THE GALLERY: Dragpunk presents Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18

THE GALLERY: Lilith – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah Maiden

 

 

 

Words by Anna Cash Davidson / Pics by Sarah Maiden

On Friday 12th October, Dragpunk hosted their Drag Me to Hell! show at The Nightingale Club, the oldest and most popular LGBTQ venue in Birmingham, running since 1969.

Dragpunk are a collective that ‘aim to promote LGBTQ art, awareness and confidence’ in Birmingham, bringing together drag (‘a creative art for anyone regardless of their gender, sexual identity and orientation’) and punk (‘an expressive, individual freedom that is anti-establishment and anti-mainstream society’). THE GALLERY: Cosmic Crum – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah MaidenThe show is hosted by Lilith and features the whole Dragpunk collective – Tacky Alex, Paul Aleksandr, Amber Cadaverous – with appearances from Cosmic Crum, Tanja McKenzie, Eva Serration, and special guest Ruby Wednesday.

The venue has limited seating capacity, so I take a standing position – managing to find a spot not obstructed from view by drag queens in 6-inch heels. The stage is decorated in full Halloween pantomime galore, littered with fake candles and furnished with red drapes, skulls and a crystal ball.THE GALLERY: Tacky Alex – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah Maiden As we wait for the 9:30 pm start time, eerie music plays in the background that takes me back to theme parks of my childhood, and this theatricality is only increased by the smoke machine that alerts us that the performance has begun.

Our host for the evening is Lilith, who stuns in a Gothic bride get-up, complete with a black veil, delivering us humorous one-liners throughout the evening, with her interjections providing a break from the intensity of some of the performances.THE GALLERY: Paul Aleksandr – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah Maiden The narrative of the performance follows Lilith summoning dead spirits with her crystal ball and there is everything you want from a Halloween drag show, with Frankenstein’s bride, Salem witch trials, Ouija boards and light dose of devil-worship.

Cosmic Crum bursts through the crowd and all I can see are the horns on his head until he reaches the stage, and the two men he has on a leash become visible. Crum pours blood on them and they lick it off each other, whilst ‘Seven Nation Army’ plays in the background.THE GALLERY: Tanja McKenzie – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah Maiden Tacky Alex brings some clownish joy to the stage, lip-syncing Tiny Tim’s ‘Living in the Sunlight’, whilst Paul Aleksandr gives us a dramatic rendition of Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)’. “Wasn’t that intense?” quips Lilith during the interlude.

THE GALLERY: Eva Serration – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah MaidenPopular music plays a key part throughout the show tonight, with Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ and Kiss’ ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ also featuring. Less popular numbers include a devil-worship song (with the lyrics ‘praise the devil’) in Tanja Mckenzie’s performance, with the Satanic as a clear running theme. Towards the end, Lilith uses a Ouija board to help her summon our final spirits for the evening.

THE GALLERY: Ruby Wednesday – Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah MaidenStand-out performances include Eva Serration’s depiction of Frankenstein’s creature and bride told as a feminist revenge story, lip syncing to a speech from recent TV series Penny Dreadful“Never again will I kneel to any man. Now they shall kneel to me. As you do, monster,” we hear, before she rips off his head and her own white shapeless dress, revealing a red corset and fishnets as a sign of her new freedom.

The final performance of the evening is Ruby Wednesday, whose refreshing take on drag is particularly striking in a pinstripe suit, eyeliner, heels. and wigless – blurring the lines even further between gender. Ruby Wednesday ends the night with sparks flying, literally, sending us off with an angle grinder in an impressive display, in keeping with the drama of the evening.

Overall, it is an enjoyable night, bringing together people of all ages, genders and sexualities in an entertaining show, leaving us never quite knowing what to expect next. I think it’s time to start planning my Halloween costume…

 

 

 

Dragpunk presents Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18 / Sarah Maiden

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For more on the Dragpunk Collective, visit www.facebook.com/dragpunkcollective

For more from The Nightingale Club, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.nightingaleclub.co.uk

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NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

BPREVIEW: Dragpunk presents Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18

BPREVIEW: Dragpunk presents Drag Me to Hell! @ The Nightingale Club 12.10.18Words by Ed King

On Friday 12th October, the Dragpunk collective are back for another show – returning to The Nightingale with Drag Me to Hell!

