Queen’s Address: Anna Phylactic, Manchester

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Vada Voices

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I first started dabbling with drag at a very young age. There’s a lovely photo of me and my brother in the garden when we were about 4. My brother is in specs and a flat cap, playing at being my granddad, and I’m in a headscarf, presumably being my gran.

I also have video footage of my first diva strop at my primary school panto, Sleeping Beauty. I was playing Fairy Cake (leader of the fairies, naturally) and had a gorgeous purple tutu, a pink bow in my hair and white tights. Only, just before the performance my tights went missing, so I had to wear brown woolly ones from lost property. I was distraught. Purple really doesn’t work with brown. Unfortunately, nobody understood my pain.

My drag role model has to be Leigh Bowery, the compere from Cabaret – I love that theatrical, clowny aesthetic. I like being playful with my drag. I’d also have to say Amanda Lepore and Sharon Needles, because I’m also attracted to their style. It’s influenced my own aesthetic, which I’d describe as ‘glamorous, gothic and avant garde’.

I guess what I love most about what I do is that I can express myself fully through drag. I get to work things out in a way I couldn’t if I didn’t do this. It really is an extension of myself – just a self that I may not have connected with if I had to dress and be ‘Daniel’ all of the time. Of course Daniel and Anna are the same person, but I’ve explored aspects of myself I don’t think I would have if Anna hadn’t come into being.

Also I’ve met some pretty top-notch people, worked some fabulous events and gone on amazing adventures! I’m very thankful!

Last night with Michelle Visage was fantastic. She gave me some great advice and has inspired me to buy a new corset! It was an honour to share the stage with so many of my drag sisters. The level of competiton was very high – there were so many talented and fierce drag artists onstage – and when I won I was completely stunned. The crowd absolutely loved it, and so did I. I just want to thank everyone involved: Christopher Dresden Styles, Danny Olsson-Lane, Cheddar Gawjus, Tilly Skreams and all the drag queens I performed with. I’m really glad this is just the first of what will be an annual event.

Drag is really in right now. I love that Drag Race has become so popular! I think it has inspired many new drags on the scene and that can only be a good thing. There has certainly been an explosion of late and our scene has become all the more fun and interesting because of it. Everyone that comes to see me when I’m working seems to be an expert on contouring these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HFH3ZnXOVo

It’s probably sacrilegious for me to say this, but I’ve only ever watched season 2 of Drag Race – although I did love it. I dipped in and out of the others. Hopefully I can catch up when I get Netflix, but there’s so much drag in my life I’m not desperate for any more!

I’m quite busy at the moment – hosting Aftershock and running Cha Cha Boudoir (which is next week) with Danny Olsson-Lane and Cheddar Gawjus. That takes up a lot of my time and creative energy. We have recently been made ambassadors for the George House Trust, so I sense we we will be helping out a lot more with events soon.

Cheds and I are also playing away at Garlands in Liverpool quite regularly, and I’m about to perform at The Royal Exchange with Mothers Ruin in Puffball Cabaret at the end of June. We are plotting something very exciting for later in the year but my lips are tightly sealed because I don’t want to jinx it. You can see why I haven’t got a lot of time to watch Drag Race!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDJK4EJ12Uk

But Drag Race is just one of the things that’s had an effect on the scene – at least here in Manchester. I think the scene is changing in a positive way. People are starting to think beyond bars and clubs for our village. People are really pulling together and doing things, and making things happen, which is a really positive thing.

There is still a place for an LGBT community – perhaps more so now than ever! We have it quite lucky here compared to the rest of the world. A lot of fights have been won but we should never become complacent – we have so many more things to fight for. We have seen in recent times how depressingly swift our rights can be taken away in other countries. And besides, it’s nice to all get together and have a good party!

I don’t think I will be hanging my heels up any time soon.

Images by Drew Wilby Photographics

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