Edinburgh Rugby look ahead to European clash with Newcastle Falcons

Murrayfield_Stadium_edit credit to vclaw

Edinburgh host Newcastle Falcons at BT Murrayfield this week. (Photo Credit: Vclaw via Wikipedia)

Edinburgh Rugby will face off Newcastle Falcons in a double header in the Heineken Champions Cup, with the first match coming on Friday night at BT Murrayfield.

The European expedition is a welcome break from the Pro14 where they have lost their last two matches against Munster and the Dragons respectively.

The Scottish side will be looking for back to back wins in the competition after their emphatic 40-14 win against Toulouse earlier this season.

Scrum-half, Henry Pyrgos was optimistic ahead of the clash and spoke of Edinburgh’s formidable home form.

He said: “The group is wide open at the moment so this double header coming up will be big, if we can go out and play well and get a win it’ll put us in a good position.

“They have a lot of quality, we’re going to have to play really well and expect Newcastle to bring their best game.

“We want to make it as uncomfortable as possible for away teams.

“We’ll get the chance to play in front of our home fans, it’s really exciting. I’ve always thought it’s an awesome place to play.”

Head coach, Richard Cockerill spoke of the impact that returning International players have had on the squad.

Richard Cockerill all smiles ahead of Falcons clash. Photo by David Ronney

Richard Cockerill all smiles ahead of Falcons clash. (Photo Credit: David Ronney)

He said: “It’s been good to get them back and get them integrated back into the team.

“They will be involved at the weekend and will all play a big part.

“It’s great that we have so many guys playing for Scotland and obviously Viliame Mata with Fiji but with the injuries that we’ve had its hurt us a little bit. But that’s life. The season is very much alive for us.

“If we can get two wins it puts us in a great position to qualify. There’s no reason if we get it right that we can’t do it.”

The plight of Hidden Door

The winner of last year’s “Best Cultural Event” at the Scottish Thistle Awards, the not-for profit Hidden Door Festival is in dire need of funds.

Edinburgh is a deeply creative city. There’s always something going on, a festival or a show or a gallery opening or a theatrical event – always something, right up to the Fringe Festival itself. Hidden Door Festival is one such event, and it’s a pretty good one at that. Hidden Door seeks to give a little limelight to lesser known performers and artists, as well as putting on a few big acts to make sure there’s a hell of a show.

Hidden door CREDIT - Tom Parnell

Photo Credit: Tom Parnell

The non-profit, all volunteer festival’s final distinction is its reclamation of unused and derelict spaces around the capital. This came to a head last year when the festival resurrected the old Leith Theatre while the festival was on, which also paved the way for the theatre to stage several events during the Fringe Festival during the summer.

All funding from the event goes back to the contributors and to funds future festivals. Hidden Door has made amazing progress in utilising old, forgotten parts of the capital. All this could be lost, however, as the organisers are struggling to make the money needed to put on the festival next year.

Originally, the goal was to raise £80,000 between August and December. However, as the end of the year approaches, the festival has only managed to raise a quarter of its goal. There’s two options: if the festival raises its initial goal, the annual 9-day event goes on as planned. If at least £40,000 can be raised, there will be a Hidden Door “weekender” – the same promotion of emerging artists, the same fascinating venues, but across a smaller timescale.

Hidden door 1 - CREDIT TO Tom Parnell

Photo credit: Tom Parnell

Essentially, Hidden Door needs your help. One can either donate directly on their fundraising website, or you can attend the Hidden Door Christmas Art Sale this weekend at Skylight Cafe. The sale, which takes place on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th will feature 200 artworks donated by supporters of the festival as well as the emerging artists that have been part of the festival in past years.

In conclusion, while the capital has a lot of cultural events, losing any of them is a blow to Edinburgh’s unique reputation. Also, none of the shows, galleries, and gigs can take place without a little bit of support being thrown behind small-scale artists – this is exactly what Hidden Door exists to do. So please, support this festival in any way you can. It’s a pretty worthy cause, and when it’s on next year, you’ll be very happy that you did.

 

Foodbank usage set to rise as Universal Credit rolls out in Edinburgh

Foodbanks in Edinburgh have raised concerns over the controversial roll out of Universal Credit as over 10,000 local tenants are set to be moved to the new system.

