Why I set up Hot Laser (Queer Arts Community)

Every year for the past four, there has been a tranny exodus to the Glastonbury Festival where we've gone and run amok in the NYC Downlow. After laughing my ass off the first year in 2007 (which continually pissed it down but has been one of my favourite lost weekends) I thought to myself, why is nobody documenting this?

The queer American scene has prolific films such as Paris is Burning, Wigstock, The Cockettes, Trannyshack, The Queen, and SqueezeBox! so I decided it was time to document the alternative drag scene that has recently emerged and thrived from east London.

While bobbing around in the Arabian Sea, I asked my friend Colin Rothbart if he'd be interested in making a film about the British queer scene and we started filming at the Downlow in June 2009. Realising we needed to do this properly, we set about becoming a Community Interest Company and received official status this summer.

During this process, my own focus shifted. I wanted to do something that incorporated more than the family of trannies and freaks that the film was documenting and extend it to queer creatives around the UK. For me, queer and gay have become so distant from each other that they're hardly related. Gay has become a commodity, queer is where the others, radicals and creatives live.

Queer is empowering. It's less to do with sexuality or gender, more about being different, other. Queer incorporates gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, intersex, transvestite, whatever....its less about what you do with your genitals, more about your outlook.

So what are we doing? We're making an amazing documentary about a bunch of queers and misfits, the lives behind the masks and to show mainstream culture being queer isn't confined to the safe asexual, inoffensive and bland generic vision what the BBC or the media perceive it to be.

We aim to link British based queer creatives together. Those working in art, music, writing, dance, design, fashion, anything creative. Britain is full of queer creatives, the aim is to bring everyone together, create links, encourage productivity and help isolated queers through the arts. This will eventually be done in the form of a website (exhibition, events, tour, book, album.. possibilities are endless) but for now we're doing it through fund-raising events where London's finest queers give their time for free to raise money for the group. (Next one Saturday 27th November at Vogue Fabrics).

Of course all this will take time and money. I have the passion and ideas but I'm a creative honey and need help with the official side of things. Fund-raising, legal, financial...all the important stuff that needs to be done so the fabulous stuff can blossom.

We need fund-raisers who know how to access people who'd like to invest in this amazing project. Professionals who can give us advice and help. Interns to help get this project off the ground and out there.

I'd like to see things being pushed forward and the extended family come together. People collaborating instead of protecting their own little scraps of land, hooking up with other groups and projects, taking it internationally, having fun and being amazing through the arts in all its glorious forms.


More info at www.hot-laser.com
If are interested in helping, please email me at holestar@gmail.com

Being a Female DJ

Article originally written for Bad Feminist

Here is the trailer for a film that makes The Human Centipede look like Citizen Kane, ‘DJ Girl’.

From what I gather, the synopsis is thus; party girl fancies hot DJ, he’s not interested. To get his attention she decides to become a DJ because to be one ‘is like so hot right now’. He becomes her Mr Miyagi and teaches her the ways of the discotheque jockey. She blags a gig, rocks the house, hot DJ snogs her, wins the DMC World DJ Championships by swishing her hair on the vinyl and flipping it onto the deck before stunning the crowd by scratching with her nipples. The last part may not be true.

If only being a DJ, particularly a female one was so easy.

Being a lady DJ can be a double edged blade. You may get a booking because of your gender, a female name stands out on a line-up and it’s unusual. But on the flip side, you can be ignored and looked over because many presume girls don’t know anything about music. In a male
dominated industry, female DJs are still very much a novelty especially when you look at the largely Russian phenomenon of topless DJs. A sexist yet genius concept where for one fee, you get hot tits dancing to a pre mix CD, pretending to fiddle with the cross fader.

