And the Winner is…. Linty! (Also I won 2nd runner up!!!!)

YAY!

The 2014 Faux Queen Pageant was completely AH-MAZING!

San Francisco put on all its best qualities for us over the weekend as we descended on the queer city for the annual Faux Queen Pageant presented by Bea Dazzler.

As is now the custom, The Spangled Emperor and I tried to give Bea Dazzler some last minute support with the show, and ran a few errands for her the morning of. The most important of which was finding a vegan apple pie. Not an easy assignment! The rest of the day was a mad rush to show time.

We started at the theatre with some rehearsals, because one of my back up dancers was the current reigning Mr Drag King 2014, and I was only meeting her that day. We taught Maddog 20/20 the number in 2 hours and felt confident for the final performance. Then it was time for make-up, tech runs, attaching hair extensions and getting into costume.

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The Spangled Emperor & Agorafauxbia

When the doors opened, much of San Francisco’s drag community who support Faux Queens came pouring through. While the audience where getting settled, special selections from WerqSF played on the big screen. This was such a huge thrill for me, to see my work displayed in that context. I hope that everyone enjoyed what they saw and will take the time to watch more episodes here on Agorafauxbia.com. Make sure you take the audience survey to go into the draw to win a $25 prepaid visa debit card. CLICK HERE FOR THE SURVEY

I could feel tension rising backstage as we waited in anticipation for everyone to take their seats and begin the show. Bea Dazzler had scheduled me to be first on stage, mostly because she knew I wasn’t worried about winning. Traditionally the queen who performs first never places in the top three, but I was about to smash that curse into oblivion.

I stumbled on stage for my catwalk couture number, sporting classic Baltimore leopard print from my local thrift store. The fabulous MC’s read this introduction:

“She’s the blunder from down under and the shrimp on your barbie… Last year you knew

Agorafauxbia

Agorafauxbia

her as “that one from Australia”, but now Agorafauxbia lives in North East USA. Like Obama, Washington DC is her temporary home until we kick her out. A fashion victim from way back, Agorafauxbia is sporting classic Baltimore leopard print by Value Village, Silver Spring Maryland. Paired with old hair extensions saved from the trash and steamed back to life, she is a true dime store diamond. “

Through the curtain I watched all the others take the stage for their couture number. I was wholeheartedly impressed by the incredible costuming of all the faux queens. My favourite item was Alabama Slammer’s fingernails which looked like 3 inch skewers duct taped to her fingers. So very fierce!

Before I knew, it was time for my inspired talent number: “Fashion Faux War..ds”, a spectacular Star Wars parody devised by me and The Spangled Emperor.

The Spangled Emperor, Agorafauxbia & Maddog 20/20

The Spangled Emperor, Agorafauxbia & Maddog 20/20

It was a total hit! My initial idea had been to do a number about thrifting because I personally am struggling with finances, and have very little money for fashion. However, it was The Spangled Emperor who reminded me that the people of San Francisco are having a very rough go of it as the tech giants move in and displace those who have lived in the Bay Area much of their lives. We devised a number which tried to draw on some of the oppression felt by the drag community in San Francisco due to the recession and rise of the tech companies.

The Spangled Emperor & Agorafauxbia

The Spangled Emperor & Agorafauxbia

Going first is great if you want to see the rest of the numbers! I milled around watching everyone else perform and even tried to hussle some extra tips out of the audience.

I’m going to write another post about the other contestants and their awesome talent numbers, but right now I’m too excited about what happened in the winner’s circle crowning section!

Agorafauxbia & Vesper Synd

Agorafauxbia & Vesper Synd

Yes friends! I placed 2nd runner up and they gave me a crown and sash like a real pageant queen! I don’t think I have ever been so excited in my entire life! When they called my name I quickly glanced to the back of the audience to see The Spangled Emperor jumping up and down and screaming.

So congratulations to me! Hooray!

Linty & her team on fire!

Linty & her team on fire!

Also congratulations to first runner up Hazzard Strange, of whom I am a huge huge fan. And of course this year’s winner Miss Faux Queen 2014 Linty! Because I was only in town for such a short amount of time I didn’t get a chance to get to know Linty, and only met her briefly in the hallway of Bea Dazzler’s apartment and fleeting moments at the Faux Queen Pageant. Her number was pretty damn spectacular with more costume changes than I ever thought possible.

