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I didn’t really get into drag, it kinda found me. Back in the 80s, when I was a teenager, the whole mix of punk, New Romantics, gender bending and genderfuck really exploded onto the music and fashion scene and it excited me. I started to experiment with make-up and hair and wigs and extensions, but it was more an androgynous thing for me, then.
When I started going clubbing I found a whole new world of freaks like me – at clubs like the Mudd Club, Taboo, Camden Palace, etc. I saw some really mindblowingly creative people pushing gender to a whole different level.
I guess I really got into ‘drag’ and female illusion in the 90s, hosting doors at various club events.
My look is very inspired by American drag, I guess. I’m big hair, big tits, big ass, big everything – and high glamour. A definite nod to the old school movie stars. I’m also a bit of a pageant queeeeeeen!
My all-time favourite drag queeen would have to be Raven from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3. I absolutely love everything about her – shes so polished, so dark and mysterious, and so incredibly funny. She has such style, grace and charisma, and never seems to have to pull a cheap trick out the hat. To me she’s a real star – AND HAS BEEN ROBBED OF THE CROWN TWICE!
One of my next big projects is Holy Trannity. Holy Trannity is something I could only have dreamed of a few years ago – it’s something I’m really proud to be working on! It’s a monthly event which will be held at AXM on Bloom Street, here in Manchester’s Gay Village.
Basically, we are going to be bringing RuPaul’s Drag Race stars to perform – with an option of a meet and greet, so you can meet your favourite queens and grab a photo opportunity!
Our first queen is the wonderful Adore Delano. I’ll be hosting the event, and we also have local talent in the form of Davina de Campo and her girls Cherry Pop and Candy Fierce – who will all perform on the night – as well as some amazing DJs.
Holy Trannity will be the first place to bring the girls over from RuPaul’s Drag Race to Manchester, and we hope it makes seeing the girls more accessible to more people – bridging the gap between Glasgow’s Menergy and London’s Meth Lab.
And the name? Well, now we get to the ‘tranny’ debate. This is a very difficult one and someone somewhere will probably find whatever I say offensive or unPC. But I do believe – as a seasoned queen – that a word is only hateful if it comes from a place of hate.
In my world – the world of drag – we do and have used the T-word a lot as a form of affection towards one another. This is whether we are drag queens, trans women or elsewhere on the spectrum. I don’t think I have ever used the word in a demeaning way, only affectionately.
I grew up in a time where I’ve been called all kinds of hateful things, and a lot of those words have been reclaimed as terms of empowerment by the LGBT+ community. Make no mistake, I have been called a ‘tranny’. That word is as much about me as it is about any of my sisters and brothers in the community. I personally have no issue with the T-word and would never knowingly want to offend anybody by using it – but I reserve the right to use the word to refer to me and my community. Is that PC enough?
Anyway, Manchester has seen a few big stars recently. You do know Michelle Visage was tweeting about me before she got here, right? She definitely seemed to like our take on drag here in Manchester!
I guess I’m kinda biased, but we got a hell of a lot of very fierce queens here in Manchester. We have high drag, boy drag, genderfuck, club kids, bearded ladies, fairies . . . you name it, we got it covered up here!
I think there are so many really talented and creative people in Manchester right now and it seems to be a real melting pot of ideas, cultures, music – it’s an amazing city to live in.
My one piece of advice to any new drag queens out there is that other people’s opinions of you should be none of your concern. Just keep focused and keep on keeping on. And if you fancy showing us your stuff, I’m hosting Tranarchy’s Vogue Brawl on 14 June, where any queen is welcome to walk and show us what she’s made of.
For those of you within travelling distance, you can catch me this Sunday and Monday at Puffball and Mother’s Ruin’s Puffball Cabaret at The Royal Exchange on 8-9 June – where I’ll be doing my four-minute weave challenge live on stage!
Sheela gets you fit:
Sheela as an Ugly Sister:
Sheela as the famous Sticky Vicky:
Pictures courtesy of Drew Wilby Photographics