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Toby @trashgirlarts podcast interview reveals new Kings of Joy merch

drag king kings of joy kings of joy all-stars lgbtqia+ making a difference podcast Aug 09, 2022

Danica Lani 0:01
Hello and welcome everyone. My name is Danica Lani. I am known as The King Coach, Mother of Drag Kings, Daddy Joy, among other things, and welcome to my podcast. Today, I am super excited to introduce to you, Toby aka Martin Van Tasmal!

Toby @trashgirlarts 0:22
Hey, thank you. Thank you. Always stunning to be here.

Danica Lani 0:29
I am loving the pink.

Toby @trashgirlarts 0:33
Thank you. Pink isn't so much Martin's color, but it's definitely my own. So I like to wear any shade of like, rose or bubblegum wherever I can. It's a nice energy. I like a bit of pink.

Danica Lani 0:47
Love that. Awesome. So Toby, will you talk us through and share with us? What has been your experience briefly of the Kings of Joy experience?

Toby @trashgirlarts 0:59
Yeah, so I only moved to Sydney about, oh, gosh, it was February last year. And in that time, I really only moved knowing two or three people. Most of them were exes that have completely broken my heart but ongoing friends and I was like, Okay, I really need to start making more friends outside of this.

But then, obviously 2021 we went into a lockdown. And as we were in lockdown, I was dating somebody at the time. And so the only friends I could make were his friends, essentially. And none of them really identified as queer. None of them really worked in any creative fields, and they're truly lovely people and I had a really great time, but it didn't feel like I had found my community yet. And to make matters worse, when we eventually broke up and lockdown opened up again.

Obviously, as life happens, like you just hang out with those people less and you lose contact. I was like, Cool. I'm back to ground zero, here we go. And then I literally got a spare ticket through a friend of a friend to go see Queers of Joy. And immediately I was like, oh my god, this is my first time actually going to a gay event in Sydney. It was in the lead up to oh my gosh, I think it was like, what was Kings of Joy volume VII, we were November 2001, something like that. I can't even remember. It was Wow. Anyway. Yeah, but it was so nice just meeting other people who identified as gender fluid or were exploring their masculinity because I had really only just started that journey myself and was trying to find other gender fluid trans masc people to look up to and ask about, like, testosterone treatment and things like that, or just other people where - other people who essentially spoke the same language and understood the same context of where you're coming from. And it was like, it was my first big event. And everyone was so wholesome, and deeply, deeply talented people and ultimately, like such a loving environment as well.

And straightaway, the highlight of the night was the Kings of Joy performance of seeing all of these women and they/them like gender binary, gender non conforming people just performing in these amazing masc outfits, and just how each one of them were like No, we had no experience prior to this. We've got barely any rhythm, but we have a lot of enthusiasm. We just want to dress up like boys and have a good time. I was absolutely blown away. So then I signed up immediately I like ran to the table had to put my name down and sign up.

And yeah, I was in the next volume as a gender fluid, wizard, princely type and it was extremely lovely of being able to like go up fully bound back, which is a real challenge if you're a double D like me, and just absolutely flaunt like this masculine like Brenda Fraser from the 90's/Howl Pendragon energy. It was so lovely.

Yeah, and ever since then, I've been quietly working on upcoming routines between my day job and obviously getting into some creative things that we'll talk about but it's been really lovely being part of this community and I am very excited now that I'm in Kings of Joy All Stars as well. So that's going to be something great. Anywhos, that's that.

Danica Lani 4:33
Fabulous, fabulous. That is that and you know I really loved seeing you come alive on stage and shine within your Drag King Kings of Joy crew that came together and doing your routine. It was great to see you just blossom in that way. And then continue on to the Kings of Joy All Stars where you know you'll be performing soon at Drag Kingdom (18 Aug). And I hear there's a little bit of a wizard-wizard something going on there. So...

Toby @trashgirlarts 5:07
There's something... there's something happening. Which, oh God we need to even get into that of just like - I think it was something so sweet like coming in and the main tropes and energy that I would see on stage were a lot of like 80's Rock Gods and like very cool rockabilly surfer guy sex appeal. And then I came in with my fucking ears and a cape and I was like, I want to be a wizard. I hope this isn't too niche and just being surrounded by immediate support and enthusiasm. And even like, the worst criticism I would get would be like, 'Oh, I don't get it. But this is great, like, love the energy.' And I'm just like, that's good enough for me.

So now being in All Stars with two Kings, both of them, wizards have been some very sexy little flaunts and fights, I'm deeply, deeply excited. So cannot wait.

Danica Lani 5:07
Yay, Martin van Tasmal versus Dumbledore. Can't wait. Together.

Toby @trashgirlarts 5:30
Amazing. Amazing. Too powerful.

Danica Lani 5:31
And then along the way, we've connected more around your artistry and your creativity and your what you do for a living as an illustrator and an amazing, what would you what role would you say? How would you describe what it is that you do Toby?

