DRAG QUEEN COLLAGE ARTIST: ROBYN

by Leoni Blue


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Art & Culture May 2, 2017

ROBYN WITHAWHY COLLAGE ART NOCTIS MAG

ROBYN, WE LOVE YOUR MULTIMEDIA IMAGES, WHAT MAKES YOU CREATE THEM?

Thanks! To be honest I started doing them as I’d reached a bit of a dark place in my life and it was incredibly therapeutic to sit down, and spend time being creative and peaceful. Creating them helped me dig myself out of a hole and come up for air again. I guess we all need to stop every now and again, and create something to nourish ourselves.

WE SEE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS IN EACH IMAGE, IS THIS SOMETHING YOU CONSIDER WHEN CREATING?

Yes and no. I think they’re all different characters, but they’re also all me. When I was small, I was obsessed with the TV show Mr Benn. It’s a 70’s cartoon where a guy walks into a fancy-dress shop and when he puts on the outfit (fireman, spaceman, gladiator) he then gets transformed into a world where he really is that character. Drag feels a little like that. Today Robyn you’re going to see what it’s like to live as Robyn, if Robyn was a latex clad saint, or if Robyn was an oil disaster or if Robyn was a Vegas showgirl.

DO YOUR CHARACTERS REFLECT YOUR DRAG LOOKS IN REAL LIFE?

Yes, in essence they are an extension of my drag looks. They all come from my drag looks, and are an illustration of what it would be like if my look could extend from my body and envelop my surroundings too. They are the scenes that I imagine myself being in when I pull my drag looks together, the mood board that surrounds my looks. I guess they are a picture of what’s going on in my head when I’m prancing around in clubs feeling fabulous.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAV LOOKS/PERSONALITIES AT THE MOMENT AND WHAT INSPIRES THEM?

I have been OBSESSED with a Serbian pop star called Jelena Karleuša for years. To be completely honest I think most of her music is terrible, but her looks are E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Every American pop star has ripped off her looks at some point, but she just keeps innovating and being a total fucking legend. Honestly, I want to die and come back re-incarnated as her.

ROBYN WITHAWHY COLLAGE ART NOCTIS MAG

DO YOU AND YOUR WIFE, FANNY FROM STP, EVER DO MATCHING LOOKS? AND IF NOT, WOULD YOU?

We did once, we dressed as air hostesses for a friend’s birthday party, super short, super tight dresses, little scarfs and even matching bright red Virgin Airways style coats. It was really fun as a one off, but to be honest, I think the reason that our marriage has survived is that we don’t do matching looks. She’s fabulous and I adore her more than anything, but we both know we’d end up spending all night trying to settle on which look to do, and completely miss the party. We’ll leave the matching looks to the fabulous Twinnies.

DESCRIBE YOUR FAV LOOK, WHAT WOULD IT INVOLVE?

When I started drag, a lot of my looks were inspired by the awesome powerful Essex girls that I grew up with. Sex positive women who stand tall in a world where society looks down on them. I’ve got huge respect for them. As my drag has developed I’ve gone from blonde to black hair, and moved to more of an Essex fetish rock bitch look. I guess also inspired by the wonderful women I knew back in the dirty rock clubs of Southend and Raleigh. So, my fave look would be part latex, part ripped band t-shirt, part leather harness, thigh boots, gold chains, big hair, dark eyes, blood red lips and a JD and coke. I’ve realised recently that Robyn Withawhy isn’t a character that I put on, she’s not a performance, but rather she’s a rock bitch that lives within me, she’s part of me. All drag queens have their rituals, it might be the order that you put on your make up, or something else. I have a weekly ritual where I summon Robyn Withawhy to take over my body with a spirit medium called Jack Daniels.  She then plunders my wardrobe and bursts out onto the streets of East London.

ROBYN WITHAWHY COLLAGE ART NOCTIS MAG

WHAT DOES GENDER MEAN TO YOU, WHAT’S YOUR STAND POINT ON IT?

When I was going through puberty I was taken to the doctors because I’d started developing breasts, just small lumps behind my nipples. Apparently, it’s quite common and they eventually just faded away, but the talk the doctor gave me at age 13 or so has stuck with me all my life. She talked about how there’s just a tiny X or Y that separates sexes and that we carry both within us. Ever since then I think I felt a little fluid in gender and enjoyed that. I’d cross dressed since I was a little kid and it was quite comforting to think of me being a little bit female It’s a peculiar thing being a drag queen that fancies women. I see amazing women in the street and I think to myself, do I want to snog her, or do I want to be her? I’m in love with her, she turns me on, but I want to feel what it’s like to embody her, to live as her. To feel what it’s like to be admired by people in the way that I’m admiring her.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF ONE GENDER?

I think of myself as dancing across gender boundaries, I flirt back and forth with various genders and feel like I embody being male, female or a little of something else entirely at times. It’s fascinating, thrilling and comforting at the same time. My drag name it just the female version of my real name, Robin with an i, it’s all just versions of me. I define as queer and it’s made me realise just quite how fragile and constraining it is to be a “straight man”. There’s so much pressure on those boys to conform to such strict tropes of masculinity and sexuality, there’s so much internalised fear of stepping outside of incredibly small self-defined rules. You see it on the beach, where men parade around with puffed out chests, but live in mortal fear of wearing shorts that rise above the knee for fear of being thought of as gay or flamboyant. I meet them in the street when I’m in drag, and there’s so much repressed sexuality, raging hormones come to the front and they don’t know how to handle me, “Do I want to fuck the drag queen, or kill the drag queen because she’s opened up the fear in me that I might be a little gay”. It’s a fucking tragedy.

 

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