Mike Litoris – New Zealand

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Mike Litoris, drag king from Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Paradox Photography. Design: Caleb McNabb. Makeup and styling by Mike Litoris. Courtesy of Gag Collective

Performer name(s): Mike Litoris

Where do you live (and perform): Wellington, New Zealand

Gender: Woman (she/her)

Age: 26

Muggle day job: Sex Worker/Busker

Length of time performing:  2 ½ years. Done multiple gigs, usually perform once, sometimes twice a month. Performed at Wellington Pride Festival.

What you refer to yourself performance wise: Drag King

Why do you perform? For expression, to subvert and challenge the norm, promote body positivity, because I enjoy it.

How would you describe your performance style: Gritty, masculine, gay, challenging, powerful.

What /who inspires you: Other drag kings, my drag community, the wider drag king community. My partner (a transmasc drag queen).

After Party Pic

 Mike Litoris, drag king from Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Jeff Tolan. Makeup and Costume by Mike Litoris.

Some information about your costumes: Often self-created from thrift shop finds on a budget, I usually buy base garments, adding to them with embroidery, stitching, studs and rhinestones etc. as I see fit. I have a couple of standard outfits, and then I might have a couple of outfits designed specifically for a certain act.

Your favourite act (of your own or someone else’s) and why: My act, where I am a silver android, with light-up reveals and several cuts of electronica tracks. My best act to date.

Biggest challenge as a performer: Budget limitations

Some of your achievements: Performed at Wellington Pride Festival, including the afterparty with an international Drag Queen, Laila McQueen, part of a collective called Gag Collective, producing my own show bi-monthly called Open Mike.

Social media handles, any links you want to share:

Instagram: @mikelitorisdrag (https://www.instagram.com/mikelitorisdrag)

Facebook: Mike Litoris Drag King (https://www.facebook.com/MikeLitorisDragKing/)

Twitter: @mikelitorisdrag (https://twitter.com/mikelitorisdrag)

 Something you would like to tell readers: Drag is for anybody. If you feel like your gender, age, divergence or disability makes you less valid to try drag because of the overwhelming majority with privilege, fight to prove them wrong. You are valid. Your drag is valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Mike Litoris Promo Pic

Mike Litoris from Wellington, New Zealand.  Photo: Ngarongonui Mareikura-Ellery. Makeup and costume by Mike Litoris.

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Mike Litoris from Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Bernie Homes. Makeup and costume by Mike Litoris.

Mr Green Teal / Sparklemuffin – Australia

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Mr Green Teal posing with showgirls for Miss Kitka’s House of Burlesque, Christmas In July show 2011

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Mr Green Teal as Johnny Ray, in Miss Kitka’s House of Burlesque, Kitten of the Year Show in 2011, photo by Captain Spitfire (Shannon Brown, now The Den Photography)

Performer name(s): Mr Green Teal and Sparklemuffin

Where do you live? Canberra, Australia

Gender: Genderfluid or Non-Binary

Age:  50

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’.

CaptaVitae Photography - http://www.captavitaephotography.com

Sparklemuffin (as character Aladon Heat), in Erase The Binary show, 2014.  Show produced by Megan Munro (Mr Green Teal /Sparklemuffin) and Melina Fahrenheit.  Raising $$ and awareness of gender diversity.  Photo by CaptaVitae Photography (Chris Manchester)

 

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.

CaptaVitae Photography - http://www.captavitaephotography.com

Sparklemuffin performing their ‘Creep’ routine at The Abbey as part of Mondayitis.  Photo by Captavitae Photography (Chris Manchester).  Costume, makeup, styling all by Sparklemuffin.

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Sparklemuffin is Lady Elvis, for Miss Kitka’s House of Burlesque, Elvis Tribute Show, 2016.  Photo by D-Eye (Brett Sargeant). Costume, makeup, styling by Sparklemuffin.

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.

