"I aspire to be a klub kid comedienne. To look like an avant-garde nightmare, but sound like your mate’s mum"
Loverboy first saw Georgia Tasda at the sublime Camposphere giving birth to pingpong ball eyes. That should give you some idea of her drag stylings. Corinna Tomrley spoke to Georgia about winning Not Another Drag Competition, performance art drag and her new show that premieres at Edinburgh Fringe, Afternoon T With Georgia Tasda.
So, let’s get this out of the way: you’ve got the BEST drag name ever.
Thank you so much! It takes a while for the penny to drop for some people. They only sell George at Asda in the UK, so I usually have to explain it to people who aren’t familiar with the brand i.e. people from abroad and posh people who shop at Waitrose.
What are some of your favourites?
There are so many great names out there! I could spend all day listing my favourites. I’m a big fan of both Delighted Tobehere and Linux. Oh, and how could I ever forget Jacqui Potato! I finally got to meet her at a party and was fangirling majorly.
Did you have other contenders when you were thinking of a name?
I went by the alias of Joanna Brew for a while – as you can probably tell from the name of my show, tea is a bit of a recurring theme. I love a cuppa.
Have you received offers of sponsorship from George at Asda? If you did, we’d imagine you’d rather hit the kitchenware department?
No, unfortunately they haven’t been in touch! I imagine they’d probably try and distance themselves from a drag queen who does magic tricks pulling playing cards out of her bum. Not quite ‘on brand’. I’m much more likely to be hearing from their lawyers tbph! Perhaps one day I will meet the eponymous George and we will fall in love.
When we first saw you perform it was clear that you carry the mantle for performance art drag, the kind that Leigh Bowery would spew onto his audiences. Now, for those who haven’t seen you in action they may look at your imagery and think, ‘oh yeah, her visuals are in the vein of Leigh, but that kind of drag is a very particular art.’ And we’d agree. But we’d argue that you manage to throw up the uncomfortable thrilling weirdness that takes drag from mere performance into art. That said, we’d like to make it clear that there is more to Georgia Tasda than that. Where do your drag influences come from?
I love Leigh Bowery and have devoured all the footage of him I could scour from the internet. What I find so compelling is that his drag is so visually striking and in many ways dark, but he also brings a lot of camp and humour to his performances. That’s what I aspire to be in my show – a klub kid comedienne. To look like an avant-garde nightmare, but sound like your mate’s mum. I draw influences from all over the place: the campy gameshow host styles of Lilly Savage and Dame Edna, to the grotty 3am basement queens of London’s East End. Oh, and The Divine David – I watch her guide to decorating a Christmas tree every year. It’s tradition.
Drag Race may have dragged drag towards (and some would say into) the mainstream, but what you do would probably not be seen on a Saturday evening on ITV. What do you think of the success of Drag Race?
I’ve been watching Drag Race since season 2 aired nigh on ten years ago now, and it has profoundly influenced both me and many other performers I know. I think it’s great that drag has crept into the mainstream consciousness, but RuPaul and her cronies still represent a very narrow blip on the spectrum of drag. Some stuff you will never see on television. Also at this stage it has become a little formulaic.
Would you enter?
I would only want to take part in RPDR if they open it up to drag artists of all genders: I don’t want to be part of it until everyone is welcome. That’s what is so great about Meth’s Not Another Drag Competition – it’s open to everyone! Even then, I think I’m quite an acquired taste, and it’d be too easy for the RPDR editorial team to misconstrue my words.
You won the 2016 crown of Not Another Drag Competition held at Her Upstairs. Congratulations! *air kisses. What are some of your kweenly duties?
Shortly after my win I moved to Edinburgh, so I have been reigning in absentia. I spend my days with crippling FOMO when I see all the exciting things happening in London, and especially where the draggies at Her Upstairs are taking things. It’s been such an honour to be a part of that story and get to work with so many talented people – Meth and co are an asset to the community!
Be bold, be boastful – why do you think you beat the other queens in the competition?
I had a bit of an epiphany moment in the quarter final of the competition, when I realised that doing stand-up comedy in drag was my thing. I’d flirted with amdram at uni, but could never bring myself to sit down and write stand-up material. When Georgia Tasda arrived, I suddenly had this surreal character I could put into any kind of situation I wanted: one week she’s holding an art class, next week she’s performing a séance. Once I was up on stage, the jokes came very naturally. I’m usually quite a quiet and shy person, but it felt really good to be up on stage, capturing everyone’s attention and seeing my material go down so well. It was very moving and profound, actually, and I think it’s what helped me win. That and the support of my friends and family!
Will this be your first time at Edinburgh Fringe?
This is indeed my first time performing at the fringe. It is a daunting experience, but I am in a fantastic venue and holding exceptional company with the messy ‘test-bed cabaret’ queens of Pollyanna. BRING. IT. ON.
What can audiences expect from Afternoon T?
Afternoon T is my homage to the drag queens of Fire Island, who each summer would serve ‘high tea’ in full drag to the gay clientele. It’s a fusion of political satire, tomfoolery and terrible puns. I might even subject my audiences to a song, if they’re unfortunate enough.
Will you be bringing it back to London, even touring your T?
I would love to bring the show to London. I could call it Capital T.
What’s next for Georgia?
For Georgia, Next is a shop that I would never frequent because I am brand loyal. Except maybe at 5am on Boxing day for the sales.
Find Georgia. Tasda on facebook