Appearing at Drag Me to Hell! will be the whole Dragpunk collective Amber Cadaverous, Paul Aleksandr, Tacky Alex, with Lilith as the evening’s hostess – joined by Cosmic Crum, Tanja McKenzie, and Eva Serration.

There will also be a special guest appearance from Ruby Wednesday, who is flying The Familyyy Fierce nest for a night to sit glacier cherry style on the evening’s proceedings in Birmingham.

Doors open at The Nightingale Club from 8:30pm, with Drag Me to Hell! starting from 9:30pm prompt – running until the 16+ curfew ends at 11pm. Tickets are priced at a super reasonable £3 (adv) and £5 (otd), with entry to the official after party included if you’re old enough to go. Or brave enough, this is a ‘Halloween Theatre Show’ after all…

For direct links to online ticket sales for Drag Me to Hell! visit Eventbrite by clicking here. Or for more information on the show, visit the Facebook Event page by clicking here.

Dragpunk Presents’ first show back in April, Candyland, was a showcase of the collective’s great, good and covered in condiments – ‘showcasing local and national UK drag of all genders, sexualities and abilities that you’ll adore!’ Check out Emily Doyle’s illustrated Birmingham Review of Candyland by clicking here.

But there’s more to Dragpunk that shock, horror, and baking ingredients abuse – the local ‘collective of creative queer-minded people’ are strong advocates for artistry and inclusivity, promoting shows that create ‘a safe space for self-expression’ for every friendly face that attends.

Dragpunk’s latest offering, Drag Me to Hell! is also a shimmy/shake into more theatrical territory, with the set piece showcase conveyor belt making way for a narrative led production.

We want to give a solid Halloween show,” explains Dragpunk’s Paul Aleksandr, “full of atmosphere with some very cool and well thought out performances, from horror to some creepy tongue-in-cheek comedy. It’s the start of something different for drag Birmingham drag shows.”

Sounds like a night out to me, one the show’s promo rhetoric says ‘will take you back to the times of Victorian darkness, bringing drag performances and theatre together, where spirits, demons, and some good ol’ camp horror will bring the night alive! Quite literally!’

Ah, you’ve got to love Halloween for the marriage of performance and art, and Dragpunk have never been afraid of a bit of needle and thread. If you’ve ever seen Aleksandr’s ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ costume…

Dragpunk Presents: Drag Me to Hell! at The Nightingale Club on Friday 12th October. For direct links to online ticket sales for Drag Me to Hell!, visit Eventbrite by clicking here. Or for more information on the show, visit the Facebook Event page by clicking here.

For more on the Dragpunk Collective, visit www.facebook.com/dragpunkcollective

For more from The Nightingale Club, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.nightingaleclub.co.uk

________

NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To sign up to NOT NORMAL – NOT OK, click here. To know more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK sticker campaign, click here.

BREVIEW: BenDeLaCrème @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 29.03.18

BenDeLaCrème @ The Glee Club (B’ham) 29.03.18

Words & illustrations by Emily Doyle

The Glee Club is dark and full when compère Alfie Ordinary appears on stage. Some might recognise his pageboy haircut and Twiggy-esque makeup from a certain car advert. He’s not here to sell you a reasonably priced three-door hatchback tonight; Ordinary is hosting the evening on behalf of Eat Sleep Drag Repeat, and doing so with bells on.

Styling himself as a ‘drag prince’, he skips across the stage welcoming the crowd. Clad in a bedazzled suit jacket and shorts, he seems to be wearing as much glitter as is physically possible as he welcomes the acts to the stage. That is until he returns after the interval – kicking off the second half of the show with a sing-a-long rendition of ‘Any Dream Will Do’, Ordinary is resplendent in his very own technicolour dreamcoat.

