Celebrating Two Years

Today marks two years since the first Andro & Eve event at Cafe #9 with a screening of But I’m a Cheerleader. Last night we celebrated that anniversary in the best possible way, surrounded by the community we care so much about, at a special edition of A Reyt Queer Do.

When starting out, we had no idea we’d be producing events on the scale we are now, and we’re so pleased to be making space in Sheffield to celebrate queer culture. In the time since we founded Andro & Eve, the world can sometimes seems more hostile. Spaces where those often marginalised from the ‘mainstream’ can come together to celebrate and feel free, somehow seem more vital, and in a weird way, more radical. Our events are about creating a physical space where many different people can come together and enjoy culture that speaks to them. Welcoming new and familiar faces to the events gives us LIFE!

We want to say a huge thank YOU to everyone who has supported our work over the last two years. Whether that be through buying a ticket, pin badge, telling a mate about us, sharing one of our tweets, or contributing to our accessible ticket fund, you’ve helped this endeavour grow.

Special thanks go to our volunteers, without them we would not be where we are today. And one in particular who was our only helper for the first year of the venture! It has been brilliant welcoming new volunteers and building a team who help us create quality events that audiences love.

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Some of the Andro & Eve volunteer team with co-founders Rhiannon and Katherine

We also want to say thank you to the artists who have travelled to Sheffield to perform and brought such joy to our audiences. A special mention to Adam All and Apple Derrieres, creators of Boi Box in London, who supported us in creating our drag king cabaret – The Kingdom Come. And we want to mention the venues and organisations we’ve worked with who have given us space for free, or seed funding to cover event costs. These are Walkley Community Centre, Theatre Deli Sheffield, Broomhall Community Centre and She Fest. Thank you for believing in what we do and supporting our work.

We’ll be taking a break from running events over the summer, but we have plenty plans and much behind the scenes work going on, so watch this space for announcements about our future coming soon! You can also sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear news from Andro and Eve first.. Just sayin…!

Katherine and Rhiannon

 

 

Drag Kings: Lets break this down

We write this post because, yet again, the Drag Kings we work with have been done a disservice by the media. Sadly, this time it is Sheffield independent publisher Now Then that has pretty much failed to represent what a Drag King is while promoting our next event A Reyt Queer Do. While we’re very happy that the work we’re doing gets exposure, we cannot have the drag kings we work with be described as ‘women in men’s garb’. At best the phrase is reductive, at worst it is insulting.

If you’re sat thinking, ‘hey, thats what a drag king is right?’ then please read on.. Because that description does such a disservice to a scene that has traditionally embraced a wide range of gender identities, and often provides an outlet for creative expression for queer people who may not feel welcome in mainstream ‘gay’ venues. Yes, 19th and early 20th century music hall stars like Vesta Tilley or Hetty King were women impersonating men, but the UK Drag Scene now, is very different and so much more exciting. As London scene star Benjamin Butch puts it,

“A King show will overturn any expectations you may have, we are performing gender to introduce a position from which perspectives can be viewed differently”. 1

To break it down. You may perceive a person as ‘female’, but that doesn’t mean that is their gender identity. Ask before using a pronoun that misgenders a person. Many Drag Kings are trans, meaning their gender identity does not align with the one they were assigned with at birth. Generally a Drag King will perform as a ‘he/him’ on stage, but that does not mean they become ‘she’ offstage. This is similar to the Drag Queen scene where..

‘To many queens past and present, the distinction between gender performance and gender non-conformance is blurry, if it exists at all’. Alex Varman. 2

It is because of gender pioneers like Leslie Feinberg, Marsha P Johnson, Miss Major  and others, and the work of nights like Bar Wotever’s Non Binary Cabaret, and Boi Box’s weekly drag king open mic, that we have a UK Drag scene that plays with and critiques gender and celebrates trans identities. Our aim is to make a space for this wonderful scene to flourish in Yorkshire. To widen access and be part of the network of regular drag nights like Kingdom in Brighton that help spread the appeal of Drag Kings outside the UK’s capital city.

And while we’re at it. The term bio queen is gross and misogynistic. As performer Rodent Decay said ‘If you’re policing the genders of the performers you’re completely missing the point of drag’ 3. This piece also gives a broader discussion of the importance of women to the evolution of the drag scene.

For further reading we recommend this piece published earlier this year in ID magazine. Get to know and love some of the most interesting Drag Kings on the UK Scene right now! Sure to be appearing at a Sheffield venue near you sometime soon..

1.. From ID Magazine piece by Caryn Franklin.
2… From The Establishment piece by Alex Verman.
3. Taken from an article ‘No Girls Allowed on HSKIND by China Deathcrash