Tired of You
I was going to the Black Cap in Camden from the age of 14. I wasn’t out then but I was always on the Gay scene seeing all the drag queens of the time Regina Fong and Lilly Savage, their shows were blowing my mind. I would go with my friend along with her gay brother, we would dress up in our convent school uniforms, with stockings and make up, ankle socks and high heels. The people on the door let us in thinking we were fetishists, they didn’t realise we were wearing our school uniforms.
The shows back then, oh they were quality, real quality. Regina Fong, I loved her and Lily Savage. Other Queens had an act called ‘Rebel Rebel: with three black drag queens as backing singers, songs by The Ronettes and The Crystals, Mz Kimberly and Sandra I believe. They were amazing, and I thought, I want to do that! I entered a talent contest and Regina Fong called me a comedy genius. That’s how I started out.
I’ve been through a lot of evolutions with my sexuality and my gender. Growing up I was stick thin, a Tom Boy, wearing a lot of boys clothes. Then 13 came, tits came, these huge bazonkas, boing! HUGE! They were just there, on me and I felt a load of shame. I was dressing to cover them up. It wasn’t until I had those experiences of going to The Black Cap, Mud Club, Taboo and The Kit Kat club that I started to remove the veil so to speak. Quite literally too as sometimes I’d wear my communion veil over my face.
14 and 15, that’s when I found those clubs. I realized I could go out, be proud of my body and be safe, where as in the world you’re not. I could go into a gay, alternative or fetish club and feel approval and safety. That helped me do the same thing in the rest of the world.
It took me a while to realize I was a Lesbian. Up to that point I’d been dating long haired pretty boys on the goth rock scene. One night I was out at ’The Fridge’, I kept looking at this woman, I couldn’t stoplooking at her. It wasn’t until I was on my way home on the tube that it hit me. OMG, that’s what that feeling is, I’m attracted to her, I’m a lesbian.
I was out, through the 90’s. Going to pride in my T-shirt, that I had sewn the words ‘Clit-Teaser’ onto in sequins. Oh, I know! The cross over into Queer Femme came a few years later.
Back in 1996 it was very Butch/Femme. Femmes were very thin on the ground in London. Most lesbians were butch or androgynous, there must have been about 15% Femmes. If you wore a dress, wow! I remember walking into the Vauxhall Tavern for Vixens at the Vauxhall, standing there in my black and white polka dot dress. The looks and comments I got, people would show their distaste and disgust. You would get that back then if you were being overtly feminine. Often Femmes have been treated very badly in the scene and it still goes on.
What’s good about being Femme is you can be overtly you. Because of the experiences I’ve had in Women’s bars and queer bars, It’s made me braver. When I’m dressed the way I do, I’m saying: ‘This is my body’. It’s not like I can’t hide it. You become cocky, bold. It’s like that saying ’Shyness makes you bold’. That is part of the Femme performance, that ‘don’t give a fuck’ attitude, that’s something I’ve carried out into the world with me, my Femme Armor. That’s part of me and other people can feel it.
As my sexuality has evolved and changed so has my visibility. Now as I’m queer rather than a lesbian, I’m out, but my partner is a transman who believes folk should only know he is trans on a need to know basis. I say I’m queer and people look at me and say ‘but you’re with a man’, I just say ‘Yes’. That’s it, that’s the end of the conversation. It can be frustrating, but it’s about somebody else’s choice and safety.
Sex and health, that’s where I find it difficult, kink too I suppose. I find the scene really incestuous, most of all I don’t find it healthy. The energy of it, It’s so ‘mathmos’ (makes a gesture of energy moving). it’s all about safe spaces, but mentally I don’t find it very safe. That has to do with peoples maturity and immaturity, there’s no getting around that.
All of the talking about consent and safety, it’s all very intellectual. We can talk about it as much as we want, but I just don’t see it.
When I was single I was involved in Poly situations, there were always people getting hurt. Those situations where we think we are so free, we can make love to everybody! I’m monogamous now because it emotionally benefits me.