Finally, I must say that Cara Couture’s step down number was one of the most beautiful pieces of performance I have ever seen. This lady is an incredibly talented make-up artist and I would fly across the country to attend a master class if she ran one.

There are many more fauxtos and stories to come in the next week or so. Stay Tuned!

 

 

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The FAUX QUEEN PAGEANT IS THIS WEEKEND!

Wow! I cannot believe it has been an entire year since I went to the 2013 Faux Queen Pageant and came third last. Yes, third last my friends.

Last year I was completely blown away by the huge production numbers that faux queens had prepared for this show. I knew as soon as I saw Vesper Synd practicing with her sword wielding back up dancers, I was done for.

After the pageant, I interviewed a number of people involved, some of whom reported to me that the caliber of performance and spectacle had taken a huge step up at the 2013 pageant. These girls seemed on a mission to prove that faux queens can serve it up as good as any other drag performer. I can honestly say that it was one of the most fantastic shows I have ever seen, and certainly the best I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in. The whole night was a credit to producer Bea Dazzler, stage manager Cameron Eng, and their amazing team of volunteers.

This year the pageant has three returning contestants from 2013: Vesper Synd, Hazzard Strange and me. I’m so thrilled to see these ladies again and I know they are going to have amazing talent numbers! I will also have the pleasure of performing alongside seven first time contestants, and I’m really excited to see what new and interesting drag they will bring.

FQP_agorafauxbiaI have tried to step things up this year, and taken on advice from all the amazing folk I met last year. Now that I live much closer to San Francisco, I can actually take a huge suitcase dedicated entirely to costumes and props!

The Spangled Emperor and I are practicing at every spare moment. I think I can confidently say he is the only man in Washington DC going to Aussie Rules Football training and then driving home to practice a dance routine for the San Francisco Faux Queen Pageant. I’m also very very lucky to have the current reigning Mr Drag King San Francisco performing in my number as well. Woo hoo!

Here’s hoping that my luggage isn’t lost by the airline!

And onward to The 2014 Faux Queen Pageant!!!!!10606001_10152755193913969_131568531601146889_n

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MAKING PROPS AND BE-SPANGLING THINGS

THE FAUX QUEEN PAGEANT!

It’s only a few weeks away, so The Spangled Emperor and I are spending all of our spare time getting prepared. Another big difference for this years’ pageant is that I can’t really take much time out of my work day to prepare. I’m busy with preparations for Agorafaux-pas, drafting my thesis, and putting together a journal article. This year all pageant prep is relegated to the weekends and evenings. Also, last year I lived in a 3 bedroom home with 2 work sheds to make a mess in. I now live in a tiny studio apartment with no outdoor space for spray painting or other potentially furniture damaging activities. Scaling my ideas back to “doable” in the time frame and work space available has been challenging…. But we are getting there!

This weekend we crafted all of the props and choreographed about 3/4 of the number for the backup dancers, using a 7 foot Chewbacca cut out in place of me. (Thanks to my Maryland friends for lending me your beloved Chewy).

Not to give too much away, but we had duct tape, pool noodles, super soakers, mini torches, craft scalpel, glue, waste paper baskets, elastic, cardboard, metallic pens, and some fabulous thrift store finds. I’m not entirely certain on how everything is going to pack down for the trip to San Francisco…

I’ve ordered 300 Swarovski crystals online so this weekend will be a mad be-spangling event!

The Spangled Emperor is also my partner Lockie, and his name is linked to our experiences at last years’ pageant with Bea Dazzler (producer of The Faux Queen Pageant). Last year while in San Francisco, we both spent time with Bea Dazzler doing some odd jobs leading up to the pageant. Lockie was left in charge of hot fixing Swarovski rhinestones to the winners’ crown, a process which he called “Spangling” rather than “be-dazzling”. After much discussion with Bea Dazzler about the name “The Spangler”, he insisted on “The Spangled Emperor”, which is a reef dwelling fish common in Australian waters.

The Spangled Emperor plays an integral role in Agorafauxbia’s faux queen pageant talent number this year.

Find out more about the pageant on their website:

http://fauxqueenpageant.blogspot.com

Cara Couture & Bea Dazzler (Image by Korey Luna)

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On The Smell of an Oily Rag Drag!

Let me drop some knowledge: Drag can be VERY VERY expensive.

