I woke up at 7:30. Sore throat, heavy head, my body exhausted. Fuck. Today is the most important performance of my life so far and we are not up to a good start. You see, the previous day I worked a 11 hour shift at a call center. Fabulous right? A cup of tea (black with 5 drops of lemon), a bit of meditation and a hot bath later I started feeling a bit more like myself. I love warming up my voice in the shower. The acoustics are better, and the steam makes it all easier.
I arrive at the theatre at 12:30. I'm never late. I take some time to walk through the venue and every inch of the stage. Then I head backstage and start the process of getting ready. For a country were justice and law work selectively, Murphy's law was being a total bitch that day. I couldn't even glue my brows down, something I've never had a problem with before. Thankfully, we had a makeup artist with us that day and she saved the day.
Members of a chosen family, come and go, with flowers and kind words, congratulating me for booking this gig. They all know it is my biggest dream to perform on a theater stage. Truth of the matter is I've worked all my life to be here and just moments before I hit the stage, I feel like I don't deserve any of this. Imposter syndrome. I take a moment to concentrate and repeat my mantra (which I will not share) in my head. It’s showtime.
I'm wearing the very first dress, wig and pair of heels I've ever bought and I'm performing the first song I've ever performed in drag. "Cabaret" from the titular musical, that always had a very special place in my heart. Its themes of how in all the glamour and lights we tend to ignore the fabric of the world around us being torn up, hit home that very day. The 7th Queer Theater Awards where dedicated to the memory of Zak Kostopoulos/Zackie Oh, an LGBTQI+ HIV activist and fellow drag queen and friend of many of the people in the audience that day, who was murdered brutally in the middle of the streets in Athens in broad daylight and was later presented as a junkie who tried to shoplift a jewelry shop. A jewelry shop who's owner was part of the murder moments later. And now here we are, celebrating the memory of this wonderful person with music, sparkle and laughter, the same way Zackie lived and inspired all of us. But tonight we are changing the plot of the play. We are rewriting the book. We will not ignore the fabric being torn up. We will not forget the crimes committed against our family.
Smoke, lights, music. I hit the stage and next thing I can remember is the applause. I take a bow and quickly head backstage and change to my second outfit. Same thing happens with my second number. All I can remember is suddenly watching 350 people on their feet applauding and shouting my name. It took all the strength in my tiny body not to break down on stage. Eventually I do break down a few hours later. Imposter syndrome.
Tomorrow morning I have another shift at the call center. Tomorrow night another show.
I'm Marianah Grindr, a drag artist and a modern day Queer Superhero. (Photos by Panagiotis Kalkavouras)
The Bulb Collective consists of photographers active in urban (and rural) photography with an expressive shift to include highly aesthetic and poetic images in their assignments.