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Skipper Offen AKA Margarita Blades is on a mission to shake up drag. From performing as both a King and Queen to producing alternative drag shows, the talented makeup artist tells us how drag helped him find himself.

Where did you grow up, and how was life for you growing up there?

I grew up in New Plymouth, but I also spent a period of my life in Malaysia. Growing up in New Plymouth was quite difficult for me. I struggled a lot with the inherently ‘straight’ culture that seemed to encapsulate the city. People are learning to be more accepting, but throughout my time in high school, it was pretty distressing. Being uprooted from my family and friends at a young age and moving to another country didnt help. I already found it hard, going through an unwanted puberty at the time and trying to figure out who I was.

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When did you first discover drag, and who inspired you to try it yourself?

I feel like Ive been dressing in drag my whole life. My curiosity started in Thailand, where maybe at 12 years old I saw my first ever Drag Queen, but it stayed locked away until I met my Drag Mother, Lola Blades, at a cabaret night in Auckland. She taught me to take risks and trust my own strengths, and she showed me that even when things are tough, you can still shine.

You have gained a reputation for being a hugely supportive advocate and activist for the trans community. Can you tell us about that journey?

One of my biggest goals for Drag is to make a difference and help other people. I was always confused as to why I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. It was only when I discovered drag that I felt comfortable and confident enough to be myself. Starting off in the Enby (non-binary) world and eventually transitioning towards male-identifying has been one of the biggest challenges, yet rewarding experiences, of my life. Being able to explore gender in the way I have is such a blessing. It makes a world of difference – being surrounded by people who are so unapologetically themselves. Thats what I want to be for someone just like me when theyre struggling.

You have presented as both a Drag Queen and Drag King. What do you enjoy about performing as both?

I call myself an AFAB Drag Artist! I initially started as a Drag King, exploring my gender identity in my little New Plymouth bedroom at 2am doing photoshoots. It gave me such gender euphoria that I couldnt stop. I got into drag performance through the Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadowcast, Hot and Flustered (who perform live in cinemas while the movie plays). I realised later on that I enjoyed dressing up as a Queen because dressing as a King would suit me better in everyday life; thats who I really am, but I still want to be part of each and every inch of the Drag spectrum.

What has your experience of the Drag King community in NZ been like?

Fantastic! Every time I work a Drag King show, its always so supportive and welcoming. I get goosebumps when Im in the vicinity of other very talented Drag Kings. Theres so much more that I want and need to learn from my community.

What has been your favourite performance you have ever been involved with?

One of my favourites would have to be my roller-skating performance for Night of the Queer at TAPAC. I worked extremely hard to pull that show off in such a small space.

We are yet to see a Drag King on RuPauls Drag Race (other than one runway by Victoria Sponge on Canada Vs The World). Why do you think Drag Race is yet to bring Kings on?

It would be great to see Kings taking to T.V and showing off their talent. Its important to see representation from all sides, and it feels very exclusionary to assume that only Queens should be allowed to compete for the position of being a Drag Superstar.

Margarita Blades performs at G.A.Y Auckland (Basement Level, 262 Karangahape Road) this Friday.

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