Drag king talent showcase Boi Box is celebrating its fifth birthday. Its founders tell us why it’s so important
When drag cabaret couple Adam All and Apple Derrieres launched Boi Box five years ago at Soho’s Candy Bar, a queer women’s venue that sadly closed in 2014, they were worried about finding enough performers to make their talent night work. ‘Because there were barely any stages for us to perform [on], very few drag kings were actively pursuing gigs,’ says Adam. Thankfully, Boi Box proved an instant hit that inspired a new wave of budding kings.
‘We started to get people coming down to showcase a fully-fleshed [drag] character and performance,’ Adam recalls. ‘These people jump-started their careers by sharing clips from their Boi Box sets.’ One such performer, Romeo De La Cruz, is now a Boi Box ambassador who says: ‘This night isn’t just important, it’s
Five years on, Adam calls the drag king scene ‘an unstoppable juggernaut’, and Boi Box has evolved too. Now at Haggerston LGBT+ haven The Glory, it’s a seated cabaret show welcoming everyone from lip-syncers to magicians. ‘Expect the unexpected, and come with an open mind because you may learn something,’ says Apple.
Drag kings still get fewer breaks than queens, but the tide is turning as their art form leans into topical conversations around identity. ‘We’re seeing more performances showing that masculinity doesn’t have to be toxic,’ explains Apple. But they most value giving a platform to previously overlooked drag kings and non-binary, androgynous and Afab (assigned female at birth) talent. Says Adam: ‘It’s about people who’ve been forced to hide their male sides saying: “This is me, take it or leave it!” And that’s so empowering for them and the audience.’
Boi Box Bonanza! Fifth Birthday Special! takes place on Sep 27 at The Glory.