How do you identify?
As a rule, when I’m in drag then it’s Hans and out of drag Sian. However, I tend to find that only close friends and family call me Sian these days! I’m sure there are many people in Brighton who don’t know my given name. It really doesn’t bother me. As long as people are using my name in a positive light, they can call me what they like! I identify as non-binary. Gender is a complicated subject for me. I used to say gender was not important but I think that’s the wrong way of putting it. The non-assignment of gender and being addressed as ‘they’ is now incredibly important to me. It makes me uncomfortable when people refer to me as ‘she’ because of my birth given anatomy. If I’m in drag though, I prefer to be called ‘he’.
How do you find Sian and Hans coexist?
There are certainly echoes of my personality in Hans however, Hans is a lot braver than I am. He is unashamedly brash and silly and is not too concerned about what people think. He also assumes everyone will like him because (In his mind) why wouldn’t they?! I suppose there is an element of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ effect with Hans. He thinks he is amazing and perfectly valid but the audience (and I as his creator) understand it’s preposterous. For instance, one of his interpretive dances is based on a two hour trail shift he did at ASDA. Having said that, I think that’s why it works because even though the audience can see how ridiculous Hans is, I think there’s still a part of them that is routing for him. He’s a lovable fool.
What’s coming up in Hans’ diary?
Hans will be a very busy boy next year. He’s currently working on a show for Brighton Fringe called Inside the Mind of Hans. For the show, the audience will be inside Hans’s subconscious and will be taken on a journey through his memories and daydreams. It’s a one-person show and will require a lot of energy and planning but it promises to be a unique experience at the very least! He will also be launching a monthly cabaret show in Brighton early in the year featuring all schools of queer performance.
Tell us a bit about Drag You Under The Bus…
How did you get it started?
Drag You Under The Bus was born because I wanted to create more alternative drag and queer events in Brighton. Over the last few years, Brighton has seen some incredible nights popping up. Hans was born at Kingdom, which provides platforms for new and existing drag kings in Brighton every month. The work they do is so important as without this space, I truly believe the pool of Brighton-based drag kings would be smaller (and Hans may not even exist!). Other drag events include Felix Le Freak’s Freak Show, Alpha Bites and Stella Pint’s Female Trouble, Fuschia Von Steele’s Sleep Paralysis, and Count Addiction and Cherry Fakewell’s Bitter Sour. It’s my belief that there can never be too many queer-friendly events and venues, particularly in Brighton which is renowned for LGBTQIA folks. Also, I really wanted to see Tammie Brown live and it became apparent that for that to happen, I would have to produce her event!
Where did the idea come from?
The business (Drag You Under The Bus) was born out of necessity. Once I started planning Tammie, it quickly became clear I would have to set up a business simply due to the scale of the project. Once I started I thought, ‘Well, I’ve set up this business so I may as well keep going!’.
What’s the dream?
I would like to take Drag You Under The Bus across the UK and eventually all over the world. It would be great to think that people could be inspired by the spaces that will be and are being created. I think drag is an important art form as it pushes the boundaries of gender and social normativity. I think anything that forces people to question the status quo is positive and drag manages that in a very digestible, unassuming way. Even as a performer, it’s easy to forget that drag challenges the norm because primarily it is entertainment. That’s why I think it’s so special.
How do you find the acts that perform in your shows?
I choose acts that I have enjoyed watching as a fan. That’s my only selection criteria. I rely on the fact that if I find them entertaining then others will. Personally, I have a soft spot for the unconventional. If after an act’s performance I’m left thinking ‘What the hell just happened?’ then there’s a good chance I will be looking to book them!
Why is it important for you to give these performers space to get their voices heard?
The more people who hear them the better. When I realised Tammie Brown wanted to come to Brighton but would not be able to unless someone produced a show for her, it was a no-brainer to step up to the plate. Queer performance often comes with an underlining message about important issues and even when this is not the case, as mentioned, the very notion of drag and queer performance is important and so should be spread as far and as wide as is humanly possible.
What are your plans for the future?
Other than the projects mentioned above, myself and Alpha Bites will be launching a monthly club night in April which will encompass the ‘Club Kid’ vibe and will be a safe, inclusive and fabulous space. I have also secured four bi-monthly dates at the Komedia next year (starting in June) that will each have a headliner act (similar to Tammie) and incredible warm ups. Hans will host it and it’s called Drag You Under The Bus Presents… so keep an eye out!