Performer name(s): Mr Green Teal and Sparklemuffin
Where do you live? Canberra, Australia
Gender: Genderfluid or Non-Binary
Muggle day job: Currently not working, due to illness. Studying/working on starting up my own business. Worked in the community sector/education for 17 years.
Length of time performing: I’ve been performing as Mr Green Teal for 14 years and Sparklemuffin for 5 years. It’s hard to say how many shows I have performed as Mr Green Teal, probably only about 40, and as Sparklemuffin, I have done about 20 shows. I’ve had illness, lack of resources and being the only king (at times), which has meant challenges to performing, (more often and outside of Canberra).
What you refer to yourself performance wise: Depends on the context, often I say I’m a drag king or burlesque performer or just a performer. I am originally visual arts trained, so sometimes it’s just ‘artist’.
Why do you perform? I started doing what I called Drag King performance originally after I came out as Same Sex Attracted (lesbian), at age 36. It was part of the beginning of lots of identity exploration and I came out more times after this. I had always been creative, and I wanted to perform but never had the ‘guts’ or nerve to do it because I was never ‘enough’ when I was younger, and types of performance seemed limited. I had, had little exposure to kings, so it’s hard to say how or where I got the idea from. Many of the lesbians I excitedly told I wanted to do drag king performance to were not as excited as me, some were VERY excited. I found a way to start, that is a whole story unto itself. Because performance opportunities were rare I treated each gig as the last one. After about 7 years the venue that I had been doing most of my performance at, closed. I approached a local burlesque troupe, Miss Kitka’s House of Burlesque and asked Miss Kitka if I could possibly perform with her troupe. I performed that year (2011) with Miss Kitkas t for the first time (as Mr Green Teal). After that, I thought it was time to explore my femme side and build on my performance skills. I had never experienced queer femme. So, I took up burlesque classes with Miss Kitka and did my first burlesque solo as Arachne Phobia, in a show ‘Jungle Fever’ in 2012. I didn’t ever feel fully comfortable in the full femme burlesque mode, which, apparently you’re ‘supposed to feel sexy doing. To me it is more drag than any other presentation I have done.
In more recent years, my performance has had a focus on queer themes. I perform because it is the time when I am truly standing up for and representing other queer/LGBTI folk. I am also representing the ‘older’ performer. I was the oldest performer doing burlesque, for some time, in our local burlesque scene. Others came and went, but I was still there. I perform now because I am standing up, raw and exposed as a queer person. I’m here and I’m queer. I’ve also been the first drag king that many people have seen. This is something special.
How would you describe your performance style: Mr Green Teal is an old-fashioned crooner. He is distinct in his style and models himself off the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Chris Isaak Style. Occasionally he has chosen to perform to raunchier or up-beat music. His signature songs are ‘Bad Things’ and ‘Fever’ (Michael Buble).
Sparklemuffin does a range of presentations from femme burlesque to boylesque. Sparklemuffin is the gender bender, who, in most cases is a character performer. Choosing very different looks and themes to perform to. Often the costuming is specific to the ideas in the act. I would like to push Sparklemuffin much further, performing mostly as a male persona.
What /who inspires you: I am inspired by ‘everyday’ people. Folk in the LGBTI communities that continuously advocate for our rights. I am inspired by many of the trans and gender diverse people I know, that are part of my life. I’m inspired by people of colour, and people living with chronic illness, or mental illness. I’m inspired by the people that just keep going in a world that’s often against them. I love the artists that challenge ideas. In my current world the people/performers that inspire are; Jenni Atkinson; Ginger Gorman; Bella De Jac and Alyssa Kitt (whose words of encouragement I will never forget); The Rainbow; Bust Herr; Ziggy Disco Balls; Glitterfist; Archie Arsenic; Miss Kitka; All the Kitka folk; Betty Grumble; Rocco D’Amore; Sexy Galexy; Lance De Boyle; Lee Valone; Paradox Rei; Glitta Supernova; Dolores Daiquiri; Lillian Starr; Fancy Piece; Bunni Lambada; Spikey Van Dykey; Rubyyy Jones; Any intersectional performers; A number of our local performers, but particularly InkBits and Bambi Valentine. Many of these people I have only seen images of on social media, but am a big fan of them, of their ethos and what they ‘put out’. It’s about leadership and social and cultural change.
