Drag has always been a part of my life, ever since early childhood, even if I didn’t have a name for it. I think I didn’t find drag — drag found me. Drag helps us in discovering and expressing ourselves. To me, drag culture is also unique in that it is the best way to convey the pain, sadness, joy, frustration, or other specific feelings that are uniquely queer.
How to make art out of things that society deems frivolous
It all started a few years ago. My friend called me and told me that Nia Gvaua was making a show and needed queens. I remember, I was very worried, what was I supposed to say at home, how was I supposed to sneak out late at night, and then sneak back in after the show was over. Yet everything went well- we had a few rehearsals, and the process was very pleasant and fun. In my first show Yulia was a pharaoh and I was a slave. During the show, Yulia whipped us, the slaves caressed them, I fed them grapes. The show featured Vanilla Ice, another very talented Queen, who played Moses and freed us from being Pharaoh’s slaves. All the emotions I got on Bassian that night were unforgettable.
For many, drag is associated with femininity, sex work, as if this form of self-expression is not art and is considered cheap entertainment, which, of course, is a misconception. However, I understand why the public perceives it At the same time, drag brings to the fore all the things that society tries to cover up and hide – you are feminine, you go on stage as a woman, you play a role that is not acceptable to society, you perform as a female artist to songs that society did not approve of at the time, doesn’t consider it appropriately valuable. But this means the world to me- when wearing a dress, on high heels and heavy makeup on, you are a clown for them, yet for me it is a challenge. I love how Georgian and non Georgian queens challenge this, and create art from what the society deemed unworthy.
Inspirations and messages behind HOMO ERECTUS’ shows
I met Yulia, one of the first Georgian Drag Queens, when I was doing my first show. She was a true inspiration for me. Yulia is an old school Drag Queen, her drag is inspired by New York queens of the 70’s and 80’s of the last century, especially by Divine. She has distinct facial movements, emotions, her shows are always bigger.
My inspirations are theater, performing arts, Broadway, musicals. I love Broadway singers, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Petters, I love Lady Gaga and Pink, they both played a pivotal role in my development. I also love my childhood cartoons and stop-motion movies, Tim Burton’s creations, Coraline, etc. But the biggest inspiration for me are the people who live next to me.
They are the ones that teach me to love, not to fear, to be happy, that I am alive, that I feel pain, that I feel things. With my shows, I want to remind people not to get in each other’s way, but on the contrary- support each other in order to excel, move forward, be happy; I want people to feel empowered and believe in themselves when watching my shows. I don’t want fear to dictate my life, fear of going out. I don’t want to fear, as I know that if I do, it will become contagious and infect others.
The unwritten laws of drag
My approach is that- you are a Drag Queen when you do everything by yourself. You must learn how to do your own makeup, sew costumes, do your nails, style your wig, which is the most fun part of drag. Drag is not just going on stage, in fact, one has more to do before that. This is a huge responsibility and has a high price, but I don’t mean the monetary value- you can not buy this identity, it must be a part of you.
I understand that not every queen can be the best makeup artist or is good at sewing, but one can learn these skills. Makeup is crucial when doing drag, your facial expression defines a lot, and I think no one can do that for you- you must know what your makeup expresses during different shows.
Drag taught me to work under extreme circumstances, because everything happens very fast and chaotically in the world of drag. There have been many instances, when I found out about the show 1 or 2 days prior and I did everything in a rush; prepare a costume, wig, decorations etc.
HOMO ERECTUS beyond Drag
I am a biochemist in my senior year. I work in my profession, I love my job and I’ve put a lot of work into it over the last few years, but I chose a very underrated profession. The life of scientific workers in our country and not only in our country is very hard. Most of my colleagues, who already have a lot of experience and knowledge, have to work many jobs at the same time to meet the minimum requirements. Sometimes I get very tired, every day after I return to work from vacation I think about quitting and doing drag full time, but I still can’t bring myself to give up on this profession because, as I said, I love my job.
I am a very cheerful, socially active and creative person. I like to read fiction, write, listen to music, draw, and communicate with interesting people. I always have a crisis of finding a romantic partner, for some reason I have a very strong need to always love someone and be loved by someone. Spending time with me is fun.
The future of drag culture and playing with colorful paper
Drag revives the child in you who has creative, insatiable power, creative drive, which is always looking for something, new forms, new entertainment, trying to create new things: cutting, sewing, gluing. Doing drag is like playing with colored sheets. The most important thing here is pleasure. No matter how well you put on a show, no matter how much drama there was, no matter how impressive a dress you wore, the most important thing is to enjoy it, be happy and have fun.
I am very fortunate to be living in a time when drag is still underdeveloped in our country and to be able to contribute to it along with other very talented queens. People still don’t know much about drag. Unlike other countries, Georgian drag is not commercialized, which allows queens to do shows more freely and to be more authentic. Georgian drag differs from drag in other countries in this way – everything is just starting and it is very interesting to watch how something new is born from nothing.