Last year I spent well over $500 on my faux queen pageant number, and that is not including makeup and wigs. I made all of my costumes from scratch over several months, and there was no discount fabric store in Perth. My gumnut baby to lady costume cost about $200 to create, I wore it for a grand total of 30 seconds, and the judging panel thought I was a strawberry. Mega fail.

This year, the faux queen pageant is approaching in 4 weeks’ time and after paying for my airfares and a hotel, I’m flat broke. My challenge is going to be putting together an epic number, with almost no money. Thrift store, you are my new best friend.

My sewing machine and craft tools are locked up in storage in Australia, so unfortunately I have to replace them while I’m in the USA. However, that will hopefully be my only significant purchase. I have huge plans for my number, but I will need to be extra creative to piece together all of the props and costumes from stuff I already have. Additionally, my planned number is much bigger this year, with multiple costume changes, and 5 people to consider. I’m not in a drag house or troupe, so I’m on my own with finding everything that I need.

Some drag folks might not like my suggestions, as I know it is important to a lot of people to appear flawless. I think that is fine; there are plenty of different approaches to drag performance, and flawless illusionary is only one. Personally, I like to do drag which is camp. For me that means doing a lot with very little and sticking with the idea that camp is a lie that tells the truth. A show of epic proportions, put together with minimal budget, is exactly that.

Here are my tips for putting on an epic number, on a nothing budget:

1.      Borrow stuff

As much as you can, try to borrow things from your networks. People will have things to offer which you might not have thought of.

2.      Use things you already have and aim for camp

Search through stuff you already have and be creative in reorganising them to meet your current needs. If you are considering a complicated costume for a minor character, think about how you can simplify it in a way which also increases its camp potential. Let’s take Batman for example. This might mean, instead of a full tailored bat suit, you use tight black bike shorts and a black midriff top with the bat signal printed on the front.

3.      Craft with cheap and common items

Is there a complicated but essential prop that you need? Try googling “craft” or “kids craft” in front of the thing you need to create. You might find a very simple and cheap alternative to that much needed prop. (Craft sword is an example)

4.      Consider symbolic items

Instead of buying that original movie quality batman mask, consider something symbolic or suggestive instead. Perhaps a printable batman masks which can be held up to the face photo booth style.

5.      Visit your local thrift store

There are some spectacular gems to be found in thrift stores, and you can walk away with 10 items while only having spent $20. This is all the better if you have a sewing machine. You might find items which are too big or small, but you can tailor them to fit or use the fabric to make something new.

6.      Use Multi-media

Agorafauxbia always has multi-media in her numbers, mostly because I love creating it. You can also use multi-media to create back drops for multiple scenes, cut back on your props and guide the audience through a complicated story line.

7.      Recruit people who already have costumes

You might know of some folks who already have costumes in the style of your theme or idea. Ask them to be in your number.

8.      Save your ratty tangled wigs

There are heaps of good you tube tutorials on how to save tangled, matted synthetic hair. I spent 3 hours saving a half wig that I had teased into oblivion. I pulled small sections apart, separated the tangles with my fingers and then combed hair oil through the sections until smooth again. It was a long process, but it saved me buying new hair. If you have a garment steamer, that works wonders on synthetic hair.

So I’m going to be honest, this sort of stuff is probably not going to win you a pageant. Unless the pageant is called “On The Smell of an Oily Rag Drag”.  My wig literally smells like cocoa butter oil, so that is the kind of drag I’m bringing to San Francisco this year.

agoradollar

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FAUX QUEEN PAGEANT 2014

Get excited! The San Francisco Faux Queen Pageant is back again for 2014.

I’m very very happy to be heading back to California and performing on this stage again. I have got ALOT of work to do before flying out…

Bea Dazzler has issued a save the date, so if you are going to be in The Bay Area, please come along.

You might recognise this image from WerqSF. It’s last years’ fabulous Miss Faux Queen: Cara Couture.

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Working Title: Agorafaux-pas

Last week I nervously went along to a meeting at The University of Maryand Women’s Studies Department to politely ask if they would think about supporting a drag cabaret inspired play I have written, tentatively titled Agorafaux-pas.

I am so grateful and excited that the department are happy to support my show and we are likely to present it in late November or early December of this year.

What is Agorafaux-pas? What is it about? Why should be you audition? Why should you come see it?

