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Drag Kingdom

block 13 choreography drag king empowerment gift to the world kings of joy kings of joy all-stars lgbtqia+ making a difference performance queer the king coach Aug 31, 2022

Live from Drag Kingdom!

Chris aka Chase Cocks 0:00
You know, I could talk about this whole thing all night but I think we would probably be best to hear it from the choreographer, the creator of Kings of Joy, my wife, Danica Lani…

Danica Lani 0:11
Now I’m gonna cry…

Danica Lani 0:54
I’ve been standing here with Sally - give it up for Sally our tech person tonight! And I've been standing there with Sally crying, doing the choreography. I don’t know if you’ve seen me. I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s right!! Boys like me, yeah, boys like me oih!’ I’ve got it all down and I'm thinking to myself, ‘What the fuck did I do?’ Look at this! Look at this community! Look at these amazing Drag Kings!

Danica Lani 1:29
I'm originally from Melbourne. I started Drag in 2011. And I entered a Drag King competition that was put on by - some of you will know or remember, Rocco D'Amore. Yes, my Drag Daddy who invited me to do drag. It was a competition and I won by audience vote. It was my first experience of drag. And I have the trophy still. And that same year I entered a pole dancing competition. My gender expression is bi-gender, which means 'the both'. I have a female physical body, but I have a male energetic body, you know what I'm talking about. So that's my gender expression. So I also won a pole dancing competition that year. I still have the pink sash. ‘2011 Miss Pole Fusion’.

Danica Lani 2:29
Kings of Joy for me has brought together all the things that I love - dance, choreography, gender expression... Yes, let's give it up for gender expression. Throw in a bit of tantra, a bit of energetics. And, yeah, it's brought together empowering people. Chris and I have created this community that didn't exist. And it didn't exist before we started it because - it didn't exist for me - because I was sitting in my apartment when I first moved here to Sydney from Melbourne. And for about four years, I just stayed in my apartment. I didn't really have any friends. Like I had one friend. Hi, Adrienne. Thanks for being here. Adrienne was in group number one. One of the friends that I knew. But yeah, I was dealing with domestic violence in my relationship. And so I was quite isolated. And I didn't have a community here in Sydney for a number of years. Moved away, came back was still like, fuck, where am I gonna live? What am I gonna do?

Danica Lani 3:38
And then how Chris and I met was that we had a mutual friend. And if you know anything about the history of Drag Kings, Sydney was huge in the 90s and the 2000s. In fact, we've got Sexy Galexy here tonight, doing makeup. Thank you. Thank you for letting us stand on your shoulders. And everything that you created and paved the way for. We so appreciate you as a community and acknowledge you. Really, thank you. Yeah. And so big - because of you in Sydney, you started a night that lots of people were performing at. And then around 2010... like later, it kind of fizzled out. And do you think it was global Sexy? Was that a global phenomenon that it kind of fizzled out everywhere?

Sexy Galexy 4:37
It just depends on where you were. Because it takes instigators to keep our community alive because we weren't getting support from our wider community. So unless you had an instigator there, it would dwindle.

Danica Lani 4:51
So Sexy's saying that if you didn't have the instigator in the community, it would dwindle and that's what it did. It definitely did that here in Sydney. So then we had a little bit of a resurgence. And how Chris and I met was one of our friends, That Guy Steve was doing a little bit of drag as drag started to start up again in Sydney, and asked me to choreograph their performance and be, you know, have these group backup dancers. So Chris and I were in a Drag King group together. And that's how we met. And, of course, in true... lesbian style. We were dating by the second rehearsal.

Danica Lani 5:43
We're now married, I've found my person, my human, my love.

Danica Lani 5:50
But we were like, we had so much fun being in that Drag King group together. We're like, we have to give this away. We have to give this away to other people. And look at you all. Look at all. All the Kings of Joy. And all the people who have supported us along the way, we haven't done it alone. I want to thank Chad Love who has been with us from the beginning. And Chad Love is an extraordinary performer and Drag King of themselves and has come to, I think, every Queers of Joy and done makeup, for the Kings of Joy. From the beginning. Thank you so much, we really appreciate you.

Danica Lani 6:29
We appreciate the Red Rattler. Sammie! We love Sammi at the bar and having had a home here. And yeah, we haven't done it by ourselves. So it's about building that community. If you want to be a Drag King - anyone here want to be a Drag King? Yes, please, you're welcome. And as you can see, we've had all kinds of gender expressions up here tonight from trans masc but our most recent group had our first two trans femme Drag Kings. There they are up the back. Klit Angel and Boy Divsion.

