Adam Lowe: Ecstasies – Review

Jamal Gerald

To some he's a very unusual character. He’s outspoken and loves being in the centre of attention. Jamal just wants his audiences to feel something when reading his work or when they see him perform. Wants them to be fearless when interpreting his art. He wants them to think.@JamiBoii

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Adam Lowe once again shows the world who Beyonce Holes is in his spoken word-cum-drag extravaganza.

Vada‘s very own queen showed us his empress chops in ‘Ecstasies’ for Shortcuts 2, part of Queer Contact 2014. His solo show explored themes of clubbing, queerness and spirituality. This is a breathtaking blurring of boundaries and an exquisite explosion of expectations – set entirely in a nightclub toilet cubicle.

Lowe’s poetic delivery was sharp one second and smooth the next. Lowe drew upon the androgynous, drag-inspired look of queer clubbing, but despite the female nom de plume he was no typical drag queen. No wig. No dress. Just a bit of make-up here and there (and fierce clothing) to represent a kind of disco collage: dragged from the cottages, through the dancefloor and into the spotlight. All that and a talking toilet, of course. Beyonce throws effortless shade to fellow queens in just one of many funny but cutting moments:  (SNAP) “Girl, she loves a line, / but she’ll never give one back.” Brilliant.

The poetry is by turns casual, lyrical and saucy – with a sonnet, couplets and even a prayer. One of the highlights is a rapturous interpolation of the Lord’s Prayer, which invokes clubbing brands Sankeys, Morning Glory and the Hacienda, and even namedrops the Basement sauna.

But let’s get this straight (because nothing else about this show is): despite the subject matter and the very brazen setting, this isn’t frivolous. The Queer Contact programme billed this as ‘the queer search for truth, knowledge and, above all, ecstasy’, and that is reflected in the brief narrative arc.

Beginning as a coked-up pastor of booze and boys, Beyonce Holes goes on to become vulnerable, defiant and reflective, and shares the most touching encounter in a public toilet the world is likely to see.

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Beyonce Holes began as an alias for Lowe when writing his column based on clubbing and relationships for Bent. The alias was based on Lowe’s nickname from the Leeds scene. Since then he’s performed as his riotous alter ego in drag at Cha Cha Boudoir and now at Queer Contact.

Beyonce Holes is strutting her stuff, letting us all know that’s she’s one fierce queen. You wouldn’t want to challenge Beyonce Holes to a shade-throwing competition.

Lowe explains who Beyonce Holes really is:

“Beyonce is the fabulous Hyde to my professional Jekyll. But she’s also a trickster spirit. A sprite of the cottages. A bog fairy. She is and she isn’t drag. She’s those queens who refer to themselves as girls and sisters, but who revel in their sexuality and defy the castrated camp characters of popular culture.

“She is the goddess of toilet cubicles and dance floors, of illicit sex and rapturous druggy experiences. She represents the madness but also the warmth at the heart of queer clubbing, and is dangerous, archetypal, loving and always surprising.”

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The show had a cathartic, ritualistic effect – and despite being hilarious, it ended with a very serious and moved audience. Something had changed over the course of this quick and close encounter. I was left thinking about the show for days afterwards.

This show is likely to tour, so keep your eyes open for more performances.

Watch out my fellow queens because Beyonce Holes is here. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her as she continues to dish out her lessons on sass and style. We need more Beyonce. Not Knowles, but Holes.

 

Photos by Drew Wilby.

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