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Foodbanks prepare for the incoming rush of service users

The Trussel Trust, who funds a network of foodbanks, have recorded an increase by nearly a fifth of all users in areas where universal credit has recently been rolled out across the country.

Despite the Scottish Conservatives maintaining a positive attitude towards the introduction of Universal Credit, December is predicted to be one of the busiest months on record for local foodbanks.

What is universal credit?

Universal Credit is a combined payment of six different kinds of benefits;

  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Income support
  • Housing benefit
  • Income based job seekers allowance
  • Income related employment and support allowance

Why is it now a problem?

Since the roll out of this new benefit system, people have had to wait up to five weeks for their first payment.

Consequently, this has left families unable to pay for basic living costs and leading them to fall further down the poverty line.

Despite the government claiming there will be funds in place to support the roll out, recent evidence that more people are falling into poverty has triggered several MP’s to call for it to be paused.

Bethany Biggar, operations manager at Edinburgh North West Foodbank, claims all foodbanks in the local area are prepared for the worst.

‘We are expecting to see an increase in both young people and families since the Trussel Trust have reported an 18% rise in usage around the country.’

‘As of yet, since the roll out only began on the 28th here, I couldn’t comment on a rise but we are certainly hoping for the best and prepared for the worst.’

With Christmas time known to be a difficult time for those living in poverty, many will claim the roll out is poorly timed and an unnecessary strain on already struggling families.

 

Edinburgh City boss admits injury scare ahead of cup replay

John Menzies credit to Ross

James McDonaugh looks ahead to tonight’s cup replay. Photo by Ross Cowper-Fraser

Edinburgh City manager, James McDonaugh admitted that his side could do without tonight’s Scottish Cup replay as they fear potential injuries.

City travel to the Highlands to play Inverness Caledonian Thistle and while a cup run is of importance, their focus will also be on retaining their two point lead in League Two.

McDonaugh spoke ahead of tonight’s third round replay.

He said: “Because we are struggling with injuries, tonight’s match is one that we could do without. I guess so far it’s okay because we keep winning, but at some point we’re going to be really struggling if we get a couple more injuries or any suspensions.

“We haven’t been able to give any of our first team players a rest over the past six weeks, so we’ve had to stick with the same core of players for our last few games. Of course the team keep winning games but we could easily lose a player or two to suspension, and then we’d really be in trouble.”

City drew the first meeting 1-1 at Ainslie Park against John Robertson’s side and hope they can do it again as they travel to Tulloch Caledonian Stadium for the 19:45 kick off.

They’re coming off the back of Saturday’s 2-0 win against Queen’s Park. A performance that certainly pleased McDonaugh going into tonight’s game.

He added: “I thought we were very good in the first half, playing on the front foot and at a good tempo. We always looked like a threat going forward.

“In the second half, the game turned very scrappy and we didn’t play as well but to be fair, we were 2-0 up because of a lot of hard work in the first half.”

“Overall, the players deserve a lot of credit for securing another three points.”

Inverness CT come into tonight on the back of only their third defeat of the season, and their first in the league. They lost to 3-2 to McDonaugh’s former club, Falkirk over the weekend.

But despite that setback, the Highland side will be fancying their chances to progress at home to lower league opposition.

And McDonaugh expects it to be a very tough task against their Championship opponents.

“For us to have a chance against Inverness, every player for us must perform at their best, and we need them to have an off day, and a bit of luck as well. We would need all three to go our way. Of course we can win, but the chances of it happening are very minimal.”

Should Edinburgh City come through tonight’s match, they will be rewarded with a home tie against Lowland League side East Kilbride in the fourth round.

Interview: Ayshia Taskin

Edinburgh artist wants to reduce food waste and global hunger – one corn puff at a time.

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Artist Ayshia Taskin (Photo Credit: Rachel Lee)

Meet Ayshia Taskin. She’s a mother, an artist, a wife, a student – and now, thanks to her recent project, an engineer.

With her installation performance art piece, Paradise Corns, Ayshia hopes to prompt visitors into conversations about the impact food waste and modern day corporate consumerism has on world hunger. Paradise Corns – the name of the machine Ayshia built herself – churns out edible corn puffs which visitors of the exhibition are free to help themselves to.

