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: Sasha Velour @ The Nightingale Club 02.02.18

BREVIEW: Sasha Velour @ The Nightingale Club 02.02.18

Words & illustrations by Emily Doyle

In what feels like a first for Birmingham’s oldest gay club, it’s not even 11pm and the Nightingale is full of eager punters. Everyone is here to see Sasha Velour, international drag queen, designer, illustrator, and winner of Season 9 of cult hit RuPaul’s Drag Race.

On entry guests are greeted by stilt walkers. They dance in spiked latex cat suits that would make James St. James jealous. My accomplice, Sinead, remarks, “I love latex. But on my budget, I’m definitely more of a cling film girl.” We turn to the bar, where we see a woman ordering a drink wearing a hand painted denim jacket featuring a portrait of Sasha Velour. Set against a rainbow the painting depicts Velour in the black gown and opera gloves she wore in her very first appearance on Drag Race, complete with tinted glasses and signature crown. It bears the legend “LET’S CHANGE SHIT UP”.

Sasha Velour / Illustration by Emily DoyleLocal club kid, Elliot Barnicle, provides the music for the evening, tucked into an impossibly snug silver lamé bodysuit. Waiting for the acts to begin an impromptu dance off over a bottle of champagne sees partygoers show off their moves on stage, ranging from the dubious to the impressive. The winner high-kicks her way to victory while RuPaul’s 2014 single ‘Sissy That Walk’ plays, to the delight of the crowd.

Sasha Velour makes her first appearance on stage before the clock has struck midnight. With little warning, she walks on with a measured, stately air. She removes her sunglasses to a scream from the crowd. Then, as soon as she appeared, she’s gone again.

The evening proceeds with appearances from Velour’s co-hosts sandwiching her performances. Barnicle dominates the stage in his own gold crown. His name is in lights behind him, accompanied by a portrait by the scene’s resident illustrator, Jay Bailey. Then Sasha Velour returns, this time dressed as her idol (and recent Google Doodle muse) Marlene Dietrich.

“What makes queerness so amazing is that we stand on a platform of love and acceptance.”

Boo Sutcliffe / Illustration by Emily DoyleVelour performs an impeccable lip sync to Dietrich’s ‘Illusions’, which morphs into a full dance routine to Le Tigre’s dance-punk hit ‘Deceptacon’. Velour slipping off her top hat and tails to show a leopard print basque and Yolandi Visser-eque wig must surely be the reveal of the night.

Sets followed from the rhinestone-encrusted Tanja MacKenzie, who performed a flawless lip sync of Ella’s ‘Mamma Boy’ (for the unacquainted that was Norway’s official Eurovision selection for 2017, and a perfect slice of electro-pop at that). Birmingham’s self-styled ‘Queer Bratz doll from hell’ Boo Sutcliffe is up next, flouncing across the stage in her enormous backcombed yellow wig with every ounce of attitude that we’ve come to expect from her.

The hotly anticipated Hungry was next to take the spotlight. Bringing distorted drag all the way from Berlin, Hungry recently collaborated with Björk on the artwork for her 2017 release Utopia and it’s easy to see what drew them together. Combining otherworldly makeup, motoric vogueing, and a frighteningly cinched waist, her routine to a remix of Röyksopp’s ‘Monument’ is at the cutting edge of performance art. She takes a bow, standing surrounded by elements of her pink satin costume, clad in stiletto boots and peephole panties. If there’s anyone who can follow this, it’s Sasha Velour.

Hungry / Illustration by Emily DoyleThe strains of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ fill The Nightingale. Velour is back on stage for her final performance of the night, this time in a classic red shirt-dress and fiery bob. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a bit obvious, until she disappears behind a red umbrella and re-emerges as a bedazzled incarnation of Tolkien’s character Gollum. Flinging herself against the barriers, her pointed ears and single, heart shaped nipple pasty glint in the stage lights.

After the show I catch up with Elliot Barnicle and Boo Sutcliffe to get their take on how the night felt from the other side of the crowd barrier.

“I really didn’t expect anything less from an audience that was drawn in for Sasha Velour,” says Sutcliffe. “The energy in the room was electric. It was full of so much love and acceptance.”

Barnicle agrees. “The night was incredible, it’s inspiring to see such a talented performer on stage, pushing the boundaries of drag and to be received by such a wide audience. Sasha is such a kind queen and was really interested in seeing us other performers on stage!”

“I think Sasha’s comments on the never-ending changes and movements of what drag is and can be is what makes her such a queer icon and the deserving reigning queen,” continues Barnicle. “Everything she stands for and says goes towards a more loving and accepting future for drag queens and queer people everywhere. The general vibe I got from everything Sasha said is to never back down from what you believe in and to not let our voices be silenced. We are valid as queer people and we are valid as a community.”

For more on Sasha Velour, visit www.sashavelour.com

For more on Hungry, visit www.instagram.com/isshehungry 

For more on Boo Sutcliffe, visit www.instagram.com/boosutcliffe 

For more on Tanja Mckenzie, visit www.facebook.com/tanja.mckenzie 

For more on Elliot Barnicle, visit www.elliottbarnicle.co.uk

For more on Klub Kids, visit www.klubkids.co.uk 

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