Rosebuds of the Month January 2019 | Tayla & Cherry
For the first time ever, we're so excited to introduce a Rosebud of the Month DOUBLE FEATURE! Meet the amazing drag duo from Sydney Australia - Tayla Mac and Cherry Kills!
I remember watching re-runs of the early seasons of drag race about 6 years ago on SBS. I was FASCINATED by these larger than life creatures and was inspired to explore my own queer scene. I met a local queen named Burley Chassis and distinctly remember staying out til the early hours every Thursday night in support of a drag competition she was apart of (despite having a 5:30AM nursing shift the next day). With her encouragement I began experimenting with makeup and eventually started doing what I called (at the time)"club kid" inspired looks. It was at this point that I met Cherry, and as our relationship developed and my passion for drag grew, we began to question whether or not women were "allowed" to participate in drag. Eventually I came to the conclusion that there's no reason women shouldn't be allowed to exaggerate and perform their own femininity, while cis men are celebrated for doing so. That's how my drag journey began. Image via Tayla Mac's Instagram I soon discovered that there are much higher expectations for AFAB (assigned female at birth) drag artists (in comparison to our male counterparts) simply to be seen as "valid" drag performers. Often AFAB drag queens are criticized for not being transformative ENOUGH and this underlying mentality is partially why I have always felt it necessary to create the exaggerated visuals that I do. This is incredibly emotionally taxing, however, it's also a massive motivator to create powerful imagery as a 'fuck you' to misogynistic attitudes ingrained in the community. I hope to empower and inspire other women to do the same. Like many artists I have a wide plethora of inspirations and references (Galliano for Dior is an eternal fave). When it comes to the visual I'm a detailed-oriented perfectionist and I find it much more rewarding when all the details are correct. I've always admired artists like Lady Gaga for constantly re-inventing themselves and never keeping their imagery static. I like to think of myself as a chameleon in drag. I never want to have a signature look/silhouette because I want to live different fantasies based on my ever-changing inspirations, like Whitney once famously said "I'm EVERY woman." Image via Cherry Kills' Instagram
Jack Ward aka Cherry Kills
Growing up with two older sisters meant that I became aware of the cultural misogyny they faced in their everyday life at a young age and I always knew I wanted to help change that. When I discovered drag (after seeing Sharon Needles on season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race) I knew this was what I needed to be doing. Drag allows me to express a feminine energy that I've always had inside me, and being a white cis-gendered male means that I'm given a platform for my voice to be heard that women and POC often aren't. I was raised on videos of Lady Gaga calling for change, challenging her fans to be brave in their activism and I think that resonated deeply with me to this day. There's no use in gaining a platform if you aren't using it to help your community or bring to the table those who aren't always invited to the conversation. Image via Cherry Kills' Instagram Tayla and I's relationship developed organically (although at first I was pessimistic that a woman would ever be romantically OR sexually interested in a drag performer) and when she started practicing drag too I was appalled to discover the misogyny she faced in a community that supposedly belonged to ALL of us. I wrote and performed an anti-misogyny rap in the same venue that she faced harassment and together we've worked to create spaces for women and fem presenting people to feel more celebrated/safe in our community. Image via Cherry Kills' Instagram We have both faced prejudice about our bi-sexuality too, with people frequently questioning and de-validating our relationship and so it's really important for me to be vocal about bi-visibility whenever possible. So many queer icons (Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Gaga) have identified as bi-sexual but their sexuality is often dismissed or swept under the rug in favour of seeing them as straight or gay. Not to sound corny but Tayla really is a one-of-a-kind artist, and seeing how much energy (both emotional and physical) she puts into her art constantly inspires me to push my own art further. My goal in drag is to tear apart the way in which queer spaces (which were created by trans women of colour, mind you) cater almost exclusively to cis gay men and pioneer spaces that allow queer/trans women to feel safe, celebrated and proud.