"Back then I didn’t pick up a camera and document what was going on, but I wish I had. This time round, I’m not making the same mistake” - Lee Baxter
If you go out on the Queer Alt scene in Manchester, chances are you will have come across photographs by Lee Baxter. Frequently in attendance and photographing the performers at Cha Cha Boudoir and Drunk At Vogue, as well as the revellers themselves in all their Technicolor feathered-and-glitter glory,..
"This booty wouldn't survive if I was on meth!" - Pam Van-Damned
Flamboyantly dark performer Pam Van-Dammed is stepping away from the now dissolved Tranarchy. Like other members of the collective, she is focusing on new projects and heading in new directions. With her own music project on the way, plus appearances at nights like Mother's Ruin this weekend, she caught up with Haus of Phag and explained why she doesn't like to be referred to as a faux queen, or a drag queen full stop.
Haus: Where did the name Pam Van-Damned come from?
Pam: It was put together a few years ago. When I first joined Facebook, I didn't want people to know my real name...
Gay? Queer? Or faggot?
It's always struck me as odd that some people choose to use the word 'queer' to refer to their sexuality. While the concept of having a word that envelopes the breadth of the spectrum of human sexuality makes perfect sense, the use of that specific word is something that doesn't necessarily sit right with me. I understand that the Gay Community has reclaimed the word from its previously offensive and homophobic root, but it's a word that essentially means 'weird'. Why has a word with such negative connotations become something that we have tried to load with enforced positivity when, essentially, that's not what the word means? And why choose a word that's modern primary meaning is still laden with negativity as our broad all-encompassing term to umbrella over all sexualities?
The word 'faggot' is similarly going through a reclamation. The closest equivalent to the n-word for gay people...
Lives on the (tram) line
The other day, I was saying good bye to my boyfriend before getting on a train. It was just he and I on the platform, accompanied by a drunk who had been plaguing us since we got there. We clearly both decided that kissing in front of this man was unwise, so when the train arrived we hugged and I got on the train, followed closely by the drunk, who proceeded to sit right beside me. "Is that your boyfriend?" he asked and my immediate response was "No." I hated saying that, but I knew for my own safety, it would be unwise to say otherwise.
It turned out that my drunk was a friendly drunk, who went on to tell me all about the time he "blew a man to give it a go" (I think my flamboyant snood was a little too fancy to allow me to pass off as a silent straight man), so I needn't have worried. But if I had admitted to my sexuality when he asked, was there any real possibility that I could have been in danger? Of course there was...
Haus of Phag reviews:
The Imitation Game ****
Living in Manchester, I know Alan Turing as a name that's etched deep into the cannon of its most famous and prized and alumni. But it's not a name that's universally known. Due to its burial deep inside Britain's state secrets for more than fifty years, more was publicly known of Turing's tragic downfall than the key role he played in (not just British, but world) history until recently. In reality, his name should carry the same weight as the greatest thinkers ever to have lived, but unlike the others, he is a war hero too. Arguably, his work saved the lives of 14 million people. Could Einstein say that?...
Battle of the Bulge(watch)
Over the last decade, the male form has become arguably as objectified as the female. Male vanity and grooming is at its height; we are all expected to be in shape and if you're young and in the public eye, it has become expected that you be fit, healthy...
Desperately Seeking Susan.
In the last few months, Manchester has rallied together online to support a quiet and timid figure, who is gradually evolving from a reticent recluse to become the newest figure on the Queer Alt scene. Though everyone has clubbed together to support Susan as she makes her first baby-steps into the nightlife, she has still never been to a party. So obviously it has fallen to Black and Blonde to throw one for her! But is Susan finally ready for her debut? Or is she more concerned about her missing cat and the monotony of her daily routine? Haus of Phag caught up with Susan for a chat...
"I guess it's my secret exhibitionism" - JP Dubois
In Gay World, some pornstars are as famous as any other celebrity. But beyond websites and the films we all watch in secret, how much do we actually know about the people we might not recognise with their clothes on? Does it ever cross our minds that they exist beyond the realms of sex?...
