My friend Sadie’s co-parent Kay invited me to his T-Birthday party.
It was my first time at a t-birthday! And I got to see someone get their first testosterone shot too, isn’t that cool? Lots of Berlin queer legends were in effect, that’s Laura Méritt of the PorYes Awards dancing above.
I asked the guy sitting next to me if he knew Kay and was there for the party. No, he said, he was here with his friend to talk to the club about hiring the space, and they decided to have a beer. “This is the third beer…” he said. Everyone in Berlin is wearing berets lately!
Here is the birthday boy, in his first outfit!
He wore multiple looks during the event of course.
The MC was lovely Kaey, in the most incredible Space Invaders graphic houndstooth dress.
She sang a tender version of “Creep” for all us weirdoes 🙂
I saw Ceven perform for the first time since he began his drag journey.
He slipped out of a bunny onesie (he’s in the drawing below), then a flight suit!
I was drawing loose and sketchy, because the light was mostly red light and fog machine.
And I was squished up with the beret guy and his friend on a squishy low couch. My pens kept falling between us and then I had to fish them out from under his butt.
Above with the swan and the shark, Sasha Kills, whose performance “MALIBU” included both inflatable beach gear and blood.
Trying to get ahold of credits and links for the other four performers, so if anybody knows, let me know!
As usual these drawings are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) for all to share and enjoy!
In addition, I release the copyright on each drawing to the performer shown and they may use the drawings for their own profit and pleeeasssure in any way they choose. Thanks to the chill-as-heck venue Festsaal Kreuzberg. And to Bushwig for having me!
As a fat, queer, disabled artist, crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free.
To become part of a community is to open the door to loss.
Community is fluid, like gender, like cities. A local business becomes a hub of connection and expression, and then economic forces make that business unsustainable. Ludwig was a bar, an art gallery, a performance space, a clubhouse for Queer Berliners. It existed from 02.06.16 to 21.09.19. And it was located in a rapidly gentrifying area where construction has overshadowed street access for the last several years.
You don’t know sad til you’ve heard a trans girl sing “Send in the Clowns” on the last night of one of the safest spaces you’ve ever known.
Everyone tried to save Ludwig, but it’s not always possible to keep things. Running a business is brutally hard on small business owners, and when we love those people, when they’re artists and part of our community, we want them to be saved too, not used up fighting economic and structural factors. It’s a story that happens every day in every city, and it breaks our hearts.
The last night at Ludwig was very fucking sad.
My husband came out with me, only the second time he came out in 2019, because, well, it was important. He even dressed up super spiffy. As always, Maurus Knowles brought me my favorite non-alcoholic beverage, Ostmost Apfel-Minze schorle. Ceven Knowles made a playlist that began with “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing”, so perfect it seared my heart. Dear Transophonix, above, made a processional to the stage and performed a dirge, filling the space.
The tables out front were packed, spilling over, with colorful queens and queers and non-binary folx. We were all heavy with loss, and yet also exuberant, because of the community we have. Dan and I left pretty early, because my heart was spilling over too.
Thank you, Maurus and Ceven, for giving me the place my life in Berlin truly began.
The costumes and sets, by Le Pustra, are simply unbelievable, and everyone has such a unique look. I knew I would be spoilt for choice!!
My jaw fell off my face when I saw Charly Voodoo walk onstage.
As a corset-lover (some might say hardcore corset fetishist!) I am always thrilled when I see someone seriously corseted. Charly Voodoo‘s whole look was incredible, with a lace head mask, high heels and stockings. He is absolutely beautiful (as is his husband Pierre-Louis, a dancer and plant-lover who revealed so much more! Sadly, I did not have a chance to draw Pierre-Louis!)
Charly’s corset is by Maxim Blotin, a young corsetmaker in Paris. It looked like satin coutil to me but apparently is made of something called leather satin! It is either corded or quilted, with gores, and a near-pipestem cut. I did not draw the details accurately, which pains me, but I think I got the shaping right. His mask, by Kevin Jacotot, was a thrilling challenge. I was so excited I really couldn’t even see straight.
Next to Charly above, singer and violinist Shir-Ran Yinon, woman of exquisite profile and fabulous pipes.
And then Charly Voodoo started to play the piano!!
