I was shocked to find these drawings, hiding in a sketchbook I thought contained nothing of importance. (I also found an unfinished unterwegs that I genuinely don’t remember drawing!)
As you can see to left, the drawing of Le Pustra and Mama Ulita was mostly finished. The others were more scribbly, just pencil. But now that I have actually seen the live performance of the Kabarett, I felt I should try finishing them up.
Why had I abandoned them?
Was it frustration that I can never really capture the wild glamour of these performers, in their soft silk robes and stockings, with their immaculate white tie and tails?
I feel terrible frustration trying to convey exactly how it feels to see Mama Ulita perform. When she whips off her bob wig to reveal her own seal-slick black cap of hair, the audience gasps. I honestly want to be David Downton, at moments like that. This drawing doesn’t have a fraction of her elegance.
But it is a valid attempt, and it was worth finishing to see where it went, so I don’t know why that didn’t happen. Maybe these drawings just overtaken by events, as they say in the military? It’s been a tough year or two, healthwise.
I’m working hard to figure out how to add color to my drawings, but I am still so unsure. I used markers, pastels and a water reservoir brush to add color to several of them. Color is such an important part of the visual design of the Kabarett, with bright wigs by Nina Budden Hair and pale ostrich boas. I don’t really know how to convey these soft vintage shades alongside the graphic black and white tuxedoes.
Sometimes hints of color, little accents, are best.
Sometimes I try to do more and don’t feel I succeeded. The trouble is, even terrific photographers can’t capture everything the eye sees at a show like this. There are a thousand moments, each so beautiful, and I can’t show you them all.
Still, I do my best, and I hope you enjoy this tender moment with Le Pustra and Lars Schwuchow, above.
I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, who make it possible for me to document Berlin’s queer intersectional performance scene and release the artwork free to all.
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.
I know, there haven’t been any unterwegs for so long!
And some of my Patrons as well as many of my followers really enjoy them; I’m sorry I haven’t been making them. Unfortunately the last nine months or so have just been a mess with my health, and I haven’t gone anywhere except to doctors, most of whom are walking distance or one subway stop away. I’m feeling better now, and have had a little bit of energy for going to things. And since we live where all the doctors are but none of the nightlife is, that means riding the U-Bahn!
Above, a lady with gloves I saw while heading to the Drink And Draw Berlin boat for a Dr. Sketchy’s/D&D Berlin session. The guy behind her was just staring at me. Not like people usually stare at me – because watching someone draw is vaguely interesting, or because seeing someone draw on the subway is unusual, or I am wearing a giant fly made of Swarovski crystals on my head or whatever. This guy was staring at me like I was one more random event in a day that didn’t make sense. I felt for him, but I liked the way his arm was just hanging there, so I drew him anyway. I do not believe the bottle was his; it had rolled from a different part of the car.
This guy was very aware that I was drawing him.
I had caught his eye when I sat down across from him because I swung my bag around to get my sketchbook out and accidentally bonked the lady next to me. I apologized loudly in my American way, saying “Entschuldigung! Tut mir leid!” while the lady snorted and everyone looked over. Then I saw the guy sitting back so serenely, and started drawing him. And he realized it, and actually posed! Which happens occasionally, but not often, on the U-Bahn.
I splashed out and bought a front-row seat for the ten-year anniversary of Berlin’s PorYes Awards.
The awards were held this year in the beautiful HAU1 theater of the woman-run Hebbel am Ufer. Since 2009, the PorYes award (which is a sparkling, open crystal oyster!) stands for respectful portrayal of all genders and a diverse sexuality.
She created the first lesbian adult film production company, Fatale Media. I absolutely adored seeing clips of her filmsfrom the 80s – they are funny and playful and sexy, with safer sex education and wonderful characters.
Dr. Loree Erickson is doing such important work in empowering queercrips.
Her critical academicwork is in practices of resistance such as the “sexy femmegimp politics of flaunting it”, she makes art that fearlessly articulates desire for historically forbidden bodies, and she was wearing leopard and metallic fucshia which is my favorite.
Wayne Yung talked about the reactions he got when he began bringing feminist gay films to festivals.
He said it was not initially an easy concept to sell! I highly recommend a visit to his site to check out his deep catalog of video art – he has produced an incredible body of work.
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!
I was so excited when Cadbury Parfait told me she was producing a fantasy-themed Extravagant Shambles!
There is nothing I love like some dark fantasy and mythology – mix with burlesque and drag acts and you get pure entertainment mithril! (lil geek joke there for ya. Very little.) This Shambles was in the Club at Kunsthaus ACUD MACHT NEU, an epic Berlin queer art space. I don’t get to Mitte much, but I had been previously been to an art show there with artist and curator Suzanne Wegh – they are the source of all my art event hot tips. Above, Alan Lee (but not THAT Alan Lee) as Alexa Spread did a terrifying, grasping Gollum, then rose into a column of light and became Galadriel.
Darell Haynes, Louisiana born but now singing his heart out in Berlin, sang “I See Fire” from the second Hobbit flick.
