I’m gonna admit that I’ve been late to the Drag Race party. That’s RuPaul’s Drag Race to you queens.
I love all things fashion and theatrical, so it’s no surprise that I’m in awe of RuPaul and her incredible talent as a drag artist. So why haven’t I watched every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Time, mumming, other programmable commitments? I really don’t know.
But now, I’m deep into season three and have so much love for Raja. Like RuPaul, Raja is beautiful in and out of Drag. Raja is the full fashion package. The walk, the creativity and the look. No spoilers, I don’t know who wins this season and don’t tell me. It better be Raja though. She’s not playing.
In the U.K., do I know anything about Drag other what I’ve seen on TV and the odd G.A.Y visit? Not really. So, when a friend proclaimed that he was about to step into the Drag World, I couldn’t help but think. “Gurl, you is fashionable, you is creative, and you is smart. You’ve got this”.
Introducing ‘The Nightbus’. Self-proclaimed ‘Queer performer, media artist, academic and troll’.
THE NIGHTBUS: I started Drag for a bit of fun but as I went on over the last four years, it’s become a great way to think about issues of the heart and mind and get them across in a less conventional way to diverse audiences in theatres and clubs. I’ve never really had run-ins with people because of it but I move in quite liberally minded audiences so it’s not really a concern for me. As for matters of race, it’s good to be part of that representation on stage, being brown, large and unapologetically taking up space.
Drag can be whatever you want it to be. Historically it’s been an outlet for gay men to tackle their unacceptance in society but as points of cultural significance have shifted, it’s become a way for so many people to say what they want to say, live unapologetically and make people think or feel.
SARETA: The Nightbus, your name brings connotations of a dirty stop out trying to get home, (we’ve all been there). Am I right? How did you come up with your name?
THE NIGHTBUS: Haha it came from old conversations with a friend from bygone days. It really made me laugh so when I started drag, I just used it. There’s really no meaning behind. It was more because I didn’t want a personified name, but a name given to an object.
SARETA: What are common misconceptions that you face? Are there any terms that people outside of the Drag World should not use?
THE NIGHTBUS: Drag has massively taken off through Drag Race over the last ten years, and with that comes its appearance and exploitation in mainstream media. Everyone, from Toyota to Smirnoff have been riffing off the queer narrative as a marketing tactic in the last year, which is obviously great. BUT while you use our stories to celebrate your brand as being inclusive, you surreptitiously end up glazing over bigger issues in our community, such as nearly a quarter of homeless youth being LGBTQ, or suicide in trans* teens being disproportionately higher than their straight counterparts.
Not a day goes by on my Facebook where I don’t see a friend posting about being harassed by people in the street, beaten up in broad daylight, struggling to make ends meet. Hopefully, as part of the celebration of queer culture, straight people will also see the not so shiny side, and those people who are still not 100% accepted in society will slowly become more humanised and cared for by the people with the power.
SARETA: Has your circle been supportive of your choices?
THE NIGHTBUS: I’m lucky to have a supportive family, and my friends are of the same circle and creative – they get it. Outside of that, it becomes a bit more difficult to comment. The scariest people are men in the street.
SARETA: Makeup. Talk to me. I didn’t start wearing makeup till I was about 20. After studying at London College of Fashion and working at MAC. Even after that I still needed to practice. Your face is beat to tha gods, how did you manage?
THE NIGHTBUS: Why thank you! It’s practice. That’s it! If I look back on how I used to do my face, I cringe, but the important thing is there is no one way to do makeup. All of it is expression and all of it is bad ass! The problem comes when we get compared to the girls on telly because audiences want to see that kind of mug, which means that really cool and out there make up becomes diluted to appease audiences. I think we should celebrate it all.
In terms of products, high street makeup is INSANE these days – really good quality compared to ten years ago. I rely on clown white greasepaint a lot, using it as a primer for my eyes so my eyeshadow pops. Also, my face doesn’t fully work until I stick on a massive lash. I get mine hand made from Malaysia because they last for ages and are super huge. But weave shops are a good place too to hit up for a thick long lash.
SARETA: Do Fairy Drag Mother’s exist? Have you had anyone take you under their wing?
THE NIGHTBUS: Not really for me, but I try and do that for others. Performing can be really fucking scary for some people and I always wanna be supportive of others because there’s room for all of us in this world of performing. Plus, I hate the bitchiness that can come with competition. I don’t have time for that.
SARETA: I need more sequins in my life. Where is your fave place to get outfits and shoes?
THE NIGHTBUS: HAHA! I can’t give you all my secrets! A lot of my shoes are custom made because I have big boat feet, and as for outfits, I try and make a lot of them, or buy online and then add things to customise them. Rhinestones are EVERYONE’S best friend!
SARETA: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to sashay into the world of Drag, perhaps starting a new career?
THE NIGHTBUS: Don’t think, do it, then do it again, and again and if you like it, carry on. Do you, not what you think people want. Be bold, be brash, be vocal. Don’t compare yourself to others! Same goes for a lot of things in life really!
SARETA: What’s next for The Nightbus? Where is her next performance?
THE NIGHTBUS: I’ll be performing on 12th May for a Eurovision Screening Party at The Glory in Haggerston! We do it every year and its super fun! Come on down!
Want to follow The Nightbus? Well, I’ve got you. Here’s her life in squares – Instagram: @the.nightbus
Photo credit: Dan Govan