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In conversation with DragSoc’s committee members at The Glitter Ball

I was lucky enough to be given the chance to watch DragSoc’s amazing Glitter Ball and then interview the performers in the packed Activities Office staff room which doubled as their dressing room. We discussed drag from a student perspective and they provided insights on how all students can get involved regardless of sexual identity.

My interview with Twink Floyd/Edward was done online whilst the Prince of Persia/Atusa and Calypso/Josh interviews were done between acts. The Lydia Eastlope/Beattie interview took place in the middle of the fire alarm whilst acoustic singing and guitar playing took place in Library square as the acoustic event had to be evacuated from Falmer House at the same time as DragSoc.

Interview: Twink Floyd

Having been unable to chat during the show, I interviewed Twink Floyd/Edward online asking about both the past and future of DragSoc.

How did you get into drag?

I knew of drag before coming to uni, but it wasn’t until I met a group of friends in my first year that I became a performer. We all met through the LGBTQ+ picnic and realised that we all had an interest in it, and that there wasn’t, at the time, a society directly relating to drag. In short terms, that was how DragSoc was born, just a group of queer people wanting to do something we loved.

As President of DragSoc, what is your message for any new LGBTQ+ students coming to Sussex this month?

Our main message for LGBTQ+ students is that in this uni there are so many queer spaces being created for you, by students who have walked your path. We may not all be the same, but all that counts is that we are treated the same. DragSoc is an inclusive space for anyone, no matter who you are, and anyone can get involved.

DragSoc has already made an impact on campus and nationally. What are your plans so it can continue to grow and make history?

This year our monthly shows are going to be a little different. As well as creating a space to help the queer community feel included and safe, we will strive to give back to the community that has made each and everyone of us feel at home. That’s why all our monthly shows will be fundraisers, for charities and organisations that directly help support our community. We will also be taking in as many student performers as we can, and working with some of the greatest drag related groups there are in Brighton.

Follow Twink Floyd on Instagram @flinktwoyd

Interview: Lydia Eastslope

With the show being delayed by a power outage and various fire alarms, I managed to speak with Lydia Eastslope/Beattie during an impromptu acoustic show in Library Square during one of the many fire alarms of the night.

So, obviously you are quite well known on campus.

Lydia: Oh, that’s very kind of you to say.

But I want to know how you got into drag.

[We pause to cheer the outside band who’ve finished their song. We’re outside due to a fire alarm going off during stage set up for DragSoc’s Glitter Ball event]

L: I was just an attention seeking child. So, I always liked the theatre and in secondary school one of the things our drama group would do was putting on pantomimes; I was always the pantomime dame. So, I’d never done any ‘proper’ drag before coming to uni. But I had that background of dressing up in women’s clothing and being a bit outrageous. And then I just came to the DragSoc shows and thought it was just so incredible. So, I signed up for their Lip Sync For Your Life that they did and then after that for a December show they did and after that I haven’t stopped since then.

What would you say drag means to you?

L: Primarily, its an outlet for self-expression. That can mean really deep things like a lot of our acts touch on gender, what it means to be trans and what it means to be a queer person. But it can also be self-expression of the weird f*cked up aspects of ourselves. In my first show, I spat a load of carrot out into the audience and cut off my hair because that’s what I wanted to do. It was great fun and great night. I really enjoyed it. Self-expression doesn’t always have to mean really political things, it can and it definitely should but it also just means experimenting in a fun safe space.

Do you have a message for any new LGBTQ+ students at Sussex as a Fresher?

L: Oh my god, well don’t sleep with anyone on campus. It’s just going to end badly. Beyond that, I would say don’t get complacent. I wanted to jump into a speech about how great it is here but actually we have to remember that last year at the Freshers’ drag event on the way back lots of the committee members received a lot of quite transphobic abuse on the bus back into town. So, we can’t forget that there is that undercurrent. So, still be alert but more importantly remember that is still an incredible, amazing experience. You’ve come to the university that had the first UK uni Drag Society in the country. We’re making queer history here in a lot of ways. That’s a really exciting thing to be a part of. So, I would just say: embrace and enjoy that.

Follow Lydia on Instagram @lydia_eastslope

Interview: Calypso

After having spent the evening performing her incredibly emotional numbers, Calypso sat down with me briefly to discuss how Calypso was born and their personal relationship with drag. Unfortunately some of the interview was lost, thanks Apple!

So, to start off slightly simply, how did you get into drag?

