House of Flamingo
© Timy Šarec

Ivan Pavlić/ Mr.E: 'What surprised me is that the majority of our audience are straight females'

In 2013 Ivan Pavlić and his then boyfriend performed a drag show as part of Zagreb Pride. A knockout success, it lead to the founding of Zagreb drag group 'House of Flamingo'

Written by
Ivor Kruljac

My name is Ivan Pavlić but in drag I go by the name of Mr. E. I'm 28 and Zagreb born and raised. I grew up on the outskirts of the city so, to me, it was always just this huge place that you could see in the distance whenever you walked down the street. I enjoyed the suburbs because, as a child, I was really playful and I wanted space. But, as I grew older I realised the city was calling. My first encounter with drag was in high school. We watched ‘Pink Flamingos' by John Waters as part of my theatre and film course. That's when I first saw Divine, an outrageous drag queen, one of the first international drag stars, and the movie's lead. Then, around 2012, me and my then boyfriend stumbled on RuPaul's Drag Race. I saw that drag was something with several layers, it was versatile and that successful performance requires a lot of skill. It can have a strong social commentary because it mocks gender stereotypes and gender as a construct in general. It allows people to be free and express themselves. It is also, first and foremost, a performance art. To many unaware of the culture, drag is often confused with being transgender. But, the two are actually very different.

© Timy Šarec

Our first show at Zagreb Pride was at club Medika and it was received rather well. Our mission was the add something that was definitely part of queer culture, but which was also entertaining. I think we succeeded. We had almost 200 people there. A couple of months later, we organised our second show, and got an even bigger crowd and then we formalised as an NGO, House of Flamingo. Later that year, we applied to the Ministry of Culture for funds to support the first Dragram. This year we'll have our sixth edition of the festival.
I’ve been clubbing for twelve years and I know the scene. All the queer events are visited by queer people. But what surprised me is that the majority of our audience are straight females. You also get a lot of straight men who come with their girlfriends and they enjoy our show. That's great. We don’t label ourselves as LGBTQ because we don’t want to limit ourselves. We welcome everyone who has good intentions. Personally, I don’t do classic female illusion drag. I started like that but then realised high heels, boobs and hair aren’t really my thing. I consider myself a male but not a typical… macho type. That bothered me during my childhood and during my teen years. Ultimately, it's a construct and I think it’s very toxic. It assists in the raising of insensitive idiots. Mr E, my drag alter ego, is my way to mock that, because he is a man but he is also very glamorous.

© Santana Picco

I think Zagreb has something for everybody. But, it has a lot to improve. If you want to come to Zagreb, I think it’s a good place to stop off on an intense trip. It’s very chilled and a very safe city with an interesting history, if you want to explore those things. And if you like good underground electronic music and parties, also that is happening. Good food and good drinks at great prices too.

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