When I first encounter Ayshia, she envelopes me in a friendly hug. In the interview below, Ayshia passionately discusses the personal connection Paradise Corns has to her and about her hopes of a world in the not-too distant future where food waste has drastically reduced and everyone is happy and healthy with a full belly.

I thought that was all my life was going to work in hospitality, I never thought I was going to be an artist. I’m the first in my family on both sides to go to university. I’m really lucky because my husband took the brunt financially, he told me to finish university and focus on my art. Luckily I got funding to go to Venice, there are some really supportive tutors at ECA. I always try and keep myself and my work down to earth. It gives me a good worth ethic.

I think what happens in your childhood really affects you when you grow up. When I was a kid in Cyprus, me, my brother and sister would see the British tourists with an abundance of food and enjoying their holiday. I think that sticks in my brain that I was born in Britain but only had a bit of couscous to eat. It is very surreal to look back on.

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“Paradise Corns” produces an abundance of corn puffs (Photo Credit: Ayshia Taskin)

When I look and see people still starving in 2018 when we shouldn’t be – we have all these factories and mechanisms to make things available to people – it’s very irritating in my mind the way the system works and they don’t necessarily want everyone to have an abundance of food or anything because it’s all about the capitalist system. I think we are at a point where we don’t need capitalism anymore. There’s enough food in the world but it’s not distributed properly.

I don’t like to see the waste. It’s unnecessary. In the West we are so disconnected from other countries who don’t have access to food at all. If everyone was just more aware of the rest of the world, and how people in the world are struggling to survive then things will change.

“Paradise Corns” is the amalgamation of performance, multi-sensory methods, i.e. olfactory senses, sight, smell, taste and auditory. Visual stimuli in the form of video and the literal production of food – auditory stimulation in the form of the sounds of the milling machine, extruder and videos. I created a set of films as part of the Paradise Corns project that are inspired by adverts from the 90s. They were very child-focused…bright colours…very appealing. ‘You can have this, when you want it’…but not really if you don’t have any money. It helped create a spoiled society and food waste.

I harbour a fascination of mass food production and consumerism. When I watch documentaries about starving people, food waste, countries unable to feed their people and my son asks, ‘well why don’t we just send food’. I always think ‘yeah we could, but that’s not going to sustain them’. People need to eat everyday so if I make a machine, you can make a machine too.

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Ayshia constructs her masterpiece (Photo Credit: Ayshia Taskin)

I didn’t study engineering but I built a machine. It shows that women can engineer things. I’m not an engineer – I’m not even good at basic mathematics – but when you have such a desire to make something or do something for a purpose you just have to go for it.

Women are held back from doing engineering jobs because they don’t have the belief they can do it because it’s so historically male dominated. I think we have to encourage girls from young age to be interested in engineering and building things. The logic brain is considered masculine and the creative side of the brain is considered the feminine, sensitive side. To this all starts at childhood, so I think it’s important for parents and teachers to give girls mechanical sets.

We should all try our best but it shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of individuals. The Council should provide more outdoor space to grow your own things – fruits, vegetables, corn – whatever! It’s more sustainable. I would love for anyone to be able to walk into a supermarket and buy whatever they want and to have an abundance of food, but it’s just not possible.

I set up a free-for-all pantry in the studio. I wouldn’t say it was me, I would just do it. I set myself a budget of five pounds a week to get as much as I can and then everyone can help themselves. People in the studio can add to it they want but not forced to, or don’t have to spend as much as a fiver.

With Paradise Corns, I’m creating the food waste and I want it to look shocking. The project has so many layers. I don’t want to tell people what to take away from it – they may want to just take a corn puff! But I hope the work inspires people to question how food is made and consumed so we can create a future where people do not starve.

Christmas has arrived at the Royal Botanic Garden

Olivia

Visitors to the gardens can watch festive light projections on the Glasshouse.

 

It may only be the first week of December, but the festivities in Edinburgh are well and truly underway and the Royal Botanic Garden has a brand new Christmas trail for visitors to enjoy.