Calypso: Through trying out different avenues of art and getting at a dead end. I found that drag can be a jack of all trades kind of art where you involve performance, the visuals, the painting, the outfits, the textiles, all these different forms of arts compiled together. I’d practised and tried my best but could never master any other forms of art.

Chris: Well you’ve mastered this one. I’m a big fan.

Ca: Thank you so much!

What does drag mean personally to you?

Ca: Art. I know for a lot of people it’s about expressing gender or having a focus on gender in their minds and their philosophy. For me, it’s more as a form of communication and metaphor and creating narratives for people. Creating escapism. That’s what I want to do with my art. The way that I perform, I want to fill the room with a different world.

Ch: There’s a lot of emotion when you perform. You’re very good.

Follow Calypso on Instagram @theonlycalypso

Interview: Prince of Persia

During the shows interval, I spoke with Prince of Persia/Atusa about how they went from drag newbie to Vice President of DragSoc in under a year.

I’m going to start of quite simply, how did you get into drag?

Prince of Persia: So, I joined Sussex last year and I used to RuPaul’s Drag Race but I never thought I’d get into it at all. But when I came, I here went to Freshers’ Fair and Ally, who is Grim Kreeper, she was behind the stall and I saw her and said ‘I really want to get involved’. They had a show at East Slope that night which I went to and was just blown away. I knew I wanted to get involved. I didn’t know there was such thing as a drag king. So basically, I contacted Ally and she helped me so much. She invited me to her house, she didn’t know me, and she told me to bring my laptop so she could teach me how to mix a track. And the rest was history. It was literally because of DragSoc. And now I’m best friends with Ally and she’s living above me and it’s pretty amazing.

What does drag mean to you as a person?

P: It’s a different experience for everyone but for me it’s just letting go. I describe drag as f*cking with gender. For me, it’s just an outlet. It’s just having some fun. I make it political sometimes but in a way that I make it emotional. I sometimes think that if you are performing to such a big audience, you might as well send a message across. So, yeah, it’s a nice way to communicate your thoughts to people. It’s a great platform and it’s a safe space.

Chris: I’m mind blown that you only started a year ago. I remember seeing your first one at East Slope and you were so charismatic and I thought you were so good.

If you could give a message to the LGBTQ+ students just joining Sussex this year or just in general, what would you want to say?

P: I’d say, don’t be put off by silly people who are out there that put you down. There are so many amazing, welcoming people and honestly if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be. I moved here from London from an Islamic family so I’d say just stick through it. You will meet your crowd and you will meet amazing people. Join the LGBTQ+ society, go to events, meet people. Don’t be shy – there are alcohol neutral events. There’s literally something for everyone. And I’ve never felt so at home. Don’t be scared.

So, you’re one of the people in charge of DragSoc…

P: Yeah, I’ve become Vice-President and Welfare rep. I also do gigs in London and in Brighton and you can call me a professional I guess. I do gigs with Zayn Phallic. So, it’s just an amazing opportunity. DragSoc is amazing.

So, in terms of DragSoc, it’s obviously made quite an impact in Brighton and nationally with various awards, what is DragSoc planning in the future to expand if you care to divulge?

P: As the new committee has come into power, we want to reach out to people more now. In the past it’s been us putting on shows and that’s it. That’s amazing in itself but we want to help other people. So, we’re planning on collaborating with professionals, putting on workshops and maybe swapping wigs and stuff. We’re planning on putting on these workshops to get more people involved and train them in a way to give them more experience and advice. That’s the major thing we’re doing right now.

And to conclude, why should everyone embrace drag culture?

P: It will literally change your life whether you are gay, straight, anything in-between, whatever the hell you are. It’s a safe space. It’s fun. You’ll just feel liberated. It’s just liberating.  

Follow Prince of Persia on Instagram @princeofp3rsia

Photo Credit: Chris Ahjem

 

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Should some reality TV shows be banned?

