Every Tuesday a group of immensely talented, ridiculously creative drag queens perform at Katie’s Bar in Glasgow’s Merchant City. The show, Mothertucker, is a must-see for even the most casual of drag fans – from those who have watched one or two episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race when they were scrolling endlessly through Netflix, to those with John Waters inspired tattoos and a collection of tickets from the shows of every relatively known queen who has passed through Glasgow in the past five years. Mothertucker is an incredible combination of bizarre performance art and accessible entertainment that few have managed to make successful.
On Tuesday 4 October, five queens celebrate one year of performance as Mothertucker. 52 themed shows, each as conceptual as the last, have resulted in hundreds and even thousands of followers on social media and a strong core audience that just keep coming back. Over the past year Lacy Rain, CJ Banks, Rujazzle, Perry Cyazine, October Fist and countless guests have created something brand new, something that the people of Glasgow have an obvious thirst for. “We are pushing the boundaries of what drag is.”, says CJ, who is peeling cotton buds off her face from her furby inspired look.
For their first anniversary show, Mothertucker conducted a Facebook poll urging keen followers of the night to vote for their top 10 all time favourite performances. The response was staggering and the fans chose well. Tonight’s performances have everything – Isa from Still Game, Britney Spears’ shaving her head, Miss Trunchbull shoving an audience member’s face in a chocolate cake, live fisting to Leona Lewis’ ‘Bleeding Love’, a rendition of Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’ but replaced instead by pills – it’s a cornucopia of insanely entertaining numbers that leave my stomach sore from laughing.
“I would describe Mothertucker as Glasgow’s most alternative drag show,” says October Fist, a stunning queen whose two stage appearances tonight have involved apparent anal penetration, “Pretty much anything can and probably already has happened. We’ve had everything from bare naked arseholes getting douched. Nothing to do with myself.”
And this is what’s so irresistable about Mothertucker and particularly tonight’s show. Not October being fisted by Rujazzle in Spongebob drag, but the sheer variety and unexpectedness. It’s clear that this is a huge factor in what continues to draw big crowds back to Katie’s Bar on a Tuesday night time and time again. Tonight, I am told, is one of the largest and best audiences in the show’s history. People want to celebrate and encourage the life of this insane mish-mash of pop culture, conceptual performance and incredible artistry.
“People don’t know what they’re gonna see when they come on a weekly basis,” October continues. “There’s categories that we all kind of fall into. If you wanna see sexuality and nudity then you’ll see me, if you wanna see psychosis pushed into a performance filter then it’s Lacy, if you wanna see high fashion sort of being grubby and dirty you’ve got Rujazzle, Perry who is hilarious as a performer, her and CJ are both amazing.” Undoubtedly, every queen at Mothertucker has their own fully realised brand and style of performance.
I ask Perry, a strikingly beautiful glittery bearded queen, who her biggest inspiration is in her drag. “My biggest influence in performing is Lacy Rain. She does things that I’ve never seen anybody do before and every time that she comes out, totally totally pushes what drag and what performance art is.”
This is the pinnacle of what makes Mothertucker great and ever popular. Though it’s unlikely you would see Perry, CJ, October or Rujazzle performing a ten minute piece about a fictional “Corn-maiden” complete with audience participation, butter smothering and a corn on the cob attached to a drill like Lacy this evening, the queens can still inspire and push each other further out of the box. Five very different performers becoming one coherent entity and each acting as both artist and muse.
Following a recent winning performance at Cha Cha Boudoir in Manchester, the group would like to take the show further than the walls of Katie’s Bar. Rujazzle, who is already involved with a crazy amount of weekly shows in and around Glasgow including Suck (Delmonicas) and Polo Goes Pop, tells me; “I think it would be good to expand the brand and bring our drag to the rest of the UK. That’s what I’d love to do over the next year. I’d love us to get booked as a group and go down and show what we do. I don’t think there’s anything like us.”
There isn’t. Mothertucker is completely unique and tonight’s show confirms that for me. For the vast majority of the media consuming public, drag is one of two things. It’s the overdramatic, stylised and scripted drama of RuPaul’s Drag Race – or it’s Paul O’Grady and Dame Edna. It’s not that there’s no validity in those forms of drag, it’s purely that this is the mainstream’s only representation of the art of drag.
There’s no denying the huge success of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the way in which it has brought drag into the limelight, particularly within youth culture. Everyone I know under the age of 30 is either a super-fan, a casual viewer or at the very least aware of its existence. Clearly RuPaul’s empire has inspired, influenced and promoted drag internationally. October first did drag after being inspired by season 3’s Raja and Perry was influenced by the show as a whole. The question is, is it’s narrow depiction of drag a problem for queens like the stars of Mothertucker or does the show act as encouragement for viewers to explore drag outside of its one hour slot?
RuJazzle, who is currently in half spongebob drag and half regular clothes, gives me a frank answer. “Drag like all art forms, it goes in and out of vogue. It was last in vogue in the early to mid-nineties and it’s come back in fashion now. But having said that because drag is so anarchic, it’ll never be mainstream. It’s inherently subversive to society and heteronormative society.
“We are a show that is inspired by Drag Race. We saw Drag Race, we got inspired by certain things, but we are gonna do it this way, we’re gonna be a bit different. I mean, I’m sure all of us could go on Drag Race and be successful but we’d have to compromise some aspect of what we do. I couldn’t do spongebob on Drag Race. Whether Drag Race has had more androgynous queens, they’ve never been successful. They like feminine drag queens. And they like a certain level of polish. There is still a kind of preference to look over performance because the way the show’s formatted, I mean what we do we create mixes, but you know, you’d never see that on drag race.”
Unfortunately, it’s the sad truth. Anything on television has to have a focus on aesthetic in order to keep people watching and boost ratings. In recent Drag Race seasons, queens who have had different makeup and fashion styles have been critiqued harshly and misunderstood. Take queens like Milk from Season 6 and Trixie Mattel from Season 7. Regardless of whatever the judges’ criticism was, their fellow competitors and especially fans of the show had much to say about styling a garment with a beard, painting on intendedly harsh contour or performing while “pregnant”. Queens are generally expected to fit the Drag Race mould, and when they can’t or won’t, they are cast away as outsiders and told their audience is too niche.
I’m a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race but I refuse to believe this is true. Like any art form, drag must be pushed further and further. There should be no mould to fit or guidelines to stay within. This is why I believe Mothertucker are the strongest and most promising group of performing drag queens in Scotland today. They each understand the necessity of pushing that bit further, creating original performances and looking incredible while maybe not being “polished”. But who cares about “polished” anyway? In a game of drag Top Trumps, performance beats aesthetic every time.
I sit and wait for a taxi with the newest member of the group, CJ, who was asked to join a couple of months ago. We each enjoy a slice of Mothertucker first anniversary cake, which is really good by the way, and I ask her what she believes the unofficial mission statement of the night is.
“To entertain, to make people think, to question society, to look fabulous, to get drunk…obviously I have to throw that one in or I’m not a real drag queen.”
Frankie Hunter’s incredible shots of the Mothertucker girls, as well as a lot more amazing work, is available on her Facebook. Don’t forget to attend Mothertucker, every Tuesday in Katie’s at 9. Support your local drag!