If you have been a survivor there is that as well. When I started I was into a lot of Daddy/ Girl stuff, but its also working through things. I feel like I’ve worked a lot of it out, child abandonment and safety issues, that I don’t need it anymore. That was 20 years ago. Now I’m a grown empowered woman who can nurture my own frightened inner child when needed. My relationship with sex, kink, my body, has changed. With being kinky, at this time in my life, I just don’t feel the energy or desire for that. God, it’s such a lot of work!
Sex can be all kinds of things, I feel sexually alive when I’m in nature. Sex is important, but it can come about in all kinds of ways. I see sex as very raw and very primal, I also spiritual. Working with sex energy is important, I’m trying to find ways to do that. My sexual appetites have taken a knock because of my physicality, part of it is due to abuse, having flashbacks as well as my physical health, medications and surgeries. Sex can be channelled in many ways, how ever you do it.
A friend once accused me of being lazy because I didn’t want to go out, some people don’t get it. I might have a whole hour or a whole day where I feel what I call ‘normal people energy’. When this weight is off of me, when I don’t feel as if I’m crawling through treacle.
The reality is it’s hard for me to be around people. When I go out I’m overwhelmed, I have to put work into being there, being in a crowd of people, being where it is busy, or just being able to stay awake past 7pm! It’s exhausting. I have to work hard to listen, to do the right things to appear as if I’m being social. What I find is that I am performing ‘being social’, the difficulty of that is it has a cost. I find it draining to be around people, even people I love.
After going out, spending time with friends or even my partner, I need to decompress. I need time by myself to recuperate. Me and my partner, we’ve been together for a long time but we live separately because we both need a lot of time to ourselves, that’s just how it is.
Depression can surprise me, it’s scary the suddenness and depth with which it appears, then I don’t talk to anybody. That’s when I need to be at home, have my own space. The internet is where I sometimes can socialize and communicate to a degree because I can control the level of energy and visibility I put into it. But I can barely handle mass social networks like facebook anymore, it’s intrusive, like a form of spiritual rape and it guilt trips you so you feel like a ‘bad friend’ if you don’t ‘like’ or respond, utterly exhausting, I get panicky just logging in. Listening to the body helps.
Peoples perceptions, it’s hard cos I have a public persona. You’re looking great, alive for a photo, so others see this person who is out there, enjoying herself. What they don’t see is the me that is not having a bath for a week, me that is having her hair matting, unable to do my dishes, or eat properly. It’s also depression. The illness, that fear, it can become a safety net, something to retreat into because you know the cost of being out there. I want to be invisible in some ways because it’s calmer, I feel more relaxed.
I feel that I want to be visible but I don’t want to be. When I was performing as my alter ego she was getting a lot of attention, but she was getting too much attention as a blonde, so she had to die. I was exposing the stereotypes behind the illusion white idol of femininity as a mixed race subject…. that’s what it was about, but what i saw was the difference between how people responded to the blonde wig vs the afro. I had to kill that alter ego off.
When I was on the scene, I liked the popularity but I grew to the point where I felt like a big fish in a small pond, I prefer to be a small fish. I think you learn more about yourself as a small fish, rather than having everyones eyes on you. I guess now I prefer to be the voyeur.
I’m in my own scene now which is smaller and closer, more like a queer family scene. Some of us have kids. Ha! There are so many twins because of the IVF. I spend my time with fewer people, the people I’m closest to, due to energy limitations, but sometimes I venture out into the big queer world and warmed by family love that is still out in existence there too.
When I think about queer performers, in a way we’ve always been in there, we’ve always been part of the world, the scene. Freaks are my people, that’s why scenes are important. Scenes, they change all the time, once a scene becomes too popular, I’m out of there. It’s not the underdogs, it’s not the freaks anymore. I recognise myself as a queer freak, that gives me strength.
There’s a difference between being who you are and trying to be some one you’re not. I love everyone who has gotten through in this world, gone through horrific stuff and grief to be in this world. You don’t have to conform to be who you are.
As long as you are existing, networks are building. As long as we are in touch, there is some cognitive re-wiring going on. Own your sexuality, you should never feel ashamed. Remember, there is a Femme Valhalla.