Cult: An intimate revue featuring theatrical drag queens and mutants.
Plays Mondays at the Pyramid, 101 Avenue A, NYC. Portraying their
comedy dramas at midnight are: Antony, Johanna Constantine, Psychotic
Eve, Hattie, Flloyd, Lily of the Valley, Sissy Fitt, Love Forever,
Ebony Jet, Kabuki Starshine, Lulu, and James F. Murphy. Mrs. Clark
Render hosts and D.J.'s.
Sissy spoke with me recently about life and their part in Blacklips.
You guys have been doing the show for about a year and you've been
with it from the start?
I think the first show that I was in was the second one that was
at the Pyramid... was it The Revenge of Blacklips?
Maybe that or the Genet thing.
There was a show at Crowbar and the first time I saw that I think
it was Michael T. and James F. Murphy and Psychotic Eve doing Kate
Bush numbers... Eve did the Wedding List in a wedding dress with
a gun and it was really crazy
Antony and Johanna and Eve worked their way into getting a night
And that's who brought it over to the Pyramid?
No. Hattie lured them to Pyramid
Antony said that he wanted to put on some sort of plays and would
I be in it and then he called me up and invited me to come to the
But was Blacklips the name at that time at the Crowbar?
That came from The Cripple and the Starfish, the play that Antony
did when he was at school... there was a scene in it called the
Black Lips bar...
Blacklips having to do with silent movies where they painted the
lips black so they looked red on black and white film
There really wasn't that much thinking about it... it was just a
But it's called a performance cult
Flloyd started saying cult... but that's really sort of just a
joke... calling ourselves a cult is kind of like trying to sound
like Hell's Angels... I mean we're all a bunch of faggots you know
but... when you call yourselves a cult it makes you sound like you're
dangerous... we're a cult of personality
We worship eachother in a lot of ways
We're all going to go out to Texas and kill ourselves... a cult
makes me think of blind followers... it expresses a degree of feeling
that we have...
Reject the outside world... we have everything that we need right
here... I feel like I 'm going back to being a child in a way...
the things I do on stage are all the things I did in front of my
mirror... all the conversations I've had with people who weren't
there... like when I did that space show and I had lily operate
the thrusters... when I was a child I used to set it up all around
me, the whole space ship, and I'd have my partners and my flying
commander and everything there
I talk to myself too but there's a difference between playing with
your train and having an imaginary partner
Everyone has a different way of playing
My childhood creativity... I'm realizing right now it was very valuable
and I feel like I'm getting that back
A lot of adults who have high paying jobs are trapped by it... They're
not free to grow and express as a person... that's why all these
men sneak off and get beaten up by dominatrixes... they're less
human than we are... they look at a drag queen and think of us as
fake but we're not fake... art is about being fake but art is a
lie that tells a truth.
I don't understand... are you saying it's never the truth 'cause
it's only a metaphor?
What I'm saying is art is a lie... I'm not trying to be a real woman
but some people who look at me and say oh it's a boy trying to be
a girl... but I'm being myself... it's my femininity.... as far
as make-up goes I'm not inspired by real girls... I'm inspired by
drag queens and girls that look like drag queens like Nina Hagen...
and oriental make-up too... I love that mask-like make-up
Does the group edit the show as far as which performers can do numbers?
It goes against the spirit of Blacklips to tell someone they can't
do a number... but people that are in Blacklips we trust... You
really can't tell anyone in Blacklips what to do because they won't
listen to you
If someone's not doing enough in the show he can just go over to
the cabaret... it's really great.... so what we've really been doing
is writing two shows
It's skimming the scum off the soup and putting in in the cabaret
Do you plan on taking it on the road?
We want to play Broadway
Right... I want to make a movie
Which shows do you feel worked better?
