LGBTQIA+ Leeds: Sigi

When first approaching Sigi for this interview, they had me intrigued before I could even say “moonlight”. My experience with drag kings has been minor in real life to say the least. I was aware that the definition of a drag king is someone who performs stereotypical norms of maleness for ironic, satirical or comedic means and in doing so deconstructs the gender binary. I was also aware that not just women but people of all gender identities can perform as drag kings. But what I didn’t know, and feel totally ignorant in this but must be honest when I say that prior to speaking to Sigi, I had never truly gaged how many truly interesting topics, styles and eras you can explore through male impersonation. That was until I saw a clip of Sigi’s “OscarsSoWhite” routine, in which they impersonate the coveted gold trophy itself as an abused token, cursed to the purgatory that is the Academy Awards.

Indeed, the character of Sigi Moonlight began almost a year to the day ago; their debut performance was on The Glory stage in East London at Man Up! – a drag king battle show. The namesake of this show puts a positive spin on a phrase which is commonly associated with toxic masculinity and the rejection of emotion. Sigi came third in the finals a mere week after their debut and has continued the theme of exploring conventionally controversial aspects of masculinity.

“I often explore the deepest and darkest corners of masculinity, like father-son issues, the patriarchy, racial hegemony and classism, or the desire to be famous, sexy or powerful which you see strewn throughout cinema and pop culture. I then put a spin on this by adding an unexpected narrative or comic relief, like dancing to Beyonce’s ‘Daddy Lessons’ while dressed as the Godfather.” In challenging and exploring conventional ideas of masculinity and its relationship to power and glamour through androgyny, Sigi aligns themselves with many of the greats that they are inspired by, such as Prince, Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie.

What comes through to me is a professionalism and perfectionism in which Sigi manages to deliver a complex message while remaining aesthetically pleasing to watch, humorous and easy to comprehend. Sigi truly is a multi-faceted character who can explore and portray many difficult social and political issues with total empathy and full creativity. Expressing such complex and emotionally deep topics is difficult and requires empathy and, above all, skill. Sigi has honed their skills over their year-long career by working in a vast range of venues from London to Leeds.

“I perform quite often at BOiBOX run by Adam All and Apple Derrieres (one of London’s biggest drag couples who helped bring little Sigi into the world) and I’m also a regular member of the Kings of Colour (KOC) Initiative, the UK’s only all POC Drag King Cabaret show founded by Zayn Phallic.

“I’d like to shout out to Live Art Bistro in Leeds, which is where I saw my first drag king, johnsmith, one of my inspirations to start drag, and where I would later perform at Ketchup cabaret and Leeds Queer Film Festival.

“The Leeds (and Yorkshire) drag scene in general is relatively small compared to London where I most actively perform, but with places like LAB and queer events creators like Andro & Eve
I have a feeling it’s only going to get bigger!”

When editing Sigi’s interview, I noticed such passion for their community and a huge sense of involvement with communities from all over the country. It’s very clear that Sigi’s platform which appears to grow by the day is due entirely to what seems to be an incredible work ethic of someone who absolutely loves what they do and drag as an art form. I think this comes through in their honest critique of drag:

“I’ve seen a number of drag artists who are, to some extent, liable to fall into one of two categories. One is an empty showiness in the likes of RuPaul’s Drag Race where realness and glamour is everything. The other is the dry, sometimes over-politicised drag in low-key queer performance art that wants to make a point, without considering if it’s still engaging for the audience to see. I want to see more creative, unique drag that both serves to make a point about gender norms, politics, race, etc and give the audience something to
laugh or think about.”

My interaction with Sigi was a total pleasure in which they shared their knowledge of drag with me. I personally will continue to watch Sigi utilise their large platform to inspire others and continue to share their creativity and brilliant ideas as well as empower others by bringing awareness to social issues.

With this in mind, Sigi wanted me to draw attention to Queerious, a podcast that they recently featured in, it’s genuinely wonderful and is also another platform to showcase and interview queer artists in Yorkshire!

Kitty Calderbank

Image: Clare West

Catch Sigi performing live:

July 4th – The Apothecary Cabaret : Vol XXXI – Supervene in Stoke 
Newington, London.  

August 3rd – Queer Prom’s Rainbow Ball in Brighton  

Find Sigi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @sigimoonlight.

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