Until the 29th of December, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is running a winter-themed trail with decorations, music and over a million lights called “Christmas at the Botanics”. This is the second year the Royal Botanic Garden has put on the event and there are similar trails all across the UK.

Emma Henderson from Culture Creative , the creative management company behind “Christmas at the Botanics”, mentioned some of the other trails around the country.

“Christmas at the Botanics is one of seven lit trails themed around Christmas which include Christmas at Kew, Christmas at Bleinheim Palace, Christmas at Dunham Massey, Christmas at Bedgebury, Christmas at Beaulieu and Christmas at London Zoo.”

“The first trail was at Kew Gardens six years ago and its success has led to other trails being added each year.”

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Some of the one million lights on display at “Christmas at the Botanics”.

This year, the mile-long trail has several new additions, including contributions from both UK-based artists and artists from around the world.

“This year’s trail includes artworks by international and UK artists, live theatre and light projections onto the world-famous Glasshouse and Inverleith House,” said Emma.

“French lighting designers Tilt have two installations: “Lily of the Valley” and “Carbonium”. Mandylights from Australia, whose work has been shown previously at Vivid Festival in Sydney, has brought us ‘The Cathedral of Light.'”

Olivia Hill

The Cathedral of Light is one of the new attractions at the gardens this year.

The Cathedral of Light, a 70m-long tunnel with over 100,000 lights, provides quite a spectacle at the halfway point of the trail. Visitors should take their time to enjoy the stunning lights and accompanying Christmas carols: this is one of the prime picture taking areas.

There are also a number of new features this year for children to enjoy on their way around the gardens. Emma Henderson spoke about some of the options available for families to enjoy together.

“This year’s Santa Panto is themed around the gifts that conifer trees give us year-round. It’s presented by Connie Fir and Connor Fir, two Christmas elves who are Santa’s helpers. Our conifer trail is also new this year, which highlights six key specimens in the garden for adults and children to find.”

Olivia

Festive decorations have been placed at different points around the garden.

Although the trail is outdoors and some may be sceptical to brave the Scottish weather on winter evenings, there are plenty of opportunities to buy hot food and drinks around the garden.

“Christmas at the Botanics is a family event created for everyone to enjoy. There are over a million twinkling lights, creamy hot chocolate, mulled wine and marshmallows, Christmas music, crackling fires and of course, Santa Clause. So wrap up warm and come enjoy the wonderful Christmas atmosphere and fun.”

You can find out more about “Christmas at the Botanics” and how to purchase tickets here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh, Electric Cars and You

The UK Government announced earlier this week that it would be bringing their proposed ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward by 8 years to 2032 – the same year proposed by the Scottish Government.

This means that any cars purchased after this date must be ‘effectively zero emission’; one solution for this is the use of electric cars.

But is Edinburgh ready for an electric revolution?

roadAsset 13@6x-100

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map2Asset 16@6x-100If you can’t charge at home you can use a charging point.

These are dotted around the country and are easy to find with services such as Zap Map that give you a run down of the charging options available in your area.

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Edinburgh isn’t exactly short on chargers. There are around 20 sites within three miles of the centre, almost double the amount of petrol stations.

But there’s a catch.

This is how long it takes to refill the different types of vehicle

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and when you consider that in Edinburgh,

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twenty charging points might not be enough.

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After the Department of Transport announced that the electric car subsidy was being cut by £1000 in November, a surge of last minute applicants has left the fund ‘days away’ from running out.

If electric cars are to be the future then Edinburgh Council, Holyrood and Westminster have a long way to go to reach the 2032 deadline.

Beating the boobie blues

Three local artists help to raise awareness of breast cancer

Left to right: Kathleen Moodie, Jennifer Colquhoun and Beth Lamont.

Step 1: Touch. Step 2: Look. Step 3: Check. T-L-C. While there is no definitive method for checking your breasts for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, UK charity Breast Cancer Now are asking you to try a little TLC. Early detection is crucial in treating and beating the disease – most cases of breast cancer are first found by women themselves.

This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and fundraising events have been taking place across the country to support this issue. On 19th October, three Edinburgh-based artists got together at Custom Lane in Leith to raise money and awareness for a disease that one in eight women in the UK will develop in their lifetime.

