With one of Dublin’s gay clubs ‘The Dragon’ closing, it looked like we would be losing some of our favourite club nights, like ‘Dragged Up’ and ‘The Ringmaster’s Drag Race’. Alan Finnegan spoke to drag performer Victoria Secret to get an insight into the big change up happening on the gay club scene.
With The Dragon closing, what were your options concerning your drag career?
It was the last thing on my mind. First off as someone that loves a good drink and a night out I was sad to potentially have one less option as a customer, and then sad not to get to work with the staff that I’ve been lucky enough share great times with over the last six years.
Drag is never going to be the dependable career but I’ve been really lucky to be able to work for lots of venues and promoters throughout the last ten years and shall continue to rip my tights being an eejit until it stops being fun.
What about the Dragon will you miss?
I’ll miss the laughs, when the shows were done and you’re hanging out with friends, customers and staff having a drink and a giggle. Every venue in Dublin has something special about it and the antics in The Dragon smoking area will stay with me forever.
What are your plans for club events for the coming months?
Well I have extra free time… at the moment I rehearse with two dancers every week who have the unfortunate job of trying to get my left feet to dance in time. Hosting the show, rehearsing and performing as a guest in other shows has been my routine now for years.
Since around October when the sale of the nightclub was finalised I have been looking things I wanted to work on in 2015. I’d already mapped out about 10-12 specials for the show in The Dragon and had started conversations and negotiations with certain acts management.
I had a feeling from about December that 2015 might look pretty different in The Dragon and it might not around so I decided to take the leap and change lanes to book the acts myself, look for a venue and put my money where my mouth was. While at the same time I’d been talking to Jonathan Best (who was working on ‘Plastic’, ‘Ultraviolet’, ‘Men’ & ‘Casa Caliente’ for The Dragon) about co-promoting something new in 2015 which is where we came up with ‘Meat Street’.
What made you take the lead in creating events in other venues like you have with Break for the Border?
What most people won’t know about me is that I also work in the arts and I have been Marketing Manager for a Theatre for the last 8 years. I’ve always had an interest in event management which led me to complete a degree in Business Studies and Arts Management in IADT. I‘ve got to work for lots of Arts Organisations and Projects over the last 12 years so promoting is part of my every day coming up with branding, promotions and new opportunities. So once I knew I had more free time coming up it seemed like a natural progression to let my two worlds meet.
What do you think will be the biggest change for you because of The Dragon’s closure?
Well first off I know Dolly and I will miss the staff price for drinks… Sambuca Saturdays were legendary (laughs)! I think it could change the whole scene, we might see more one-nighters popping up around Dublin and new exciting ideas too. I focussed a lot of energy trying to build great events and shows in the venue and loved every minute of it but now I get to refocus and put that energy towards new projects while continuing to work hard on every show that I am a guest on too.
What is involved in your regime as a drag queen slash promoter now on a weekly basis?
That’s still probably yet to hit me… I’m hoping it will settle down into a pattern soon but for the last few weeks myself and Jonathan have been flat out working on ideas for ‘Meat Street’ and speaking to special guest club hosts and DJ’s about coming to Ireland for the club. Whereas with ‘DRAGGED UP’ I’ve been working on booking international guests for the last 2 years so it’s not any extra work but now more than ever my negotiations skills need to kick in so I don’t have to sell my knickers on the night to get home.
Did you realise how much work went into being a drag queen before you began?
I really hadn’t a clue… my first time on stage was an eye opener. A friend did my make-up and styled me and I stumbled my way through Britney Spears ‘Toxic’ like a rabbit in headlights. It probably didn’t hit me for a few years the commitment that Dublin drag queens give and how much time they put in every week but I think the payoff is that we have one of the most talented drag scenes around that many bigger cities around the world couldn’t compete with.
What should we expect from Meat Street and Dragged Up?
My aim with ‘DRAGGED UP’ is to produce a big show once a month in Break for the Border and bring a special guest to Dublin for each show. I have up to May booked at this time… and I’m hoping to suss out whether the crowd support it before I book any later in the year. On January 23rd we have high fashion Queen and winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race cycle 3 RAJA and March 13th we shall host our biggest show to date with special guests Haus of Edwards aka SHANGELA, LAGANJA ESTRANJA & ALYSSA EDWARDS all sharing our new stage on the one night. I hope to announce February’s special next week and then April’s special in mid-February. There’s lots of exciting guests lined up so I’m pretty excited to share the details.
‘Meat Street’ is going to be something totally new for me. First off I’m doing the terrifying thing of losing my mask, I’ll have no wig, frock or lipstick to hide behind I’ll just be working as a promoter… so it’s not going to be about me but instead about a really hot party. Jonathan Best and I launch the club weekly from January 31st and we plan on changing the line up every week to keep it fresh, fun and unexpected. We’ve booked the first 6 weeks and the line-ups are packed full of exciting names. Expect hot muscly porn star club hosts, international DJ’s and live acts. We’re really hoping to create something special on the scene every Saturday. Check out our Facebook for announcements.
With a changing club scene, do you think it will be harder for a potential newbie drag queen or king to get started?
There are lots of opportunities for newbie drags, either to appear as guests on the regular shows or enter a competition. To achieve it they just need the right amount of commitment, hard work and talent and that can always be a challenge when life gets in the way.
Do you have any advice for all those potential drag queen/kings to be?
Watch other queens… everyone is different. You can learn something from everyone. We have killer lipsyncers who can command an audience with one look or Jane Fonda wannabe’s throwing themselves around the stage with a party atmosphere… but they didn’t start like that, they figured out what worked for them and worked on it. As an audience member I’d much rather a new performer that doesn’t have a polished look but works hard to entertain the crowd.
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