Get to know the poignant message behind their characterful performances
Porscha Present moves through the world of cabaret, drag, music, and kinky parties liberating their creativity through theatre and performance. Describing themself as a shape-shifter, Porscha takes on different characters and narratives, playing with clown-like personas to push against socialised boundaries and address the ego. The multi-layered approach to their art allows audiences to be drawn in by playful romance before being confronted by the often chilling reality of Porscha’s personal sentiments.
It’s easy to be left in awe by the creative ways Porscha presents their ideas. From the handcrafted colourful costumes they make to the self-produced tracks and musical numbers they perform to, Porscha’s able to bewitch their audience before casting a spell of poignant meaning. Sexuality, gender, racism, and classism all filter down through Porscha’s work, cleverly influencing the audience to think deeper and question their own prejudgements one show at a time.
We sat down with Porscha Present to learn more about their work, in particular, the creation of Porscha’s drag king alter-ego ‘The Pussy Tamer’ (his spectacularly sexist!). As well as the community support that has helped Porscha express themself in authentic ways. Tune in to the interview on Islington Radio (46mins in) or read on for more wonderful Sassy nuggets from this performance wonder!
Porscha’s journey into performance began when sitting behind the piano. From a young age, they remember taking part in classical music competitions, organically training Porscha’s ear in composition and melody. By the time they were 10/11 years old, Porscha’s experience of playing Frenchie in the musical ‘Greece’ led them to connect further with their sense of joy for dressing up and being dramatic. From deciding to study Performing Arts at college and passing their Grade 8 Classical piano qualifications to choosing Drama Studies and Music Performance at University, Porscha's creativity continued to evole. They've now spent the past decade shaping their life around the art of imaginative storytelling - be it through song, dance, or, more presently, drag.
When asking how Porscha would describe their work today, they explain how "I like to have fun! I'm realising that the more I develop my practice because I was brought up and taught to find the meaning behind this thing and that thing and I was really bad at it". Taking the incentive to prioritise fun in their career is something that shines out of Porscha's approach to making; from the energy they place on stage to the collectives they collaborate with, an infectious sense of humour drip feeds their work.
This is something that can be seen exuding from Porscha’s work as a drag performer. When asking Porscha to describe the art form, they explain how "I think of drag as a makeover of yourself in any form. I don't think it needs to be a gender change but it's about playing with your aesthetic and adopting something fresh, or stale!”. For Porscha, it is the joy of transforming themself into different characters that has led them to create alter egos such as Uncle Pete, aka The Pussy Tamer.
Drag is the becoming of something else. I don't think it needs to be a gender change but it's about playing with your aesthetic
Sporting a beer gut, an impressive pair of chops (crafted from Porscha’s own head hair) and navigating a severe drug addiction, The Pussy Tamer is a walking, talking, breathing example of sexually charged misogynism. "Pussy Tamer's a lot, I find I'm constantly trying to trim him down, censor him but not. " This constant challenge of finding a balance of freeing Porscha’s expression while understanding an audience’s limit is something that leads us to discuss the role of drag itself. Porscha explains how “it can be interpreted as a protective barrier for when you're performing” allowing the artists to go beyond the limit of socially accepted behaviour. However, as queer AFAB people playing Kings, Porscha explains how audiences are still adjusting to performances they often haven't seen before. It’s only a matter of time tho before the mainstream will catch up with this wonderful wave of artistry. Porscha expresses the joy and warmth of having a community of other drag Kings and Drag Things around them including Cyro Dragthing, Len Blanco, and The Pussy Tamer’s partner-in-crime Lil Dick.
Alongside The Pussy Tamer, Porscha's solo performances are often an amalgamation of playful provocative jesting and racially charged narratives. One creation is their burlesque-style strip tease in which Porscha is dressed as a witch selling potions while lip sinking to Eartha Kitt’s 'Love For Sale'. "It looks like a silly performance but it's quite horrific actually and triggering...it's touching on my need to be loved and validated, wanting to fit myself to the male gaze. But then there's a moment where I pull my stocking down and written on my thigh is "the tasty bit" with a cut out [marked] like a piece of beef". This is alluding to the idea of humans being for sale, nodding to slavery and stories of humans being eaten and experimented on during that time; all horrific memories of colonial history that have been pushed out of mainstream knowledge.
Porscha explains how they go on to drink a potion before turning into a cat. "It's really silly but really serious and it's my way of coping." Despite the subtlety of their work, it’s this chilling exploration of messaging regarding the lived experiences of Black Africans that makes Porscha’s performances so vitally important to be seen.
When looking at the history of Africa and seeing men and women looking undistinguishable, I realized I could have discovered that before. But as a teenager, I was like, no no no!
Alongside this is Porscha's unique style of bringing together their talent and their beautifully authentic embodiment of gender fluidity and sexual liberation. "I've been queer for a long time, since I was a teenager, finding AFAB bodies far more attractive than AMAB bodies." However, their own experience of navigating the pressures that come with being born a cis woman is something that leads us to discuss memories relating to body hair and social constructs of femininity. Porscha reflects on how, because their parents didn’t allow them to shave, "I remember being teased when I was in primary school for having hairy legs and arms!". Despite feeling fairly at ease in themself as a teenager, Porscha felt a dramatic change by the time they started University.
"I feel like when I started to become more femme was when I moved to Essex and, as one of four Black women on the course, I was trying to fit in". This led Porscha to start dressing differently, taking on a higher-pitched voice and "adopting a smaller, nicer persona.". Actively thinking about gender expression was something their friends, including Cyro Dragthing, helped Porscha to unpick. "When looking at the history of Africa and see men and women looking undistinguishable, I realized I could have discovered that before. But as a teenager I was like, no no no!". Today, it is inspiring to see Porscha embrace a confident approach to their own gender fluidity, defying the norms and restrictions that many Western and Eurocentric societies continue to heavily enforce on people, and reconnecting to these ancestral ways of living.
It's beautiful when you see people being comfortable in their truth, however long that takes
Our interview with Porscha ends by asking them what they're driven by for the future. They respond in a truly grounding way, explaining how "I am motivated to achieve the most truth and to make people see the beautiful truth inside of them. More aggressively I hate fakeness and people lying - even when it's a form of protection. But the truth is always the best way, it's really simple." This message is one we look forward to seeing continue to shape Porscha’s work, safe in the knowledge that their art will offer authenticity in whichever dynamic form it takes.
Be sure to keep your eye on Porscha's work on IG @porschaspresent