Haus of Phag met with Violet and Liquorice in a coffee shop on a Wednesday afternoon, with both queens out of drag, looking vastly different from their larger-than-life personas. They have both asked that I do not reveal who the boys are behind the makeup, who will be referred to as 'x' and 'y'.
Part 1 of the interview can be read here:
VB: It's fine.
LB: I think it depends on whether they know you as both. I prefer for my close friends to call me by my real name, as that way I can at least try to keep the two slightly separate. Violet and I switch between the two, but sometimes you can feel definite differences between the two. If I'm in a bad mood, I just feel "Call me y".
VB: Sometimes I don't actually respond when people call me Violet. Because day-to-day I'm known as x, if someone calls "Violet!" I don't realise they're talking to me.
LB: Some people forget that you even have a different name. Some people do ask though and I often don't tell them.
VB: If somebody asks me while I'm dressed as Violet "What's your real name?", I'm not going to tell them. "What's your name?" "Violet." What's your real name?" "...Violet."
HoP: How long does it take you to make yourselves up and become Violet and Liquorice?
LB: The quickest was half an hour, but the longest has been about four hours.
VB: The time has increased for me as my makeup skills have developed. Makeup products are something that you have to buy and build up over time, so when I first started doing drag and before I had most of the products it took an hour or so. Now though, it can take hours to paint my face.
LB: I think that if we actually had the time we'd spend the entire day getting ready.
VB: Getting ready is actually part of the night out anyway.
VB: I've never de-dragged.
LB: I've only ever had to do it once and I literally had to be cut out of the outfit. We were in Aftershock at Pride and the body heat from everyone in the room just became too much. I was wearing a bin bag sellotaped to myself and because of the heat the bin bag shrank and I expanded and we had to find a pair of scissors because I couldn't just tear it off. I don't think I'd ever take my face off mind. Sometimes though, I take several different outfits with me. I have a bag and get changed midway through the night. The bouncers find it hilarious when they're rummaging through my bag to see if there's anything dangerous in there; they pull out fabrics, hairsprays, all sorts.
HoP: When was the last time you both went on a night out not in drag?
VB: I've not done it since before Christmas!
LB: Violet will just go to the pub in drag. I do it for specific nights. Sometimes people get a bit weird when they see you out of drag though. Sometimes even I see Anna and Cheddar out of drag and think "Oh, tonight you're not that character."
VB: There was one night when everyone was going out for a Birthday and we all decided that we weren't going to do drag. So everyone turned up, not in drag and then I came, in full drag. There was no WAY I wasn't doing drag.
HoP: I remember once seeing Tilly Skreams out of drag at Cha Cha Boudoir and saying "What the HELL are you doing? It's Cha Cha!"
LB: People have an expectation that you'll do it. I don't think I could ever do Cha Cha out of drag, even though I've threatened to. People would probably be a bit funny if I did.
VB: Do it!
LB: It would be like I wasn't actually there. Like I would be there, but Liquorice would be missing. It would be really odd. Even if you're acting exactly the same, the persona is missing.
VB: Drag does change you though. I think it's altered my character when I'm out of drag. I've definitely become a bit more... cheeky. Drag changes lives!
LB: It's weird. Sometimes, I walk past people on the street and recognise someone, but obviously they don't have a clue who I am out of drag. It's quite nice being incognito.
VB: Like a superhero.
HoP: Or a secret celebrity.
VB: It is really funny. The other day I was in town and I saw loads of people I knew from Cha Cha and Bollox and I was smiling and waving at them and not one of them responded. I don't think I look that different, but obviously I do.
LB: I think people tend to recognise me more than Violet.
VB: I think it's his eyes.
LB: And I'm quite tall anyway, so it's not that much of a dramatic difference when I'm in or out of heels.
VB: Apparently, people with far-apart eyes are much harder to remember and my eyes are very far apart, so obviously they don't remember me! And I'm small and people don't remember small people. Pity party for me.
LB: Plus I wear black in the day too. So I'm not THAT far away from Liquorice.
VB: Whereas I don't walk around with inflatable tits and a pregnancy belly, do I?