After you’ve hustled and start getting gigs, you get patronising nerds who stand, arms folded analysing and sneering, waiting for you to make a bum mix. Then there are the old school vinyl die hards who would prefer if women would stay well away from the decks (I once had a man
shout at me for not using vinyl. It is a superior format but its heavy, expensive and easily damaged so I only savour a few classics) and on the odd occasion, you might have hassle getting into your own gig or onto the decks from misogynist bouncers who think you’re on the

People can be rude and demand you play that song again / Lady Gaga /Bavarian baseline. I wonder how these people would react if a stranger entered their work place and ordered them to do something. Despite the supposed glamorous nature, DJing is a job and the aim is to entertain a room of revellers, not one individual (my latest response to these types is “I am not a jukebox”).

You’ve also got to compete with the ‘celebrity’ or instant DJ. In the age of technology and mp3 downloading, anyone can profess to be one. You don’t have to plough through hours of crap and suffer the snobbery of record shop staff, you can sit in the comfort of your underpants, download everything from the latest hip music blog, burn to CD (or laptop for the lazy) and play to a rapturous dance floor. Now this may work a few times but eventually the instant DJ types who are in it for the glory soon filter away because they know jack about music, how to cook a floor and haven’t got the patience to learn about and source it.

There’s something quite fierce about female producers and DJs, much like any woman who does a job that is predominately done by men and I’d like to see more of us out there. I don’t expect to see more female DJs being booked just because they are the minority but I’d like to see them smash through their own glass ceiling and compete with the boys on even terms. But then again,
how can we be expected to be taken seriously when there are plenty of DJanes (a hideous term) who abuse their feminine wiles by posing in headphones and bikinis or are happy to shag a promoter to get a gig?

As for DJ Girl and others like her, if you have a passion for music, willing to work hard, face rejection and misogyny, then go for it lady and get out there, otherwise please support your sisters from the dance floor.


Fashanker...The Song

To accompany the following article...

Respect...Peter Tatchell

Peter Tachell has spent over 30 years fighting for human rights and particularly the rights of LGBTQ people. The apathetic gay disco bunnies who enjoy their freedom have a lot to thank him for.

Just as I had started to come out to myself (I was a late bloomer), I remember him and members of Outrage! storming the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter sermon in 1998 and found it intimidating. The negative reactions to the confrontational work of Outrage! influenced my decision to remain in the closet for a few more years as I didn't want to associate myself with their radicalism. When I finally came out, I sent money to Stonewall, went on a few marches and supported gay rights albeit passively.

How things have changed. I'm no longer a fan of Stonewall (their strap line now being 'Working for equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals”. Nothing about our Trans sisters and brothers whose fore Mothers from the Stonewall Inn help kick start the queer rights movement that they take their name from.) I now realise it's thanks to people like Peter, who constantly puts his neck on the line, that today I can enjoy the freedom of being an outspoken, queer woman. I'm all for peaceful lobbying but sometimes you need to be big and bold to be heard.

Tonight, Channel 4 broadcast his documentary 'The Trouble with the Pope', discussing the negative impact the head of Catholicism has on the world. It could have been predominately about Ratzinger condemning gays as evil, but this was but a small part and the whole documentary was balanced and very informative. In a society where being on TV is the ultimate medium to gain presence, I hope more people are now aware of the issues raised and of Peter and his work.

Peter has been abused, arrested and suffered serious physical injury in his fight for the rights of others. Rather than lay down, he gets up again and continues. I may not agree on all of his views but for doing what he does for humanity, I salute and thank him.

P.S. I'll be joining him on Saturday 18th September to protest the Pope's state visit to the UK.


Fashankers and I Love Dalston

(In response to the article http://www.sabotagetimes.com/life/why-i-hate-dalston/)


Noun; A form of idiot. Combination of someone who is fashionable and an utter wanker.

I love fashion but hate the crap that comes with it. The snobbery, the shoulder surfing at fashion week parties, the desperation to be seen and photographed. However, I have great admiration for anyone who spends time putting a look together day to day. It must takes hours of research, locating, collecting clothes and accessories before trying to weave it all together.

