Taylor Mac: This Shiz is Bananas!

When Taylor Mac wants to shock, it’s a not how you’d expect. Take, for example, his front cover for New York’s gay guide, Next Magazine. On it, Taylor is the epitome of panstick goddess; blonde locks, big lashes, beautiful contours.

Not one trace of the drag freak look that is synonymous with Taylor Mac.

And therein lies the charm: when Taylor sets out to shock, he does so in the most sublime fashion possible. After all, his entire career is built on outrageous looks, shock and chaos his cabaret currency.

“My friend Karl Giant did the photograph and make up for it,’ Taylor said of the Next cover he did in collaboration with America’s Next Top Model make up artist supreme.

“And we’ve done a couple of photos of me but for this one we wondered what would be the most shocking thing for me to do. And I’ve gotten so much response from it – finally he does pretty drag!

“Everybody always wants to make me pretty. In the club world, all my friends they always want me to do pretty drag because it’s part of their heritage and all the drag queens look at me like ‘Eeeewww, what’s wrong with you? Why would you wanna look crazy?'”

You see, Taylor is internationally recognised for his particular sense of drag. Some call it kooky drag. Others circus freak drag. Even car crash drag. And then there are those who call it as it is, those who truly understand the craft: drag, as it should be.

After all, drag queens are the clowns of our community. They are the ones who highlight our tragedies, who remind us of our humanity. Or at least they should, when they aren’t obsessing over looking like Madonna or Britney or some other unobtainable iconic long shot of beauty.

“Fairly early on I wanted to take what I felt on the inside in relation to a topic,” Taylor said of the process of actualising his distinct look. “So I’d take a topic and write down how I felt in relation to it and from there it happened to be both feminine and masculine and chaotic and crazy and highly theatrical.

“And it had this real drag aesthetic to it. It was conceptual in that way. And when I saw myself I saw this person who usually hides behind the t-shirt, because when you’re walking down the street in t-shirt and jeans, that’s when you’re hiding. You’re blending in with everybody else.

“But on stage you wanna stand out, so that’s when you gotta show what you normally don’t show. And I felt like that was what I was doing: I was showing part of myself that I don’t normally show. It was really liberating. And wonderful.”

The result has seen Taylor travel the world as one of New York’s best cabaret exports. And when Taylor lands in Perth this February, he’ll be giving Becks Music Box audiences twice the love.

“I decided I wanted to sing other people’s songs and play around, but I still wanted to talk about something” Taylor said of one his engagements, the weirdly titled Taylor Mac In Concert: Comparison is Violence of The Ziggy Stardust Meets Tiny Tim Songbook.

“So I decided to talk about comparisons and why people compare, and it’s really quite fascinating and is not something people really talk about. So I’ve based the show on Ziggy Stardust and Tiny Tim, two people who seemingly have nothing in common. I decided to do songs only they’ve performed. It’s been a hoot. I’ve come to respect both David Bowie and Tiny Tim for what they do.”

His other show, The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac, will be followed by a mega after party starring Rex Monsoon, Ash Baroque and a splattering of Perth drag queens. Taylor’s advice to burgeoning drag superstars?

“My advice would be find out who you are without praise or blame or fear, to paraphrase Quentin Crisp. So it may be that you’re a glamour princess and people think that you’re not a glamour princess and they tell you you’re not. But if that’s who you are inside, then that’s who you are. Be it. And it could be that you’re a freak drag artist, like myself.

“So just find out who you are without praise or blame and be it.”

Taylor Mac appears at the Becks Music Box as part of the Perth Festival. The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac happens Friday February 18 with monster drag after-party. Taylor Mac in Concert happens Wednesday February 23. Both shows are at 8pm. 

Scott-Patrick Mitchell, image Drew Geraci


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