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Interview with Barbie Breakout

1. Hello Barbie - Please introduce yourself!

Hi! My name is Barbie Breakout and I'm a Berlin based drag queen, author and activist.

Barbie Breakout Vawn and Boon interview

2. I have read that you used to live a wild life of excess. What is your favourite treat or indulgence in 2018 and do you still consider yourself a hedonist?

Honestly, my wildest indulgences these days are a few cigarettes a day, a delicious meal (I LOVE to cook) and a drink every now and then.

I stopped doing drugs and most of my drinking earlier this year.

I have always struggled with depression, been in countless therapies, but for some reason never made the move to become sober in order to help me with my depression. Not so surprisingly, it has actually helped a big deal.

3. You've generously shared your formidable skills as a make-up artist on Youtube. One excellent example of this is your post surgery (!) nose contouring tutorial video. I'm sure that some viewers surprised that you are prepared to freely share, what could be considered professional secrets — why do you do it?

I never had a nose job, I merely said that it looked like a botched nose-job when it was finished! I love that look on a drag queen; a nose that’s way too thin and sculpted to be real, or functioning. ;0)

I never had a problem sharing what I knew with others. I want all of my sisters ( and yes, I consider every drag queen and trans woman my sister. which doesn’t mean I have to like every single one of them) to be the best version of themselves. Which doesn’t mean that I think I know everything there is about make-up or drag in general, oh god no. I learn something new every day.

I come from a time before YouTube, drag tutorials and Instagram. When I started doing drag, there was nobody around to show me how to do my make-up or how to style a wig. I had to teach myself and later even went to a special effects school for two years to learn as much about make-up and hair as I could.

The baby queens today have a vast advantage, they can just watch tutorials on their phone and quickly become quite polished. We had to freeze-frame music videos and the very few drag films there were, study make-up books for tips, read women’s magazines, watch make-over shows.

But make-up is just one small part of what makes a great Queen. You can’t learn how to have a personality, tho. Or stage-presence. These are all things that you need to be blessed with and then you need to hone those talents over time, fail, learn from your mistakes, all that.

People these days believe that image is everything… and it’s true, the visual is always very powerful when it’s well done, but when you see an Instagram “icon” try to perform in a club and miserably fail, you are reminded that there are no filters for talent or personality or hard work.

4. I found your protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws, in which you physically sewed your mouth shut with a needle — astonishing. I had this feeling that I could not look away yet I was instinctively trying to. It was a very powerful protest. The protest seems to have had the effect of making you more viable, but in the meanwhile you have become less active on social media. Why is this? Do you feel mainstream social media is a poor platform for your message?

Barbie Breakout open your mouth protest

It’s funny how the “open your mouth” video had that effect. It seems I have a running theme in performances I do. a friend of mine and me did a similarly charged performance in 2000 in Berlin, when a group of charitably gay nuns (The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) were denied entry at a gay fetish event where they wanted to hand out condoms and safer sex information because they were not “dressed male”. The idiocy.

We came up with a performance where I was in drag and then got raped and beaten up by a bunch of skinheads. I insisted that it had to be real to get the message across. apparently my physical safety goes out the window when i feel strongly about something…

The digital detox is part of my journey this year. I am trying to strip away things in my life that I have used for distraction, and social media, alcohol and drugs have always had that function for me. I LOVE Facebook in a very unhealthy way. I could debate for hours on end, I can completely forget about the outside world and immerse myself completely in whatever conflict or discussion I am part of in that moment. The problem is: do we ever change anyone’s opinion in a Facebook fight? Do we ever help to better the world?

I have seen my community rip each other to shreds over nothing, an added brown stripe in the rainbow flag, the use of a word some people have decided is now transphobic or racist or whatever. It has become so toxic and I was in the middle of it, feeding the flame. I have watched myself claw into others over nothing. That’s not what we should be doing. We are not our enemies.

I don’t want to be known merely as a keyboard activist. Don’t get me wrong, the internet is great for spreading news, but for now, I’d rather focus on what i do in the real world.

I also found that I can learn so much from listening to activists who have been fighting for our rights for decades before the internet was even a thing, and these people rarely hang around on Facebook.

5. What issue would you most like to raise awareness about in 2018?

That’s a tough question. Being that I’m HIV positive and working hard to inform people about PrEP and how you actually contract the virus (yes, still to this day), i would always put my main focus there.

I did a Facebook live stream last year for world aids day with my HIV doctor. PrEP had just become available for little money everywhere in Germany and people were losing their minds. was it good or bad? Could they trust the hype? Could they trust each other? There were so many misconceptions about what PrEP is and what it does that we decided to take the time to inform people.

We shot a short little call-to-action clip in which we told people we would be live on Facebook on December 1st and they could send in all their questions about HIV, PrEP, medication and safer sex anonymously and we would answer as many as possible. it was great, but at the same time it was shocking how little some people actually knew about HIV and sex in general.

Barbie Breakout and Dr Ingo Ochlast PrEP Facebook discussion
Barbie Breakout and Dr Ingo Ochlast

But the world is changing and our brothers and sisters in other countries like Chechnya are fighting for their lives.

I’m not gonna pick one cause or topic, instead I would encourage every single person to find a cause that speaks to their hearts and find out how to get involved and what they might be able to do to help. It does not always come down to money.

6. If you could change one law in an instant, what would it be?

I would probably make “every human is equal and any kind of discrimination based on gender, skin colour, sexuality, religion, disability, origin or age is illegal and punishable by law” the first article in every constitution worldwide.

7. What is the quality you most admire in a person?

I find authenticity incredibly hot. For real. Someone who has no qualms about who they are and who doesn’t pretend to be anything else, that’s a big plus for me. It takes balls to be brave enough to see yourself for who you really are and then accept it.

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