Chloe Poems is one of the most radical forces in performance poetry and the fact that she subverts the traditional drag images while performing the likes of "The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock" and "Are We Myra Hindley?" only heightens the sense of the politic. Chloe prefers to see herself as Moulin Rouge to political comedian Mark Thomas' Red Wedge and for those of you who have seen her you'll know exactly what she means. And for those of you who haven't, it certainly grabbed your attention.
Coming out in Liverpool Chloe was surrounded by a bohemian scene which brought together people from different backgrounds to watch the likes of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes - now she just looks around in disgust at the idiotic ghettoized troop of robots. This troop of robot is the gay scene which sometimes as an oppressed minority can hide behind their own fascism.
It's this radical stance which has seen her physically attacked and called a terrorist after performing the aformentioned "The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock" at the Manchester Mardi Gras. I think we can pretty much safely say she hasn't changed her style to writing about Fluffy Bunny's with a book "Adult Entertainment" which is a hard-core as ever.
Q: I first heard of the character of Chloe Poems about 2 years ago when I interviewed the Divine David. Just as an introduction for the readers could you tell us how the character was developed?
A: Chloe's first incarnation was probably about 10 years ago in a Cabaret Club. She was a very small part in a cabaret act and the character was such a hit...it was strictly comedy back then and I thought I'll develop this and it took me three years to do something with it. I returned to acting and writing, which is what I do, and then a theatre in Liverpool asked me to do something - so Chloe returned, brought the house down and I thought there's something in this.
Most drag queens are quite happy to lampoon women, make racist jokes and be really really crap. So the whole ethos was to create something new with the tired old gay manufactured drag thing and to inject a real political thrust into it. Drag sits very uneasy with me and the idea that I was dressing up as a woman just to make people laugh felt desperately misogynist and without worth. Drag is such a powerful way of communicating something to people and such an instant thing, I thought why not subvert it.
The idea then was to make the character desperately political while at the same time using traditional drag images which then in a funny way heightens the sense of the politic - you don't expect someone in a dress to say the Queen Suck Nazi Cock!!!
Q: Was it a sense of hiding behind a mask in the sense that you couldn't get up on stage and say these things as yourself?
A: No, I've done a lot of stuff as me. I started acting when I was 16 and I've always been very political and very forthright and have done a lot of plays myself. I think one of the reasons behind it is that if I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt it would be really easy to say there's that ranting socialist. With the dress you can't do that - there's this kind of mechanism that says this isn't a ranting socialist, although it is a ranting socialist, it's also entertainment!!!
I think its about extending what I what I want to project as opposed to wearing a mask and I think that by wearing a dress and the silly make up it does that. There's a real thrust who come to see the character and then are told quite unsavoury things. Like, I've got a poem called "Are we Myra Hindley?", which suggests that Britain is Myra Hindley to America as Ian Bradey. If I did it as me it would not have the impact or the cushion that Chloe gives.
Q: Do you see Chloe Poems as someone out on there on her own or would you align yourself with say people like Mark Thomas?
A: I don't see it as in the Mark Thomas role at all. In a funny kind of way I consider myself much more showbiz than him...although I'm not. What he does is very intellectually based and what I do is slightly more vaudeville. I think it's very much the same thrust, the same idea that the truth must be communicated, but Mark Thomas is much more pragmatic I think than I am. I'm more Moulin Rouge as opposed to his Red Wedge I think!!!
Q: A lot of what you write about is based on your experiences on the gay scene and how it finds it very hard to accept people for their differences - whether it be that of gender, race, aesthetics?
A: It's racist, it's fascist - the Gay Scene is Fascist!!! Of course I support the whole concept of an oppressed minority, I am an oppressed minority if you like, but there's this thing where sometimes the oppressed minorities hide behind their own fascism...and the gay scene is brilliant at that. So it says we are a weak oppressed minority while at the same oppressing anybody who doesn't fit within their stereotype. And because it sees itself as oppressed it doesn't think it's doing anything wrong with oppressing others.
People who are fat, black, effeminate even, people who don't want to wear Prada are almost seen as pariah's on the gay scene. Certainly myself, because I dared to say I am a socialist and I believe in the massive distribution of wealth - I believe the rich should be poor for a while so they know what it's like - to a lot of my pink comrades, as it were, I am a terrorist. You just can't put up the shield of I am an oppressed minority while at the same time oppressing.
I think basically what Queer As Folk did was solidify the myth that somehow gay people are rich...and they're not. Only a very few gays can afford the loft apartment, all the drugs in the world and all the most expensive cars - I call it the Lie Style. And then you have programs like Gimme Gimme Gimme with those hideous characters and they're somehow meant to represent me - I don't think so!!!
Q: You're political to the core and you always will be. But do you ever see a point where you move across a more mainstream audience?
A: No, I don't think you can. You can do that U2 lie where you say I can billionaire and I can be a socialist - but you can't!!! I would like to reach out to a wider audience, but it would have to be on my terms. If I started doing poems about fluffy bunny's who have left field thinking, in the same way that John Hegley does things about a dogs, if you're going to do things through the concept of a dog it simply ends up being about a dog.