What I don't like is the ones who come loaded with arrogance and rude to anyone they deem less than worthy, these are fashion wankers.

Many can be seen at Broadway Market and nearby London Fields. Despite it being quite a large park, they converge on an area the size of a stamp to preen and judge, happy to pay £5 for a watered down mojito before converging on their temple, the Cat & Mutton. I visited the area recently and sat right in the middle of it all, watching fashanker warfare take place, everyone gets scanned up and down, where information is compiled and the output is a pout (yeah you're cool) or scowl (you are so not cool). Also see the take over of Hackney Wick. A low rent area that used to thrive with artists and creatives but soon quickly filled with cool kids wanting to live the bohemian dream in converted warehouses.

Many come across as spoilt and obnoxious with no regard for anyone who isn't in a variant of the hipster uniform. Some really are clueless and lucky to have Daddy's credit card on standby should their media job go tits up (I met a hideous example recently who sneered that his shoes cost more than someone else's entire wardrobe. Well hurrah for you, you soulless shit). Then again there are some absolute sweethearts who under the pretence are genuinely lovely, bright, caring people and actually quite shy.

It's obvious that most of London's creative types aren't originally from the capital. Unhappy with provincial life and attitudes, we flock here from all corners of the globe to find others like us, where we can be who we want to by forming tribes to feed a sense of belonging, an extended family that nurtures common interests. People will always complain about the trendy kids, but fashion tribalism has always occurred in London. Chelsea, Camden, Islington, Notting Hill, Soho and Shoredicth have all had their fashionable set heyday and now its Dalstons turn. In a few years it may well go back to somewhere in West London (heaven forbid).

I agree with the cited article that only a minority of fashankers are actually creating anything but so what? I'd rather be sneered at by insecure hipsters who will soon move on to the next big thing than go up against the kind of tribe that frequents manic boozy areas of most towns and cities in the UK.

Unless the fashion kids are being vile, and therefore fashankers, I say leave them be. It's just fashion mixed with naivety. They aren't going to hurt you.

As for slagging off Dalston, what a load of twaddle. It's an amazing area of incredible diversity, creativity, innovation and has some of London's best nights out (Sssh though, we don't want to turn it into Shoreditch). To toot my own horn, I'm privileged to run a night at Dalston Superstore where gays, straights, casual types and fashion hipsters come to get down. There have been times when a group of fashankers have sneered at someone dancing like a loon but they soon shuffle elsewhere when they realise everyone else is having fun and they are the ones who don't fit in.

If you really are adverse to hipster kids playing dress up, well there's always Wetherspoons.


P.S. In the TV series Nathan Barley set in Hoxton (ahead of its time and largely over looked), the shows every-man, Dan declared the hipsters 'Idiots'. Towards the end of the series, his paranoia became a mantra of 'the idiots are winning'.

No Dan, they won a long time ago. Just let it go.

* I coined 'fashanker' some time ago. A friend told a friend and it has since been mentioned by a broad sheet newspaper, without credit I hasten to add.

September 11th Update

Honourable mention must go to The Grand Spectacular, makers of 'Being a Dickhead's Cool'. Sums it up in a catchy song.

Pride, Stonewall and me?

Once again Pride is on Saturday so get your rainbow flags out. In my early years on the gay scene, my first visit to London's Gay Pride was like Dorothy finding Kansas (in a big park, free with a suggested donation of £3). Back then it had a heady mix of politics and fun....but where has the political aspect gone?

We've come a long way baby but there is more work to do. Gay men can't donate blood, homophobic hate crime is on the increase (being reported and taken seriously) and internationally people are being abused, arrested, murdered and tortured for same sex love. It's great that we're relatively free to love and express ourselves in the west but do any of the younger gays care about gay politics, know of its history or know how lucky they are to have the right to publicly wave their flag?