Danica Lani 7:05
And this is about leaning into the masculine and expressing that and having a lot of fun with it, but the thing that I love so much about this community is that we uplift each other. So we've had, you know, Max doing No Milk In My T t-shirts and selling them at Queers of Joy. We've had Toby aka Martin van Tasmal design this t-shirt. Fucking, how cool are they? And we've had five makeup artists tonight who have been here backstage and giving some of you a taste of your Drag make-up. I really want to acknowledge them, particularly Renee, thank you for everything that you have contributed Renee. Renee Taylor, resident makeup artist. And Kirsten Lee, and one of our Drag Kings, Glenn 20. Thank you so much.

Danica Lani 8:03
Thank you. I knew I needed to talk about something else. And you know, the other thing that this makes possible is contributing our resources and sharing our resources, not just money, but also joy. We Kings of Joy. And sharing that with our friends who live in Block 13 and deal with horrific circumstances that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. You just wouldn't. And being able to listen and listen to their stories has given them so much hope. It has given them hope. It's given them joy. So they watched the first Queers of Joy show on their phone and gathered around together around this one phone. And they were smiling and they were dancing along. And Lucretia who's our friend said, 'I have not seen smiles like that in a very long time here in this camp.' So yeah, they're precious humans to us. We speak regularly with about eight people on our zoom calls. So 10% of everything that we do here tonight, including the t-shirts, including the stickers, is going to our friends at Block 13. So thank YOU for making that difference. You're making that difference.

Danica Lani 9:23
Recently, Chris and I went to the Guilty Feminist's live podcast show. And Chris had the opportunity to get up and share in front of 2000 people at the State Theatre, about Block 13. And just from that one share, we've raised over $3,000 for Block 13 on one night. Which is amazing. But the thing that was really extraordinary was at the end, Deborah Frances White who hosts the Guilty Feminist podcast, got everyone to make a video that said, 'we're with you Block 13'. And we sent that in the WhatsApp group to our friends, and before we even told them about the money, they were writing back saying, 'ma eyes are wetting. I'm crying. This is so beautiful.' One of our friends Shifra said, 'I can't believe that there are people in the world that could love us like that.' Because they're like, you know, otherwise experiencing being completely forgotten. You know, they deal with basic conditions as well as harassment, discrimination, and being put to the end of the water queue because other refugees there relate to them like they're subhuman. So they're like, 'No, you don't get the fresh water. You come to the end and you drink the dirty water.' And so they're always dealing with malaria and typhoid going through their community. So I think we should make a video to send to them. What do you reckon?

Danica Lani 10:59
Sally are there any more lights that can come up on our friends here?

Adrienne 11:05
What do you want us to say?

Audience member 1 11:09
We love you!

Danica Lani 11:10
Yeah, I think really simply 'We love you Block 13.'

Audience member 2 11:15
WE ARE HERE!

Danica Lani 11:17
Yes, we are here. That's really nice too. So let's say - what shall we say, 'We're here with you Block 13?'

Audience member 3 11:27
We are family!

Danica Lani 11:28
We are family. That's really nice too.

Audience member 2 11:32
WE ARE HERE WITH YOU!

Danica Lani 11:33
We are here with you. 'We are here with you. We're family. We love you.' Can we remember all of that?

Adrienne 11:42
And love hearts!

Danica Lani 11:43
And then do love hearts. Thank you. Yeah, that's right. Alright, so let's go, 'We are here with you. We're family. We love you.' Yeah? Let's do that. Okay, here we go. 3, 2, 1...

All Audience 12:00
We're here with you. We're family. We love you! [Cheering]

Danica Lani 12:21
Amazing. Yes, please, if you want to contribute further, we've helped them create a website called freeblock13.com. So you can go there and see how you can contribute to that community if that's of interest to you. We're not going anywhere with that community. We're staying with them the whole way. So. We stand for their asylum being granted in a safer country. So. Thank you so much, friends.

[MUSIC: Ride with You by spring gang, Andy Delos Santos, Canva one time music licence]

[Scenes from each Kings of Joy group performing at Drag Kingdom.]

Videography: Tori Folkard @bobsbulges

 

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