“I don’t care about gender norms or appearing one gender or the other”

Daniel McBride – Barb Balls is a drag queen and composer, the London-based self-described “visceral” performer is an androgynous queen. He says it’s not particularly important for her to blur the lines between masculinity and femininity. He’s doing what he wants to do, and rightfully thinks we should all give “less fucks” about what she’s got between her legs and how she presents in drag.

That person is a person, they’re a great performer and it doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of education needed, letting people know that drag is the whole spectrum, that it’s meant to play on different genders.”

I keep things weird, funny and glamorous at the same time. I like to capture the fine line between drama and comedy and if I have challenged you or made you question yourself and what you know then I’ve done my job.

Growing up I was always punished for features that were true to myself, forcing me to live a life untrue to myself. My femininity was always a part of me growing up, and when I was a child I used to believe that it was my twin that I’d shared a womb with, which sadly never survived. I would often create dissociative characters or places I would go to to protect myself and to express parts of myself I had oppressed. All through school I would try to convince people that I was a girl. Now that I am much older I find that I am often using these personas which hold the burden of my pain and my trauma, and I have commodified them to survive under late capitalism. Whether it be Barbs my drag character, the anti-glamour femme fatale of everything I was as a child, or Chuck the hyper-masculine escort compiled of everything I was expected to be growing up, each of them are vital for my survival. I have become a faggot jester for the noble straight gaze, and they are paying voyeurs who feast off my pain.

We have been taught that there is a certain way that we must experience gender identity in order to be seen as valid. This can be so damaging as it convinces people they shouldn’t even bother attempting to explore their gender identify any further.

Be the version you want to be, to show who you are as an individual. If I focus too much on the destination, I would miss most on the amazing stuff in between. When gender identity is a missing puzzle piece, every area of your life is strongly impacted.

Unfortunately, a lot of drag fans still see drag as just a female illusion. Even though Drag Race has done an incredible amount for the community, the series mostly showcases fishy, feminine presenting performers. Because Drag Race isn’t including different types of queens, who are alternative or bearded, cis or trans, it lets people know that this is the hierarchy of what the art-form is.

I do want to show pieces of drag they’ve never had because I think the community needs it. But the show isn’t designed for every type of queen to succeed. There is a format, and you have to stick within that format in order to be chosen. I think I’ll just do my thing, and if I get on, I get on, and if I don’t, then I don’t.”

Model + article: Dan Mcbride
Photos:  Asafe Ghalib @asafeghalib