HoP: If you had to choose between being Violet and Liquorice and being x and y for the rest of your lives, which would you choose?
VB: X. Violet is a fun and creative thing to do, but I've got other creative outlets. And I don't think my boyfriend would like it if I brought Violet to bed with me.
LB: I think I'm the same. I'd choose y because that's just one small facet of my personality and there's a lot more to y than that. Also, getting ready in the morning would be a NIGHTMARE. Add an extra two hours onto my morning, whereas now I just roll out of bed, put a hat on and go out.
HoP: I'm sure you'd get it refined to an art though - just get some spray paint and a stencil and apply at speed.
VB: Or just make a Violet mask to wear every day.
LB: I did once spray paint my eyes and nearly blinded myself... Not the safest thing to do.
HoP: Currently you're playing hostess at Kiki and Bollox...
VB: More "doorwhores" at Kiki really.
HoP: How did that come about?
LB: We'd been going to Bollox for quite a while and they were looking for someone to host and they approached Violet, who then approached me.
VB: All good drag queens come in twos.
LB: And we were named the 'The Toxic Twins'. The Cheddar approached us about Kiki, because they'd asked her if she wanted to do it but wasn't able to. I guess we've just been quite lucky really, being in the right place at the right time, but have promoted ourselves quite a bit and put lots of effort in.
VB: Bollox has been amazing, because it's one of my favourite club nights anyway, but Kiki has been just brilliant. It's given us exposure to The Village scene of drag queens and it's quite different from us. They're all such colourful people and really nice too.
LB: We're bridging the gap a bit. We're taking the alternative drag and taking it to that main strip of bars on Canal Street. And it's not always received in the same way. A few people have been derogatory, but that's OK.
VB: People tend to be entertained on the whole. They're not used to seeing someone clad entirely in black and white, with a monochrome painted face. My style of drag is ALMOST Canal Street-style female impersonation though, but it still doesn't always get the response you'd expect.
HoP: What about other people's responses? Do your family know that you do drag?
LB: They don't know exactly what I do, but they know bits of it.
VB: My parents weren't accepting of it until they found out that I'd got a job doing it. When they found out I was working at Bollox they were congratulating me, saying it was great. Until then, they didn't really understand. When they saw photographs of me in a wig they said "That's not really why we give you money. We give you money for food."
LB: That's why I have the two separate Facebook profiles. I don't want my family to see what Liquorice gets up to. It's two different worlds. Recently, my oldest and best friend saw me dressed in drag for the first time. I didn't really want to introduce her to it, but she was in town and wanted to come and see me when I was working. I couldn't really say no, so I was like "Oh hey! Hi! I'm a clown!"
VB: My boyfriend has Violet as a friend on Facebook, but if he tries to speak to me online as Violet I'll always switch back to my normal profile. It would be weird otherwise. Like, I'm not interested in having sex in drag, which some people are and is fine, but the idea of him loving Violet is a bit weird and creepy.
HoP: Do you consider yourself to be a part of the Trans Community?
LB: No. I do not pretend to be a woman and I don't want to be a woman. There's nothing wrong with that, but I just see Liquorice as a character.
VB: I wear makeup every day. I draw on eyebrows and sometimes wear eye shadow, so I guess I do transcend the social boundaries of what gender is, to an extent.
LB: Wearing drag isn't an expression of ourselves per se, it's more the projection of a completely different image. Nor is there anything sexual about it either.
VB: Although my look is a "woman", I am ultimately a man dressed as one.
LB: We're gender-benders. Recently though, I've had a man interested in me as Liquorice. I find it quite peculiar that this man, who claims to be straight, finds this black and white creation sexually attractive. I've said to him that while there's nothing wrong with that, I still find it quite strange.
VB: I wear a long blonde wig and have big boobies and I get men saying "You're well hot, can I come home with you?" But Liquorice, in all black and white...
LB: ...it's like trying to chat up a corpse almost.
VB: However, I do find it refreshing, the idea that people can fancy drag queens. So many people find "straight-acting" men attractive and as a result people can be scared to allow themselves to be naturally effeminate. It doesn't make you trans just to want to express yourself in a feminine way.