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Dickie Beau interview – Queering Voices

Dickie Beau presents a poetic performance of peculiar personas

There aren’t many performers who would describe themselves as ‘a deranged medium conducting a seance in a mental asylum’, but then Dickie Beau is rather unusual. Noted for his inventive use of drag and lip-synching, he’s the brains behind this week’s Queering Voices festival at the Southbank Centre.

Spread over three days, the event is a celebration of queerness in the broadest sense, exploring a range of outsider perspectives through cabaret, drag and performance art. There’ll be new pieces from Le Gateau Chocolat and Scottee, as well as the London premiere of Beau’s new show, ‘Lost in Trans-’.

The title Queering Voices is a play on ‘hearing voices’: ‘I thought it had a particular ring to it in relation to the work I do with voices and lip-synching,’ Beau says. ‘And it directly speaks of the themes of my show, “Lost in Trans”, which is based around two remarkable genuine reel-to-reel tapes that are audio love letters from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Plus, obviously, it’s about voices that are maybe not of the mainstream – queer voices.’ In the world premiere of ‘In Drag’, black baritone Le Gateau Chocolat explores what it means to perform as a Nigerian man dressed as a woman. In ‘Filth’, Scottee is joined by guests including alt-drag troupe The LipSinkers for an evening of cabaret with a dirty twist. And as the title suggests, gender identity is also a key theme of ‘Lost in Trans’.

‘But there are other types of queerness as well,’ Beau says. ‘Most of the artists involved have a relationship with the mainstream that marks them out as independent spirits. They are outsiders, but also accessible.’

The same is true of Beau. He’s just returned from Poland, where he performed with Simon Vincenzi’s Troupe Mabuse as part of the Malta Festival in Poznan. ‘It was brilliantly strange,’ he says. ‘The weirdness of the trip is summed up by the fact that I wound up lip-synching at a silent disco!’

Straight after Queering Voices he’s at the Soho Theatre with his solo show, ‘Blackouts: Twilight of the Idols’. Among the idols he’ll be channelling is Marilyn Monroe. ‘I was given exclusive access to tapes of her final interview,’ he says happily. It sounds like one seance I wouldn’t want to miss.

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