drag king

#SECRETPROJECT REVEALED

Gary Krumbert. Photo by James Yang with HMUA by Yolanda Bartram.

Gary Krumbert. Photo by James Yang with HMUA by Yolanda Bartram.

Hello Lovelies! 

Sorry - I know, I know... I'm late to the game again when it comes to my blogs. I admit it. It's just difficult trying to find the time to fit it in!

SO... something exciting that happened exactly a week ago is my #SECRETPROJECT Reveal Video launched! Yippie! 

THANK YOU to everyone who has shared, liked and commented on it, whether on social media or on the YouTube video itself. 

Haven't seen it? Why, let me take the hassle out of consulting the Google machine by popping the video in below.

The reveal of the #SECRETPROJECT - A collaborative effort between Performing Artist/Curator/Director Nat Hugill, Videographer/Photographer James Yang and Make-up/SFX/Body Painter Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX. MUSIC: Taylor Swift's - "Ready for it". Note that we do not own this song. All rights and copyrights are of that of the artist.
Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA & Body Paint by Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX.

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA & Body Paint by Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX.

As the caption of the video describes, this was a collaborative effort between myself, Videographer/Photographer James Yang and HMUA/SFX/Body Painter Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX

Be sure to give a like or a comment if you enjoy it! 

What I thought may be fun and informative was to give you a bit of insight as to how this came about and what actually happened on the day. 

  • If you haven't had a lookie though my Youtube Channel, I have a video on there from about 5 years ago now that was another collaborative effort called 'Let's Make a Date - Middle Earth Edition' I collaborated with Jocelen Janon, Yolanda Bartram of BodyFX, Brian Lowe and Samuel Wheeler of Nocturnal 3D to make it happen. It was super fun to make and I decided it had been a long time overdue, so I'd better get my A into G and make another one! But, what to do?
  • I know my strengths lie in inhabiting various characters, so I knew that would be an integral part of it. But I was unsure what to actually make. In 2013, when I was bored at home one day, I decided to do a video which mashed up a bunch of my characters into one video, and what linked them was a song. The song was Britney Spears 'Work B*tch'. Here's the video if you'd like to have a gander. I always felt like it had so much potential, but only having two lamps as my fill lights and using my phone as a camera, it wasn't exactly up to a professional standard (but fun none-the-less). 
  • So.. then it dawned on me. Why not do a newer version of the character mash-up to a different song, incorporating a few new looks and having the song as a running narrative? I had the idea on the back burner for a while, and it wasn't until I listened to Taylor Swift's 'Ready for It' the "EUREKA!" moment happened. It was then when I heard the song that it spured me into action of making it a reality.
  • I'm a very visual person and knew the exact aesthetic and style I wanted the video to be shot in (which is what you see in the video) basically very Terry Richardson/Helmut Newtonesque with a plain white background so the characters/looks were the main focus. 
  • Having worked with James Yang before, I knew his style and I knew he could pull this off as his work is exemplary. Having also worked with Yolanda many times before, I knew I could trust her to deliver on the looks front, she's a wizard I swear! 
  • I pitched my idea to them and they were both on board. YAY! Now to the hard part.. what looks, what characters? How do they interact?
  • When choosing looks and characters, I wanted relationships to be established, contrasts in personalities to be defined and for the looks/characters to actually relate to the song I'm lip-syncing to. Basically, everything had to work together to create a cohesive whole. 
  • After much brainstorming, reading song analysis' of 'Ready for It" I came up with the following: Bowie style look who plays it cool (think Bowie circa 1970's Diamond Dogs era) who works against my persona Lilly Loca. Lilly sings the lyrics about a man who is a bit of a heart breaker and plays it cool, and Bowie is that person. Then there's Penny Royalty (the bio queen character - watch this space, I have plans for her!) and my well established character Gary Krumbert. Gary is the dweeby, dorky, geeky and endearing fellow, who provides a nice contract to Bowie (who is everything Gary isn't). Penny Royalty - in simple terms - is a psychotic Stepford Wife style character who becomes obsessed (and perhaps a bit too openly aroused) by Gary. As the video progresses, you see Penny getting more and more crazed, frustrated and tense with Gary being pretty blinded by it all until the end. Poor Gary. The final look is the half and half Spanish look. Each "half" plays off each other; the over-confident, brave and boisterous matador with the infatuated and love struck senorita. 
  • I styled each look - with help from Dolly DeStory who provided the green dress you see Penny Royalty wearing as well as Kita Mean who provided her wig. 
  • On the day, we shot at Kingsize Studios and shot all 5 looks one after the other. First we started with Bowie, then Gary, moved to Lilly, breaked for lunch, moved to Penny and then finally did the half and half look. We did have one more look we were going for - but we ran out of time - which was a full body glitter look using BodyFX's Bio Glitter.
  • With each look/character, we'd shoot the video first, then photos. Make-up took usually half an hour between looks and then we'd be straight back in front of the camera again - no rest for the wicked! 

I hope that's been an insightful wee look into the shoot! Plus, I hope you've enjoyed the photos! 

To finish, here's one last one of Penny Royalty and the Spanish Half & Half look we haven't released yet and some other wonderful photos from the release.

Love, 

Lilly x

Penny Royalty (with photo of Gary Krumbert taken by Brian Lowe). Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty (with photo of Gary Krumbert taken by Brian Lowe). Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Spanish Half & Half. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Lilly Loca. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Lilly Loca. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

BOWIE. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

BOWIE. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Penny Royalty. Photo by James Yang with MUA by Yolanda Bartram. 

Character vs. Persona

Lilly Loca as her original drag king character, Gary Krumbert. Photo taken by Peter Jennings.

Lilly Loca as her original drag king character, Gary Krumbert. Photo taken by Peter Jennings.

Character (n): 

1. the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.

