“I can be scared of losing myself”
as seen in the issue, “PICTURES OF YOU”

 

photography Nicolas Wagner

How long have you been living in London? How does the city inform your work?

Having lived in London for around six years now, I’ve found it to be a massively diverse city, and to work here as a performer and a circus artistmeant that I’ve needed to be too. Take this week, for example: I’m creating a couple of pole acts. One is a classic Madonna number from her early career — a perfect reason to be dressed in an androgynous version of her classic leather look. At the same time, I’m booked in for a trio performance— the client has asked for someone who looks like Jesus to be tied to a crucifix, then be erotically untied… the act gets very homoerotic from that point onwards. As a performer, I need to be ready for whatever the client wants, from BDSM shows in underground club scenes to corporate gigs at The Four Seasons. My current favorite act is a Saran Wrap mummification show; being bound head to toe on the pole before breaking free makes such a wonderfully grotesque visual, but also requires a lot of trust in my scene partner.

Although the core of any work needs obviously to financially support my life in London (not easy at the best of times), I am trying to focus on the development and direction of my own work, and the gigs I love the most are those which allow me to express myself as a circus artist. My stories are manifested and told within my performances using different tools; one of the tools I use is the circus. I think that the circus can be more powerful than many give it credit for, particularly in its ability to draw an audience in to the world of the artist. My current project is focused on devising and creating a touring show called ‘‘The Chosen Haram,’’ which is an exploration of homosexuality within Islam and is performed on two Chinese Poles.These are 6-meter-high poles covered in rubber and are used for acrobatic dance routines. Theatre techniques and skills applied to physical movementon and around these kinds of apparatus open a world of possibilities and let me tell a story in a very different way.

How do you feel right after a performance?

Coming off stage is a huge rush; adrenaline is pumping and after a good show I feel quite high. I find that I need to meditate after each performance to reground myself, as it can be quite a chaotic mental state.

What would impress you on a first date?

What would impress me on a first date? Beautiful eyes and a cheeky smile which makes me think a second and third date would be fun too.

What scares you the most?

I can be scared of losing myself. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am professionally, mentally and emotionally. Like anyone I’ve had to overcome many things in life to be here now: being diagnosed with HIV, losing my family because of my sexuality, and a substance addiction. I’m proud that I am now healthier, happier and busier than I’ve ever been before, and will continue to develop my life along this road. My fear is that my life is finely balanced, and it wouldn’t take a huge mistake to allow it all to slip away, and so I need to ensure that each day I make a pact with myself to stay strong and healthy. It took a long time for me to understand myself, and I work hard every day to keep it this way.

Do you like seeing pictures of yourself?

It’s not that I like to see pictures of myself — I have a weird kind of love/hate obsession. There is so much beauty and yet so many flaws.We are surrounded by images of beauty and see a constant stream of daily images of ourselves, or at least images of what people think we are from the outside.

It makes effective and objective self-reflection an enormous challenge. A talented photographer can bring so much out in an image, and I hope that working with talented artists in that field allows me to see myself more objectively. Video also is a useful tool; being able to analyze the way I move helps me to use my body with greater awareness.

Summer readings?

I’m really into fantasy books; any excuse for a little healthy escapism. I recently read Circe, and The Kingkiller Chronicle series, and have loved every page.

Send me a photo that sums up everything you like at the moment.