Words by Anna Cash Davidson / Pics by Sarah Maiden
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 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. 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 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. 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.
Popular 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.
Stand-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
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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