AL­RIGHT DAR­LING?

Pho­tog­ra­pher and zine cre­ator Greg Bai­ley on the cre­ative process be­hind his gag-wor­thy new drag book.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS: - Im­ages Greg Bai­ley & Al­right Dar­ling? Words Sam Damshenas

Who knew that while the queens were un­tuck­ing back­stage, a Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher was cap­tur­ing the can­did beauty of the drag scene. Greg Bai­ley spills the T and shares his favourite snaps, in­clud­ing an ex­clu­sive im­age of Sasha Velour!

Brighton-based pho­tog­ra­pher Greg Bai­ley is about to re­lease his first book, and to say it’s ‘sick­en­ing’ or a ‘slay’ is a moth­er­tuck­ing un­der­state­ment. Al­right Dar­ling? is – in Greg’s words – “a vis­ual cel­e­bra­tion of the un­in­hib­ited, unapolo­getic and un­afraid won­der­land of con­tem­po­rary drag”.

The col­lec­tion fea­tures le­gendary Drag Race alumni such as Adore De­lano, Alaska, Bob the Drag Queen, Katya, La­trice Royale and Sharon Nee­dles – along with iconic per­form­ers Coco Peru and Bi­bleGirl – who show­case their wit and shade along­side their fiercest lewks.

Here, we speak to Greg about how the art­form is chang­ing the world, hi­lar­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ences with the queens, and why it’s im­por­tant to high­light the fact that drag isn’t just Drag Race.

What in­spired you to com­pile your pho­tos into one in­cred­i­ble book?

Hav­ing your own book as a pho­tog­ra­pher is the goal. It’s al­ways some­thing that I would’ve tried to do even if a pub­lisher hadn’t picked it up. Em­pha­sis on ‘tried’! It’s dif­fi­cult to do with­out a pub­lisher. I was look­ing through the files on my com­puter, and it was hard not to see it as a book. It was all there. I had all the im­agery al­ready, and I think it would be such a waste to just sit there. It needed to be made. Luck­ily, they wanted to do it.

I had the pic­ture of Katya on the ta­ble as my iPhone back­ground for a while...

That was such a fun shoot to do. That was the sec­ond time I met her, and the first time I met her was in Brighton. We did a lit­tle shoot to­gether at Re­venge, and then I wanted to make some­thing out of it so I did some more work with her. I went up to her ho­tel in Lon­don, and hung out with her and Detox and shot some pic­tures. She’s just such a char­ac­ter, awe­some to work with, and doesn’t care about look­ing stupid which is fan­tas­tic. Me and my part­ner once went to meet her, and she was get­ting ready for a show. She opened the ho­tel room door, pointed at my part­ner and said, ‘You’re a Slytherin!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, he is’. It was per­fec­tion.

What are the other funny ex­pe­ri­ences you’ve had with queens?

I was at a show with a whole bunch of Drag Race queens, and I left my stuff in Raja’s ho­tel room. She wasn’t fin­ished at the club – typ­i­cal Raja – so I got a cab back to the ho­tel with Delta Work, which was lovely. She’s a lovely queen. We got out the cab, crossed the court­yard to the re­cep­tion, and her sweat­pants fell com­pletely down. Like, around her an­kles. It was one of those clas­sic You’ve Been Framed sort of videos. And bless her, she was car­ry­ing loads of stuff as well, so it wasn’t a quick re­cov­ery! I was just like, ‘This is a flirt­ing tac­tic’.

Is there any­one you haven’t shot that you’d like to work with in the fu­ture?

I could list so many Drag Race queens that I’d like to work with, but the non Drag Race queens would be Varla Jean Mer­man, Panty Bliss, Dame Edna – that would be amaz­ing. I’d quite like to work with more UK queens to be hon­est, and see what Wales, Ire­land and Scot­land have to of­fer. I’d also love to go to Ja­pan, ex­plore the drag cul­ture there. Poland, New Zealand...

Do you think it’s im­por­tant to high­light the fact that drag isn’t just Drag Race?

Drag Race isn’t a com­plete rep­re­sen­ta­tion of drag. The show is ob­vi­ously pro­gress­ing and started to show more sides of drag, like they now have bearded queen chal­lenges, and they’re try­ing to be more vis­i­ble with trans­gen­der con­tes­tants. Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the biˆest Drag Race fans, and it’s the rea­son why I can do what I can do now. But there’s also drag kings, drag princes, club kids, bearded queens, non-bi­nary per­form­ers, fe­male drag queens. There’s so much more that we can look at. I also don’t think peo­ple should be mad at Drag Race for not show­ing that. I think if any­thing, it should give life to new TV shows. You can’t ex­pect one TV show to rep­re­sent ev­ery­thing. Let’s make new plat­forms for it, new op­por­tu­ni­ties. Drag isn’t just white, cis­gen­dered gay men. It can be­long to any­one.

Is work­ing with all these amaz­ing drag queens the dream job?

It’s only just re­cently where I’ve started think­ing of it as a job. I’ve worked full time in re­tail for the last ten years, and still do, so I’ve had to do all my pho­tog­ra­phy on week­ends. I have to book hol­i­days

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