back then, and suddenly I felt it,<br />

it flowed, I found the right sounds and melody for it and now<br />

we´re super happy to release this together.<br />

Another EP that will be released by June I think, is an older<br />

track I made <strong>with</strong> JNM the Naked MC from Amsterdam.<br />

We used to work together for many years, but I never<br />

played the unreleased B side song we made until just<br />

before Covid at Brenn, and it had such a great<br />

response on the dancefloor I decided to<br />

finally put it out. It’s totally different,<br />

<strong>with</strong> marimbas and a bit more broken<br />

beat summer vibe, and I asked<br />

Megablast who I worked <strong>with</strong> in<br />

the past for a remix. He created<br />

a beautiful tropical hypnotic<br />

house version of it, over<br />

nine minutes long. I’m<br />

already looking forward<br />

to some new collabs<br />

this year.<br />



How have you found the process of creating music in this Plague Age?<br />

I hear from a lot of producers that it’s hard to find a rhythm these days in<br />

the workflow. Some people barely get out of bed, as they are freelancers<br />

<strong>with</strong>out structure or don’t have a paid gig in sight. I still have a part-time<br />

job and the label which gives me a lot of structure, but I also feel I’m<br />

becoming a bit of a workaholic. I think I could use a break now!<br />

As for the label, due to restrictions a lot of remixes or teamwork EPs<br />

got delayed, so we had a very slow start last year. People were stuck<br />

somewhere and couldn’t enter their studio, or couldn’t find the<br />

motivation. Emails were responded to much later mostly, due to everyone<br />

feeling so anxious. A lot of people are struggling.<br />

Has this struggle shaped your new EP?<br />

Both tracks were actually made in the first lockdown last year around<br />

this time. I was still full of clubbing energy, and suddenly I had more<br />

time to work on my music. ‘Dominated’, for example, was made in just<br />

a few hours, which surprised me. ‘Concentrate’ was built up from an<br />

older track I decided to revisit. I was very inspired those months; I would<br />

constantly work on music aside from my weekly job, as there was not<br />

much else to do. I miss testing out tracks on the dance floor, but then I<br />

just dance to it in my room to see if the structure works or not.<br />

What do you think the impact of all this will be on future events; after<br />

so long, do you feel the mental anxiety of avoiding crowds and people<br />

for so long will have a long-term effect on nightlife?<br />

It’s hard to say; I do feel people are more open to discussing mental<br />

health and how they’ve dealt <strong>with</strong> this pandemic so far, so I guess future<br />

<strong>conversation</strong>s at clubs will go deeper and be part of our healing process,<br />

as this has been quite traumatic for a lot of us. I guess some people will<br />

value everything much more. I do hear people being a little afraid of<br />

crowds, or being exhausted after meeting a few people. I think this could<br />

become quite therapeutic if we handle it <strong>with</strong> kindness and care for each<br />

other.<br />

There’s always an underground and DIY resurgence in times of social<br />

upheaval or unrest; do you think the shuttering of some of the smaller<br />

and medium-sized venues will birth more grassroots events?<br />

I honestly have no idea what’s going to<br />

happen. It’s the first time in most of our<br />

lives that we’ve had a pandemic. I´ve been<br />

DJing since 1991 and never thought clubbing<br />

would stop. We have the consequences<br />

of economic failure and social anxiety as<br />

well; it’s a bit unsure where this will take<br />

us. We’ve already seen some underground<br />

illegal raves take place. Some bigger clubs<br />

were mainly booking their big-name<br />

resident DJs when they were open, so we´ll<br />

have this clash between the big-name clubs<br />

and smaller underground parties, and less<br />

of a mix I think. Another fact is that there<br />

will be loads more new underground DJs<br />

jumping to play their first gig in a club,<br />

since a lot of people started to learn how<br />

to DJ during the lockdown. So there will<br />

be a whole new generation of selectors,<br />

which can be quite exciting and change the<br />

landscape also.<br />

With the recent strikedown on the rent<br />

cap, Berlin is becoming progressively<br />

harder for artists and marginalized folks<br />

to comfortably live and make a living. How<br />

can we, as a community, help save our<br />

swiftly-tilting city?<br />

I think by having groups like queer housing,<br />

queer groups for new jobs etc. on social<br />

media is a big help for the community.<br />

There are also a lot of people from the<br />

queer clubbing scene sharing important<br />

updates and information about protests<br />

and petitions in English on <strong>In</strong>stagram for<br />

example, where we can donate to help<br />

certain people and so on, so that´s a small<br />

thing we can contribute to.<br />

What websites or resources do you think<br />

people should pay attention to?<br />

Mostly it´s people I met in queer nightlife<br />

who share these valuable things in<br />

their instagram stories, but as for<br />

organisations, most of my info comes from<br />

Berlin4beginners, club commission, Lecken,<br />

Whole Festival and Change.org Germany.<br />

It’s important to support each other<br />

wherever we can. I sometimes help people<br />

<strong>with</strong> some production tips, and might do a<br />

mentorship soon. However, I also see lots<br />

of people have left the city during the first<br />

lockdown—mostly expats—and I wouldn’t<br />

be surprised if more people leave. But I<br />

think as soon as summer starts and we can<br />

have some small open-airs, we can lift our<br />

spirits again.<br />

This interview was edited and condensed<br />

for clarity and flow.<br />

166<br />

@shero_909<br />




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