Slay a Bit: Interview with Crystal Lubrikunt
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One of the most renowned drag queens in the UK, Crystal Lubrikunt is a self-proclaimed ‘talentless man in a wig’ known for her sassy humour, killer performances and down to earth attitude. A lipsync assassin who has performed internationally and alongside the likes of Sasha Velour and Alaska Thunderf**ck, Crystal is a force to be reckoned with in the UK drag scene and further afield. Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Crystal. In our conversation we discussed mental health, social media, inclusivity and, of course, quavers. What got you into drag, and at what point did you decide it was something you wanted to do as a career? I never really had a moment when I thought, “this is going to be a career for me”. I got into drag when I was studying at the University of Brighton and I did an assignment based on a performance of mime and lip sync. After the assessment, a friend of mine said I should consider doing drag. At the time I thought, “you are never going to see me in a wig, a dress, that’s not my street”, but low and behold I went out in drag a few months later and I got a bit addicted to it. It became a career because I love doing drag, and once you’re at the point where you’re getting gigs, you have to say to yourself: if you’re good at something never do it for free. How have you seen drag change in the last few years? Social media is a huge part of it. Nowadays, I’m seeing more negative connotations coming from social media than positive. I saw the incredible Coco Peru perform recently and she made a point about how social media is there to make us feel connected, but it is not what connects us. Love connects us; being together physically connects us. Other than social media, I think drag has really made a comeback in the last ten years. It is great to see performers who have been doing drag this whole time get more recognition, and see baby performers rise in success as well. I think drag has got extremely political too. With shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, it is easy to lose a sense of reality in the bubble gum realm of TV, so it’s been great to see a rise of politics and realism in drag lately, even though it is a caricature based world. Speaking of realism, on social media and at your shows you’ve been very open about talking about personal experiences, especially concerning mental health. Has that always been something you were comfortable sharing as Crystal? At first, I never wanted to get personal with my drag, but I’ve always been a lone ranger and that led me to an emotional rut a few years ago. I was throwing so much positivity and humour into my drag that I was bottling up my negative emotions. In 2017, after I was diagnosed with PTSD, I went through this realisation of, “right, I need to be able to get real”, because otherwise, I’m going to get into an even darker place. I used drag as an outlet to express myself, and also to motivate and inspire others. That is one of the most powerful tools we have as performers, to allow the rest of the world to know they’re not alone. Has Crystal helped you learn anything about yourself? Being Crystal has allowed me to express my femininity and be the extrovert I always wanted to be, because Dan is very to himself. More than anything, Crystal has taught me to look after myself, and to know that no matter what I’m going through, performing as Crystal will always cure that turmoil. Through her, I can express my troubles and show people that you can use your emotions as power tools rather than warning signs. I think that’s one thing our generation struggles with - people are being led to believe being an emotional person is a bad thing when, really, it’s one of our biggest strengths as human beings.
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