A drag extravaganza is coming to Reykjavík. Tonight, Wednesday night, Loft Hostel will be hosting Australian drag queen Shae den Freude, who will be joined by local queen Mighty Bear.
It’s not the first time Loft has brought in an international queen to perform for Reykjavík audiences. In the past year, they’ve brought in British drag queen Crystal Lubrikunt to perform at the hostel twice. Tomorrow’s show is just the next milestone for Iceland’s drag scene, which has been growing steadily over the past year.
Mighty Bear, also known as Magnús Bjarni Gröndal, is a member of Drag-Súgur, the group that sparked somewhat of a drag renaissance in Iceland when they began performing last year. Although Mighty Bear only began doing drag last year, she’s made a name for herself by combining drag with her dark and brooding music.
What can people expect from tonight’s show?
“I honestly haven’t met Shae yet, but I’ve been watching her on YouTube. She does a little bit of pole dancing and a little bit of everything. It’s kind of hard to describe. But people who are going to come to the show are definitely in for a great show. It’s wild! And I’m going to play my original music and set, so it’s going to be in your face.”
How did you bring Shae den Freude over to perform in Reykjavík?
“Rakel, the promoter of Loft, has been very busy at dragging queens from the UK because she lives there in the UK now, like Shae does. Loft is such a great venue to do that, because you can offer them a place to stay and they can do a show.”
“… people who are going to come to the show are definitely in for a great show. It’s wild! And I’m going to play my original music and set, so it’s going to be in your face.”
What does it mean to you that there are more queens coming from around the world to perform in Iceland?
“It’s a huge honour. Up until a year ago when me and some others started Drag-Súgur there was no drag scene here, we had nothing. Drag-Súgur is booming, we recently had our one year anniversary, and getting international queens coming over now is a truly breathtaking and phenomenal experience to witness. We finally have an emerging drag scene that people are interested in outside of Iceland.”
How would you describe your style of drag?
“It’s highly visual. I tend to do a lot of dark stuff, so it’s not your typical glittery drag queen. You’re going to see a thirty minute visual-audio explosion. I’ve been in bands for years, so music is kind of my number one art. But getting to create a whole look with drag and being able to incorporate visual stuff into my act is truly amazing. That’s what I love about drag. It’s constantly evolving, and you’re constantly evolving your character. I hope that a lot of people who have seen me before are going to expect something new from me tomorrow.”
How do you think your style and Shae’s style will compliment each other?
“It’s going to be an awesome contrast. You’re going to watch black and white, in a way. But that’s fun! If you go to shows and see the same queens over and over again, that isn’t fun. So you’re definitely going to be entertained because you’re going to get two completely separate styles that hopefully will merge together well.”
How has the drag scene in Iceland changed and evolved since Drag-Súgur began last year?
“It’s some of the same core people still doing drag, but the growth has been enormous. We were looking at pictures just a couple days ago and we were laughing at how far we’ve come. When you look at other countries, they’ve had drag culture intertwined with the gay culture for decades, and we’ve almost had it for a year. Now we have a huge boom in drag kings, so that’s amazing, and more people are starting to pick up on it.”
“… getting international queens coming over now is a truly breathtaking and phenomenal experience to witness. We finally have an emerging drag scene that people are interested in outside of Iceland.”
Has Loft Hostel been supportive of Drag-Súgur from the beginning?
“Drag night’s home has always been Gaukurinn. But what I like here is that Rakel at Loft has been very supportive and she is the one who has been bringing in international queens and she’s been very busy doing that.
This is the fourth or the fifth in maybe a year that she’s bringing in, so Loft is definitely helping out and definitely doing their part.”
What can you learn from performing with drag queens from around the world?
“It’s nice to meet a queen or a king who can broaden your horizon and show you something that isn’t happening here. They are much more in tune with connecting with the audience. Because we usually perform in front of the same people — and I do not mean that in a bad way! But they are more used to aggressive clubs where you have loads of people. The scene here is so accepting that you’re not coming to a drag show if you’re not supportive, where I think in other countries you might get a little bit of a tougher crowd. I can definitely pick up things from international queens regarding that.”
Wednesday’s show at Loft begins at 20.30. Entry is free, and the venue is wheelchair accessible.