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A Drag Queen Can Be Just Friendly

by Pieter Hoekstra in Lifestyle & Fashion , 20 mei 2018

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
Length: 5 minutes

“I made them myself,” says Sander modestly when I compliment him on the beautiful paintings on the wall at his home, asking who the artist is. Surprised, I look at him. I visit Sander, because he has a very special hobby. However, I was unaware that he was also a painter, and not without merit.

Sander shows me what he is working on at the moment. He mainly paints women, dressed and undressed, realistic and surrealistic. Sander has a beard, which I did not expect either. “I usually have a beard, except in busy times, when I have no time to grow it. It is quiet now, but especially in the summer period I spend a lot of time at festivals, such as the Canal Pride in Amsterdam, and this year also in Utrecht. And in the Christmas period, I have two gigs, one at Queers and one at Body Talk.”

In his spare time, Sander is a drag queen. He performs at parties, often in the gay scene, but also at private parties. “People are getting to know me. I’m being asked more and more. But they sometimes forget that I am busy preparing and changing clothes for at least two and a half hours. Then I need to travel to the event, usually by car, sometimes by taxi. If I then perform late into the night and come home around four, I will not be in bed until five.”

The cat comes to lie on Sander’s lap. “This is the real Roxy,” says Sander. “My artist name is derived from my favorite animal, Roxy, and diamonds are my favorite gemstone. That’s why I’m called Roxy Diamond.” I ask him whether he has an assistant. “A good friend of mine comes along and helps me with my clothes.”

Sander sits down at the dressing table. This is the dinner table. A white sphere illuminates the mirror. Next to the table is a folding cabinet with jewellery, lipstick, powders and other paraphernalia. He starts powdering his face. Sander hosts shows and playbacks songs. “I’m there for the people. They should have fun, that’s important to me.” Sander continues saying that he thinks it important that people discover that drag queens are not all mean, often categorized as such by other artists. “I am not a vicious but a friendly drag queen. I mix with the people and have a chat here and there. That is the most important thing for me.” Meanwhile, he is applying making-up around his eyes. It is meticulous work for which he takes his time. I can certainly see he is quite experienced.

I ask why he is a drag queen. Why does he put in all that effort to dress up? Would he rather have been a woman, or is he keen on walking around in women’s clothes? “To me, it is mostly a way to express my creativity, by creating a persona and making the most of that persona. It’s an act. I see it as art with which I entertain people. Dressing up is not one of my kicks, but it is fun.”

When I ask Sander if he wants to achieve anything with it, he really gets going. “Yes, that people do not pigeonhole so much. That there is a lot of diversity, also within the gay community, because believe me - gay people are not as open-minded as you would think. They often have difficulty with non-standard behavior. You sometimes see them thinking ‘act normal.’ I want to distinguish myself in the way that you can also be different as a gay person. You can walk around in women’s clothing and be sympathetic.”

Sander grew up in Langbroek, an agricultural village in the basin of the Kromme Rijn. His family owns a transport business. Sander has never made it a secret that he is attracted to men. His parents have no objections to the fact that he regularly dresses up as a drag queen and performs at gigs. “My parents sometimes come to watch a performance, and they like it.”

Some of his colleagues also are aware that he is a drag queen. Sander is proud of this. He often has photo shoots. “Now I am asked a lot. When I first started, I hired a photographer myself, but now it is the other way around.” Sander rarely has bad experiences, although he has been called names walking through the streets in his outfit. “They are not used to this in Utrecht to the same degree as they are in Amsterdam.”

Sander changes clothes and later returns in a wide dress. He has more than thirty outfits, and just as many wigs and ladies’ shoes. “I needed a change. Clothes are so expensive, so yesterday I made this dress myself.”

In Amsterdam he was once harassed by a German man who had contacted him through Facebook. “I have a public profile because I want to show myself to the world. I have many Facebook friends I do not know. The man asked me where my next gig would be. When I left after a performance at Queers, the man grabbed me by the arm. He said he had reserved a room for us. He wanted to pull me with him, but I pulled my arm away. Fortunately, this ended well, but it is disturbing!”

At the moment, Sander is single. Not too long ago, his relationship ended. Then Sander had a date with a nice man. However, he was not keen on drag queens. “I told him it is more a hobby, that I do it occasionally. When he entered the Paradiso for ‘True-Colors,’ he saw me present the show with Jan Kooijman. ‘It is more than a hobby,’ he said. He did not want to see me again. It is a shame, but it is the way the cookie crumbles.” Sander has put on his wig and shoes.

The bell is ringing: It is his taxi driver. “He is reliable and does not make a fuss, even if he has to wait when changing clothes and packing all the accessories takes a bit longer.”



published Sep 2018       

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In the New Issue of Gay News, 336, August/ Pride 2019

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