Archie Arsenic calls for more accessible queer spaces

Drag and burlesque performer Archie Arsenic in full costume with a blue and pink background.
Image credit: Ari New

In our monthly feature with local artists, Archie Arsenic answers questions about themselves, their craft and calls for more accessibility on the Brisbane scene. 

I would describe Archie Arsenic as….

Honestly, I don’t even know anymore, I’ve evolved so many times over the years. Draglesque and sideshow chameleon perhaps? 

My drag family and bio family….

Intertwine! They are my biggest supporters and advocates and we all share our knowledge and help each other grow both in drag and in our personal lives, I’m so grateful to have such a support network and wouldn’t be where I am today without them. 

Aurora Arsenic, Justine Deeva and MaMa Arsenic are my blood family and my drag family includes Dahlia Dyer, Asphyxia, Clint Taurus, Big Red Kara, Zelphia Mann and Trysten Sellwood! 

The first time I did drag was…

Queer Sister Smackdown Season 2 2016, my sister Aurora Arsenic was competing and I got done up in drag to support and was hooked instantly. 

I chose the name Archie Arsenic…

To tie in with my sister Aurora Arsenic. A Disney character starting with A (Archimedes from Sword in the Stone) + Arsenic 

The Brisbane scene needs…

More accessibility and accommodation for disabled artists and patrons. For me it’s seating – I cannot stand for more than a few minutes at a time so even waiting backstage to go on can be an ordeal for me, or dressing rooms that are far away/upstairs/have no seating. 

Disabled patrons also deserve to be able to attend shows, venues, community events but accessibility is a big issue. It has definitely improved lately and I hope it continues to do so. 

Read next: LGBTIQ+ people with disability – shifting the framework

RuPauls’ Drag Race is…

A double-edged sword. It’s wonderful that drag has become more mainstream and therefore has inspired many new drag artists to start as well as more gigs to go around. But it’s also set an expectation of elaborate and expensive costumes and that to be a queen you need to be a dancer who does tricks. 

Gender is…

Irrelevant to who you are as a person. 

The best thing a fan has done for me was…

I’ve had fan art made a fair few times and it always blows me away that someone was inspired by me to create art. 

The worst thing someone in the audience has done was…

The thing I hate most and it unfortunately happens semi-regularly is getting groped while I’m performing if I’m in with the crowd. A costume is not consent! 

My best skills as a performer are….

I’ve gotten a lot slower over the years as my health has declined so I can’t dance like I used to but my forte is definitely sideshow (fire and angle grinding) I’ve also had to learn the art of minimalism/stillness and still being able to captivate a crowd. 

One message I have for our community is…

There’s no LGB without the T. Transphobia in our community is rampant and it’s so disappointing to see. We are a minority as it is and excluding important and founding members of our community only breeds hate. We need to love and protect each other. 

The most important skill you can have as a drag artist is…

The ability to converse with all types of people in our community. It’s amazing what you learn from all different people but also being friendly and approachable builds a fan base, people may want to come out if they know you’re performing and word of mouth is a great way to get booked!

Something people don’t know about doing drag is…

It’s expensive! Even a simple outfit.  Wigs, makeup, lashes, tights, shoes, costumes etc. It takes time and money to build up a wardrobe so that’s why we outfit repeat, especially in the early days. 

My favourite performance ever was…

Performing on a pontoon in the middle of Circular Quay in Sydney while John Paul Young sang Love is in the Air with Philma Bocks, Art Simone, Karen from Finance, Maude Boat and Vonni. While fireworks were going off all around us. I’ll never forget that moment. 

The best experience I’ve had performing was…

Big Gay Day 2023! For two reasons. I got to share/teach angle grinding to my sister Aurora Arsenic and we performed it together for the first time! She’s now obsessed with sideshow and I couldn’t be prouder. I also got to feature alongside trans showgirl trailblazers and icons such as Malika, Yana Michelle and Kelly Roberts and it was an absolute privilege and honour. 

Something people are surprised to learn about me is…

That I’m a classical violinist/violist and have been playing for 25 years! I’d love to combine my love of playing and drag/burlesque one day but am terrified. One day perhaps. 

The performer who deserves more attention is…

I am a massive fan of Gia Von She! Powerhouse vocalist and fantastic dancer, she’s only been in the scene for about a year and I cannot wait to see how she evolves. 

The drag performer I’d hate to live with would be…  

Probably Asphyxia, I’d want to steal their wigs and costumes all the time and I’m also obsessed with their paint. I’d just feel inadequate. 

In 2024 I hope….

I’ve taken some time off to recover from surgery and to focus on my health.  In 2024 I hope to be able to be more present in the community, attend more shows/ community events and see more of the talent we have in our city (all types, not just drag). I’m inspired by my peers and love seeing everyone grow!

You can follow Archie Arsenic on Instagram @archiearsenic 

Read next: Meet Mama Arsenic, Brisbane’s Beloved Drag Mother

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Dale Roberts

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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