A peek at queer art and culture in Dublin with performer and artist (though not a performance artist), Xnthony.
While Dublin city has its own annual Gay Theatre Festival, the Fringe Festival's all-inclusive air has made it a hot-bed for innovative queer theatre and performance. Australia's vaudeville cabaret troupe Briefs had so much fun strutting around the city last year that they're back for round 2. Spoken word collective Pettycash will present the enticingly-titled Grindr: A Love Story, and dance theatre study on gender division Wage will novelly offer discounted rates for female-identified audience member in respect of the gender pay gap.
Our highlight, though, has to be KITSCHCOCK, a pop concert and interview session from wannabe superstar Xnthony. If Jedward felt like an evil genius's weird social experiment, Xnthony's project blurs the lines between reality and art even more so. One step towards his goal of Eurovision domination in 2015, KITSCHCOCK takes a look at the line between public and private identities. It also explores gay identity in a pop cultural context: “the way people constantly describe you."
For a performer like Xnthony, drag is a world he brushes past but never fully immerses in. The closest he came was Alternative Miss Ireland: a sort of parody beauty contest, which raised money for HIV/AIDs organisations. Last year’s was the 15th and final edition – for now, anyway; everyone is sure that something else will emerge in its place – and Xnthony recognises coming third in the competition as a career highlight. “AMI came from performance and it came from lots of crashing things together, it wasn't a drag competition, it's a performance competition. That's what people forget.”
For the 30th anniversary of Dublin Pride, a festival getting bigger, brighter and better each year (it is now a viable alternative to Patrick's Day), the city's premiere gay night Mother hosted an enormous party in Meeting House Square, smack bang in the middle of Temple Bar – the once boozy enclave has been reappropriated as both a de facto gay quarter and a reinvigorated cultural hub. “Even he security guards were amazing, Xnthony tells me. "One of the best nights I've had in years.”
If Mother is where the cool crowd go, then The George and The Dragon is where you'll find camp-tastic giggles. The two venues are also host to drag shows and cabaret; a scene Xnthony assures me is “really vibrant. There's a lot of young drag queens that are really, really strong, they have great skills and great costumes, so kudos ... Drag art and drag performance is some of the best performance there is in Dublin. If you want to see a good show, go to The George or go to The Dragon. It's where you're going to get it."
Not that the established scene is complete just yet: "I hate to say this," the performer remarks. "But I think Dublin needs someone like me."