Aktualisiert: 14. Okt 2020
A few weeks ago, I got to know that the queer-feminist drag performer collective Venus Boys would shoot a video at the queer bar SILVERFUTURE in Berlin-Neukölln. I wrote an email to Camp Dad, one of the drag performers of the Venus Boys and asked if I could come to take some photos of their shooting. In that request, I also asked for a short interview. Luckily, I received a positive answer - yes!
Venus Boys are extraordinary because they are Drag Kings or drag performers who refuse the concept of genders at all. They perform in very refreshing and inspiring ways.
Camp Dad wrote to me:
The Venus Boys started at SILVERFUTURE in May 2019. Since then, more and more people joined the group, and we started making shows together at different venues. We began working as a collective at the end of 2019, making shows all over Berlin. There are over 30 members of the Venus Boys collective at the moment.
Wow! What a great way of doing performance art.
The stages where Kings*, Queens* and Inbetweens* can perform drag are limited in Berlin. The concept of the collective has been working very well - only after one and a half year since the collective was formed, Venus Boys have become well known in the Berlin queer scene.
When I arrived at SILVERFUTURE, Nicolas Haumann, a musician and video producer, was already there. The owner of the bar arrived shortly to open the door for us. We started preparing the equipment and stage. A few minutes later, the Venus Boys came. We were welcomed with kisses from afar. All corona-rules were observed.
The shooting of the show starts on time, without any other audience than a couple of members from the Venus Boys. I got a private show! Great! The show started with Camp Dad doing a Simpson's performance: One artist playing four characters.
Camp Dad's performance was followed by La Papi Patacon's with an anti-colonialism, anti-violence performance, and a plea for global equality.
Dick Hunt gave us a lesson in opera and talked about the question of what it means to be a star.
Twat Butcher parodied a hip hop lover who wants to fuck. The pictures tell more than my description...
Nicolas Haumann made the Video.
Camp Dad explains on how Venus Boys has been welcoming new members,
Performers came to the shows and asked if they could take part. Venus Boys is an open platform. If you want to get involved, you can! More performers joined the collective after our drag workshops, and after performing at König our Monthly show for first time Kings.
Venus Boys understand their art as
'queer politics which is rooted in feminism', and 'drag artists who paint from the palette of performative masculinity'
according to their Facebook page.
Entertainment! Drag! Kunst!
Camp Dad says.
The first show at SILVERFUTURE after the pandemic lockdown in August 2020 has also been filmed. It had the theme "FUCK TERF*s!" (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) and criticised J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, and the authors who avoided from addressing transphobia issues. Venus Boys wrote on their Instagram Account:
Using feminism to be transphobic goes against everything we're trying to fight against, so TERFs shouldn't be called feminists, because if your feminism excludes minorities, it's not feminism. Camp Dad suggested renaming TERFs to TERBDs (turds), Trans Exclusionary Radical Biological Determinists, and we couldn't agree more.
I asked Camp Dad what kind of feedback they received from this show.
Generally positive. I feel like since most of our audience is queer we are all on the same page. It was less about convincing people that TERFs are bad because we all know that already. It was more about trying to heal after people that some of us looked up to (looking at you JK) turned out to invalidate our existence.
If you like to get more information about the J.K. Rowling / TERF debate, you can check out Daria Kinga Majewski's article 'Rowling beim Wort nehmen' and also an interview with Judith Butler about the topic.
Venus Boys are in a good place in Berlin. Camp Dad says,
We enjoy what we do and want to share it with people. It turns out other people love what we love and share similar politics. It's lovely that we have a bit of a following now.
The Coronavirus pandemic brought a restriction for Venus Boys as it did to many other performers and artists, but Camp Dad remains positive.
We started with digital shows which were an adjustment, but there are a lot of tech-focused people in the group who are super talented and made the shows popping. Now we have the opportunity to perform on some stages again, which is refreshing, but unfortunately, a lot of the plans we had for 2020 are still being postponed. Corona has been a challenge, but it has also brought up a lot of opportunities that wouldn't have come along if not. For example, the Venus Boys will be taking over the Overmorrow immersive exhibition at Wilde Renate in October.
So if you would like to support Venus Boys, come to their shows and book your ticket!
All pictures by Hilde Muffel