I recently discovered that charity Stonewall have binned the transgender part of the groups activities and concentrating on the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual side. Hang on a moment, where does the name Stonewall come from? From a little bar in New York that fire-started the queer revolution. And who threw the first stone? A bunch of trannys. Who publicly works for the rights of the transgender community now? There are small organisations but nothing close to the money and public exposure that Stonewall gets. They continue to use the name but have shut their trans sisters out in the cold without so much as a head scarf.

2009 was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and Pride London chose not to acknowledge it. Pride barely has a whiff of politics these days as like Stonewall, strive for a safe, mainstream acceptable face of homosexuality (much like the BBC). Web site Homovision were told they weren't allowed to be part of the march for turning up with placards and told “Pride is not a political demonstration”. I love a good public display of campness and frivolity but if we're supposed to be proud of who we are, surely Pride of all dates in the gay calendar is when our sisters past and present around the world should be recognised and remembered.

I don't fit the idealisation of 'gay' that Stonewall and Pride promotes. I could be lumped with the lesbians but few gay women events or groups hold any appeal for me (I don't like funky house or pool). You could throw me in with the drag queens but a lot of the performers represent a dated almost misogynistic idealisation of drag which is a shame when there is so much innovation going on in the alternative queer community. I'm incredibly proud to be a queer woman, who has the right to love, dress and act as she pleases yet feel a revolution brewing, from those who don't tick the boxes of mainstream gayness.

Pride and Stonewall, when you wave your rainbow flags this weekend remember it was originally created by Gilbert Baker in San Fransisco, a drag queen involved with The Cockettes. A group of queer alternative radical trannys.

However you choose to mark the occasion, have a great Pride.


PS The party I promote 'Hot Mess' will be throwing an alternative to the many Pride parties at Dalston Superstore. Come on down if you want an alternative to waxed chests, fake tans, pink cowboy hats and tranny exclusion. We've got REX THE DOG!

PPS Despite my ramblings, I got involved with Pride this year in a fun way.

Learn to love yourself

I recently performed at the RVT for Kimono Krush, always a fun gig but I had a tiny rant on-stage. I picked up a copy of Boyz magazine and asked the audience “Is this what we've become?”

I didn't intend to aim my vitriol at the mag directly but the gay and lesbian press and visual media in general is rather particular about how people are supposed to look.
One thing I have always liked about the gay male scene is that there is a whole spectrum of physical 'types'; clones, muscle marys, chubs, twinks, bears, scallys etc etc and all are fetishised but what I think is the most attractive 'type' is one that doesn't fit into a coded stereotype. It's not 'normal' as that suggests mediocre, its simply sexy.

They don't wear their sexuality as a uniform to define themselves. Some have hair, some don't. Some look ridiculous, other blend in. Some thin, others fat. Some follow fashion, others casual. They have no visual code to bind them, its inner confidence that makes them sexy. Confidence is key. Most of these men are over thirty and perhaps have gone through their youthful and sometimes precocious experimentation phase before realising they don't need to conform to a box. It's as if they acknowledge that the images advertising and media force upon us are false, unattainable, inane and driven to make money. With knowledge, comes power, divided by confidence and you get sexiness.

Recently I've heard from three very different 'types' of gay men complaining that they had to go to the gym/get spray tanned/not eat anything as it's so difficult to physically keep up with their peers. What kind of people are they trying to attract or friends do these people have if they they have to forgo being happy and look like carbon copies of each other to feel good about themselves? I generally find the more vain people are to strive to fit an image box, the more boring and miserable they are, their every action consumed by their appearance.
A lot of of this is sexual competition but a pumped up, A-sexual, hairless chest might be good to jump around on for a bit but it won't make your heart sing or talk to you about anything except waxing and protein shakes.

Last week I sat opposite a woman on the tube who was pretty, slim and well dressed but reeked of insecurity. She looked every woman in the carriage from top to toe, judging them with a smug smirk or look of disdain. How dull and shallow her life must be that she spends her time criticising and comparing herself to strangers? Suffice to say, when it was my turn to be scanned and she grimaced at my scruffy trousers and tatty trainers, I laughed out loud. Yeah I'm overweight and relaxed in my day wear but how others judge me isn't a concern. If they're that shallow and don't like me as I am, then they're clearly not worth my time.