The collaborative project, Boobzapalooza, headed by knitwear designer Kathleen Moodie is a ‘month-long celebration of all things breast’. Together with scientific illustrator Jennifer Colquhoun and ceramic jewellery designer Beth Lamont, they have designed limited-edition boob-related art that will be sold throughout the month with 40% of the proceeds going directly to Breast Cancer Now.

The Boob Arc Necklace, K.Boobs Booble Hat and The Boob Print are all for sale throughout October.

What made you choose this particular breast cancer charity?

Kathleen Moodie: “I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 24 and she’s an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now and she suggested to go for them. Partly because they are registered in Scotland as well, so the money is coming from Scotland and staying in Scotland, that for her is something that is really important. It was something that none of us had thought of. We just thought, ‘oh, yeah we’ll pick a breast cancer charity and it will be great’, and Victoria said, ‘you’ve got to make sure it’s a Scottish one’ and it makes so much sense.” 

Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

The event is about making breast cancer less scary and approaches the disease in a fun and direct way. Why is that important?

Jennifer Colquhoun: “Last year, I found a lump in my own breast and I was terrified. I thought that was me because a few years ago my aunt died of breast cancer, so it was in the family. But it turns out mine was a fibroadenoma which is a benign tumour. It’s also commonly known as the breast mouse which I thought was hilarious. I really wanted to do a picture of the breast mouse but nobody really knew what I was talking about.”

A customer tries on Kathleen Moodie’s Booble Hat.

Why do you think the arts is a good way of talking about and addressing big issues such as breast cancer?

Beth Lamont: “I guess it just gives it a tangible thing. You can still donate money, but you get to take something away. The next time someone is wearing their pink necklace someone can be like, oh I like that’ and you can be like, ‘oh it was actually for this charity’ and you talk about it again. Though they are only on sale for the month that conversation will hopefully keep on going because of that product, that piece of art, that hat, is not going to go away.”

The Boobzapalooza event held at Custom Lane, Leith.

The limited-edition pieces are available throughout October and can be purchased online here.

 

Review: Jack White at the Usher Hall

Kris Krug

Jack White doesn’t allow photography during his show, so this generic image will have to do. Credits to Kris Krug

There’s a reason this article doesn’t have any photos — it’s because Jack White wouldn’t let me take any.

It was a drunken night of crazy antics as Jack White blew into the Scottish capital like an American hurricane, and in a matter of hours, he was gone again – leaving some audience members baffled and others enthralled. Whether he started the show already drunk, no one will know, but he definitely ended it that way. Swigging champagne like there was a grape draught, playing his guitar with said bottle and then tearing down half his set up, I couldn’t tell if I found his music entertaining or if it was just his unpredictable stumbling.

His music was not the clearest, only his greatest hits were completely audible, but that was arguably decades of muscle memory — playing Seven Nation Army every night since 2003 would drive me to the bottle too. Sixteen Saltines and Steady, As She Goes were perfection but the rest of the show was a little rough around the edges. He stumbled around, tearing down the cymbals, screaming into the microphone to the point that the feedback was almost deafening, conducting his band (he never uses a set list, he just reads the room), acting like a total diva, but then the nicest man would come through when he actually addressed the crowd.

He went from crazed drunkard to concerned busker so quickly it could give you whiplash.

When he came out for the encore (which he waited way too long to come out for), he proclaimed that he would play until 11pm and if anyone needed to leave, to get the last train home, then please feel free to leave. Not the Jack White who ran around the stage leaving guitars on the floor before reaching for his bottle of champers again.

Just before the end of the show, he got the support act Demob Happy on stage to jam through a song (or two, it was hard to figure out when one song stopped and another started) and profusely thanked the crowd, and blessed them, their family, their friends, all of Edinburgh and all of Scotland… the only person he forgot to bless was the family cow. He then embarked on a half hour encore (it was a two and a half hour show, getting your money’s worth) and scaled the piano (yes, he scaled it, almost crashed off of it trying to smash his guitar and then stepped off it in a very lacklustre fashion, probably realising he was too smashed himself).

Special mention has to go out to Jack White’s tech, who spent more time on stage than off, untangling him after he’d done his laps of the stage, and tuning his guitar every time he dropped it, fixing his microphone set up when he trashed it, and just generally saving the day when instruments got in Jack’s way.