Toby @trashgirlarts 6:31
Yeah. So by day, my nine-to-five job is a storyboard artist at a lovely local Sydney studio. So I basically work behind the scenes of a lot of TV animation. But I've always had a soft spot for fashion and merchandising. And it was something that I got to do a bit for my own personal branding. But obviously, we've had a pandemic, and it's been hard getting to markets and selling my own wares. So I'm a little out of practice.

But when Danica expressed interest in Kings, like starting up, Drag Kingdom and getting Kings of Joy into a, like self-funding status, which is like, how can we make the longevity out of this? The idea of merchandise was just so exciting to me. And I really wanted to give back to a community that had already given me so much just coming here to Sydney. So yeah, it was a really great excuse, getting into t-shirt design and the stickers coming out and just getting to interpret the big unidentifiable feelings of like, joy and gender affirmation as well as exploration and transformation. And somehow put all of those absurd, I guess, elements into physical merchandise has been a very cool experience.

Danica Lani 7:55
Yeah. And can you talk us through some of the process, like the creative process that you and I went through to get to the final product stage?

Toby @trashgirlarts 8:03
Yeah. Oh, my God. Sure. So it all, I always end up starting off with a Pinterest board of just looking at Cool, what is currently out here, let's have a look around. Because you're always inspired by the community around you and other artists and apps, as well as the fact that it's the internet and you have so much more access to a lot of queer artwork and cultures and pieces. And so you could just mesh it all together in one collaborative space. And then look at it all side by side and be like, Okay, well, what is working? What isn't working? What does feel like Kings of Joy? What isn't Kings of Joy? How can we mesh this?

There was also we discussed a lot about the core principles of Kings of Joy, which I really appreciated. Like, sometimes when you're doing client work, and especially when they're a small up and comer, they don't understand what the niche or like what the deeper impact of their brand or their product is. But I think Kings of Joy has always been based on like I said earlier, these very absurd, I guess, not absurb but these intangible elements of gender expression, queer identity, joy, inclusivity, and just dance. And trying to combine all that, and like really discussing about, like, why do these things matter to us? How can we explore that? And how, or what would that look like, I think was a really interesting discussion that I haven't really had with other client work before.

And it was amazing, just in the end, like, we have these big discussions, we look at all of our Pinterest pages and see what styles we like. And from there, you just sketch up a lot of thumbnails. There was a huge deciding process of like, okay, based on these themes, these are the images that I've interpreted. What do we think, what do we enjoy, what suits and then from there was a lot of back and forth with Danica. Just to figure out like, cool, let's go this direction. And then from there, you sketch, you clean up a sketch, you change a sketch, you color sketch, you try and try again. And then eventually you figure it out, and it becomes a final image. So, yeah, that's a very brief nutshell of the process, but it counts.

Danica Lani 10:19
Well, I've really, really enjoyed working with you, and particularly around the creativity and artistry, because I love art. I just love artistry. And so being able to be part of that creative process at the beginning, seeing some of those images that you brought to me from Pinterest and starting to go, Oh, my brain starting to go, [explosion sound] you know, explode with new possibilities. And we looked at some stuff that was like, more like surrealism, and, you know, that kind of thing. What else did we look at? Do you remember?

Toby @trashgirlarts 10:53
Well, yeah, we looked at a lot of like, pop art, but also pop art surrealism. A lot of things have, especially the term kings has such a monarchal value, that - unfortunately, a lot of it is often associated with, like Church of England, and a lot of white culture, whatever culture that we have... that, anyway, that's a whole thing. But we wanted to also make sure that it was part of Kings of Joy, which is at the core of it, an inclusive experience that we want everyone to have access to.

So we started looking into, like, diverse depictions of religious artwork, how other people from other cultures have, like, interpreted the concept of kings or kings in their own right, and like societal structure, images that are associated with that. Yeah, there was so much to it, honestly. A lot of religion, like taking a spin on religious artwork as well, which is really quite exciting as somebody that grew up Catholic, and then disappointed everyone by coming out as bisexual and gender fluid. It's really nice, coming back to that iconography and being like, oh, yeah, I can take that. I'm gonna take this and make it gay. This is what we've done now. That's fine.

So that's been a really fun process in its own right, as well as just getting into such a weird splendor of queer and royal iconography.

Danica Lani 12:23
What a blend. What a mix.

Toby @trashgirlarts 12:25
What a blend.

Danica Lani 12:28
Awesome. And so, I was thinking that today, we might do a little reveal. What do you think?

Toby @trashgirlarts 12:38
I think we can do that. We can do that for sure. Let's get in there.