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

The Big Debate is a regular Badger feature which brings the spirit of competitive debating to the printed page. Two writers tackle a contentious topic, representing polarised…

Elitist campus accommodation
Comment
97 views
Comment
97 views

Elitist campus accommodation

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

By Eric Barrell With my tutors going on strike over casualisation and unequal pay, and my own struggles in cheap halls with near constant maintenance issues, I…

Let’s vote for manifestos, not idols
Comment
50 views
Comment
50 views

Let’s vote for manifestos, not idols

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

By Issy Anthony - Comment Sub-Editor I want us to question how we look at politicians, and more specifically, political leaders. This is the first election I…

Monitoring our monitors
Comment
195 views
Comment
195 views

Monitoring our monitors

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

Ruth Walters discusses the work of Sussex Sweatshop Free and their involvement with tech workers’ rights Sussex Sweatshop Free is a student-led campaign group working to raise…

Less work, more play: the 4 day week
Comment
182 views
Comment
182 views

Less work, more play: the 4 day week

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

By Will Day With Labour’s proposal to implement a four-day working week, the concept of working less for the same pay has been thrust into the public…

The knife crime crisis
Comment
96 views
Comment
96 views

The knife crime crisis

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

Joe Pearce discusses the ethical debate around ‘stop and searches’ Knife-crime is a sensitive topic, one often dividing opinion nationally. To combat gang-wars and possible intent to…

Bloodshed and tyranny in Colombia
Comment
62 views
Comment
62 views

Bloodshed and tyranny in Colombia

Rebecca Spencer - December 4, 2019

By Laura Lucia Rodríguez Peña Colombia has a long history of war and conflict. Nevertheless, in 2016 the National Government signed a peace agreement with the biggest armed…

Authentic cities and towns in Japan
Culture
224 views
Culture
224 views

Authentic cities and towns in Japan

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Vanessa Hung Always popular with travellers, Japan is a country with world-class cities, stunning landscape, spectacular natural scenery. Whether you have been to Japan before; or…

The evolution of iPod
Culture
46 views
Culture
46 views

The evolution of iPod

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Josh Talbot In the modern age of streaming technology, it is hard to imagine a time where there wasn’t an exhaustive library of songs literally at…

Brighton international eats
Culture
98 views
Culture
98 views

Brighton international eats

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Maaya Takata From vegetarian or vegan restaurants to cosy cafes for afternoon tea, from casual brunch to fine dining, Brighton offers various types of places to…

What’s going on with Falmer Moat?
Culture
51 views
Culture
51 views

What’s going on with Falmer Moat?

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Alana Harris  As the observant amongst us will have seen, the previously empty moat surrounding Falmer square has been filled with water. Many may be intrigued…

Cultural Bite – mince pies recipe
Culture
39 views
Culture
39 views

Cultural Bite – mince pies recipe

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Mehek Shahzad With December rapidly approaching, now is the prime time to have a go at practising your favourite festive dishes, just in time to perfect…

Christmas in Brighton
Culture
39 views
Culture
39 views

Christmas in Brighton

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Cloe Grampa Christmas is just around the corner and it seems that everywhere is getting into the festive spirit, but if the fairy lights around town…

Campus under Siege: Hong Kong Universities become battlegrounds
Culture
76 views
Culture
76 views

Campus under Siege: Hong Kong Universities become battlegrounds

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Charlotte Brill Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests are showing no sign of fatigue. Over the past few weeks, University campuses across the region have become the flashpoints…

The Largest Maternity Scandal in NHS History
News
59 views
News
59 views

The Largest Maternity Scandal in NHS History

Becca Bashford - December 2, 2019

  By Angel Woo, Staff Writer. An internal report leaked by The Independent has revealed that at least 42 babies and three mothers died at Shrewsbury and…

So, who’s running for President in 2020?
News
73 views
News
73 views

So, who’s running for President in 2020?

Becca Bashford - December 2, 2019

The U.S. presidential race feels crowded, messy and never-ending and it’s not even 2020 yet. This is The Badger’s guide to all the current Presidential candidates, who…

One Year On: The Gilets Jaunes Movement
News
73 views
News
73 views

One Year On: The Gilets Jaunes Movement

Becca Bashford - December 2, 2019

  By Venice Hancock, News Sub-Editor. It has been a year since French protesters, known as the “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vests), appropriately named for their chosen attire…

More Medicinal Cannabis Products Legalised
News
53 views
News
53 views

More Medicinal Cannabis Products Legalised

Becca Bashford - December 2, 2019

  By Tom Chesley, Staff Writer. Two cannabis-based medicines have been approved for use by the NHS in England to treat epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. The Home…

The US reverses policies on Israeli settlements
News
94 views
News
94 views

The US reverses policies on Israeli settlements

Becca Bashford - December 2, 2019

  By Gemma Laws, Staff Writer. In a policy reversal, the Trump Administration has declared that Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law.…