To quote Ru Paul (who paraphrases the Dali Lama*) “If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?'”. I'd like to round up the insanely image conscious, body dysmorphic, tanorexics, gym maniacs, calorie counters and fashion fascists, give them a shake and an almighty hug because lets face it, what we all need is love, understanding and in some cases, a big fat pie.

As for the lesbian media; I do not identify with it at all. It disturbs me .... but that's a another rant.


* Dalai Lama “If you don't love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.”

Vengaboys love bum fun

I'm in a slight state of confusion after just watching the comeback single for pop monsters Vengaboys (a hybrid of Steps and Alcatraz.... on methadrone). The song itself is nothing new in terms of 'aimed at the gays' pop though there are probably some people who partied through the back end of the 90s that it'll appeal to.
The song is called 'Rocket to Uranus'. Immediately all I can think is bum sex but lets dismantle this a bit....
The Vengaboys have been living in a secret house in Kingston Town building a rocket, could they be terrorists? Of course not, their rocket is shaped like a cock and balls and they're on a mission to Uranus which they tell us is a 24 hour party place with freedom for all (Vauxhall?).
Countdowns are repeated, Perez Hilton pops in as someone from Lazy Town, an astronaut and the moon from Mighty Boosh randomly spouting “yeah, lets party, Uranus is so pretty”. Nonsensical but some of the best pop songs are as meaningful as a Katie Price marriage.
They tell us its a place of freedom but it seems to be overlooked by an evil witch who captains a giant fist and wants to destroy Uranus. Spotting the mighty Vengaboys' flying dick, his bikini clad winged monkeys are dispatched to stop the party and block the cock. And who is the party music hating baddie who wants them 'Dead or Alive'? Why it could only be princess of paranoia, Pete Burns. Luckily, pop saves the day when his minions are hypnotised by the Venga beat and join in the fun. Pete pops down to asses the situation himself only to find his head explodes while the Venga's look on laughing hysterically. Death by disco.
It closes with the vocoded matra of 'Lets have a party on Uranus', everyone drops more methadrone and parties forever more because on Uranus there is no need for tawdry activities like sleeping. Good triumphs over bad, its a classic tale but its the penetration of a phallic shaped rocket into Uranus that saves the day. (Does that mean the Vengaboys are sperm?)
I love so bad its good pop (Cheeky Girls' Touch My Bum' is so under rated) but I can't see myself buying/remembering the song but its quite an event. Perhaps the Vengaboys are back to bring some much needed nonsense to pop music which is no bad thing but its a shame its so, well, crap. Pop needs silly naff crap (Pixie Lott isn't naff, just crap) but it's just not hooky enough (give me Boom Boom Boom Boom any day).
To summarise the song is rubbish, the collaboration between the Venga's , Hilton and Burns is beyond surreal, the stylist needs shooting (who certainly fell out with the blonde one, who looks like she fell out of the back end of a festival. Though I quite like Pete's bubble frock) yet the overall message is quite positive for fans of Uranus.
Cock and bum sex is good, fisting, less so. Lets have a party. Hurrah!

Respect...David Hoyle

Tonight I was part of a panel titled 'Queer Performers' at the Central School of Speech and Drama with Dusty Limits and David Hoyle which was fabulous and fascinating to be part of (the three of us could have gone on all night, we'd barely scratched the surface.)

Key inspirations into my alt queer artistic education are Divine, Leigh Bowery and the artist now known as David Hoyle.

I first discovered David back in 1999 when his first TV show 'Divine David Presents' aired on Channel 4. I'd recently left the Army, knew nothing of the Avant-garde and about to study my degree in Photography in Blackpool (ironically where David is from). Suffice to say, David blew my head apart and made me question gender, sexuality, life, art and the so-called norms of how we are expected to behave in a so-called civilised society.

