Denim are the thrilling drag supergroup with their own brand of explosive pop and an attitude to match. They wowed Edinburgh, charmed Florence and are now setting the Soho Theatre alight every night with their World Tour. Dave Cross spoke to Glamrou, Crystal, Electra, Shirley and Aphrodite to find out what the hell is going on!
Well hello Denim, can each of you please introduce yourselves to the Boyz readers?
Glamrou: You can read my life-story in Glamrou: From Hijabs to Hollywood, and the subsequent sequel, Glamrou: From Quran to Queen. I bring liminal space to Denim – for I am too gay for Iraq, and too Iraq for gay, and exist in the in-between.
Crystal: Hi, I’m Crystal. The popular erotic novelist and ex-Bolshevik Revolutionary. You may know me from my infamous affair with Rasputin or my long marriage to Tony Blair (he promised way too much). I bring a stern, seasoned sense of sexuality to the group, a dose of glamour, and a radical anti-neoliberal politic.
Electra: Electra Cute. False move and I’ll shoot punk rock from head to boot – but so cute though. I’m the political Jew of the group, running Marxist meetings in my dad’s basement swimming pool in Hampstead.
Shirley: Blonde bombshell. Girl next door. Fleshy, all devouring, rancid slug. There are so many faces to the global sweetheart that is: Shirley Du-Naughty. I bring a sprinkle of hope, a nip of truth and a hearty serving of homicide.
Aphrodite: Orphaned on the shores of LA, I – Aphrodite Greene, née Jones – was adopted and vocally trained by Gregorian monks. Now a proud Volvo-carpool Mom of six beautiful hockey champion sons, I take time out of my Hollywood career to bring rich bassy notes to Denim’s orchestral palette.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure, is it possible to describe Denim?
Glamrou: Think Wembley Stadium pop girl-band tour (in a theatre venue).
Crystal: Think Girls Aloud meets Bloo Lips. Think Madonna kissing Karl Marx. Think Gucci, Fendi, Primark.
Electra: Denim is as Denim was and forever shall be Denim #deep.
Shirley: Five queens, one dream: a dioralyte sponsorship.
Aphrodite: The best thing since contactless TFL admittance.
How did you get together?
Glamrou: We formed Denim as zygotes, so it’s hard to remember the exact moment, given we were just an assemblage of cells.
Crystal: We were born in the steamy straw-floored big tops of the old Victorian Circus tents.
Electra: At an Avril Lavigne gig. I was singing along and they went “Wow who’s that?” and Denim was born. Then I got singing lessons with Lea Michele.
Shirley: As young whipper snappers we learned our craft on the road, jamming with the likes of Janice, Tina and Gina G.
Aphrodite: Jaded by our lonely, globally acclaimed solo careers, we felt it was time to send out a message of familial love to the world.
We hear you caused a sensation in Edinburgh… how was that for you?
Glamrou: Edinburgh was a magical arena, and it felt special to play to 100k audiences every night.
Crystal: We invented the festival some 50 years a go, so it felt important to return and show our support.
Electra: My silent protest at the othering of Atlantic-based anemones was HAYUGE.
Shirley: I never get to remain in one place for an extended period due to my global cupcake business ‘Shirley’s Cupz’ (‘a phenomenon within the baked goods arena’ – Chat Mag, 2017) so it felt great to have my little toes firmly on the ground.
Aphrodite: It was a challenge accommodating my six children in our tour ‘digs’, but the performing was life-affirming.
You performed with Florence and the Machine? Tell us more…
Glamrou: Florence came to one of our shows a few years back, and when we were covering Spectrum, she then came on stage and sang it with us. It was so much fun we decided to repeat it in Glastonbury. I think she’s the most talented singer on the face of the planet. Being near her voice is like a Biblical epiphany.
Crystal: While Glamrou’s right, it was hard for Crystal because I used to be the “and the” in the “Florence and the Machine” so it was complicated, but good to give her a platform — she’s so talented.
Electra: I’m not gonna say she’s the best singer I’ve ever sung with, but she’s in the top 1.
Shirley: I first performed with Florence back in ’69 at Woodstock so if felt so special to reconnect with an old friend.
Aphrodite: Florence is such a dear, and we’re thrilled to have given her a bit more exposure. She’s one to watch!
And you performed for 150 children under 12 – what was that for and what was their reaction?
Glamrou: To be honest, they just got it. I mean, they believe Nemo is a talking fish, so five drag queens was hardly that much of a stretch.
Crystal: We were headlining a festival in Cornwall, and half of the kids there were Crystal’s – it was so good for them to see what mommy does at work. But genuinely it was really special, they just loved us and though we were five beautiful queens without any of the bleak social coding that so often comes with being a drag queen. There was no judgement or ‘sin’ attached. It was one big love-in.
Electra: They were spellbound it was so cool. A few of them are in my class so that was great for my street cred.
Shirley: Those darn tootin’ lil’ young un’s were cuter than a button!
Aphrodite: As a mother, I was thrilled to reach out to our community’s younger souls.
What can we expect at the Soho Theatre show?
Glamrou: A Wembley Arena show.
Crystal: Money, success, fame, glamour.
Electra: Some badass kweens and a LOT of hairspray.
Shirley: Global shutdown/The Rapture.
Aphrodite: An epiphany.
What are your plans and dreams for 2018?
Crystal: Socialism and to get a new maid – mine keeps stealing my dildos!
Electra: To give my fans, the Electrolytes, continued inspiration. They bless me with their joy and love and subscription money.
Shirley: Live, love, bigger beehive.
Denim at the Soho Theatre – review
From the moment these five larger than life drag queens strutted on the stage at the Soho Theatre the audience reaction was sensational and deservedly so.
Their World Tour show was provocative, wonderfully bizarre, outrageous and a total hoot. Opening with a mash up of Lady Gaga hits that totally set the stage for the show with their tight harmonies blending together effortlessly. Each of the girls, Glamrou, Crystal, Electra, Shirley, and Aphrodite are a mix of diva and super hero taking on soul, rap. R&B and rock all performed in a smooth and sultry manner that was magical. It wasn’t all froth with each of them having their time in the spotlight performing their respective solo songs and individual monologues telling their individual stories. Complete with a great live band the show was powerful, explosive, manic and fantastic.The Soho Theatre was packed to the rafters and you can understand why as the audience knew they were watching excellence. This fab five generated enough energy to power a large neon sign, where their Denim name deserves to dazzle.
Stephen Vowles. *****