‘My life as a deafblind drag king’
The scene fades in from black. A ring light is positioned before a mirror. After a few seconds, it’s switched on, revealing the silhouette of a person sitting wearing glasses.
Max is sitting in front of the mirror on a stall in a small dressing room. They have tied-back blue hair and have many tattoos across their arms. They lean towards a full-length mirror to start applying makeup.
Max: A drag king can be anything. Typically, it’s someone that plays with masculinity in, like, a theatrical way. So it doesn’t really matter what your gender is, you can still be a drag king.
Now Max is sitting on a tall stool surrounded by studio lights. They are holding a mobility cane and has a rainbow jacket placed on the back of their chair. They speak to an off-camera interviewer.
Max: It’s just about playing with gender norms. You can even be a gender–neutral drag king, which is what I class myself as.
We cut to different shots of Max applying makeup, smiling and selecting makeup brushes to use. Then we cut back to the interview.
Max: I’m Max. I am genderqueer. My day-to-day job? I am a scientist.
Out of drag, my pronouns are exclusively they/them, in drag, I sometimes dabble with he/him.
Max picks up a pair of hearing aids, adjusting them before fitting the aids to their ears.
Max: I am deafblind. I have hearing loss. I have tinnitus. I have a rare condition called visual snow syndrome. I also have a disability called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which results in chronic pain and joint hypermobility.
Max continues to apply their makeup in the mirror, contouring to emphasise more masculine facial features.
Max: So I bring my deafblindness into my drag by the colours, my glasses, mobility aids, like walking sticks, in there. Sometimes I integrate British Sign Language into my performances and videos.
People react to a deafblind drag king a lot of the time with horror. I get the occasional, like, “How do you paint your face if you can’t see?” A lot of the mainstream drag that you see is based on comedy, so I do like to bring that my drag. I try to make a joke about it because people view deafblindness as quite a serious thing.
Max tests colours from an eyeshadow pallet on their arm. Selecting a pink, they apply the makeup to their eyes. Next, they add blue eyeshadow and mascara.
Max: Being part of the queer community and the deafblind community and when that intersects is really positive and really fulfilling. When you find the open–minded queers, it’s great.
I love Pride Month and it’s just such a wonderful month to feel seen. But we can’t forget that Pride is a protest. It’s not the safest to be a queer person like me.
Blue and pink pigment is then applied to their chin, they use a makeup brush to create a blue and pink goatee and moustache. Max puts on black lipstick.
Max: When I’m trying to raise awareness of deafblindness, queer issues, gender issues, other disability issues, I feel like my entire life is raising awareness. Because of my experiences, there’s part of me that wants to be louder, prouder, queerer, transer.
Max puts a rainbow flower crown on their head and pulls on knee-high leather platform boots and a body hardness. Finally, they pick up their walking stick and start to dance with it provocatively, rehearsing their drag performance.
Max: It’s really important for disabled people to be engaged in Pride because there’s nothing about us without us. Disabled queers very much exist. I am one.
We have to make our queer spaces more accessible. We have to have sober options. We have to have a whole range of things that don’t exclude everyone.
Now the walking stick doubles up as a pretend microphone for Max. They rehearse lip-syncing on stage in the empty theatre, mouthing the words and looking directly into the camera.
Max: Part of the queer community is not excluding anyone based on what level of gay they are or, like, whether they’re trans or intersex or asexual. We cannot exclude our own and preach inclusion.
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