I've been involved in the showbiz world before and I hate everything it stands for. It's another lie. But entertainment isn't a lie and I believe to entertain you have the tell the truth properly. It's very difficult to entertain me because I don't get Posh & Becks or yet another tap dancer. I get Ken Loach and Stephen Nancy.
I don't want to pretend I'm saving the world because I'm going to Africa with Bono. I've never wanted to think that's the way forward because it isn't. A revolution of thought is the only way because the world is so f**ked.
Q: Do you ever get the sense sometimes that you're preaching to the converted?
A: I do a lot of gigs where it's not going to be terribly easy for me. I did the Manchester Mardi Gras and did "The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock" and I was physically attacked. I didn't work in the village for 2 years because I was boycotted by the gays. If I thought I was just preaching to the converted I would give up now.
There's this new nationalist wave going through the country at the moment and I think it's quite terrifying. You've got the jubilee, football and Lennox Lewis - this whole new Britishness - and it's not right especially with the rise of the far right. I'm not being conspiracy theorist here, but it seems ever so slightly well timed!!!
Q: "The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock" was the highlight of the Anti Royal Variety Show. For people who haven't seen you live or heard the single would you like to explain the idea behind the poem? (Ed: For legal reasons, whether or not we agree or disagree with the following statement, the opinion is that of Chloe Poems etc.)
A: The Royal Family have an history of Nazism. The Queen's Uncle was probably a Nazi. There are letters saying that the Queen Mother thinks Hitler's politics are good.
Prince Philip has really airy past - its like how many more racists gaffs can you make before we all click on here? We don't quite know his whole past, but if he can be an out racist like that then the chances are he's quite comfortable with that. And if he's comfortable with being a racist then what is he really. And I imagine he's a homophobe so as far as I'm concerned he's a Nazi.
The Queen has had sex with him. They've had children. They've had foreplay. I'm assuming the Queen has sucked him off...therefore the Queen Sucks Nazi Cock!!! Our nation sees the Queen as this upholder of all things great and just and she sucks Nazi Cock. Let's say it like it is.
Q: For our readers outside of the Manchester area, the main place they can delve into the Chloe Poems experience is through the "Universal Rent Boy" and "Adult Entertainment" books. Tell us more?
A: Universal Rent Boy is the first book and you can get that from email@example.com. Adult Entertainment is the new body of work. If you want good old fashioned poetry it's in there, but if you want something slightly more hardcore...you're an adult and you've lived your life and can take it and understand it you will be entertained. There's a lot of sex in it, tales of my life as a male prostitute in it, affection poems about ageing in it and lots of melancholic poems in it.
It's a real move on from Universal Rent Boy because that was basically an anthology of all the show's I'd done before. I certainly think this is a self contained body of work which is more cohesive. If Universal Rent Boy is 70% funny, this is 70% serious.
Q: I don't consider myself to be that old, but I remember when I was growing up there were these really positive influences that took it from being just music to something else. People like The Smiths, The Manic's through to Chumbawamba and Credit To The Nation. With the possible exception of figures like Marilyn Manson or System Of A Down there are very few people I'd really even take the time to listen to their ideas and viewpoints You're older than me, what's you take on it all?
A: The young gays say are you 40? And I think there's no way in a million years I'd be your age now. Youth culture is dull and dying. This sounds like an old man telling his kid to go out and break windows and it is an old man telling kids to go out and break windows. The angers been ironed out now and turned into a Prada shirt - I don't see the fire anymore!!!
When I started coming out it was in 1979 and my peers were Frankie Goes To Hollywood and this really vibrant bohemian scene in Liverpool. You had Pink Military, Echo & The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and the gays were very much part of that. It's not like that anymore and the gays are this idiotic ghettoized troop of robots and somewhere else somebody else is a idiot robotised robot.
There doesn't seem to be this fusion anymore. It seems to have been eradicated and it will have been eradicated because it was radical. They've done a very good job of ironing out the radical, but there's still some of us left.
Q: Do you still think we can overthrow this capitalist system and strive for a better life?
A: I'm angrier about capitalism then I was when I grew up. In the early 80s there was a sense of we've won. But at this moment in time they've won. But you've got to know that because they can't win forever and that's the deal. You've just got to lie in wait and be that angry voice every so often that really pisses them off.
Q: And with the fact that youth as a whole hasn't got that fire anymore. What does the New Wave of New Angry mean to you?
A: I think it's the same old angry which has been stifled by bureaucracy and capitalism. The media has become increasingly more right wing so I think it's increasingly difficult to cut through. For example, people like John Cooper Clarke cut through with incredible poetry in the late 70s / early 80s. You can't be that now - I've been told by television companies that they won't touch me. I've been approached by them and asked to do the fluffy bunny and I won't do that so they won't touch me.
I think the anger is there as its always been. I just think the media and society as a whole has come together to smother it more so it seems more dissipated. When in fact the anger that was around Thatcher early 80s is still much the same sort of anger because Tony Blair is Thatcher.
I think you have to call it new to give it a direction and I think it needs that. But I'm certainly as angry now as I was in 1979. Everything's quite Stepford now, it's like the Stepford Wives Society. To be seen as angry is almost sometimes to be seen as a loser or a spoilsport. I hope there's younger people coming through, like Stephen Nancy who are the New Wave, and maybe their anger is slightly different to mine. Or maybe it's the same?
"Adult Entertainment" is out now
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