How do I look? Jonny Woo, Drag artist, age 34

Interview,Charlotte Philby
Saturday 26 July 2008 00:00 BST
(Portrait by Dominick Tyler)

I got into drag while I was living in New York, about eight years ago. I was hanging out with friends who performed on the downtown Burlesque scene. I started with tranny lip-synching – literally, miming a song while dressed in drag. I'd be in heels and a pair of pants, the little boy look; though I've always had the beard.

I'm a big fan of the classic heritage gay look. I have a fascination with check shirts, cut-off denim and moustaches. That Seventies style is making a big comeback on the scene right now. This Muir cap is classic clone wear. I bought it in Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. This is the original gay area in New York; the first place you go as a gay tourist.

I don't have pierced ears. In the back of my mind I worry that when I'm a famous movie star, it'll ruin my close up. I'm only wearing the one clip-on in this picture. If there were two, it would be too obviously drag. This way it throws it off a bit, it's a nod to the old school without looking like I have two chandeliers stuck to my head.

I'm really into weird, oversized accessories, like Mickey Mouse ears and Gorilla suits. These boxing gloves add a masculine quality to my look, but they also contain an element of juxtaposition. They could be cleavage, but there's a butch twist. They're useful too: I use them as a handbag around my neck.

This dress was custom-made by my friend and designer Noki, for a performance I did at Queer Up North. It's a story about a cat. Noki attached a Cats T-shirt to a midnight-blue ball gown, which sits on the hips, giving an amazing hourglass figure. There are black and yellow weaved cat toys hanging off it and I used to wear it with a cat basket on the head.

Wherever I go, the first place I head to is the party or joke shop. I bought my boa from one in Berlin, about three months ago. It's like a Christmas garland, made of fluorescent plastic. It really scratches and makes a racket when you wear it, but with a bit of back-lighting it glows fabulously. Usually my stage make-up adds colour too: layers of false lashes, glitter and grease paint. More rather than less is my motto.

'Jonny Woo: International Woman of Mystery', Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, 9pm, throughout August, 0131-668 1633

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