Queens at Home
Queens at Home is a new ongoing photo series by award-winning photographer, Jan Klos. Taken away from nightclubs and off the stage, these portraits capture drag queens in the spaces most familiar to them, their homes, blurring the boundary between ‘character’ and every day self.
Drag today is more popular than ever, infiltrating the mainstream through popular television shows and major advertising campaigns. Across the UK and indeed the world, more LGBTQ+ people are experimenting with drag in its various forms, using the space it provides to play with gender, performance and identity.
Invited into their homes, Klos juxtaposes the every day spaces with the colourful creatures who inhabit them. The project is also a nod to the drag houses as popularised in seminal documentary Paris is Burning where performers belong to a house headed up by a house mother. In these pictures, the queens are queens of their homes.
Meet the Queens:
With her twisted brand of punk-horror-drag, Baby Lame is one of London’s most exciting and deliciously rancid alt-cabaret stars. When Chris takes off his alter-ego Baby Lame, Lucille, the mannequin also picture here, serves as a stand-in. Lucille’s face is tattooed on to Chris’/Baby’s arm, so the three are never truly apart.
For a long time Dan's mum was carrying twins and she didn't know until they told her at the birth that one didn't make it. Dan has always felt the presence of his twin inside him, and with each glass of Prosceco more of her comes out. He calls this other person Barbs. Classy yet tasteless, gorgeous yet repulsive, Barbs defies all boundaries. Created as an escape from Dan's hectic life as a classical musician where everything has to be perfect and fit to a mould, Barbs is his chance to explore his creativity through different mediums, giving him the chance to improvise and let go. Dan has always loved to challenge people and their perception of things, even within the drag community. Why can't a gorgeous girl have a huge pair of hairy balls and an orange tash?
Bimini Bon Boulash is the ridiculously seductive drag entity of Tommy Titbits. Imagine a streetwalking clown with big lips and an even bigger...heart. Trained as a yoga instructor and regular pole dancing practitioner, Bimini uses these talents to emphasise the doll like character – find her in box splits or hanging upside down on a pole. Tommy played around with makeup and wigs when he first moved to London before leaving the city to travel around various parts of the world. Upon his return, Tommy remembers going back to his usual hotspots in East London and seeing an increase in drag performance and DJ'ing and thought, “I can do this, I want to do this”. Thus Bimini was born in February 2017. She entered the first heat of Lipsync 1000 and won a spot in the final (on her first ever performance) and since then, Bimini has performed at various club nights and festivals including Glastonbury and Latitude and is a self-taught disco DJ. Performances can range from sexy satirical politics to complete and utter nonsense...and sometimes up a pole.
Originally hailing from Nova Scotia, Canada, Colin became involved in circus and aerial performance when he moved to London. Teaming these talents and experiences with a love of drag, Crystal Beth was born three years ago. A talented performer who loves pushing boundaries and creating work that plays with ideas of gender and current politics, she is the brain behind Mariah and Friendz, a popular monthly drag party at Bethnal Green Working Mens Club.
Cybil War is the brainchild and alter ego of Mark Whistler. Mark mixes a love of rock music, big hair and CrossFit to create a a seven foot, gender bending drag character that has become one of London's most recognizable nightlife faces. Having performed across the UK and US, Cybil is the matriarch of a monthly club night, Cybil's House and regularly appears at shows across London.
Fanny Minka has been obsessed with drag since her very early teens. The soundtrack to Priscilla was the first CD she ever bought, a drag bar in Sydney was the first place she snuck into underage, and it was at the tender age of 19 that she started going out dressed as a drag king. Flash forward a couple of decades and she is now living her drag dream: performing at trashy clubs, wearing ridiculous outfits and married to fellow drag diva, Robyn Withawhy. She is also the world's only (well, that she knows of) drag queen travel blogger, documenting her fabulous adventures over on Minka Guides.
Troy has been dancing since he was three and worked as a professional dancer until the age of 27. He then trained in massage therapy, but missed the stage. In 2017 he entered Lipsync1000 as Freida Slaves and the character has evolved from just a great name in a wig to a powerhouse of drag whose career has seen her perform at Glastonbury, dance for Charli XCX and host the Gay Times Honours with Jinkx Monsoon. In the space of a year, Freida has become a beacon of strength for queers of colour, something she NEVER imagined or intended. The BAME community has embraced her, finding something they can relate to in a predominantly white scene. Infiltrating these spaces and being seen doing what she's best at is, she feels, her way of saying "hello person of colour, you too can be in this space, I got you boo”
Grace Shush is the hyper feminisation of Timothie and a character that allows them to explore feelings and emotions without repercussions. Grace has the mouth of a sailor, but the style and substance of a 50’s starlet, drawing inspiration from the era’s musical theatre. Timothie feels fortunate to have created Grace and for almost 5 years has graciously stopped Timothie from going insane through mental health and body dysmorphia issues. When summing up Grace, someone once said: ‘She’s beauty, she’s Grace... but also she is a hyper-sexualised bearded Adele’.