He just filled the room; it was one of those moments that makes the hairs on your arms stand up. He is an actual trained professional opera singer, which is not what you are expecting in the club where the entrance always smells a little like piss. Darell was on German tv show Supertalent last year, with the group Mo’Voce! You can see them sing and get a standing ovation here.
I always love to draw her. My friend and Patron Daniel Paikov was there taking pictures with his usual sang-froid, managing despite the fact that the ACUD Club is a dark cave of bloody light. We nightlife documenters find a way!
She was an ethereal Persephone who stripped down for a deep dive into the darkness of Winter. I so much appreciate coming to her productions, as they are always inclusive and amazing, and she makes sure I feel welcome and have a seat.
I didn’t draw everyone at this show – and I didn’t draw my muse Noéline la Bouche for an unusual reason. Noéline performed as the Goddess “Yemaya – mère de l’eau”, and I was so captivated by her dance choreography and costume for this number I actually decided to just watch! But you can see photos of her doing the act!
This has been a terrible year for me healthwise as a disabled artist, and crowdfunded support is the only way I can make this work and release it for free. I’m so grateful to my Patrons, who make my work happen.
I went to celebrated cinema Babylon Kreuzberg for the screening of my friend Sadie Lune’s new movie from Maria Beatty, Spit and Ashes.
The whole scene was like Planet of the Invasion of the Sexy Young Queers. Basically no-one had any gender binary and no-one had any hair on the sides of their head. If I hadn’t already been dizzy and exhausted I would have been knocked into a chair by the sheer gorgeous life and freedom of the young people. I drew this blue-haired artist while they were waiting in line.
Everyone was looking fantastic and fearless.
While waiting I got to IRL meet and talk to Sara Niedorf, co-founder of Final GirlsBerlin Film Festival, Berlin’s marvelous showcase for horror films produced, directed and written by women. As the crowd lined up for Spit and Ashes, I saw an old friend from SF! He had wanted to let me know he was in Berlin but decided to respect my mentioning health issues on my twitter. It was so good to hug an old friend who understands the challenges of my life with disability.
When Sadie arrived, she was in full Witch regalia and breathtaking! Director of Production Jo Pollux was gleaming like a fey creature, spooky and ethereal.
I hugged them and then I had to leave, because I have been having a crushing Hashimoto’s flareup; I was feeling like hammered shit. I am so damn sad I couldn’t see their gorgeous movie on the big screen with that amazing crowd. But I had already done one event that day, live-drawing Shine Louise Houston teaching film-making, and then gotten mixed up and gone to Moviemento (where I had drawings on display this year btw!!!) instead, and had to cab it to Babylon. I was in spoon debt already.
I didn’t have any trouble at all accepting that I’m an alcoholic and an addict and that addiction is a lifelong, incurable disease. But I am having a terribly hard time accepting that autoimmune illness has permanently changed my life. Every time I get better I think I’m better for good; every time I get worse I feel consumed with guilt and grief for the work I’m not doing and terrified of a future where I may be able to do less and less.
If I didn’t have this monthly financial support, I wouldn’t be able to work at all. The flexibility of being supported by Patrons is so critical to my work. I’m writing this flat on my back on the couch on a Halloween night when all over town my friends are doing beautiful events I desperately want to document – but at least, thanks to my Patrons, I can take the time to scan, edit and post these drawings of cool young folx, and share them with the world.
Got a chance to paint my precious mama on this visit, which was her longest so far.
I did a drawing on each of her previous visits – here and here– and this time I wanted to try a painting even though I have very little strength these days.
Painting takes a lot out of me physically, and with the endless upper respiratory infections I’ve had on top of my Hashimotos this year, I am always at zero physically.
I was willing to go into spoon-debt and suck up the recovery time for this though!
We did the sitting on the last night of her visit, so I could collapse after taking her to the airport the next day.
Here she is sitting in our salon, reading her Kindle.
Books are such a huge part of my mom and me’s life together, from the beginning. We shared books when I was a teen – Ed McBain, Dean Koontz, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, and most of all Dick Francis. In the 80s, we read every single thing every one of those writers had written.
And every Christmas there were stacks of paperbacks under the tree for me, all the Anne McCaffery and Isaac Asimov and Larry Niven and Heinlein. (Problematic as hell, but geek teens took what they could get!)
My mom still reads voraciously and lightning-fast, though I no longer do – I am too tired most of the time.
She discovers new writers, or new to her old writers, and burns through their work. The Kindle is great for her, as it is for another power-reader loved one, my Friend-Muse-Patron Barbara North.
My mom wore this pink striped sweater earlier in the week, and I asked her to wear it again for the sitting, I thought it would be nice against the pink model chair and the purple of her Kindle.
I need to do some finishing work on her sweater and paint in her hands properly, but I’m well satisfied with the likeness and how much I got done in the two-hour sitting. I took some photos of her jewelry and sweater for reference – as you all know, I never take reference photos for faces.
Even if I didn’t have a principle against it, I got enough of that on Star Trek!
I did some work on the backgrounds of two other paintings in progress the next day, even though I was dazed with tiredness – the portraits of Shakrah and Cadbury are now much closer to done. Having a palette with fresh paint on it was too much to resist!
I’m so grateful to my Patrons (including my mama and mom-in-law!) for supporting my work and making paintings like this possible.