2. a person in a novel, play, or film.

Persona (n): 

1. the aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others e.g. "their burlesque persona" 

 

I've often heard performers getting confused as to how to classify themselves - is who they are when they perform burlesque a character or a persona? To me, when people get it wrong, it irks me. Why? Well, because having performed in theatre and acting most of my life until 8 years ago when I first dipped my toes into the sparkly waters of burlesque, I was very much involved in character-based roles. I still am, and very much incorporate it into my burlesque career, but how I perceive a character may be a bit different to someone else who possibly doesn't have a theatrical background. I can't expect to get frustrated if someone is just a bit naive and thinks characters and personas are the same deal. So - I'm going to clear it all up for you! 

Important Note:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having either a character, persona or both! It's just important to get it right when selling yourself to a client or producer. If people sell themselves as a roving character, yet when push comes to shove, the "character" isn't fully formed, and when hit with questions from people your interacting with while in role like "So, who is your father?" and you can't answer it - that character isn't developed and you've essentially promoted yourself as being someone you aren't. If you're a persona, you are you, just an adapted version of you, so audience members aren't going to expect a fully developed, three dimensional back story apart from your very own! 

Character - How do I know if they are one?

As stated above, a character has the mental and moral qualities of an individual. Basically, this means your character should have a backstory. Here's a checklist of how you can figure out whether you have a character or a persona:

  1. Do they have a distinct name (that is separate from yourself)?
  2. Do they have distinct personality traits which act as a basis for all of their actions, reactions, conversations, etc?
  3. Do they have a particular way they physicality hold themselves (i.e. they are confident, so walk with a proud chest, tall stature and moderate tension)?
  4. When you are them, do you find that you fall into their mindset and let them drive the way you act, react, perform, interact, etc?
  5. Can you imagine a backstory for them? Do they have a family? what's their favorite colour? Are they married? Do they like seafood? 
  6. Do they have any particular quirks (i.e. allergies, a twitchy left eye, a distinct dislike for physical contact)? 

If you've answered 3 or more of these with "yes" - you've probably got yourself a character. If you've answered more with "no" or "I'm not sure", then it's probably safe to say you've got yourself a persona.

How do I develop a character?

So - how to develop your character (if you have one)? There are various character profiles you can download from Google - I've got them for all my drag king characters Jethro, Gary and Santago. I know everything about them from what high school they went to (or didn't) to what their preference in food is. It is fundamental if you're creating a character to have a well rounded, fleshed out, 3D one - especially if you're roving. Why? Because their history, personality, quirks and life experiences will be a huge influence on how they interact with people and the kinds of acts you'll come up with for them. Just like if you have a persona - the acts you create for your onstage persona are inspired and influenced by your own life! Same needs to happen with a character. 

Case Study - Me, Lilly and Gary.

Lilly Loca. Photo taken by Studio81.

Lilly Loca. Photo taken by Studio81.

To use myself as a case study, I'll take one of my characters Gary Krumbert and my onstage burlesque persona Lilly Loca as examples. Gary is a fully fleshed out, 3D character. He has his backstory, he in himself is a person. I am not me when I am him. I am fully, 100% in role as Gary. However I react to a situation in role as him, I instinctively know what to do and how to react because I know him so well as know his backstory well enough to be able to conduct myself accordingly. With Lilly - essentially, Lilly Loca is me. She is me, I am her. Lilly Loca is a stage name I fashioned myself to separate Nat Hugill, the mother, wife, theatre actress, producer among other things from Lilly Loca - the bawdy, silver tongued burlesque entertainer and MC. To complicate matters further, I say I'm Lilly Loca performing as Gary Krumbert, Jethro Jenkins, Santago Montego, etc. Why? Because I use my name Lilly Loca as an umbrella for all things burlesque - and if I want people to find me, or remember me, I need to link my characters to the name I go by in the burlesque industry. Weird, I know - but otherwise people think Gary is someone who isn't me - you have no idea how many times I've heard people say "OH YOU'RE GARY?!!! I WOULD HAVE NEVER KNOWN HAD YOU NOT TOLD ME!".

To complicate things further...

Lilly Loca as Absolem. Photo taken by Bruce Jenkins Photographer.

Lilly Loca as Absolem. Photo taken by Bruce Jenkins Photographer.

You can be in role in your persona. Yep - now, there's a BIG difference here between being in character or playing a role as your persona. Again, I'll use myself as a case study. 

So, as explained before, I, Lilly, am a persona. I am essentially Nat with a jazzy name. Lilly is my mask, my facade, but underneath it all, it's still Nat. 

As Lilly, I sometimes take on a role for a particular act. This is to say, they're not a character as they're not fully fleshed out or a person in their own right, it's me as Lilly taking on characteristics of a particular character to help achieve a particular emotion, feel, look, etc. Pretty much it's performer inception, haha! 

When I perform my Absolem routine - the routine is inspired by the character of Absolem from the famed Alice in Wonderland books. However I am not the character of Absolem. I take on qualities of Absolems character as Lilly to help the audience understand that the act is in homage to this character and helps them to understand the metamorphosis I go through in my routine from caterpillar to butterfly. It's like if a performer was to perform a snake inspired act - they'd take on qualities of a snake to convince the audience that that's what their doing (i.e. use fluid, snake-like movements when performing, use glaring eye contact, etc) but they in themselves are not the character of a snake. On stage, they personify the characters traits, but offstage when people chat to the audience, they're themselves, not in role. See what I mean? That's where it all get's a bit confusing. 

So, if you're ever in doubt as to whether you are a character, persona or a persona donning qualities of a character but aren't in themselves a character, read all of the above and ask yourself those questions to determine it. 

I hope this has been an insightful read for you!

Next blog: Goals of 2018 + review of my 2017 goals