In “Victor/Victoria,” Julie Andrews takes Paris by storm as the title character, a woman posing as a man pretending to be a woman.
“I was inspired by that film,” says Holestar, one of the best-known fabulously painted faces from London’s alternative drag scene, who has the unusual distinction among the drag performers as having been born female. A singer-songwriter who otherwise fits in nicely with these East London drag divas, she wasn’t about to let a thing like gender get in the way of her destiny with the stage.
In Los Angeles this weekend to participate in RuPaul’s DragCon, she’s also promoting “Dressed As a Girl,” and its soundtrack, for which she’s written and performs songs.
“I brought T-shirts and CDs,” she says, while trying to remember the names of the clubs at which she’ll perform during her first-ever visit to Los Angeles (Hamburger Mary’s and TigerHeat).
“Dressed As a Girl,” executive produced by “WOW” and DragCon producers Fenton Baily and Randy Barbato, features on- and off-stage profiles of a group of prominent London drag performers who, unlike most U.S. drag queens, do their own singing.
Not surprisingly, Holestar is out exploring Hollywood Boulevard at our allotted interview time. A quick maneuver by an accommodating publicist connects us, with only a minor disruption of her search for Liza Minnelli’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I’m here with Sizzle, John Sizzle,” she says, adding excitedly: “He says hi!”
Sizzle, the drag DJ, is also featured in the film. In addition to being a featured player, Holestar was the “idea person” behind “Dressed As a Girl,” and pitched it to her friend, Colin Rothbart, who’s had a lot of experience in television, but this is his first feature documentary.
“Drag is often about creating an alternative persona which frees you up to do [and/or] say things you might not feel comfortable doing in daywear,” says Rothbart. “It’s about dressing up and having fun, being the person you want to be.”
When asked if those featured in the film are friends, competitors, or simply a group of like-minded performers with similar goals, Holestar states that, “everybody has their own agenda and why they want to do this.”
“It took a long time [six years], people change, their work ethic changes,” she adds. “There’s competition because there are limited jobs. But we’re all still friends, we all still get on.”
Holestar and Sizzle were joined in Los Angeles by Rothbart. “People are friendly here,” she says cheerfully. “The British are quite well mannered, but no one says hello.”
Going by her stage name whether onstage or off, Holestar calls the 13-year career writing and performing her own songs in drag a “happy accident.” She had a traditional start, with a dutiful stint in the Army and achieving a Masters of Fine Art degree at university.
Then she followed a less conventional path, with work as an actress, dominatrix, and DJ, and today calls herself “a jack-of-all-trades.”
The goal that she and Rothbart set for the film was to reveal a bit about the people behind the face paint, and for Holestar, to connect with others who do not have the opportunity or freedom to share their inner personality freely onstage.
She calls the film “a nice snapshot of queer performance/drag/trans stage in London.”
“The one thing for me was to show … you can be a weirdo in a wig and it’s possible to have a good life,” she says.
Several of the performers have ordinary jobs when the stage lights are off—John Sizzle does upholstery, another performer does bicycle repair—but Holestar never veers far from the stage persona.
“They don’t want me as [myself] they want me as Holestar,” she says. “I perform, I DJ, I generally host parties as Holestar. You do what you’ve gotta do, get paid, and on to the next one.”
For the film, soundtrack or for more about the filmmakers, see http://www.dragmovie.com