Rhett Slutler spent the first year of drag learning the rules: Don’t show your tape. Make sure you’re not using a song that has too high of a voice in it. Make sure you’re using the right amount of socks in your pants.
Then they started performing non-binary drag, moving beyond the strict binary of emulating maleness or femaleness. Despite the new freedom, Slutler found there wasn’t much space for non-binary drag in Halifax.
“People were confused by what I was doing at a drag king show or a burlesque show. It wasn’t quite burlesque. It wasn’t quite drag,” Slutler says. “Other people were doing that too, but it was so few and far between that people weren’t really understanding.”
Thus, the Gender Fuck show came to be at Menz & Mollyz—a non-binary drag show with its own growing group of fans and supportive community.
Non-binary drag is drag performance that resides outside of gender binaries. Performers can be as masculine, feminine, or genderqueer as they desire, with no preformed expectations around gender expression. Individuality, queerness, fabulousness, ridiculousness and glitter are key non-binary drag ingredients.
The secret to non-binary drag? Makeup, makeup, makeup, says Slutler. “It's your best friend and worst enemy so you have to spend a lot of time getting to know it and being comfortable with it. It's the easiest way to change the shape of your face and the look of your character.”
And don’t worry if others will “get it” or not. Tell yourself “Fuck it. I’m gonna do whatever I want. I’m going to go out there and they’re going to love it because no one has any idea what’s happening.”
To spread the non-binary word even further, Slutler is facilitating a non-binary drag workshop—Drag Beyond the Binary—which will be hosted by Our Resilient Bodies, on Tuesday, July 19, from 7-10pm at 6231 North Street. It’s a chance to try out ideas, and might be “eye-opening” for anyone questioning their gender.
“It’s not always about performing on stage,” says Slutler. “Sometimes it’s about figuring out who you are and what the ridiculous side of yourself is.”
Drag Beyond the Binary
6231 North Street
Tuesday, July 19, 7-10pm