Amazingly!! He is FAB. And then, I got a special ringside seat for a spectacular vignette involving Julietta la Doll, one telephone, two glasses of water and no pants!! But I can’t share anything about that on this family-friendly blog, so here’s another drawing of Bridge Markland!
You can find out what wild theater and performance Bridge is up to right here, if you’re not too afraid of her wild soul!
Her staging of an 1890s “German screwball comedy” with puppets is coming up Nov. 29- Dec. 1, at another beautiful Berlin venue, the Theater im Delphi.
Legendary Berlin performing artistReverRso, who unrolled a strip of cutwork cotton from his mouth as he danced in a lace dress, then blindfolded himself.
That is producer and torch song singer Le Pustra above, limned in glitter.
Wigs for the show are done by hair artistNina Butkovich-Budden. They are devastating, characters in their own right. The suberb stage managing is by Lady White Rabbit, who I hadn’t seen in ages – she took very good care of me! I can’t imagine this immersive, improvisational show anywhere but at the historic and louche Ballhaus Berlin. This theater is a treasure, and I hope it will be preserved as a venue for some time.
Speaking of which, I gotta get to Clärchens Ballhaus before they shut it down. Should I draw tango or swing?
As always, I’m incredibly grateful to my Patrons on Patreon. I couldn’t show up and tell these folx’ stories without the monthly financial support of my Patrons, especially as my health has declined this year. The subway was inexplicably just not working when I left Ballhaus tonight, and the fact that I could hail a taxi to go home means so much. I might otherwise have spent hours figuring out a sequence of trams, buses and trains to get home – I have before, and it’s brutal on my body and on my psyche.
I will be increasingly asking for disability accommodations at venues, as I simply can’t move, stand, or do the things I once could.
Le Pustra was kind enough to let me in the theater early to find a seat that was comfortable for me. Pure luck that I picked the one where Julietta was going to be making a very naughty phone call – my luck, that is! I was also very grateful to both Mayliss – stage manager Lady White Rabbit – and Julietta la Doll for warning me about the water in Julietta’s performance and making sure my art wasn’t damaged!
The lineup was astonishing, and I stayed in my stageside seat by the piano, supported by kind stranger Arthur, for a good six or seven hours. There was no way I was leaving before drawing Hungry and Betty Fvck!
Check out Amber Alert, above! What a stunner! Amber talks about the early days of Brooklyn’s innovative drag scene and her drag journey here on Huffpost.
Rhama is so lovely!
An elegant nonbinary singer and dancer, you can see them on youtube here. Their latex dress is by a designer named Florian Máthé.
I’m still catching up from the beginning of June, with events like this finissage at the Schwules Museum. It was a beautiful event for the closing of the incredible “Objects of Desire” exhibit, with two live performances.
Above, gorgeous model, makeup-artist and advocate Layanna Flaxx shows off her purple hair. I was sitting with my friend Sadie Lune and saying how amazing her makeup in her latest film was, and she was like “Yeah Layanna did it!”.
I am not much of a play-goer, but Robert Farrar is one of the cleverest lyricists I know, so I was confident his drawing-room comedy would entertain! The set for the play was ingeniously designed and the venue was as old-school Berlin as it gets, full of character – the house dog has his own chair.
Drawing the actors was wonderful. I loved the range of expressions and the luxurious amount of time I had to draw everyone, especially after Berlin Burlesque Week when I had an average of four minutes to capture each performer! Above, left to right, Achim Krämer, Robert Farrar and Tom Eggert.
I had a marvelous time!
Above, Robert Farrar and Zofia Huddon. Working on these I felt great freedom from my usual pressure of perfectionism. There is a giddy spirit in them usually absent from my work. My art is increasingly political (all artis political) as I have more spoons available to be furious and horrified about much of the world. So it was nice to take a break and draw some comedy.
Above, Achim Krämer in final costume, or nearly final.
There was so much quick change gender-blender dressplay towards the end, it was hard to keep track!
It’s the monthly financial support of my gorgeous Patrons that allows me to make documentary art of Queer Berlin and distribute it for free.
If you can help to crowdfund me, by joining my Patreon or just by buying me an alcohol-free beverage or passing a hat when you see me out at a club, I will love you even more!
SUCH a beautiful party for the official release of the gorgeous coffee table book of photographs by Jo Pollux and text by Sadie Lune.