Seven was a great one... a Lily of the Valley script... Marti's
scripts are all really good... like Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper
Marti's a brilliant playwright
(to Sissy) You seem to play lots of different characters portrayed
through dialogue...(to Kabuki)... and your characters seem to be
I did a vocal characterization as a tree... which was really different...
sometimes I do really weird voices
Kabuki's becoming a really great actor... I always knew he would
be... for a while he wouldn't do it and was afraid
Well I have a very hard life... I make my living from drag exclusively...
go-go dancing, being places in drag, serving drinks to rich assholes,
doing all kinds of weird things... drag queens have replaced clowns
(laughing loudly) No... they've replaced waitresses
It's four hours with the wigs, make-up and costumes to get ready...
and then it's four hours of go-go dancing... so it takes like a
whole day when I have a drag job... When I do Blacklips it takes
me out of my rut... it gives me a crisis I have to deal with
All my go-go boyfriends... what do they do... they throw a G-string
in a bag... they throw on their leather jacket and pants... they
go to the club and they take it off and they dance... they go home...
It's a ceremony for me, by the time I put my make-up on... there's
been so much time gone by that I feel like a different person...
I go through a change... It's like a baptism of fire...
What's it like downstairs before a show when you're preparing?
Oh James is singing...
Lily's running around acting really silly... Marti usually shows
up already beautiful...
Lulu takes photos of everyone
...Eve gets dressed there... I usually get dressed there... Flloyd
gets dressed there...
I'm really bad before a show
Then Kabuki breezes in... and these ones breeze in... and we're
always bitching at them for coming late... but their costumes are
usually so extensive... him and Johanna...
They're ready once they get there?
They live in the same apartment... stand out of the way... she wears
antennas on her head... and things and spikes and sometimes you're
getting scratched in the face
One time she was a crucifix... she had a whole tree tied to her
She also played Godzilla with huge green hair
Of course the branches stayed in our apartment for three months
But I think that's why we're a little bit successful because I feel
we perform for eachother
We perform for ourselves... it's funny the audience we get... we
have drag queens... and then we have the ex-prime minister of Poland...
we treat rich people, poor people the same... we still don't know
Do you think it would be a good thing if you got a bigger following?
They'll find us
How have the shows changed since the beginning... have they evolved
in any way?
I don't think it has changed really... the audience has gotten bigger
and we are more confident now because we've got that history
So you didn't just develop these characters or roles?
I've been dressing in drag since I was fourteen...
How old are you now?
I'm twenty-three now... The shows have allowed me to escape my daily
troubles and Blacklippers are plagued with troubles and the demons
inside others... I walk to the Pyramid in drag and people scream
at me in the street... so when I get in front of a paying audience
it feels like I'm taking a bubble bath... but we all have our separate
moments to cleanse ourselves in the spotlight
Don't you feel like you get any level of acceptance?
I'm not hurt if strangers yell at me... I know they're fascinated
I'm really different... I seem to have an ability to know how to
deal with males
Well you seem like a male
I guess I know how to deal with males... maybe that comes from having
sex with them all the time when I was really young... not really
young, you know what I mean... from being a fag
You mean I haven't had as much sex as you've had?
I don't know Kabuki... I'm not saying how much sex you've had
I just don't talk about it like you
Do you have any role models or mentors?
Do you have a mirror?
Yeah girl! My roommate Glen is really cool
(laughing) Your roommate Glen is your role model... there's no one
in particular that you look up to?
...Erte's costume designs made an impression on me at a young age
and influenced my drag look... but we look up to lots of people...
it's better to appreciate someone's art than to look at them personally...
it's better to admire the art than the artist... you can always
find something wrong with a person
People that I looked up to that helped me was... when I first saw
Flloyd performing... he really brought me out.... I thought wow...
I can't believe people are doing this... He was doing numbers from
This Mortal Coil and all kinds of great music... radio play conversations...
weird demented women... I said I wanted to do that too
Flloyd takes it so far... he takes it as far as it can go... I
hate it when people do things half way
It's funny or unfortunate when the mic goes out on someone during
It makes the actors more likable when they're embarrassed... remember
the scene in Starvation when we had all those raw livers on stage
and people were being hit with raw liver... people were slipping
on the livers...
We're not as bloody as we used to be... we used to have body parts
every week... and there were so many murders every week
There used to be a lot of intestines... once we had the Swiss Family
Donner Party where Johanna ate the whole cast
A lot of the shows seem like fractured fairy tales to me
Being a drag queen in New York City is a fairy tale
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