WHEN someone creates art of any kind – music, painting, writing, performance – and puts it out into the world for public scrutiny, it opens them up to all kinds of responses, and I think that is incredibly brave. Especially when it’s in the LGBTIQA+ realm, which should be universally and entirely accepted but yet it’s still not. The point is, it all takes courage and integrity with oneself, and that is admirable.
This month, Wolf.Steel celebrates a decade as a drag king (yes, the counterpoint to drag queens) and draglesque – a genre of burlesque. On Friday, May 6 at Open Sesame in Hout Street in the city centre, the audience will have the opportunity to hear the story of our favourite Wolfie, from their own lips, in an intimate, honest, and stripped bare setting, complemented by live acoustic singing and draglesque performance. I asked them to give us some background on their journey to this significant milestone.
“How does one summarise a decade of drag? In 2012 I started as the drag king Freddie, being one of South Africa’s first drag kings and part of the first drag king troupe. Since then, what a journey it has been. In 2016 Wolf.Steel came to life. And with that the new experience of draglesque.
“What is draglesque? In short, it’s the art of combining burlesque with being a drag king. I am using the art of striptease and combining it with gender bending. If I make you question things, I have done my job. What are these things you may ask? Well, when you come to my show on Friday, I will reveal all…
“I am celebrating a decade of being a performer, not just as a drag king, but as a draglesque artist, who is ever evolving and growing into the person you see before you today. I am planning to tell my story. My journey into vulnerability. I can tell you what you can expect in three words: Real. Vulnerable. Authentic.
“I would like to first tell you about my challenges instead of ending with it, since the rewards are so much greater and I do like to end my story on a high note. Even though I began with personifying a male character, the great challenge is that of male privilege. I am still seen as female-at-birth person impersonating a man. And with that comes judgement, hate, non-acceptance and the feeling of not being ‘enough’.
“Some less cutting challenges include that of stage fright. Yes, every single time still feels like the first time, and man, that is amazing… There is also the constant challenge of not having enough time and having too many ideas, and oh, not enough moolah for said ideas. But let me tell you, these ideas take form, you walk off the stage, and that is priceless.
“In my 10 years friends have became family. My self image has got better and I have learned to love and accept myself and my body. Of course, some days are harder than others, but be able to look at myself in the mirror and smile – there is a feeling of acceptance. I have got to know amazing people on my journey. It has been a path bending binaries, challenging thought patterns and healing; not just of myself, but by sharing my stories so they can resonate with others and hopefully they can find healing for themselves.
“That is my hope, and my dream.”
A Wolf.Steel Tale is a dinner show and there will be food and drinks specials: The Wolf It Down pizza is a Hawaiian – ham and pineapple, Wolf’s favourite and mine too – for R95. At the bar, knock back some Wolfie’s Hot Shots, another of their favourites – tequila with pineapple and Tabasco for R30; and an Old Fashioned Wolf cocktail for R50 (recommended).
PHOTO CREDIT: Johan Vermeulen at Moonlight Studio ©