There’s something rather special about the atmosphere of the Spiegeltent at Perth’s Fringe World.
Pack that tent with a bunch of fabulous drag artists and burlesque queens, and that positive atmosphere increases tenfold.
Playing ringleader in the Spiegeltent, dressed in tight black corset and 10-inch heels is Perth drag darling BarbieQ. Well, darling may not be the most useful adjective since some of the talk that spills from Barbie’s lips are more ‘dirty sailor’ than ‘demure debutante’.
Suffice to say, a show hosted by BarbieQ is always good value, and in the latest incarnation of her Sinsuality series, dubbed Sinsuality 3: Noir, patrons are presented with an array of astonishing acrobatics, ambiguous role-playing, and absolutely awesome cabaret.
It’s no wonder BarbieQ and Co won the Best Circus Award at last year’s Fringe festival.
The seven deadly sins never looked so fierce…
Interview by Annette McCubbin
Hi BarbieQ. To begin with, I have to say I adore your makeup. Your eyes, lips and contouring are all on-point, and as a ‘woman’ you are beautiful. Who does your makeup?
I do everything myself. The [process] is me just listening to music, getting into the zone, and deciding what I’m going to do. No show will ever have the same face – I change it all the time.
How did you learn the craft of dressing and performing in drag and burlesque?
All from practice! At 18 years of age, I was watching others and learning makeup skills. With a hunger for performing, I applied myself and did the best I could to try and achieve my goals.
The ‘Sinsuality’ series is your brainchild, including the latest: ‘Sinsuality 3 Noir’. Tell us about the beginnings of the series.
This is my third Sinsuality instalment with the amazing team at Kinetica. I had always wanted to do Fringe World [but] never knew exactly what I wanted to do. I bounced some ideas around with my boyfriend, Karl Kayoss, and once the idea ignited we presented it to the Kinetica offices. They loved it and, as they say, the rest is history!
Is there any major financing involved in staging such a slick production?
Financially, it’s backed by ourselves. Unless you get an agent or company that wants to take the risk and take you around the world, you’re pretty much on your own, I think. But it also allows the freedom of not having to answer to anyone else’s wishes but our own.
It’s a treat to be presented with a mix of sexy pole dancing and acrobatics, strip burlesque and aerial stunts – and by guys and girls of all persuasions. Did you intentionally arrange to have such a diverse group?
Yes, I hand-picked exactly who I wanted from the beginning. When I originally pitched the show to Kinetica, I had already cast who I wanted in the first draft; nothing changed from the vision I had. Kinetica certainly had to help me understand the apparatus that people used as I wasn’t overly familiar with it then, but I am now… So, I definitely have more involvement in the selection of the acts now. I didn’t promise them money because in this industry you never know. I promised them fun, respect, and that I would do anything in my power to make the show as great as possible.
Where do you draw performance inspiration from?
Inspiration is everywhere. I knew I wanted to be in a circus show after my first trip to Vegas. I saw 10 Cirque Du Soleil shows in eight days, and I was hooked!
Karl Kayoss is brilliant in his boy-burlesque performances, and I can see why he won the title of Best Boylesque. How does one receive such an arts award?
Karl Kayoss is amazing. He just entered and he won. It’s an annual event he thought he’d have a crack at – and he was incredible!
You juggle different jobs by day and night, as most artists do. What else do you do in the arts industry?
I’m the entertainment manager at Connections Nightclub. It’s like my home. We’re an amazing colourful family and I love them. I also have another group called Drag Diva Spectacular and this year we had our first ever Fringe. We’ve been nominated for Best Cabaret, so I’m very proud.
Those high-stacked red boots you wear in the last act of ‘Sinsuality 3 Noir’; while so fabulous, they do look like a hazard! Indeed, injuries while dancing in such a physical show are common. You yourself performed with an injury recently. How do you do it?
When you’re full of adrenaline, you can’t necessarily feel it, but you are aware of it. Those boots are ridiculously high and they are a challenge but, let’s be honest, they’re fucking cool!
The soundtrack for the show is inspired, from lovable Kylie to in-yer-face Taylor Swift. Next up for you at Fringe is ‘Vogue: The Madonna Circus’, inspired by another wonderful diva. What’s in store for audiences at that show?
A lot! Madonna is the most iconic female pop star of our time. She broke all the rules and paved the way for all the big pop females of today. The audience can expect a massive 70-minute soundtrack, loads of costumes, even more shoes, big circus acts, group acrobatics, and lots of singalong and dance moments.
Finally, BarbieQ: three words that define your life?
Creative. Crazy. Lovely.
‘Sinsuality 3: Noir’ is on at De Parel Spiegeltent in the Pleasure Garden, Northbridge until Sunday 18 February, 9.40pm nightly.
‘Vogue: The Madonna Circus’ is on at the Big Top in the Pleasure Garden, Northbridge from February 21-25, 10pm nightly.
Tickets to both shows are available through www.fringeworld.com.au. But get in quick!
Stage photography by Annette McCubbin.