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Sparklemuffin doing their ‘Butch Burlesque’ routine at Dr Sketchys Canberra, December 2017. Costume, makeup and styling by Sparklemuffin.  Photo by Sam Ingham.

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:

https://www.facebook.com/megan.munro2

https://www.facebook.com/MrGreenTeal/

https://www.facebook.com/erasethebinary/

https://www.instagram.com/meganmunro1968/

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Sparklemuffin posing before performing their ‘Manhattan’ routine for Miss Kitka’s Boys, Boys, Boys and a Girl 2! in 2017.  Costume, makeup and styling by Sparklemuffin.  Photo by D-Eye (Brett Sargeant)

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 😊

Megan

Sparklemuffin posing before doing their ‘Betty Howard’ inspired routine at Miss Kitka’s House of Burlesque, Kitten of the Year 2017 show.  Costume and styling by Sparklemuffin, makeup by Ange Broso. Photo by D-Eye (Brett Sargeant).

Damien D’Luxe – USA

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Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

 

Performer name(s): Damien D’Luxe

Where do you live (and perform): Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Gender: Gender Queer

Age: 32

Muggle day job:  Tattoo Shop Owner/ Tattoo Artist

Length of time performing: I have been performing for 15 years. I would say I have likely done at least 600 or more shows (estimating).

What you refer to yourself performance wise ?: Drag King

 

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Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

Why do you perform?

I perform as a way to express my gender identity. Because I identify as gender queer but present more “female” in my daily life, it is a great outlet for me to feel more masculine when I am on stage. I see it as a way of being a man without being a man. I also use drag to assist with my social anxiety. I have a difficult time interacting with others in my daily life and doing drag allows me to be someone else and helps me to socialize with people when I normally wouldn’t be able to.  Drag is also another art form for me. I don’t do a ton of artwork outside of my work in tattooing. Doing drag allows me to use my body as my canvas. I paint my artwork on myself at every show.

How would you describe your performance style ?

My performance style varies a lot between cosplay, hip hop and pop/lock dancing style numbers, boilesque and dark/creepy numbers. I try to bring varying looks to each show and do dramatic make up and costume changes between numbers.

What /who inspires you ?

I am inspired by a lot of things around me. I do a lot of research in high fashion looks and male couture online. I also use inspiration from specific characters when I create them for cosplay. The celebrity that I am inspired by the most is Marilyn Manson. I also find inspiration in make up from the drag queens that I work with and from fellow kings on social media.

Some information about your costumes:

My costumes range from dark and sexy to bright and colorful. I use a lot of feathers, sequins, rhinestones, studs and other embellishments.  I do a lot of singular colors from head to toe or use color themes varying by the song. I also do a lot of cosplay numbers that use costuming from specific well known characters. I make most everything myself and my wife helps me embellish them a lot of times when I am short on time.

Your favourite act (of your own or someone else’s) and why:

My favourite act changes by the month. I feel like my favourite act generally is my most recent act. I love bringing new pieces to the stage and the invigorating feel of new costuming and song choices. My current favourite act of mine is performing to Macho Man by the Village People. I perform it as a circus strongman with a big barbell. I love the campiness and fun in the number and that I am able to bring theatrics to the stage.

Biggest challenge as a performer:

The biggest challenge for me as a performer is balancing my life and having proper time management. Because I own my own business and have employees along with managing my own tattooing my free time is very limited. I also perform 1-3 times every week. This does not leave me a lot of time for my home, family and friends. Over the years I have learned to find a sort of balance but at times I find myself burned out. Sometimes I simply wish there were more hours in the day!

Social media handles, any links you want to share:

Instagram @damiendluxe

FB @damiendluxe

Twitter @tattoosbyemi

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeGsfcVnYVGDVjrICvW91cQ?view_as=subscriber

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Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien

 

Damien D'Luxe

Damien D’Luxe, Drag King from Minneapolis, USA.  Photo, Makeup and costume all by Damien