It was held at cherished all-inclusive queer art gallery/bar/clubhouse Ludwig Berlin in Neukölln, and featured the artist and her muses! The book showcases Jo’s Film Noir aesthetic and Sadie’s dark prose. In attendance were models from the book, including Sadie,Bishop Black, Manon, Finn Peaks, and more.
There was a wonderful crowd of queer Berliners, plus visitors from all over.
There were performances, including this one by Finn Peaks.
Finn had pink eye makeup on making him look even more like Anne Carlisle in Liquid Sky!
And afterwards the crowd retired to the back room to witness à la carte acts of dominant play by Sadie, always a huge hit.
My live-drawing of queer Berlin’s art scene is courtesy of my Patrons on Patreon whose monthly financial support allows me to make this free art available! You can help for as little as a dollar/euro a month.
I’m working on some more drawings from the back room, but since they are sensual and involve passionate interactive I am not creating them for my Patreon. You will be able to find them on my other website, the one with my name, soon 🙂
The minute I met Berlin burlesque producer and performer Cadbury Parfait, I wanted to paint her picture.
She is exceptionally beautiful, and she has fantastic personal style, grace and power. She performs and produces wonderfully naughty, sexy, political, intersectional burlesque shows. Plus, she’s funny!
So we scheduled a sitting, which is challenging because she’s one of the busiest people in the Berlin burlesque scene, and got started. I had a fine large canvas given to me by one of my Patrons, and it is thrilling to be working large again.
I really prefer to paint on the biggest canvas possible for a home studio, so the subject’s figure is one third to one half life-size. We settled on her 1930s style Voodoo Vixen gown in sapphire blue velvet for Cadbury’s outfit, and kept everything else simple and natural.
As sometimes happen, I lost the thread during the process – I made good headway to capturing her likeness and proportions, then screwed it up. This is an almost inevitable part of the portrait painting process; there’s generally at least one point where I almost have it and then lose it, either by accident or design.
So while much of the structure you see is a good foundation, the essential spirit and humor of Cadbury’s personality is currently AWOL. Working back in forth in that uncertainty of recovering the good bit, tolerating the fact that you’ve fucked it up, is part of the process. Keats called our ability to tolerate uncertainty the “negative capacity”.
Whistler used to wipe down the canvas to a shadow after every sitting, then start over.
His process was the process of seeing the sitter and painting the sitter, and he stopped when he did it enough times to hit the sweet spot, know it and call it. I often have to explain this to my sitters, who may be startled that what looked like a really promising portrait has turned weird, or awkward, or lost an arm. Cadbury, who has a striking way with words, got it instantly and phrased it this way: “It’s like the Rubik’s Cube – you have to destroy it in order to fix it! You almost have it except that one orange square – but you have to break the whole thing to get that part right.”
That’s exactly, exactly how it is. I’m used to it, so I trust the process.
and all profits from this show are going to an LGBTQ+ cause! And it’s at beloved East Berlin queer clubhouse Monster Ronsons, which has some shitty A/C, which is 200% better than 99% of Berlin venues! Some of my very fave local performers will be onstage, like Noelinela Bouche, as well as breathtakingly gorg out-of-towners like Betty Fvck and LilyLustre, both of whom I’ve drawn once and been simply CRAVING to draw again!
Plus, there’s a mooning contest which is pretty exciting!
So I was psyched to see this show and I was not disappointed.
Behind a secret door was a long room with a stage, lined with a very long dining table.
I took a seat on the sidelines so I could draw. (I learned my lesson about trying to eat and draw simultaneously at a LOTR-themed immersive dinner theater event put on by the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild in 2005 or 6!) Most of the Full Moon attendees were in ’30s finery and there was a crew of gorgeous performers in really wonderful Shanghai 1930s style. That’s stage manager Maylisss standing in the background above; she is an expert at vintage clothing and costuming.
A fierce and hungry being appeared, climbing over the tables!
The performances opened with The Hunger Artist, a Butoh performance by Hikaru Inagawa of Theater-Butoh company 4RUDE.
Below, more lovely audience and attendees!
That’s Chika, above helping with the mooning-hole!
and below with legend Vanessa Jupiter in the long gloves who is a trained massage therapist and was doing massages for the guests.Viva and her crew are so vibrant and sexy, and there is a kink vibe to the shows so I feel right at home!
This was one of those events where I wanted to draw everyone a dozen times.