There are times when I've not agreed with some of his rants and tirades but so very grateful that he gets on his soap box and does. There are plenty of politicised ranters (where I don't hear the actual message, all I receive is anger) yet he educates through entertainment. He makes me question my own morals and beliefs which I think is important as an artist, as a human. Where the gay scene has become homogenised by pink fluffy cowboy hats and funky house, David is a beacon of intelligence, humour and common sense.

The queues and popularity of his solo shows prove that people want to listen and are interested beyond getting high, the body beautiful and the latest Kylie single (which is about as emotive and pop worthy as the crumbs down the side of my cooker). Collectively we need a voice, someone in a position to reach as many as possible and represent those who don't fit the boxes that we're supposed to.

Get David Hoyle back on TV, where he can reach and inspire the artists, queers and free thinkers of the future.

Right then, who wants to come and queue outside the RVT with me to see him shatter conceptions of what it is to entertain?

[Photo Kristen Elsby]

I Am Soho Interview



Ribbed Magazine Interview

I was recently interviewed for swish stylish 'Ribbed Magazine'. I get on my soapbox about my distaste for Jodie Marsh and fierce women doing their thing. I look pretty good too.


NyLon Woman and Facebook

It's been ages since I've posted anything on this blog despite having numerous things whirring around my head.

I recently lost interest in spreading my opinions and nonsense through blogging. MySpace seems redundant except to listen to new music (it hurts my eyes as its filled with so many flash ads) and twitter is just not interesting enough (except to watch Courtney Love go wild, Cheryl Kerl take the piss and David Arnold who is far more interesting than some of the allegedly 'hilarious' British comedians on there.

Facebook is my favourite portal into people's lives, its the ultimate in curtain twitching with some posting their every (bowel) movement. It's interesting to watch faded celebrities clamouring for some attention, some of the cultural and political debates that spring up and several individuals telling their 'friends' every little tiny thing they are doing (Example post; I just boiled an egg! Standards responses; Amazing! You are fabulous and deserve an egg. Is it a sexy egg? Runy or hard, i think I can gess Lol!) I Facebook, therefore I am.....It's the ultimate justification for ones existence in the digital age.

Now I'm guilty of self promotion as the next person. I use it as a promotional tool for my music, club nights, film, gigs, myself, whatever but some things need to remain a little private. Tease them with a feather, they don't need the whole chicken. My status may say 'Engaged' for that is what I am (and announced it all over Facebook after keeping it to myself for a good three weeks) but m'lady and I don't advertise that it's to each other, just seems a little....too honest.
I love public declarations of adoration but how embarrassing is it when the couple breaks up only to have to change their status to 'single'?

I've digressed somewhat from my original point..which was, oh yeah blogging.So what have I done since I last posted? Quite a lot and having a fabulous 2010.

The knee is slowly getting better (only took a year on the NHS...) and I can finally walk without a walking stick but there's still a way to go.
My nights Hot Mess and Let's Get Quizzical are going very well indeed.
Gigs, gigs galore.
Taught an 'Alternative Drag Workshop (Post Divine)at Rose Bruford, gave a lecture at The House of Homosexual Culture in the Southbank Centre and in June I'm doing a Queer Performers thing at Central St Martins (hark at me all 'establishment')

Of all this, I've finally made some original music that has my name on it, not 'featuring'. First release NyLon Woman was released in April and very well received in the music blogs and a few DJ charts. Can be bought on itunes, Amazon and Napster, there's a free remix on my SoundCloud and the video is above (shot in five days on Chat Roulette. I saw a lot of willys and got called "fag" a lot by silly Americans)

We're (Phil Robinson and Piers Gordon)working on the next track 'Dirty Men' and aim to release an E.P. full of dirty pop. Have a few other collaborations up my batwing sleeve.

Right, I'm off to update my farcebook status