Opening Times: Queen of The Welly

Holestar has been rocking our world for the past 16 years. She’s a brilliant singer, a fierce DJ and always has something to say. Dave Cross had a catch up with the Duke of Welly’s leading lady to chat about her sets and much more.

For those poor souls who have never had the pleasure, could you sum up Holestar in one sentence? 

Big camp singing and DJing tit in a wig.

What kind of songs attract you as a performer?

Fun and uplifting sing-alongs. I could do obscure and self indulgent, but things are shite out there and audiences want fun and escapism. I’m a facilitator of fun and enjoy seeing an audience let go and throw their hands in the air like they just don’t care.

How did you get into the whole performing lark?

Pure accident. I was living in Vienna, hosting the Life Ball as a dominatrix and met a DJ who asked me to MC over his sets. I’m an artist by trade and my work at the time was about blurring gender. I was tired of seeing misogynistic queens so wanted to reclaim and celebrate over the top femininity and camp to the female body. While MCing, I workshopped the idea in front of an audience, started to sing and discovered I could hold a tune. Drag wasn’t supposed to be a career but here we are!

You’ve worked a massive amount on the predominately male gay scene, and have called yourself a female drag queen, what problems or resistance have you encountered along the way?

As a dominatrix, I’ve a lot of experience bumming men so the male gay scene is my natural habitat. But I’ve had gigs cancel once they realise I’m peen free, plenty tell me I’m not a ‘real’ drag queen and ignored by promoters who honestly underestimate their audience. I’ve been performing in drag for sixteen years and been called a veteran (rude!). But I’m tired of explaining myself and would like to entertain without my gender being an issue. I’m camp, can hold an audience and belt out bangers. So please, judge me (and others like me) on my ability as an entertainer, not what’s between my legs.

There are more non male performers on the scene now than ever before, do you feel it’s better, or do we still have a long way to go? 

The world is changing which is exciting but RuPaul hasn’t helped matters by not allowing non male performers on his little show. Unfortunately, many see his show as the standard for drag. There is no standard. Surely the whole point of drag is to play and fuck with conventional notions of gender? Though as a side note… I’m loving Drag Race UK. Alas it’s a sausage fest but it’s wonderful to see that on the whole, British queens focus on performance over soulless vanity and death plops.

Not only are you a brilliant singer and performer, but you are also pretty nifty behind the decks, what kind of stuff do you like to play as a DJ?

Why thank you! I love a wide variety of music, but these days, tend to play pre-millennial pop party hits and disco. Like performing, it’d be wonderful to be self indulgent, but my ego loves seeing people dancing and screaming out the bangers. That’s my job. I’m a disco doctor, here’s your medicine. Now shut up and dance!

You’ve really hit a sweet spot with your sets at The Welly, what do you like about playing there? 

Freedom! The crowd are generally slightly older and non demanding so I can let rip with the classics instead of the current hit parade. The bar staff at The Welly are fabulous which is essential. I love watching people cruise, a disappearing tradition in homosexual establishments. And I get to blank the occasional drunk girl who tries to demand terrible music (did I mention I’m a dominatrix?).

Holestar is at The Duke of Wellington on the last Friday of every month.

The Duke of Wellington, 

77 Wardour Street, Soho W1.

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