Drag Artist, Transgender Man, High School Teacher… Monster? Melbourne Drag Artist Florian Wild is arriving in Adelaide later this month to recruit more devotees to their cult, see how many cheers they can get for their ass, and answer serious social quandaries like… ‘did VeggieTales make them gay?’, ‘Are politicians just Jim Henson Muppets in disguise?’, and ‘should Halloween be re-named Queer Christmas’?
We wanted to get to know what makes Florian tick, so we sat them down for a pixelated pint in the Binge Fringe Pub ahead of their cabaret splash at Adelaide Fringe. Join us, as we talk all things monstrous, mundane, and magical.
Catch MONSTER at Adelaide Fringe from Monday 26th Feb to Sunday 3rd March at Dom Polski Dwa. Tickets are available through the Adelaide Fringe Box Office.
Jake: Hi Florian! You’re bringing your experiences as a Transgender man, High School Teacher, and Drag Artist up to Adelaide Fringe next month. Tell us a little about your journey with the show and how it’s ended up in the Adelaide programme.
Florian: Well, MONSTER was conceived at Adelaide Fringe 2023, and then birthed 9 months later, wet and squealing, into the waiting arms of Melbourne Fringe. I was at over at the Fringe last year performing and it coincided with Posie Parker’s little anti-trans Nazi pitchfork tour of Australia. It really got me thinking “I’m Trans, I’m a drag artist, and by day I work with kids in a school…. I’m the monster everyone has been looking for, so let’s talk!”
So it’s exciting to bring it back to Adelaide where it was born and let it fly from the coop. No, what’s the phrase? When birds are like in a nest because they’re babies and then mom kicks them out? That. That energy.
Jake: You’re here to ‘recruit more devotees to the cult of Florian and Transgenderism’ – tell us a little more about the initiation process and what the audience can expect.
Florian: Well it’s quite simple, MONSTER is our opportunity to spruik the benefits of the cult to likely candidates. We usually talk up the career benefits, the relationship benefits, the sense of community we foster, and we dispel any myths or concerns people may have. MONSTER isn’t just your regular cult outreach Ted-Talk though, we pride ourselves on putting on a show. Much like an American superchurch, we have all the bells and whistles: Songs, costumes, lights, human sacrifice, the whole shebang!
After that, the initiation process is straightforward: recruits first donate all their clothes to our communist non hierarchical co-op for re–distribution and receive their transgender uniform, then they complete the midnight hormone injection ritual, and finally they start a YouTube channel or TikTok to publicly document their voice transition.
Jake: You’ve described your experiences as a Transgender man as seeing you grapple with society’s fear of the unknown – if you’re willing to, can you tell us a little about how that has manifested for you and how it’s come to play a part in the creation of the show.
Florian: I grew up in an era where the trans people I knew in my community were ridiculed by everyone, and while media representations of trans men did exist, the portrayal was quite horrific. I really only had the options of looking up to Brandon Teena of Boys Don’t Cry, or Max from The L Word. These were both groundbreaking depictions for the time, but they also taught my 15 year old self that to come out as Trans was to either go crazy from hormone injections, or be brutally raped and murdered by men in my community.
I think that’s pretty strong messaging for me… That being Trans is synonymous with putting myself in danger, and it certainly affected my point of view of myself. Reflecting back on that time, the overarching response to Trans people was one that change is to be feared because it is an unknown, rather than celebrated for what it is, an exploration that allows you to know yourself better, and life a life that honours who you are.
Taking that knowledge with me into my adult years and my career as a teacher, it’s been fascinating to notice how colleagues or parents respond to me as a Trans person. I pass as a cis person 90% of the time, and it means I’ve been privy to peoples thoughts about Trans people that don’t usually get shared in circumstances where they are aware that there are Trans people in the room.
I’ve noticed many many times that people will talk about Trans people as a concept, their fears and misconceptions about Trans people come through, and with it comes that same fear of the unknown. All while said ‘unknown’ is sitting there, listening to them talk. And then the next minute, they speak to me with such warmth and friendliness. All I want to do is to rip the cover of the unknown off, and say, “Hi, it’s me. Don’t you realise there’s nothing to be afraid of?”
At the same time, there’s a strange irony in that sentiment, because I also have a similar fear of the unknown lurking beneath the surface of my interactions with people as I move through the world. Will this next person I meet be kind and understanding? Will they be the smiling face that fetishizes me behind closed doors? Will they be violent? Will they hang all their cis guilt on me and expect me to make excuses for them when they make a minor social faux pas?
I talk about a few experiences where I come to realise that we have this same fear of the unknown in common during the show, and it really informed my point of view that both parties would benefit from getting to the end of the horror film and having that unknown ‘spooky monster’ revealed (and humanized). I’m hoping I can speak to that a little within the show, though I don’t doubt that it’s a huge task!
Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Adelaide and the Fringe – have you been before and how are you feeling about it all now we are so close?
Florian: MONSTER is my first born baby, it’s also my first time bringing a solo show to Adelaide Fringe, which is thrilling! I’m looking forward to taking in my little demon baby’s first steps into the wide, wide world of Fringe touring. As I mentioned earlier, I came to Adelaide last year for the first time as a performer, working on a different theatre show. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know the Fringe for the first time, meet a host of Australia’s finest talent, and understand Adelaide Fringe from an artist’s point of view.
I’m hoping that work has paid off, and that I can reach the audiences who deserve to see my show! Fringe is always a challenge for an emerging artist, because you’re still coming to understand how to market yourself, who your audience is, where to find them, and how to properly communicate that your show is worth their while amongst the myriad of talent that comes along every year.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Florian: An Amaretto sour, served with cherries. It’s sweet, sour, nutty, and packs a punch. It’s also dressed in a fancy glass, which I aspire to on a daily basis.