Danica Lani 12:44
Shall we? Okay, I'm gonna reveal to - if you're listening via audio, you should go to where should you go to, and you will find this video up there of this episode. And you'll be able to see the visuals there. So let me share my amazing screen here. And we also did stickers. So just before we do the reveal, we did stickers, right. So based on a saying that one of our Kings of Joy made up which is that "Kings Who Tape Together Stay Together." Thank you JSTARR. So if you remember JSTARR from episode two of Kings of Joy, they have done a fabulous thing. So here we go. Toby, can you see my screen?

Toby @trashgirlarts 13:50
I can. Oh! Looks so cute! I'm so happy how they turned out.

Danica Lani 13:55
Oh my God. So we've got a binding tape for anyone who's ever tried drag or even, you know, for gender-affirming reasons, has used binding tape to take down those titties, shall we say?

Toby @trashgirlarts 14:10
We've been there.

Danica Lani 14:10
Yup, you'll know all about it. So we have this beautiful tape. And then the words "Kings Who Tape Together Stay Together - JSTARR" and some scissors and a little crown that says Kings of Joy. So in our discussions about what was important to Kings of Joy, one of the other things that we really value is representation. So we decided to do a few different variations of color, and skin colors and background colors. So we've got a couple of versions of those. And then we also have - I really wanted the t-shirt to be like a piece of art, a piece of artwork. So here we go. Little drum roll to reveal the piece of art that is going on the back of the T-shirt. Whoo! Here we go.

Toby @trashgirlarts 14:57
Oh my god, I'm so happy how it turned out, honestly. For people that need an audio description, the t-shirt design is basically a stone-like bust in a very like Romanesque statue style, of a very gender nonconforming looking person with a golden crown melting on their head as their stone body breaks away to reveal this glowing, massive red heart in the center and all kinds of vines and stars being torn away as it just bursts with all kinds of queer affirmation and love.

Danica Lani 15:36
And the joy.

Toby @trashgirlarts 15:38
And the joy.

Danica Lani 15:39
Yeah, so it's an anatomical heart, as well, which I really loved getting that anatomy in there.

Toby @trashgirlarts 15:48
Honestly, that was so fun to draw. I don't think I do many anatomical or like body horror kind of stuff in my time. But there's something so nice about drawing, like, the contrast of something so stylized, but also so fleshy. And it's very gorgeous. I was really happy with the shading on it. And so I don't know, again, hitting on that like old school, religious or like, Royal iconography and using it for our little gay community. So happy with it.

Danica Lani 16:16
Yeah. Yeah. And it's so great from my perspective to be able to also have you can see there Trash Girl Arts has a little stamp on there as well. You know, we're a community that uplifts each other, and empowers each other. So to be able to give you a platform as well, Toby for Trash Girl Arts has been exciting.

Toby @trashgirlarts 16:39
No, honestly, thank you so much. This was a great experience getting back into merchandise design, and it was honestly such a thrill getting to get involved in this whole creation process again, and honestly, it was a dream. This was so lovely, thank you.

Danica Lani 16:55
What a pleasure. And if you're interested in looking at any of our merch, you can go to So that's where you'll be able to find the images. And if you want to grab yourself a t-shirt, just know that 10% of all merchandise goes to our LGBTQIA friends who are refugees living in Kakuma in Block 13. So that's where 10% of the funds will go, as well. So how do you feel about that Toby? Making a difference as well as making art in the world?

Toby @trashgirlarts 17:41
I actually didn't know about that. That's extremely lovely. And it's such a great cause. And that community just means so much working hand in hand with Queers of Joy. Oh, my God, that's very sweet. Thank you so much for including me in that.

Danica Lani 17:56
Thank you. Thanks for your contribution. And is there anything else you'd like to share with us today?

Toby @trashgirlarts 18:02
Well, my drag account is uploading slowly because I'm working on photoshoots and edits bit by bit, but you can follow my lovely persona Martin Van Tasmal @martin.vantasmal on Instagram. Or if you want to see more artwork, you can come find me @trashgirlarts. All pronouns are good pronouns. You're welcome to leave a comment or a message anytime.

Danica Lani 18:29
Amazing. Slide into those DMs.

Toby @trashgirlarts 18:34
Thanks, gang.

Danica Lani 18:36
It has been an absolute joy. Working with you, Toby, and your efficiency and professionalism as well as your creativity and artistry has been a joy to behold. So thank you for your contribution to our community. And I can't wait to continue sharing the love spreading your art through the world. The world is a better place because you're in it and because of your art. So thank you for who you are.

Toby @trashgirlarts 19:03
Thank you. Oh my god, you're too sweet. Thanks, Dad. Love it.

Danica Lani 19:12
Hilarious. My pleasure. Thank you and I will see you at Drag Kingdom on the 18th of August night. So many Drag Kings! 40+ Drag Kings all in group performances. And again 10% of all the ticket sales there and the merch sold on the night will go to Block 13, our friends in Kakuma, Kenya. So thank you and thanks for listening.

Toby @trashgirlarts 19:37
Thanks, guys.


Follow Toby @trashgirlarts & Martin Van Tasmal @martin.vantasmal

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