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DirtyFilthySexy is Turning Ten

20 August 18 words: Caroline Barry
photos: Tom Morley

Being goth, punk or alternative on the LGBTQ+ scene can be be disappointing; the endless pop nights and dance acts can be relentless if you’re more Marilyn Manson than Marilyn Monroe. In many cities, folk from the LGBTQ+ community can find a scene to fit their taste, but thanks to a string of closures in Nottingham, there isn’t much of a selection. Thankfully there are DIY movements, creative ventures and collectives popping up to revive the landscape, and none come more lively than DirtyFilthySexy. The clubnight turns ten this year, so we had a word with founders DJ Greyskull and Glitterhawk...

Image: Tom Morley

Where did the name DirtyFilthySexy come from?
DJ Greyskull: Things have changed over the last ten years, but it wasn't always acceptable to be yourself in a lot of places around Nottingham. I was never a fan of generic gay bars; being gothy and grebby, I often didn't feel welcome in the usual camp-pop or funky-house venues. Myself and several friends always felt like we were dirty, like we were filthy scum to everyone else. We were, and we were proud of it. To us, we were sexy. DirtyFilthySexy represents everyone who feels excluded, unwanted or feels like a freak. Be yourself, you are sexy. Live it.

How did the first events kick off?
DJ Greyskull: I previously co-ran a night called Magenta: the darker side of pink. It was a place for people who didn't feel comfortable in gay bars and who didn't feel they could be themselves in regular places. After that finished, there was a hole in the Nottingham scene, and I decided that starting an alternative after-party for Pride was the first step in filling it. After the first event, I started introducing bands and live acts into the mix.

Do you remember your first performance, Glitterhawk?
Glitterhawk: My whole life has been a performance, darling! My first drag gig was at a DirtyFilthySexy event at Spanky's in 2016. I was really nervous and performed a lip sync to a mash-up of Hellraiser quotes, songs from a band called Combichrist, and Aphex Twin’s Come To Daddy. At the end, I threw packets of Monster Munch from a homemade Hellraiser puzzle box into the audience, much to their delight. I was told my performance scared people, but I took it as a compliment. I always want to shock and push boundaries. People have come to expect the unexpected.

Who’s been your favourite DirtyFilthySexy performer?
DJ Greyskull: There’ve been so many over the last ten years it’s really difficult to choose. I’d say working with the RuPaul's Drag Race queens has been a highlight. My particular favourites to date have been Alaska Thunderfvck and Sasha Velour, London's Virgin Xtravaganzah and Adam All, Lydia L'Scabies and Hungry’s performance back in February.

Where do you see drag going in the next few years?
Glitterhawk: It’s taking over the world! The floodgates have certainly opened since Drag Race started, and we’re lucky to live in a more tolerant world where drag will continue to break down the barriers faced by the LGBTQ community. It’ll make it stronger and bring people together.

DJ Greyskull: In the early days, it was mainly friends and punters from previous events that came to our nights and we tried to have at least one live act each month. Eventually, we opened this up to include performers, cabaret, burlesque, drag, and loads more. We always tried new things and took risks to see what people like. We now attract a younger and more diverse crowd than we used to and it really gives us motivation to keep going.

What do you reckon to Nottingham’s LGBTQ scene?
Glitterhawk: What scene? Ha! As with any city, there’s definitely a big and vibrant LGBTQ community, but unlike other cities, we have a limited selection of dedicated gay venues. To me, it seems a little odd that Nottingham doesn't have any clubs or bars like Manchester, Leeds or Birmingham. Perhaps people here don't feel the need, and are just as comfortable going to regular bars and clubs. But I think Nottingham needs more dedicated gay venues.

Glitterhawk: With the loss of places like Queen of Clubs and NG1, there’s been a bit of a resurgence in the growth of DIY, punky LGBTQ collectives like Shady Cow and QTPOC Notts. There’ve also been pop-up queer events like QueerFest, a weekend music festival at JT Soar, plus quiz and cabaret nights at bars around the city. I'd say Rough Trade, The Maze and Spanky's have been a beacon for these nights and have been supportive of the queer alternative. The Drag Race stars coming here to perform has also been instrumental in bringing the LGBTQ crowd together here in Nottingham.

What drag performers inspire you?
Glitterhawk: I have a real eclectic taste when it comes to drag performers but I do have a love for the kooky, spooky, punky and arty queens like the Boulet Brothers, May May Graves, Valentine Anger, Drag With No Name, Pinche Queen, Meatball, Dusty Ray Bottoms, Dis Charge, and Anna Phylactic, to name just a few. I'm lucky to have worked with some of these queens and of course my DirtyFilthySexy sisters Nana Arthole and Marilyn Sane are a constant inspiration.

What’s your favourite memory from over the years?
Glitterhawk: There’ve been so many, but we recently hosted Drag Race star Aja. We had no idea what she had planned, and after her final performance she asked for a volunteer to come up on stage. She chose a guy, and requested a shot of tequila from the bar. She then offered to take the shot from the volunteer’s foreskin! The crowd went wild and, after a little hesitation, he happily obliged, whipped his member out, and... Bam! One shot of tequila downed! I’m sure that’d never happened in Nottingham before and I doubt it ever will again.

Is there a particular “Nottingham style” of drag?
Glitterhawk: Each city is different and has its own thing going on. Everywhere has its club kids, comedy queens, female drag queens, singing queens, look queens, and drag kings. There isn't a “Nottingham style” of drag; it’s a smorgasbord of all the different types. I'd say that there's definitely a little something for everyone, and we come together as a family. Those who drag together stay together, as they say.

DirtyFilthySexy presents The Boulet Brothers Dragula Tour at Nottingham Contemporary on Sunday 2 September, 6.30pm. Tickets are £20.

DirtyFilthySexy website

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