The men. And the Mountains. - Barry Stockton
"Some of my art has been stolen!" Barry told me gleefully as we sat in his living room, which is so elaborate it could easily be a film set. "My paintings were bought by a friend in the US, but his house was broken into and nothing was stolen but the paintings. When he told me over the phone he thought I'd be upset, but I thought it was fabulous! My work had been targeted by art thieves!"
Mother's Ruined. Again.
I'll give the programmers of Mother's Ruin one thing; they sure are committed to variety. The point of a cabaret night is always to showcase work from a broad spectrum of mediums, but by Liza, October's Roadhouse Rehab was a veritable Old Curiosity Shop of the wyrd and extreme. From screamo interpretations of Jessie J to deformed drag queens, the night felt almost like an underground Weimar kabarett on the black Roadhouse stage...
Get a ROOM!
I’m sure nobody really appreciates witnessing a full-on PDA. We've all had occasions when we’ve been sat uncomfortably close to an over-amorous couple on a train or bus and it almost always makes you feel uncomfortable that anyone would want to flaunt such an intimate moment in public, daring you to watch and boasting about their “passion”...
Who in the world is Peaches Christ?
Four years ago, when Manchester's Drag Explosion was still but a twinkle in Cheddar Van Der Tramp's eye, theCornerhouse staged a screening of All About Evil, a film directed by San Francisco queen Peaches Christ, with an appearance from the director herself thrown in for good measure. Having heard of neither her nor the film, I went by myself and that night, I fell in love with alternative drag...
"So off come the clothes." - Tilly Skreams
Tilly Skreams is a lot of things, but one thing she's not is dull. While on the outside she may seem like a good-time queen, emulating her favourite trashy starlets, Tilly argues that the distancing drag creates puts that whole image under the microscope; that trashy doesn't have to mean "whorey" and that really, Tilly is a piss-take of the teenage O.C. crowd. Obviously it was inevitable that Tilly would go beyond just dressing like these Hollywood princesses, so the inevitable next step in any tabloid starlet's career? Why the first single, of course...
A Collective of Independents - Anthony Taylor
Accrington artist Anthony Taylor has been painting his whole life, but since his retirement from teaching two years ago, he has been able to focus more time on the work he refers to as his "private life". Anthony is a contemporary figurative painter and his recent work, mostly fitting into three series, is being exhibited at the new exhibition spaceRe-Creation between 27 September and 28 October...
Shakespeare at its Peake?
Hamlet is Hamlet, surely? If any theatre takes the most famous play ever written and decides to stage it, surely they must have a reason for doing so? A new take, or a new angle, or just a new idea for the staging? Well, unfortunately, in 2014 we can confidently say that it's all been done before. And while the Royal Exchange's current production is the first in thirty-five years to cast a female in the lead, there is a strong tradition of women treading the boards as the Dane. In fact Sarah Bernhardt, one of the most famous women to play the titular role, boldly claimed that Hamlet is a character that should always be played by women. But while the Exchange's attempts to reduce the gender gap in its casting is commendable...
"What's in a name?" - Facebook, September 2014
Names aren't concrete, nor are they intrinsic; names are as about as social things as it's possible to construct, so when social networks claim to be the online extension of ourselves, how can they think it fair to impose archaic and draconian limitations on how we identify ourselves on their sites? ...
Gays vs. Lesbians
Heteronormative society works around a model based on dependence. Children depend on their parents to keep them alive; a man depends on a woman to provide his children and vice versa; the elderly depend on their children to help as they begin to lose their faculties - everybody needs each other to create a family, a community and the traditional model of how the world works...
Haus of Phag reviews:
I'm a Welsh gay film fan, so a movie about gays and Welsh people was always going to be up my street... but then saying that, I'm not the biggest fan of a British "heart-warming" family romp. Maybe I'm too cynical, but I find the fluffier sides of The Full Monty or Billy Elliott far too saccharine sweet, while The Calendar Girls is just unbearable. But there's something different about Pride...
'A Dozen Plus Twelve' by Karen Little
I was living in Spain for six years before I came to Manchester and was making very big and abstract work because I was living in massive countryside in Andalucia. I was going out and finding objects and putting them into paintings, like for example shotgun shells...
"We want you to come, dance all night and go home with someone you didn’t come in with." - Hot Space