Beth Hayden is the the brains, the brawn and the big-boss behind Glitter HOLE - the infamous DIY cabaret night in Jigsaw. She also has the audacity to read stories to kids while in drag. The neck.
Brian: Glitter HOLE is a DIY drag collective and a queer feminist performance space. It’s also a bit of a laugh. When did it start?
Beth: Our first show was the end of 2016. I had an idea festering for a while that was born out of a dissatisfaction I had with a lot of queer spaces in Dublin, which I find quite apolitical and completely driven by capitalism rather than a sense of community. I had spent a lot of time complaining about it and eventually felt I should do something instead. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I only performed in the first show because we didn’t know enough performers, so I had to step in to flesh out the lineup.
Brian: The dissatisfaction is mutual. But there’s definitely a glimmer of hope for an alternative LGBT+ scene in Dublin. Do you feel this community is expanding? And is this a reaction to the current crisis of space we have in the city?
Beth: I think so. When the crash happened there were a lot of parties springing up in newly empty spaces but they’ve since dwindled. And now, all of the legitimate spaces are closing too so there’s no alternative spaces as well as less and less nightclubs. Now, there’s a sense of people having to get creative. You have Spicebag in a working men’s club. Club Comfort is on in a rowing club. Then you have newer nights like Grace, or Avoca Reaction’s cabaret - which is also outside the city centre.
Brian: Glitter HOLE itself is also in an unusual venue - Jigsaw. What is it about that space that you like and what else can you tell me about it?
Beth: I can’t speak highly enough of Jigsaw and Barry who runs it. It’s a mixed-use space where community activists can organise, women who live in Direct Provision can cook their own food and Dublin Digital Radio is based there. I love that GH is part of that space and I think it’s hugely valuable in Dublin.
Brian: A space like that deserves to be funded.
Beth: I could talk all day about it. But because it’s not recognised it doesn’t exist on that bureaucratic level. They don’t even have a website or a Facebook page, let alone any public money. It exists outside that world which makes it very precarious. There’s been a few times we thought GH wouldn’t go ahead because the Garda have turned up and there’s a huge queue of people outside waiting to get in and it feels like the rug can get pulled out from under us. But that’s also part of what makes Jigsaw so brilliant. There should be three more Jigsaws in the city!
Brian: How can I join the Fianna Fellatio party? I feel like I’ve got a good CV to get in. Can I get a ministerial position?
Beth: The Fianna Fellatio Party was this concept we came up with when we were just getting going with GH. It’s a queer communist party that pledges to turn the Spire into a public dildo, while also achieving a 32 county republic. We did a few performances based around this concept, and we felt that it had legs. It eventually grew into a Dublin Fringe Festival show/party which was definitely our most ambitious piece of work to date. It was basically a drag show under the guise of the launch party for Fianna Fellatio. We ended up winning the Judges’ Choice award, which I don’t think any of us anticipated. It was a really nice recognition of the work and the love that went into that show. We’ll be due an Ard Fheis soon where we can discuss your entry into the party.
Brian: Can we talk about censorship for a bit? There seems to be a lot of it going on, especially from within the community directed towards Pride. The sexual side of our community is being censored. Some people don’t want to see kinks presented at Pride. How do you feel about this?
Beth: I’ve seen a bit of debate online about excluding kinks from Pride parades and it’s really disheartening. It’s laughable that queers would police members of the community for celebrating their sexuality at Pride. The community should be focusing their energy on removing the Gardaí or multinational corporations from the event, not leather daddies.
Brian: Recently, you’ve been censored yourself. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council decided to cancel your drag storytelling event due to degrading comments made online about the performers and the staff.
Beth: The library approached us to put on a drag storytelling event on the week of Pride and told us they were hoping to “promote diversity and acceptance”. When their brochure was published, our Twitter account, as well as the library’s, was bombarded with really violent homophobia. The library didn’t off er us any support in the face of this, and published a statement saying the event was cancelled “following a review in terms of age-appropriateness”. They later retracted their statement and admitted that the event had been cancelled due to the comments online, but the damage had been done already and we never received an apology from the library regarding the hurt that this caused us. I would recommend that any minority groups who are approached by the library to be very wary as they are clearly more than happy to throw people under the bus in the face of bigotry and abuse.
Brian: Where do you see GH going? Is there anything you’d like to expand upon with it?
Beth: I’d love GH to become a permanent space and develop it into a community project. Like a mix between Pantibar and Outhouse Resource Centre. I think it’s needed. Recently, I was in Berlin at a bar called Silver Future and I instantly felt like I was at home. It’s a very simple bar with a small performance space. I was there on a Sunday at 8pm and there was this mad Icelandic queer entertainer giving the performance of their life to a crowd of eight. It felt like somewhere that was actively fostering queer community building and artistic experimentation and it was really exciting to be there.
You can follow Glitter HOLE on Facebook or at their Twitter handle @GlitterHoleDub.
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