If you go to Vancouver and say the name Ponyboy in any queer or artistic circle, it’s likely your fellow queers and artists will know exactly who you’re talking about. Drag king culture thrives in Vancouver. Since arriving on the local (and international) scene, Ponyboy has elevated a tradition built on amateur nights in seedy lesbian bars to David Bowie-worthy glam rock performance art. Here Whiskey Blue* talks with Ponyboy about how it all began and how it’s all still going.
WB: How did you first get into drag?
Ponyboy: In 2007 I moved to Vancouver from Ladner (deep in the surburbs of Vancouver) and started bartending at Lick, Vancouver’s now-defunct dyke bar. The manager at the time was quite supportive of community folks coming in and throwing their own events, often one-offs and fundraisers, so when my birthday rolled around in January of the next year, I proposed doing a benefit party for Greenpeace. A good way to draw a crowd seemed to book entertainment, and although I didn’t know the first thing about drag, the manager put me in touch with one of Vancouver’s ‘veteran’ kings who could help connect me with local performers and book the show. (This king, Sammy Tomato, ended up designing an event poster for me as well which turned into a wonderfully unexpected crash course in event planning.) Sammy ended up daring me to perform in the show myself, and while I was totally nervous and had no idea what I was getting myself into, I accepted the challenge. I kept it a secret from all my guests, even my girlfriend at the time. The event ended up bringing out quite a big crowd, we raised $700 for Greenpeace, everyone loved the show, and a month later, Sammy approached me about teaming up (along with Majik and Edward Malaprop) to start a new monthly drag king night. We had our first “Man Up” that March.
The girl’s small. Her hair is endless and black. Cascading her back. Yards of it. She comes into the stand and turns. Her head just reaches over the table. Her fingers are tiny stars. Flitting over the surface of things. Sunshine snaps at her fingernails. Breaks there. Her wrists twist away. She wants to play with everything. She moves her digits over the cloths and the tables. Her mother comes up behind her. Takes her fingers. Stops her. Whispers something. Tries to steer her away. The girl moves off towards the gold cabinet. Her eyes are dark, restless. Her fingers flit again. Her mother follows her. Tries to contain her. It doesn’t work. The girl moves again. She returns to the first place. The entrance. Her fingers flit again. This time, they discover the pearls. She picks up the bracelets and the beads. The mother comes up a third time.
“Please, that’s enough.”
The girl goes back to the pearls. There are little studs inside a shell. Green, blue, red, cream, white, silver. She twists over these now. Her fingers lifting. She drops them suddenly. Handfuls descend. Scatter. Bounce over the cloth.
“Stop,” the mother says.
This time the mother grabs the girl’s hands. She twists. Tries to release herself. The mother holds fast. Pearl studs are still rolling. I move over to them. Continue reading →
Out here in Nassau County, Long Island most of the people that take public transportation are people of color, workers earning low wages, and immigrants on their way to work or to school. When he was a teenager, BoyBoy aspired to be white, but if you had asked him then, he’d have had no idea what you were talking about. Instead say Hollister and say blond. Say not wanting to smell like the fish his sister just cooked before he went to school. Stress the soft TH sounds instead of the hard T, F not P: First, myTHology, THree, PHoenix, Four, Full, Faggot, teeTH, Five. Even Filipino, which he is. ConFused, too. He hated taking the bus.
This month, the writers of Private Commission were prompted by the “normcore” trend (google it if ya haven’t heard). The discussion of normcore triggered one of our members to have an intense flashback to her 12-year-old self living in suburbia. And so we found our perfect writing prompt: the Shopping Mall. Something all suburbanites exist in relation to, and that even urbanites have at least a passing familiarity with. What follows is the first in a three-part series generated by the writing prompt. Continue reading →
Your silence will not protect you. Your silence will not protect you. -Audre Lorde
Those words were rolling around in my mouth as I read through the several blogs posts and articles chronicling the untimely suicide of Karyn Washington, founder of For Brown Girls. Immediately, my bones stiffened like concrete and my heart began to thump briskly behind my breasts. This response is familiar; it arrives as a protective warning and physiological memory of trauma. Karyn and I had never met but in solidarity we carried a kinship of resonant armor. I was distressed by the reality that the darkness of mental health had taken another one of us. A darkness that has also visited me.
Here lies a complicated conversation surrounding silence. It truly demonstrates the abstract space of the individual, the shadow that seals the body in tight, discoloring our vision and making the world appear to exist very far away from us. A scrim used to protect and sometimes hide behind, but cannot always be removed. Her singular experience may never be able to be examined. The private qualities to mental illness. The darkest parts of vulnerability. The depth of repressed pain. These complexities are difficult to pattern or describe. They are real. Real enough that her emotional experience most likely existed like a violent, but familiar enemy lashing out unexpectedly. As we have seen. Some may believe that Karyn had the resources and belief systems she needed to rise above social naysayers and tackle the dense barriers inside of a black female body.