The work playfully narrates the mostly true story of my research journey as Agorafauxbia – a straight identified faux queen whose identity is altered as she becomes involved in queer culture. The narrative for Agorafaux-pas draws creatively upon personal stories as well as ethnographic data collected from in-depth interview with other faux queens. While I will be writing a complete script before the rehearsal process, I would like cast members to collaborate on the content we present and plan to leave the script open to changes.

The overarching theme of Agorafaux-pas is an exploration of questions and concerns which emerge when women do female drag (particularly straight identified women). The show raises and addresses broad themes about identity and performing gender which will appeal to those interested in feminist and queer issues and theory. Additionally, the work promotes a transnational understanding of themes, by incorporating both Australian and American perspectives and experiences.

I am really looking forward to casting the show and collaborating with my performance ensemble to take the script to the next level. I can do good work on my own but I always feel like the work I do with other people is so much more rich and satisfying. By December we will have a campy hilarious show with transgressive potential. We will be able to share some history of faux queens, and engage our audience in all of the questions and concerns I have navigated over the past three years. Many of those issues have been raised in this blog, and the play is a chance to address them creatively.

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All the things to report!

Can you believe that it’s July already? I only have 6 months left to finish my PhD on time! Oh Em Gee…

As I’m coming to the pointy end of my doctorate, I’m finding that I have a bunch of things finished or almost finished to share with the world. I published my first journal article about performing and performativity online, which you can find here: http://ijx.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.202/prod.212 and I have a book chapter in press which likely to come out in print at the end of the year.

WerqSF is completely finished, with much thanks to those who were involved in the project and who continued to provide much needed advice during post-production. You can watch the episodes by clicking on the tab above marked WerqSF. The final episode will be loaded next week and explores how a selection of faux queens conceptualise notions of queerness. I’ve produced and submitted a special episode of WerqSF for Under The Golden Gate’s San Francisco Drag Short Film Contest. The submission deadline for this contest has been extended so I will have to wait a little longer to find out if my piece has made it into the contest. Once the contest is done and dusted I will add this special episode to the WerqSF collection. Selections from WerqSF will be screened at The University of Maryland Women’s Studies Department during the Fall Semester this year, with the opportunity for all viewers (online or live) to participate in a research survey about your reactions to the work.

I’m working on a drag cabaret inspired play script with song parody, original compositions and lip-syncing which I aim to have finished in first draft form by the end of this month. I’m working with Women’s Studies at The University of Maryland to stage the show later this year. If all goes to plan we will be putting out a casting call at the beginning of the Fall Semester. The overarching theme of the play is an exploration of questions and concerns which emerge when women do female drag (particularly straight identified women). The show raises and addresses broad themes about identity and performing gender which will appeal to those interested in feminist and queer issues and theory.

Wow there really is so much going on right now! Exciting times :)

AF

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Thoughts on using movie parody

Now that Werq SF is complete and I am staggering release of the episodes on this site, I’m beginning to focus on my other major creative work (Agorafaux-pas) and drafting my exegetical document.

At this point in time, I am drafting Agorafaux-pas as a drag cabaret inspired play script. There are several sections which try to creatively explore some of the key issues of my research like how do straight and queer identity intersect in drag performances by cis-women with male romantic partners. Or how do faux queens and drag queens engage in performative transactions and exchanges in their theatrical presentations.

These are tricky things to write about academically, but I’m finding them much more difficult to express and negotiate in a way which is entertaining and not entirely written language based.

In exploring performative transactions and exchange between faux queens and drag queens, I’ve thought of using pop-culture scripts to represent this relationship in a humorous way. One of my ideas has been to parody Interview with The Vampire. If you watch the theatrical trailer for this movie, and imagine the vampires are actually drag queens teaching cis-women to be drag queens themselves, it kind of works.

I’ve also considered doing a similar thing with the Matrix.

I don’t agree that thinking about the relationship between faux queens and drag queens is exactly like vampires. Certainly you could read that negatively as suggesting drag queens are some sort of non-human monster. That’s not what I’m going for, but I like the idea of drag queen as mentor, which is the role of LeStat in Interview with The Vampire, as well as the notion that faux queens are imbued with something “different” or “special” by drag queens.

A parody of The Matrix could function as a more symbiotic type of relationship where the wool is pulled over our eyes until reality is revealed. In that scenario faux queens might also have agency in the production of their drag and camp, not simple seen appropriating drag queen styles.