Birmingham drag performer Paul Aleksandr is there to represent the local scene. One quarter of our city’s Dragpunk Collective, Aleksandr describes himself as a clubkid and genderfucker with “a slight Slenderman vibe”. That vibe is clear from his performance tonight. Appearing on stage in one if his now trademark creations of body paint and butchered cuddly toys, Aleksandr performs a perfectly urgent lip sync to ‘I’m Late’ from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. The forlorn-looking stuffed rabbit on his headpiece flops its ears as he gesticulates.

Eva Serration was a late addition to the line-up tonight, travelling down from Manchester to join the ESDR party. Her drag takes pop culture and cinematic tropes and weaves them into political, avant-garde drag. She cuts Lady Gaga’s mariachi tinged protest song ‘Americano’ with soundbites from Donald Trump, and proceeds to demolish a makeshift wall with a golf club.

Throughout the night we see her best Miley Cyrus, complete with a wig reveal homage to Sasha Velours’ iconic ‘So Emotional’ performance, and a fond nod to Tarantino’s bloodthirsty schoolgirl Gogo Yubari. While Serration’s drag isn’t the most polished of the night, her performance is innovative – and who at a drag show is going to complain about a bit of Trump bashing?

Lydia L’Scabies proves “the bigger the hair, the better the queen” with her inspired routine to ‘Big Spender’. The University of Brighton Performance Art graduate (where did you think drag queens came from?) gives the best comedic turn of the night with her jarring performance. Don’t let anybody tell you that lip syncing Shirley Bassey can’t be original.

A heartfelt performance of ‘Jessie’s Song’ from Toy Story 2 while dressed as a “personal massager” makes up her second turn. L’Scabies execution is bold and theatrical, but the joke is arguably played out before the song is over.

Of course, the crowd is here to see BenDeLaCrème; following her controversial departure from Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3, DeLa has been the subject of much discussion. Fellow competitors sarcastically dubbed the queen “BenDeLaChrist” after she ducked out of the competition early, keeping her ‘terminally delightful’ reputation intact and telling Ru Paul “I feel like a winner”. A group of fans online have taken her departure as a personal slight against them. BenDeLaCrème has something to say about this.

The opening bars of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ fill The Glee Club. In a pure white robe, DeLa makes her first appearance on stage. She takes the mic and launches into a smarting takedown of the viewer response to the series.

She performs an original song on the subject live – later revealing that she wrote it especially for this UK tour – as familiar voice samples from the TV show play throughout. DeLa produces a golden crown of thorns and shrugs off her robe to reveal a bodysuit sequined to represent the wounds of the crucifixion. She poses, and the track finishes. When the applause subsides, she wishes the crowd a happy Easter.

The rest of the show sees BenDeLaCrème charm the crowd with her trademark persona. She coaxes audience members through a lip sync and performs a fan favourite from the TV show, her burlesque comedy routine. For the unacquainted, this involves DeLa removing bra after bra, revealing increasingly ludicrous nipple tassles. It’s a crowdpleaser, although it doesn’t have the same impact as her original material.

The next day, I caught up with performer Paul Aleksandr to get his take on the evening:

“I really loved how full a show it was, and how it flowed so well – Birmingham hasn’t had that many shows like that before so it’s a wonderful new standard. 

I love how self aware DeLa is. She talked about drag, the politics of it, her leaving (RuPaul Drag Race All Stars), with humour and a real knowledge of what fans think and do. She is there, like Sasha Velour is known for, with a message of inclusivity and diversity for LGBTQ people. And she came to The Nightingale After-Party, despite a busy schedule, and witnessed the best of Birmingham’s young and old queer folk on what was the club’s busiest night of the year.” 

For more on BenDeLaCrème, visit www.bendelacreme.com 

For more on Paul Aleksander, visit www.instagram.com/paul_aleksandr 

For more on Alfie Ordinary, visit www.alfieordinary.com

For more on Lydia L’Scabies, visit www.instagram.com/lydialscabies 

For more on Eva Serration, visit www.instagram.com/evaserration

For more from Eat Sleep Drag Repeat, visit www.esdrevents.co.uk

For more from The Glee Club, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.glee.co.uk