The lockdown restrictions in Melbourne may have eased (slightly), but whilst we are spending less time on the stage I thought it would be a fab moment to get to know some more performers - this time local Melbournian and drag performer, Moxie Delite. Moxie tells all about starting performance in 2018, to how Drag Race influences the industry, lockdown projects, future goals and more.
1. Every performer has a unique journey to the stage, when did you start performing? What was the turning point to getting on stage?
I started performing in September 2018, this month will be my two year anniversary of bringing Moxie Delite to life! My first performance was at Mollies for Babydrag, where I put together my first outfits and number and threw myself into the Melbourne drag scene. Prior to performing, I really didn’t have much experience of being on stage, I was a very shy, withdrawn person before performing. The turning point to getting on stage was when my practise as a visual artist turned into playing with makeup, then playing with drag and costumes, and now we’re here! Being a visual artist, art was always a very personal experience, so doing drag for me is like being the artwork itself!
2. Happy anniversary! I started in visual art too, it's such a great crossover into performing arts. What styles of performance do you do? Which is your favourite to perform?
I’m mostly a drag performer, my performances have always had a touch of cabaret and burlesque, but I’ve never fully thrown myself into burlesque until very recently. With my drag lipsyncs, my favourite styles to perform would be a very in-your-face, intense and edgy approach, but if not, I love an emotional ballad. As much as I love an upbeat dance number or performing to a dumb mixed lipsync track, those two are definitely my go to’s or what I think I do best at.
3. In a nutshell, how would you sum yourself up as a performer?
Oh gosh how much time do we have, haha! I like to think of myself as taking an expressionist approach to performing. I like to grab songs and perform them how I feel through them, not how they necessarily are. That’s the visual artist in me, I find myself working as my instincts tell me. I find that if I’m not motivated how I feel and how I think I ‘should’ put on a show, my drag gets tired or uninteresting. But summed up, I’m an expressionist. I’m dramatic, kooky, unique and weird!
4. I love that you turn the expected into the unexpected! That's so interesting to watch as an audience member. Artists are inspired by many things, what inspires you to perform and create?
I think the artist in me has always used art as a way of dissecting and understanding some dark and confusing feelings. Something about being an artist will always propel me to channel my darkest feelings and thoughts into something beautiful. Aside from this, I’m also inspired by body positivity. I spent a long time thinking I was undesirable and unworthy of any kind of attention being a closeted gay boy. Now I can strip in front of audiences and they cheer the more naked I get. The feeling of being empowered from owning my body and being able to share a very raw, heartfelt experience with my audience is what continues to inspire me.
5. That's so wonderful, body positivity is definitely an important concept in the performing arts industry. I know lots of people who watch shows like Ru Paul's Drag Race and have varying opinions about it which have sparked some great conversations. Do you think mainstream shows such as Drag Race are beneficial to the drag/burlesque/cabaret industry? Why/why not?
Oh gosh. Where do I begin! I have been very vocal about how I dislike drag race. But first I want to say that Rupaul’s Drag Race has turned drag mainstream, therefore giving drag performers across the board more opportunities and platforms to do drag. I started drag because I adored watching season 6 of Rupaul’s Drag Race. Not to mention that drag race shares stories of queer people, that young people like me could grow up watching and relating to. So many queer people from older generations never really had that. For that reason, I’m extremely grateful for Drag Race.
Here’s what I don’t like. The whole entity that is Drag Race has condensed drag into a very poor representation of REAL drag communities and scenes. They have left behind women who do drag, non-binary people who do drag and drag kings. The fact that these people get denied of the biggest drag platform in the world because of their gender or what’s inbetween their legs is absolutely ridiculous to me. Rupaul has said that he wouldn’t let a trans woman on the show as a contestant. I’ve seen plenty of interviews from past Rugirls, who have transitioned after the show, who have been hurt by Rupaul’s views and treatment of trans women on the show. Before I go further, I just want to make it clear that I could never speak on behalf of trans women, but I see it all the time in queer spaces: white cisgender gay men’s comfort is prioritised, followed by queer women, trans people and people of colour. I just think that when so many gay men eat up Drag Race like straight people eat up the AFL, if Drag Race has become such a powerful “queer” entity, why not do something to uplift us all?
The fandom also happens to be incredibly racist. The amount of queens who experience hate and even death threats for being people of colour is absolutely insane. Again, the entity that is Drag Race has not approached this. Finding my voice as a person of colour recently, it’s a strange phenomenon where queer people think that their queerness excuses their racism – may sound like a reach, but I think that with Drag Race’s impact, they play a part in perpetuating racism, misogyny and transphobia in queer spaces.
