I Know This Much Is True: Tracy Martin Talks Drag Alter Egos, Gay Porn And Writing

Tracy Martin in a red jumper

“For me watching gay porn is different because the men involved look like they’re enjoying it, and they seem equally empowered,” says Tracy Martin

 

After coming of age as a member of a troupe of Dublin drag kings called the Shamrocks, Tracy Martin has evolved into a critically acclaimed playwright. But her serious stories of shameless outsiders have their roots in the days when a gang of women dressed up as men took back the Dublin night.

 

I was always an outsider, but the outside is a nice place to be sometimes, because it gives you a perspective. I was lucky in that my parents were very politicised because of the way they got treated trying to have a mixed Catholic- Protestant marriage. They always looked at life from every side of the equation.

I was a pain in the face as a child, always blabbering away, always jazz-handing, and completely fascinated with showbiz. It was all about putting on a show, and it always has been. That’s started to serve me well now.

 

Drag King

I started to perform as a drag king in my late 20s. I was part of the Dublin Lesbian Arts Festival in 2004 and a gang of Chicago drag kings came to put on a show over here. A group of us got together to perform with them, and after that it took over our lives for a couple of years. We were called The Shamcocks, and my drag name was Gringo O’Hara.

Gringo was a sexist, pot-bellied taxi driver. A lot of the other girls liked to look slick as their drag king characters, but I always looked a complete mess. My penis was always the biggest, though. I had my priorities.
We hauled ourselves around every bar and venue we could get into, throwing our moustaches on, and we had the best craic. We were taking a grasp of the scene ourselves, as women. It had always been so male-oriented; it felt like we were taking back the night.

My other queer character, Licky Rake appeared out of that. Lucky was an out-of-her-mind daytime talkshow host who had been thrown out of America. She didn’t really like the gays, but she found herself in this dungeon of lth. A group of us wrote and very seriously performed The Licky Rake Show. We just tried to do the most hysterical performances we could come up with. Every story had to be queer as fuck.

 

Red Bear Productions

There was no living to be earned with Licky or Gringo, so I was stage managing and producing for years to make some money.

Tracy Martin sitting on some steps

Then the recession happened and nobody was putting on work, so I set up my own company, Red Bear Productions and started writing for myself. I fell in love with writing, and the plays I’ve written have done well so far.

I’m 41 now and I’ve no idea what’s going on in that ‘queer Dublin’ respect,but I try in my work now to keep that openness about sex going, and the direct line of queerness and feminism feeding into it.

 

Gay Porn

I really like watching gay male porn. I can’t physically put on the straight stuff, and I have no interest in watching lesbian-for-lesbian porn. For me watching gay porn is different because the men involved look like they’re enjoying it, and they seem equally empowered. In straight porn I’m looking for signals too much. There may be acting involved, but I’ve seen enough of it to know that the image of woman as victim in porn a real problem. That’s where my most recent show, Harder Faster More, came from.

We held a series of ‘porn lunches’ when putting the show together, where we got groups of women together, and then groups of men, to talk about porn. I think it’s important for women to educate themselves more about this huge industry that men, and especially young men, are looking at.

 

Marginalised Voices

In my next play I’m looking at the idea of not being believed when you say you hear voices. It’s likely you’ll be drugged and shut down by psychiatric services, whereas they’ve found that for a huge majority of people who’ve heard voices that it’s coming from a place of trauma, maybe from sexual or physical violence in their youth. Maybe you’re being not believed all along in your life and it has to come out some way.

I write about marginalised people. As a woman, as a queer, and an artist, sometimes you feel very much on the outside in Ireland. Yes, the marriage referendum was amazing, but we had to go out with our begging bowl to get our rights, and I thought we had to hide a lot of ourselves to get it.

My characters tend not to hide themselves. They may be on the outside, they may be sex workers, and drug mules and people who hear voices in their heads, but they have no shame.

’Harder Faster More’ by Tracy Martin is at Project Arts Centre from May 11 to 13, and Civic Theatre Tallaght from May 17 to 17, projectartscentre.ie, civictheatre.ie

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News Ireland). All rights reserved.

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