WATCH | Alternative drag culture finds breathing space in Cape Town
“SufferK8 is the name of my drag character because I feel suffocated when I’m not in drag,” says Gavin Collins as he applies make-up to his cheeks in front of the mirror.
Collins is getting ready for a drag-centric event in Cape Town which will see his alter-ego SufferK8, a feisty, assertive alternative drag queen, come to life.
Collins is not a professional drag queen so it’s more of a lifestyle choice he has adopted since 2014 when he and his business partner, Michael Beaumont Cooper, began a drag-centric event called Diskotekah.
“Diskotekah is about a sub-culture or an alternative community,” says Collins. “There is obviously a queer community in SA but we just felt like that wasn’t our space. A lot of queer culture in SA is quite heteronormative, or if you don’t dress in a certain way, people judge you. We just wanted to do something fun with creative expression.”
Diskotekah parties have grown in popularity over the 4 years of their existence. WrestleMania is the theme tonight and hundreds of people show up in elaborate dress, to celebrate the event.
“You can come in a t-shirt, in a wig, a speedo, anything; that’s the whole point. There’s no pressure to look a certain way or act a certain way or be a certain way. The only thing that is required is to not take yourself too seriously and to be bold and brave and have fun,” says Collins.
“I loved to dance when I was a little boy but I had teachers, kids and even parents saying I shouldn’t be dancing because I was a boy. All of those feelings that I had as a kid of feeling sad because people didn’t get what I was doing, it’s totally validated by what I’m doing now because I’m doing the same thing, but I’m having fun with it.”