I could really go on and on about this, but to sum it up, every year Drag Race gives platforms to a group of talented drag queens with every season, Drag Race goes onto educate mainstream audience, give them an insight to drag and queer history. But is this success worth it if it is at the expense of performers who are people of colour, drag kings or who are women? If Drag Race cared about uplifting the queer community, wouldn’t they have done it already?
(photo Daniel Sutton)
6. Restrictions have been really tough in Victoria due to the pandemic, what do you find most difficult about being a performer in isolation as a result of COVID19? Have you made any changes to your performance persona moving forward because of this downtime?
It’s been tough on a lot of us. I really miss interacting with crowds and that magical feeling when you’re cheered on after a performance. That being said, it’s so amazing to see how people have managed to continue to create content and video performances, and I’ve been loving putting together some of my own! It’s inspiring that so many artists were able to adapt their practises to online platforms.
I think what’s great about this time is that I’ve been allowed to reflect. I think that my drag gets tired when I try and pump out numbers every second weekend, so I think once I get back out into the world I want to take my time and polish up a few acts before sharing them with audiences. Having this time alone really made me see what direction I wanna go in in the future. And that direction is more of a burlesque approach!
7. Time to reflect is so important, that is one thing covid has given us! It's also given us digital shows! You have performed in an online show or two, what was your experience like? How does it compare with a live performance?
I think my experience with online shows is that the number or act needs to work for the online platform and performing towards the camera. I found that if I perform to the camera like I would a crowded room, it doesn’t work. It’s like giving a lap dance to your laptop camera, but you don’t know if they’re enjoying it. It’s been a challenge for a lot of us to adapt to adapting to online performing. Lip Sync Roulette has been really great fun and probably the closest I have gotten to feeling like performing live, but like I said, it really isn’t the same. I miss interacting with, and performing in front of a crowd.
8. I know the feeling! Are you working on anything new whilst in isolation/iso-projects?
Yes! I have two burlesque acts in the works. It’s been great that online burlesque classes are a thing to keep me sane during this time, but I’ve also been able to apply what I learned to these new acts that I can’t wait to show everyone. I’ve also been trying to put together new outfits. I feel like assembling outfits is where I fall short in my repertoire of drag skills, so I’m excited to show them off too.
9. That sounds great, I can't wait to see what you create! What is your proudest moment as a performer thus far and why?
My proudest moments in no particular order: producing Queen of the Hill (now known as Cirque De Moxie), mentoring Minnie Delite (now goes by Skinny Minnie), and helping one of my friends find his feminine side by introducing him to makeup and heels and such. When I was a baby king back in 2018, even before I was performing, I always wanted to produce my own show. I look back on it, and insecurities and self-criticisms aside, I’m proud that I took on this creative project. It was one of the toughest things I have attempted, and I’m glad I stuck by and committed to it. And I’m proud that my lil show is evolving into something that is inclusive and intends on giving a platform to people who may be overlooked by the mainstream. I’m so glad that Queen of the Hill turned into Cirque De Moxie; I feel like with drag, Moxie is an extension of myself, and Cirque De Moxie is an extension of Moxie Delite. I’m sure many show and event producers can relate to the joy of seeing your show develop and grow.
And as for mentoring Minnie and helping my friend, it makes me proud that I can use what I have to help someone else. It’s one thing to be proud of your own skills and your achievements, but to be able to use what you have to support someone else means the world to me.
10. That is so wonderful to hear, it's great that you are really solid on your values and beliefs, and have so many proud moments! What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as a performer?
I want to be remembered as someone who uplifts others. I want to leave behind the message to not be scared, to throw yourself into the creative deep end, fail, learn, and show everyone that you have something special to offer the world! Absolutely anyone can do drag and everyone has their own uniqueness to share with an audience.
11. What are your future plans/goals as a performer post-covid?
I want to become a burlesque soloist! I’ve done drag numbers that involved stripping and burlesque, but I’ve never properly learned burlesque until very recently. I just really adore burlesque, the discipline that goes into putting together acts and all the professionalism. I will always have one foot planted in the world of drag, but once the world “goes back to normal,” I hope to become more of a burlesque performer. As well as putting on the Cirque De Moxie live show! I was about to put on the show just before COVID took over the world, so I’m excited to share the ideas and productions I have planned.
To follow Moxie Delite online, click the links below: Instagram