What it’s like to be a black, bearded, plus-sized drag queen
“There’s an expectation of what drag is, and a level of clowning people think it should live in,” drag queen Le Gateau Chocolat explains.
“But I’ve found actually when you have people relaxed and ready in the drag format, they’re almost always more ready and open to hearing some home truths.
“I’ve always seen drag as an opportunity to be reflective of what society is and what my reality is.”
From appropriation, being a proud and out uncle, to his first ever entrée into the world of circus and cabaret, Le Gateau Chocolat spoke to PinkNews about all things drag ahead of his new show with Jonny Woo at Soho Theatre in London.
“There’s so many layers within the LGBTQIA community – from fighting the heteronormative, to being a drag queen within that community, to being a Black drag queen who’s bearded, plus-sized and sings live,” he said.
“Some people think that because we’ve seen one black drag queen, or we have RuPaul, that the movement has won, but that’s not the case.
“It is a problem within community, within the drag community.
“I just read an extraordinary book by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which is so incredible that I really feel like it should be inducted into the curriculum.
“It’s interesting because it’s always those who are othered, those with lesser rights, who have to do a lot of the work.
“It’s exhausting but it’s important.
“And I’m by no means trying to go, ‘Oh God, woe is me,’ no – I’m just talking about what my reality is and how I know there’s a lot of work to be done.
“If you’re privileged enough to have the microphone, literally or metaphorically, use it wisely and talk about things, and help in some small way to move the conversation on.”
Le Gateau Chocolat initially studied to become a lawyer and fell intro drag as a “happy mistake.”
He has been performing for several years now, but had his first foray into drag while at university in Brighton.
“Someone heard me singing on the dance floor and asked if I’d come and do a show,” he explained.
A co-performer passed him a lipstick and he got ready in just three minutes.
“I’ll never forget it – it was a silver tube of really bright cerise pink lipstick, and I used to use it as lipstick, blusher and eyeshadow.
“I used to look like a pig’s breakfast but that was the joy of early drag.
“She also gave me a gold kaftan which had rubbed off on one side, and really naff afro, and was like, ‘Yeah, just do that!’”
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Several years on, whether performing to children or adults, Le Gateau Chocolat takes drag as a learning opportunity for his audiences.
“We are striving for the privilege to just be – to be a human being – and I think that’s what I try to underline in some of my work, he explained.
“From talking about falling in love, to depression, our hopes and dreams, relationships with society, to talking about racism and homophobia, I think that’s what my style of drag has become really.”
Catch Le Gateau Chocolat on A Night At The Musicals at Soho Theatre, from Monday June 18 to Saturday June 30.