By Caoimhe Battault
On Tuesday the 18th of February, Miz Cracker brought her show American Woman to Cyprus Avenue, Cork. With host, Irelands own Victoria Secret, the show aimed to emphasise the importance of gay men and drag queens supporting women in a world where feminism is more important than ever. As Miz Cracker pointed out, much of the support for Drag Artists around the world comes from young women, and it’s important that the male community recognise and respect that. Through hilarious performance of pop song medleys, and beautiful video interviews of important women in Miz Cracker’s life, she created a heart-warming and insightful show without losing any of her brilliant comedic energy!
The show began with a series of photos of women, which had been given to Cracker by her fans from around the world and her own friends and family. This montage of female heroes was a shockingly emotional beginning to the show, not something I has expected from my conversation with Victoria Secret beforehand: “It’s about being a better ally to females,” she commented while doing her make up in the dressing room of Cyprus, “We take for granted that the gays and the girls support each other but then what is their language and how to we talk to each other… yeah you’ll see its really, really interesting to see what she comes out with.” The show continued to be emotional throughout, with Cracker really laying importance on what women have given her all through her life.
Some people may ask “Why should a man be able to produce this show about women?” which, I must admit, I questioned as well. But I believe the Ru Paul’s Drag Race star explained it well. She constantly reassured the audience that she would not mansplain feminism and at best she is “a man in a dress,” to directly quote. However, she felt that seeing as women raised her, support her and have given her everything she has it was only right to use her platform to create an alliance and community which respects and lifts up women to the same standard as her.
The issue of misogyny within the gay community has been discussed openly in recent years and Miz Cracker highlights the issues with this in a light-hearted yet insightful way. By using the mistakes Cracker believed she committed in the past, she created a PSA od sorts about what not to do as a drag artist. Discussing common complaints such as make fun of vagina and masking “sassy” as mean, the New York Queen also highlighted the importance of listening to women in the MeToo era and believing them. After preforming a “love song for the vagina” Miz Cracker then went on to say she wanted to step away from the issue of genitalia: “If you tell me you’re a woman than I believe you.” Highlighting that anyone who wakes up and says “I am a woman” is a woman.
Victoria Secret was a pleasure to talk to, making me feel comfortable and at ease when I was really terribly nervous. We started our chat about queer spaces in Ireland at the moment and the issue with them disappearing. Victoria believes that this could be the product of a good thing! “I think we are in an era where people feel comfortable not having to find their tribe as much. When I came out I needed to find other gay people… and over time people are just more comfortable in their own skin and don’t necessarily need to find a queer space!” She also pointed out the difficulty to running a business in modern day Ireland: “Real estate is so expensive in Ireland right now… so its hard to create a viable business if the people it’s for aren’t supporting it. Not that they aren’t supporting it o purpose… sometimes you just don’t want to go out and that’s fine!…you can see that its becoming more student focused on Tuesday nights and the crowd there I wouldn’t describe it as a queer crowd- but I think its great! Like you can really see that it’s just becoming a bar!” Many people don’t agree with this, and feel its an invasion of queer space, but Victoria made it clear that she supports this, once its respectful: “I think it’s great! As long as it’s not an “experience” like we are going on a day out the same way as like going to a zoo” she spoke about how that can be disrespectful “Don’t think hen nights should be the destination of a gay bar unless those hens are regulars of that bar. It kinda feels like you’re just too cheap to hire a stripper, just hire the stripper!”
We then spoke about Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and how the show can sometimes be given a lot of credit for drag, when drag has been its own form of artistry for years and has been very prominent, in American and Ireland “If your granny is integrated with Shirley Temple Bar on telly bingo every day than I think that says a lot about Ireland and we are… more progressive than we think just because we are old catholic Ireland.” We also chatted about the issue many people have with Drag Race, believing that its trans exclusionary. Victoria spoke about how trans representation is becoming much more prominent, with popular TV shows like POSE but that it still needs to improve: “While Ireland doesn’t have a lot of trans performers, America has loads, and it’s a huge part of their drag history so I would love to seem more on it, I can think of 5 or 6 off the top of my head that would be great. Hopefully they will come around to that… even female identifying performers… sometimes girls might not see it as on option because it’s not on tv but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in real life! There is a huge amount of UK female performers so yeah id love to see more Irish girls doing it!”
Finishing the interview, we spoke about the critique of Drag which questions its respect for women and femininity, with some people regarding it as an attack on both. “More power to anybody who looks at me and sees a woman,” laughed Victoria, “I’m celebrating femininity and I’m a really feminine boy underneath this too! At the end of the day drag is just clothing and make up, its just a uniform of the job.”
Victoria Secret then went on stage to perform a hilariously energetic array of songs and a strip tease for the history books, before welcoming Miz Cracker to the stage. Victoria’s sentiment of celebrating femininity was clear through out both performances. Chatting with others outside the show, it was clear other audience members felt the same way I did, that it was a refreshing, funny that not only was entertaining but used the platform to spread an important message.
You can see Victoria Secret hosting more Queens at DXP 2020, in Vicar Street Dublin. Tickets on sale here: https://www.ticketmaster.ie/dxp-2020-drag-explosion-tickets/artist/5303008