AF

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At the HonFest, The Hampden HonFest!

Bawlmer’s Best Hon 2013 sang her step down number “At the HonFest”, a lyrically altered Copacabana…

Big hair and makeup are always the fashion At the HonFest.

…before the 2014 Best Hon was crowned!

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This weekend I kept my hair high, but toned down my makeup to become Agora The Hon IMG_3547for Baltimore’s annual HonFest. Not being a Bawlmerian, or even an America, I find it hard to some up the atmosphere of this event. So I’ve done the lazy, but ultimately correct thing, and borrowed some words from the HonFest Producer…

HonFest is a local tradition. The Bawlmer term of endearment, Hon, short for Honey, embodies the warmth and affection bestowed upon our neighbors and visitors alike by historic working-women of Baltimore. HonFest is an annual celebration in honor of these women. (Denise Whiting, creator and producer of The Hampden HonFest)http://www.honfest.net/whatis.html

For once, I was not nervous to venture out in my hair and sparkly clothing. I was so excited to attend this female focused event, where women honor their nurturers. Much of my drag is drawn from imitating and caricaturing women in my family, to ultimately pay homage to them. HonFest was a place to dress up like your mum, or grandma, and celebrate their warmth and quirks.

I must have done something right, because many people were stopping me on the street and asking to have photos with me. Of course I obliged. I’m here to serve and appear on your facebook. A lady with her small daughter walked past me and I heard her say, “Look there’s a Hon, see that lady. She’s a Hon, that’s a Hon dress.” Awesome. On my way to HonFest I had to stop to fill my car with petrol, and a woman called out from her car, “Oh I love your hair! I used to where mine like that in the 60s!” I was all like, “Thanks, Hon.”

The day was spectacular! The community atmosphere in Hampden was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Every business in the area had taken their products to the street (including Lottery Tickets and Newspapers), and business was booming. Cafe Hon was adorned with a huge beehive’d pink flamingo, and even my cocktails came with cat-eye glasses.

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IMG_3602What an incredibly special day for Baltimore and it’s wonderful curlers and pearls women.

Additionally, HonFest celebrates the John Waters films which made the area (and the Hon image) globally popular. Waters’ consistent casting of drag artist Devine connects Baltimore’s feminine history with drag. Further I was trilled to see the town celebrate women of varying sizes and ages, and embrace us more round ladies as symbols of feminine beauty.

Finally, this year was the 20th  Anniversary of HonFest, and in honor of the occasion an incredible mural was created. Here I am standing next to it!

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I was able to grab a few choice pictures with this year’s “Best Hons”. But you can check out all the photos on the Gallery Page.

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oxoxo Agora The Hon

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WerqSF You better watch!

Ok yes, that’s a terrible pun.

Please take a look at my new web series WerqSF. It’s even got it’s own page and everything!

A cannot be more grateful to the fabulous people who helped me to put this series together. Thank you so much to my wonderful interview subjects: Bea Dazzler, Ruby Toosday, Vesper Synd, Cara Couture, Frida K Hole, Kentucky Fried Woman, L Ron Hubby, Fauxnique, Marilyn Fowler and Princess Cream Pie!

Unfortunately, San Francisco turned on all it’s Eurovision style wind machines and made some of the sound recordings completely unusable. I’m very sorry to those whose interviews were attacked by windiness and were not able to be used in the series. Rest assured I was still able to transcribe your words and will use them in my publications, my play script and my thesis document.

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to Andrew Losh of Strange Productions (spectacular partner to Hazzard Strange). Andrew’s images from The 2013 Faux Queen Pageant are really something special and I’m so happy to use them in WerqSF. Further, many of the queens interviewed sent me additional images; the photographers are acknowledged in the clips and I extend my appreciation to them also.

Who could forget the forever loyal Spangled Emperor (also know as Lockie and “The Boyfriend”) who traveled with me to San Francisco and managed camera work for all interviews. You know a person really loves you when they agree to fly half way around the world to dress up as a white horse in hot pants and carry faux queens around on princess platforms.

Thank you also to those who volunteered to be involved, but due to bad weather and other constraints were unable to participate at this time.

Click Click Click your way over to WerqSF on the menu bar and enjoy les reines de la faux.

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MOI! AF

 

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