June 27, 2019  /  GaySA Radio

The queers who make being queer look easy 

By Lusi Mahote

 

When I first encountered Queezy; they, he, she (does it even matter?), was just an alien queer body, clad in an over the top outfit at the launch of the Impulse Cape Town chapter. Then I had no idea who the horned DJ with a platinum blond Bob was. All I knew was, whoever they were, they were playing club bangers that had the whole of Zer021 in a trance. 

 

Fast forward: to the 4th of May 2019 at the Raptor Room. A friend had invited me to watch a show, where Angel-Ho and Queezy were performing. I’ll be the first to admit; when I saw the poster for the event, I had no clue who Queezy or Angel-Ho were. But I knew they were queer and I had to experience the two perform. 

 

Not one to go blindly into a space, I called up my good sis Google to help me get in the know. I was astounded by what I found. There were various articles on both artists highlighting their work and the messages behind both these individuals. 

 

Queezy seems easier to describe because their name is a play on words. A homophone, that’s based on how homophobic cisgendered people react when they encounter the flamboyant and boisterous artist. Quaid, Queezy’s birth name, was born in East London, and he recalls some of his earlier holidays in Port Elizabeth being an inspiration to the music he chooses for his female persona Queezy to perform. 

 

Never having met Quaid, I settled into the enigmatic aura Queezy provided and learnt that the name “Queezy” was inspired by wanting to embody that feeling. That is, our dear sibling was inspired to be sickening. Through their use and understanding of fashion, Queezy goes against the grain to create looks that seek to dismantle the concept of hyper normalisation. The intention, they state, is always at the core of this ‘disruptive protest fashion’. If I may presumably call it that. 

 

On one spectrum Queezy can be seen as hyper-feminine in her zebra outfit, which was somewhat reminiscent of Rihanna circa the Fashion Killa music video. I felt queasy, just staring at them clad in zebra print thigh highs and a tight fitting dress, while she glamorously played her hard rap sounds, which carried messages of women positively reclaiming their bodies and the world. A juxtaposition of the hard and soft, of the glam and the hood. A lyric came to mind while watching Queezy on the ground and grinding to the music in such a glamorous ensemble. The lyric being: “How could you be so hood, but you’re so fucken pop?”  

 

Not only would Queezy neglect the glamour of her outfit to provide her audience with racy and risque dance moves, but she periodically took her make-up sponge out of her bag to “touch up” her face.  She later told me that this is to show that being on stage and performing isn’t always pretty. You sweat, and sometimes you need to touch up your face.

 

Theirs is a name nuanced by the reality many a queer body has experienced. Being looked at as nauseating. And our darling sibling achieves this, through protest fashion, and makeup tutorial videos that will leave you looking like the sun chose only you. 

 

But Queezy’s set provided us a high to go on. To thrive off of, as Angel-Ho graced us with her presence. Recently back from the European leg of her tour, Angel-Ho was at the Raptor Room to deliver a stellar performance.  

 

Where can I find the words to describe the phenomenal and powerful being that is Angel-Ho – outside of her identity as a Black Trans Woman? To be honest, I can’t and I don’t want to. Because to move away from her identity as a Black Trans Woman we’d be losing the core message and the journey her music takes us through. 

 

Unlike most queens, Angel-Ho provides live vocals to her performance. She sang and rapped us through her new album Death Becomes Her. An album she had earlier said was just about being yourself and being true to that. I want to lie and say I remember every lyric of her music, but my name is Pinocchio. 

 

However, there is something that I refuse to forget about Angel-Ho’s performance. That being the way in which she brazenly proclaimed her identity as an Independent Trans Woman. In a time and country where many trans women still have to go through immense hardships: from being intentionally being misgendered by medical staff at public hospitals, to the lack of basic services that trans individuals need, within the same sector. I won’t even touch on how marginalised people of Trans experience are within our society and within the LGBT community as a whole. Instead, I’ll highlight the fact that there are still trans-women who are murdered and victimised in the African continent and in South Africa. Mambaonline lends us a statistic of this stating, “369 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people around the world from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2018.”

 

In her journey to becoming ‘the girl who has paid her dues’ as she belts out in one of her songs, Angel-Ho has been able to secure herself as one of the most exciting alternative artists in the underground music scene. Her use of synthesizers coupled with her singing voice contributes to the layered and textured sound she has created for herself. A sound that may not be one for all to appreciate, but definitely one that is true to her view on music and how she wishes to express her art. 

 

I found it not just refreshing to hear this message, but to see Angel-Ho do it while in a position that may not be considered as strong and dominant. As she was on her knees with her fist up she proclaimed her identity. She brazenly spoke her reality into existence in a space that she as a Black Trans woman may not  previously have occupied. A stage and a platform that she may have never been afforded. 

 

In that moment, I saw the woman I had read about. I saw the woman from the articles. The woman who wanted to reclaim the spaces we have lost, the spaces we were and still are excluded from as Black Queer artists. It may seem frivolous to mention race in a democratic South Africa, but the reality of our history and the way some still cling to the ideologies of the past persist, even more so in the ever-fragmented LGBT community. At that moment, I saw a woman who has overcome so much, in order to stand before us and share her art.  

 

Footage of Angel-Ho’s performance, is available on our instagram page, and her album Death Becomes Her is available on all music streaming sites. You can listen to the audio recording of Lusi chatting with Queezy here.