British Eleganza Part 2: Conversations with UK drag artists Bruise, Cookie Monstar and LoUis CYfer
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Welcome to British Eleganza, a series of article showcasing the talents and stories of UK drag queens and artists. In our first instalment, I discussed the importance of celebrating drag entertainers outside of Drag Race, and explored the meaning of drag with Cheryl Hole, Ellie Clark and The Vivienne. In Part 2, I am continuing the conversation with drag artists Bruise, Cookie Monstar and LoUis CYfer. Bruise is an equal parts freak and chic drag queen heralding from Glasgow. Cookie, also known as Richard in this article, is a classy, sassy, dynamic queen with more than one character up her sleeve. LoUis is a drag king who is part gender warrior, part female masculinity activist. We talked about everything from the creation of drag names to social media and the craft of constructing a look. How long have you been doing drag and why did you start? Bruise: I have been doing drag makeup for three years and I started performing two years ago. I began doing drag because I studied contemporary art and in my final year I chose the theme of gender for our graded unit - I wanted to push the boundaries of my work. It began as a one-time thing, but here I am 3 years on! Richard: I started in August 1996, 22 years this year. I had moved to NYC to pursue an acting career and fell into drag. I discovered a bar called The Crow Bar in the East Village which had regular shows and I became curious about the whole scene. Someone at work suggested I do drag, so I entered a local competition and the rest, as they say, is history. LoUis: I have been performing professionally as LoUis CYfer for 4 years. I was troubled by societies’ ideologies about gender during my MA studies and decided to use my creativity to explore that, coming up with the character LoUis CYfer. After I graduated, I worked on the doors at various cabaret venues. I noticed a lack of Drag Kings at shows, so I entered a competition called Drag Idol and I won. I’ve been doing LoUis ever since. Drag artist Bruise How did you come up with your drag name? Bruise: I used to paint bruises and love bites on canvas, I loved how they were always different but still beautiful in their own way. I thought that could be my name because I never look the same twice, I’m constantly growing and trying new things with my drag, be it makeup, new looks or performances. Richard: Out of playing. The restaurant where I was working in NYC – myself and my friend were bored while working a shift so we created two characters – one was called Sabrina and the other Cookie. I added the MonStar bit later. LoUis: My name, Lucy, comes from the Latin Luicifer - meaning light-bringer. I felt being a Drag King I might bring some light to the idea of female masculinity as a performance art. The name is masculine, but with a secret. In LoUis CYfer you can see the word LUCY spelt in capitals through his name as a sort of Easter egg to the relationship between myself and my alter ego. What do you think is the importance of social media for drag artists these days?
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