Some information about your costumes: I was originally trained in textiles, so I love a good costume. My costumes are all styled by me, and wherever possible, designed and made by me. I either use found upcycled items and often deconstruct them to create a costume I want, or I make them from other materials from scratch. One of my biggest costume achievements is a gladiator suit, which is covered in medication packs. The act being about mental illness. I like it when costumes add relevance or meaning to the act.
Your favourite act (of your own or someone else’s) and why: I don’t really have just one. A few that currently stand out are; The Body Map show by Glitta Supanova (Australian Performer); An act by Ruby Slippers (Australian), which involved using film and awesome costuming; Sweaty Pitts (local Canberra folk) and an act they did dressed as lemons. The Rainbow (Australian), Mad Hatter act. Baron Von Envy’s winning act in Mr Boylesque International 2017.
Biggest challenge as a performer: Health, resources ($$$$) and, sometimes I feel like the only queer in the village. My health has been a problem for the last 7 years, this combined with lack of resources has meant that I haven’t been able to do the workshops and training that I want, or to get out of Canberra to perform. Being the only drag king for chunks of time, in my home town and feeling isolated in that.
Some of your achievements:
That I have kept going all this time, despite feeling quite alone at times.
In around 2007 I ran my first drag king workshops. Encouraged by my dear friend Rocco Hardness. We had a small, Canberra based troupe which ran for about 4-5 years, members came and went. I decided I needed to ‘own’ that I was the ‘expert’ in my local area and I started up the workshops again in 2017. We currently have a few kings who are keen to get performing. I continue to run these workshops, because I believe it’s important to me. It supports new performers and helps them get a head start. I had to navigate my own way without things like Facebook groups and with very little information. I’m proud of my ‘kinglets’ as we call them (as opposed to baby kings). We have a little family.
Winning the inaugural Kreative Kitten in Miss Kitka’s House of Burlesque in the annual Kitten of the Year Competition at the end of 2016.
Competing in Miss Burlesque Australia competition in 2016. I was so sure I was going to be so far behind all the other competitors, in terms of how good I was, but this was not true. It was hard, but I really grew as a performer.
The several shows I have produced to raise awareness of varying issues. The first two were LGBTI focussed variety shows, raising money for those communities. The last show was in 2017 and that was to raise awareness about mental health problems and $$$ for a local mental health organisation. These shows are about creating community on several levels.
This blog. Hopefully it will become huge.
Social media handles, any links you want to share:
Something you would like to tell readers:
Thank you to all the people who have supported me and continue to support me. It means so much to me. Thank you to elders and artists who have come before me/us.
It’s not easy being an artist, a creative thinker or an advocate for change. You’ll always get people that disagree with you, you’ll always get people telling you, you are wrong or trying to put you down. Change doesn’t happen easily. The only way to make change is to DO YOUR THING. Keep trying. There is still a lot that needs to happen in the world as far as LGBTIQ rights are concerned. There’s lots of horrible things continue to happen, including death. Trans folk. Now is our time, now is time for change around perceptions, around gender. It’s hard but keep being yourself (but always try and stay safe). It’s also hard for women, all kinds of women. Keep pushing. Keep standing up for you.
To quote Paradox Rei (do you know Paradox Rei? Look them up.) #AllDragIsValid. You can be fat, thin, male, female, trans, non-binary, black, brown, yellow, white or green. There are no rules. You can do it however the fuck you like, you can bind, not bind. Have a beard, not have a beard. Pack or not pack.
Not everyone comes to their art equally. Some have more advantages than others. Some don’t have the money or the health to do their drag as they wish. The colour of their skin might impact them; They might not be able bodied, or they might have multiple ‘challenges’. Some are living in isolation (either geographically, or emotionally) and don’t have the support. Just because someone is ‘doing well’ or is ‘successful’ in terms of winning awards or such like, doesn’t mean they are better than you. Go forth and change the world do your drag 😊