Holestar, a biological woman, has been performing internationally in the guise of a female drag queen since 2003. A belting vocalist, DJ of other people's music, writer of popular culture, promoter and Mistress of Ceremonies.
A former British soldier, brothel receptionist and dominatrix with an MA in Fine Art (from Central St Martins, London) who blurs the boundaries between gender, the avant-garde and mass entertainment, pop culture and the underground through music & performance. Winner of Best Drag Act at London Cabaret Awards 2105, Holestar has performed & DJed at events and clubs throughout the UK, Austria, Cambodia, Germany, Turkey, Hungary, Denmark, Los Angeles and New York.
After working as a contemporary dancer for years, Thom became frustrated with the limitations of the dance industry, especially regarding gender roles. Drag was always a secret dream job, and it was after an disappointing audition in January 2017 where Thom was asked to ‘dance more like a man’ that a post for LIPSYNC:1000 at The Glory came up. They decided to enter and the rest is history. Margo was created with reference to the old starlets of Hollywood such as Marilyn Monroe but with more of party girl Anna-Nicole Smith spirit. Playing on the edge of overtly glamorous and feminine looking but with a very forward aggressive energy many considered Madonna to have when she did Erotica in 1992 is where Margo’s character forms and plays with gender roles.
Robyn isn’t really the drag persona of Robin, she’s more like a rock bitch that he summons from the fiery depths of hell, using a spirit medium called “Jack” (Daniels). Once she’s taken over his body, a pole dancing, stage diving, sauce-pot wrong’un leads everyone around her astray.
Little Robyn grew up in Essex, looking at all the fabulous women around him, never quite sure if he wanted to be with them, or just be them. In the end he opted for both, and Robyn has been prancing around in dresses and kissing girls since she was a child. Now she has a wardrobe full of fierce wigs and heels, and a beautiful drag queen wife Fanny Minka.
Robyn’s been bouncing around the East London drag scene for over decade, queen of the stripper poles at Sink the Pink and Savage, and probably barred from a host of dirty basements. She’s the kind of woman your mother warned you about.
Shane first started using the nickname ShayShay at university when they were a radio DJ and event host. Later, when they started performing in drag, ShayShay was the name they continued using. Now commonly going by their stage name in and out of drag, there isn't much difference between Shane and ShayShay, other than a change of outfit. The Japanese side of ShayShay's family were forced into interment camps during WWII which resulted in their family pushing away and hiding their Japanese culture. In the photo ShayShay is wearing a kimono, a family heirloom that was hidden away for decades.
Inspired by infamous blondes who have torn up the world of celebrity by falling for bad boys and out of cars, Stella Meltdown is the trashy alter ego of Drew. A book publicist by day, Stella is the total opposite of Drew – where he is professional, switched-on and bookish, she is fun loving, messy and takes nothing seriously. Channelling larger-than-life blondes from Pamela Anderson and Courtney Love to Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith, Stella is a wannabe It Girl, famous for being famous. She came about quite organically – since his university days where he studied English and Drama, Drew has delighted in confusing straight boys, experimenting with makeup and fashion. Over the years a pair of heels or a wig were added until Stella just was. In recent years she was a finalist in The Glory’s Lipsync1000 competition and now hosts drag party 'Stella’s Meltdown' when she can be bothered. She’s also one of the faces of Toyota’s AYGO ad campaign and hopes one day to launch her own fragrance that will smell of beer sweat and shame.
Sue Gives A Fuck
Sue Gives A Fuck began drag life as a finalist on Rupaul's Drag Race UK Ambassador. It was her first time in drag, she was out of her depth and she didn't really enjoy it. She was, however, immortalised by Katie Price in the lines ‘Can I have a porn star martini? No? Ugh. Fine, my favourite's Sue’. Since then she's gone on to win The Glory's Lipsync1000 competition, host sell out shows including Camposphere and Play Date, and has performed with Charlotte Church and Ian McKellen. Now she's abandoned her adoring fans in cabaret and performs on the stand-up circuit, because someone has to educate straight people.
Taylor Trash is the brainchild of London-based creative John Brock. Growing up a child of the 80’s and 90’s on a diet of American TV, John became obsessed with the female characters in his favourite shows. A fan of all things Americana, Taylor is an over the top caricature of the Southern woman. She is also a heightened version of John’s own personal character traits and a space for him to take the piss out of himself. With a sense of humour that is campy and dripping in innuendo, Taylor is warm, sweet and welcoming … and very sex positive.
TeTe Bang is an infamous bubblegum legend in London’s underground queer drag scene. Her strong feminist point of view has been pushing the boundaries of what drag is and making people reassess the inclusivity of women in a predominantly male dominated space. Born to a working class single stripper mother, she has taken her upbringing and struggle and morphed it with her own queerness and campiness to bring Girl Power to all!