All in all, it was a very entertaining show, but if you came for the music and not the full Jack White experience, then you might be left disappointed. Just don’t expect to use your phone to take photos of him or take a phone call, because he doesn’t like that either – he makes you lock your phone away before the gig even starts. It’s all Jack White or nothing at all.

This bearded lady is the future of drag

“Hello, my name is Mystika Glamoor, and I’m everything you want me to be, darling.”

Gender is dead and people are living for it. The drag community in Edinburgh is rapidly growing and drag queens are being requested left and right.

The latest news in the Edinburgh drag scene is that the gender-bender queen, Mystika Glamoor, now has her very own show called ‘Glamoor! Kweer Kabaret’ at ‘The Street’ bar.

When Mystika isn’t living for the applause in crazy wigs, he is an artist, film director, and painter who goes by the name of Oskar Kirk Hansen. The half British, half Danish entertainer was born in Thailand, spent most of his teenage years in Italy and studied in Denmark.

Now, Mystika has finally made a home for himself after moving around the world. After just a year of doing drag, he was performing at said bar when he was asked: “Do you want this to be your home, and perform here once a month,” to which he replied: “I´ll do it once a week”.

From now on, he will take to the stage every Monday, and present you with a unique collection of performers. Bearded ladies, biological woman, burlesque dancers and performers who don’t fit into any categories, will not only make you laugh and cry hysterically, but also encourage you to think.

“I want to spread my influence around the world, and when you look like this, you are going to get a reaction,” Mystika said. “Even if that I just someone screaming faggot at you from across the room, or a drunken straight girl saying she loves me.”

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Mystika Glamoor/ Oskar Kirk Hansen hosting The Kweer Kabaret at The Street

Last night Mystika entered the stage wearing a cotton-candy-pink wig and holding a vintage microphone, “Hello, fellow heterosexuals.”

A screaming crowd, consisting of drag queens, drag kings, boys who like boys, girls who like girls, transgender men and woman, and — of course — the ever-so-loud straight girls, greeted him with laughter.

At ‘Glamoor! Kweer Kabaret’, bearded ladies, biological woman, burlesque dancers and performers who don’t fit into any categories, will make you laugh and cry hysterically, but will also encourage you to think.

One of the first things you might notice about Mystika is that he has a beard. He likes to explore the different dimensions of femininity and masculinity.

“My makeup is very thick and very theatrical in some ways,” Mystika explained. “I did try some prettier looks, but after seeing other drag queens dealing with people hitting on them, I decided that I don’t want that.

“Looking like this is giving me that extra confidence because I don’t have to conform to a certain beauty standard.”

Drag queens can suit every taste, from camp and crass to high fashion. Some look like Barbie, while others might give you a fright from their obscure look.

The thing about drag is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but at the same time, it’s deeply rooted in politics and it’s subversive. That might be why the art form is so captivating. They are not only entertaining a crowd, but the queens are also on a mission to humanise drag, fight for equality and challenge gay stereotypes.

“I hope people understand that it is an art form and that it’s political. It’s one of the most political art forms because it’s saying: ‘Hey! I don’t have to be the way you think I have to be’.”

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Rayna Destruction/ Jordan Phillps performing on the stage of Kweer Kabaret

Most people think that drag queens are just men who dress in women’s clothing and act like ladies. That’s not always the case, and definitely not in Mystika’s: “I think the conception we have about masculinity and femininity are not exactly dead, but they are not all that is out there.

“I identify mostly as a man, but I can identify as a woman sometimes too. I can turn into a woman, a trash monster or anything I want to be.

“In a way, I feel that labels are limiting and that people saying you have to pick one or the other, is ignorant and just wants to put you in a box.”

It’s at shows like the Kweer Kabaret that people — who usually feel like outcasts – can finally fit in. Here you can wear what you want, love whom you love and be who you are – or who you want to be for that matter.

“The main thing about drag is showing that in the end, it´s not all that serious. If I can be myself dressed like this, then you can accept yourself for who you are.

“I’m here to show you that you can be different and that it’s okay. We should show people that there is more out there, whether you are straight, gay, just coming out, or deeply homophobic.”

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