Today we’re joined for a piexlated pint by the Drag King Bi-Curious George, our very own David Attenborough of the queer jungle, putting on Queer Planet at VAULT Festival next month. The show takes a kaleidoscopic look at the queer relations and expressions of animals in the jungle. The show is described as a celebration of all things queer, so we sat down with George to talk all things Queer Planet.
You can catch Queer Planet between February 24th and March 4th at 22:20 and 21:50. Tickets are available through the VAULT Festival Box Office.
Hi George, tell us all about your new show described as a “raucous romp through the animal kingdom, queerest kingdom of them all”.
Hey, thanks for having me, this is really exciting! So, Queer Planet is a drag-theatre show which celebrates all the queerness found in the natural world. I love nature documentaries and I wanted to offer a different perspective from the heteronormative ‘boy animal meets girl animal’ stories we usually see – it’s so far from being the full story! Queerness is everywhere. Like fungi for example, some species have up to 36,000 different biological sexes! The word ‘natural’ has been weaponised against queer people for so long and this show is about taking that word back and celebrating ours, and nature’s queerness.
But there’s no hiding from the fact that talking about animals having sex is funny… so whilst I want people to feel empowered and to be made to think, primarily the show is very silly and fun and full of joy.
What can the audience expect when wandering into Queer Planet – tell us all about the music, dancing and other general wackiness.
“This is drag, but not like you’ve seen on TV. Bi-curious George (that’s me!) is a dorky, charming and loveable drag king and he brings the audience into his world and introduces them to some of his favourite queer icons of the Animal Kingdom.”
“I may or may not actually become the animals sometimes, and that’s when it gets really camp! There’s some parody songs in there, some ludicrous dancing and I’ve also got some really exciting guest performers joining me. They’re all iconic in the London drag scene and you can expect sexiness, wackiness and wit in spades.”
Now your work focuses on “Queer Ecology”, tell us a little bit about your inspiration and how you ended up putting together this performance.
“My parents both work with animals in some way or another and I was brought up with a lot of empathy for other animals. I’ve always found it strange how insistently we separate ourselves from other species and try to define their behaviour based on our own societal rules (i’m speaking specifically about ‘Western cultures’ here).”
“Once I got a bit more in touch with my queerness and its fluidity, the two things seemed very connected. We’re the only species that insists on analysing and defining our own and others’ behaviour, when the rest of the world is just following their instincts and living as they please.”
“So Bi-Curious George became my way of exploring these ideas in a fun, liberating and creative way. I’d wanted to try drag for a really long time. It all sort of fell together quite nicely and now George has become a really integral part of who I am.”
Did you have any surprises in your research of an animal expressing its queerness to the world? We’d love to hear about it.
“Oh, so many. I didn’t realise quite how many hermaphroditic species there were out there! We humans really did a lot of erasing to be so set on this binary sex thing. There’s also an enormous amount of animals, especially in the sea who can completely change sex in a matter of days; Clownfish, sea bass, some butterflies and frogs are just a few examples of these trans icons.”
“The main surprise really though, is how little queerness in nature is acknowledged/talked about. You can pick almost any animal in the world and there’ll be some example of queerness there – queerness isn’t the exception to the rule. Some studies suggest that in some animals, homosexual pairings actually make up more than half of the interactions – giraffes and whales for example!”
Now that we’re gearing up for VAULT 23, what are you most excited for?
“I’m just really excited to see how it all comes together. I’ve put so much love and care into this show and it is so dependant on the audience and their response and energy, I just want to get in there and start playing! One of the main things I love about cabaret and drag is that it’s a conversation – it’s dynamic and the audience are part of it. It’s sort of hard to picture what it will all look like before it actually happens and I’m really excited to feel it falling into place.”
“I also cannot WAIT to see what my incredible guest performers bring! You know when you have a really cool friend and you can’t wait to bring them to a party and show them off because you look good just by knowing them – that’s how I feel about all of these performers.”
Fitting with the themes of our magazine, if your show was an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage (think cocktails, mocktails, shots, beers, be creative!) what would it be?
“Some sort of ridiculous fruity cocktail drunk out of a glass shaped like a monkey or a coconut or something with one of those funky curly straws and lots of fruit. CAMP.”