As almost a continuation on from my last post – a list of some of my favourite transgender and non-binary drag artists that you can read here – I contacted the wonderful Marla Sinner, who is a drag queen located in Glasgow and frequently performs at Trigger AXM. Marla is genderqueer, and identifies with both she/her pronouns and he/him pronouns. You may recognise her as her out-of-drag self from Channel 4’s Genderquake, a show that featured people of various genders and sexualities all living in a house together. In this interview, I asked Marla about her experiences on and outside of the show, what drag means to her, and how drag has impacted her journey in discovering her gender.
DUYL: Firstly, how long have you been doing drag for? When/what was your first performance?
I’ve been doing drag for about 2 and a half years, maybe a little more? I got into the scene through my drag mother Bearberry McQueen (who has been my friend since high school.) Bear got me my very first gig! She was hosting a little night in Edinburgh and I remember performing “Goin’ Down” by The Pretty Reckless. I took off my clothes and the rest was history!
DUYL: Why did you want to get into drag, and what or who were your initial inspirations?
I hadn’t ever thought about getting into drag before getting involved with my local scene as I thought it was only for boys! I couldn’t believe that there was a place for me to perform and be accepted! I’ve got loads of inspirations from all over the place but my biggest are Trevor Brown’s art, Charlotte Sartre (porn star) and Amanda Lepore!
Marla making her performance debut at Trigger (2016) with her emo mix
DUYL: You were involved recently in Channel 4’s ‘Genderquake’. How did you find out about the show, and why did you want to be a part of it?
They contacted me over twitter and we emailed back and forth. I was so nervous because I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of national TV but I thought my responsibility as a queer person to provide more representation was more important.
DUYL: Do you think it brought about important discussions people may not have had exposure to prior to the airing of the show?
I’ve seen first-hand the effect that it’s had. I’ve watched Cis Male friends explaining gender and trans issues that they learned from the show and educating one another and at that moment I knew we had done something right.
DUYL: What kind of reception have you received since- mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both?
I was on so briefly that I don’t think I’ve had any real negativity, but I did have a few people contact me to say they were happy to see someone like them on TV and not being painted in a terrible light!
DUYL: Are you still in contact with the people you met on the show?
Yeah! I keep in contact with all the guys, but being all the way up in Scotland means it’s difficult to try and meet up- but I’ll hopefully be down in London soon and have a little brunch! I’m missing Saff and Phoenix so much!
DUYL: As a nonbinary person who does drag, do you feel your experiences in drag, and the reasons why you do drag are different to your cisgender counterparts?
I’m aware that I’m a minority within a minority but the Glasgow Drag Scene is genuinely one of the most accepting places for genderqueer performers. I get the odd comment but I’m not the kind of person that takes a stranger’s opinion to heart. I do think my reasons are different than my cis friends though, because I enjoy the androgyny
that drag gives me; whether I’m presenting as a boy or a girl in drag no one can really tell what I am underneath because it’s so exaggerated, which is a luxury I don’t get in everyday life. It’s a way of feeling comfortable in a body I very often have difficulty accepting and embracing.
DUYL: Finally, what is your favourite thing about drag?
My favourite thing is truly just getting to create and share with people. I put so much time, money and effort into my drag but having people enjoy that makes it so worthwhile. Plus all the amazing friends and family I’ve made along the way!