The truths of a drag queen: Getting to know Nicki Nastasia
Credit: PROVIDED BY NICKI NASTASIA (DOM MONTES)
Drag queen Nicki Nastasia, who is known around the London community, shared with the Interrobang the rundown about life as a queen and the misconceptions people have about it.
What led you to becoming a drag queen?
Growing up I was super creative and artsy and I didn’t really have an outlet to put that all. I liked drawing, but I was never really good at it and I like singing but I was definitely not good at it. I always wanted to perform, and I did perform in school plays and stuff, but it was never enough. When I came out of the closet, I think it all just kind of happened naturally. I kind of started acting more feminine because before when I was in the closet I tried to pass as a straight guy, which clearly I’m not. After I came out, I allowed myself to be more myself, so I started being more feminine and being more me. It kind of progressed in trying out makeup and dressing as the other gender then became a performance thing.
Do you work then as a drag queen?
Yeah, it’s my full-time job. I perform at clubs and venues and events.
What kind of clubs and venues do you work at?
I work at Lavish Night Club. I do shows at 765 Old East and I’ve done shows at the Hilton Hotel in downtown London. I’ve performed at Pride London in the Park and pretty much at any bar that will have me.
Do a lot of drag queens perform like you? Is being a drag queen always considered a job?
Most of my income comes from performing and dressing in drag, whereas others may have full-time jobs outside of drag too. For me, drag is my passion. It’s what I want to do, what I want to create a career out of. For other people, it may just be, I think, a hobby that they want to do now or something they like to do. It may not be a career for everyone.
What does it mean to you to be a drag queen?
For me personally, drag is just creating art while blurring the lines of gender. I think that anyone can be a drag queen, whether you’re a woman or man, transgender or cisgender, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re blurring the lines of gender or making gender an art form, then that’s drag.
Then the difference between a drag queen and a transgender person, who dresses/lives life as the opposite sex, is that there is a ‘performance’ aspect to drag queens that is not associated with transgender people?
Yeah. Everyone identifies differently. For me personally, I identify drag as my art form. It’s the way I express myself on stage and the way that I use art to perform through myself. Then being transgender is how you live your everyday life. That’s you as a person. You are that gender. You are not dressing up, whereas drag is more of a dress up thing. Being transgender is more of an identity.
When you are in drag, do you want others to call you by the pronoun “she” instead of “he”?
To me, me out of drag and in drag is the same person. It’s just an extension of myself or another side of me. So it’s not like I’m pretending to be somebody else. I’m making you perceive me differently because of the way the world sees gender, but to me it’s the same person just with a different outside. If people call me “he” or “she”, either way it doesn’t bother me. People will most likely call me “she” when I’m in drag because of the way I look. I have long hair, a curvy body and I have makeup on so I look like a woman.
What does the name “drag queen” mean to you personally?
Growing up, if you were feminine or you weren’t masculine or manly, you were made fun of. You were made to feel less than or not equal to all the rest of the guys cause you don’t act like a “real man” or what a “real man” is supposed to be. I think by using the word “queen”, it’s like we are taking the power back. Like, “You know what? We are going to own that femininity cause femininity can be strong.” Masculinity isn’t the only strong gender in the world. Men aren’t number one. “If you’re not masculine, you don’t matter”, that’s not real. For me, using the word “queen” makes me take the power away from the haters. If you don’t understand how strong femininity is, you are not even on my radar. I think that’s why for me the word “queen” is so important. Women and femininity are strong. Why not celebrate that?
Do you find that you express yourself more freely when you are in drag?
A hundred per cent. I can do things and say things when I am in drag that I would never do or say when I’m out of drag. It’s like, you put this mask on, this costume and it’s like no one knows who you really are, no one can touch you. You are on this other level that is above everyone else, but you are in this weird limbo where you can say anything and no one is going to get offended by it and you can do things that would be usually offensive, but no one says anything because you are a drag queen. I’m not sure why that is, but I take full advantage of it.
What do you find are the biggest misconceptions people have about drag queens?
A lot of people think that drag queens and being transgender are the same thing. As I said before, drag is an art form, being transgender is an identity. I think a lot of people mistake those two and put them together. The biggest misconception is that it is seen as a fetish or a sexual kind of thing. People think that we’re like horny crossdressers that go around screwing everyone with a wig on. They see it as you’re a creepy crossdresser who likes to have sex in woman’s clothes. Sure, if you like to do that, go ahead. I’m not going to judge you, but drag is an art form first before it’s somebody’s fetish.