Ernesto Coyote, King and costumes

Ernesto Coyote is a drag king and costume designer involved in La Barakakings and Unique en son genre. Let’s get to know more about Ernesto’s work.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What has been your journey?

“I am Ernesto Coyote, I have been a drag king for 5 years in Brussels. My first experience in cabaret was creating costumes for burlesque performers because I am a costume designer. It has been my job for 10 years. During that time, I was thinking that if I would go on stage, for sure, it would be as a masculine character. I don’t know exactly why, but it was obvious that I didn’t want to express myself as an AFAB character. Probably because it doesn’t particularly define me. Today, I have fully become the person I was searching for in my twenties. I am 34 now. As a drag king, I can choose and explore many topics such as humour, masculine toxicity, sensibility, or pay tributes.”

What are your current or future projects?

“My current and future projects as a king are to get more muscles to better my illusion of a manly character. No, joking aside, I focus on always training to give the audience quality performances. Quality as a performer but also quality to create an atmosphere. I like to make people jump into another dimension, and transport people somewhere I like. Moreover, I am part of a new collective in town: La Barakakings which gathers drag kings but also drag queers, and all the variety of drag that exists. The only exception: no drag queens. We are more than 40 members, and with my partners, we are working to elevate those ways of drag expression on stage, or as a discovery of oneself. We want to make the very large spectrum of drag visible.”

“I always thought that if I would go on stage, for sure, it would be as a masculine character. As a drag king, I can choose and explore many topics such as humour, masculine toxicity, sensibility, or pay tributes.” 

Can you tell us a a bit about your participation to drag readings for kids ? Many events have been targeted by haters in the U.S. and France particularly. How do you feel this discipline is welcomed in Belgium ?

“I’m working for “Unique en son genre” with Sebastien Hannesse. This is a very engaged project that aims to deconstruct preconceived notions. I love these moments! It’s very funny and very intense at the same time. We must be careful about what we say because we have very innocent little people in front of us. We have to be clear in our explanations. Seeing the adults’ trust in us is wonderful. Of course, we must be entertaining as well to get our point to the audience. In my case, I haven’t met the difficulty of being in front of haters before a reading. It happened to some of my camarades unfortunately. Some schools are reluctant but extra events are organized to allow that. We can certify that today, the more the queer community is visible, the more the gap with the haters grows. It is inevitable. That’s why we stay strong and united to fight them with beautiful books, Kryolan, and smart and fair words. Because we are fair and the law protects us here! Behind the drag, we are human beings. Haters don’t want to see that and they ignore everything we explain to the children. They have too much ego to learn and are too afraid to lose their « traditions ».”

What does it mean to you to be a part of the Brussels queer community?

“For me to be part of the queer community means that I can be myself as a person. I can assure you that if i knew some words or contexts 15 year ago when I arrived in Brussels, it would have caused me much less difficulty. Also, it means being part of a big evolution of mentalities in Brussels, but also in Europe. It’s a sociological involvement despite us. The big wave is coming.”

What are your queer influences?

“I’m not sure that the references I use for my drag are very queer. Generally, I seek from Chippendales videos, how the guys with only muscles can make an entire audience scream. To be honest, it’s horrible to watch because few things or always the same things happen. I also watch a lot of old videos of male and female strippers from the eighties and nineties to study the way they move, and the music. The funniest, in this case, is that most of the male performers are gays and dance for women. I love that I understood this. How to give the people something they want to see no matter if it doesn’t match the reality behind the expectation. Performers just give a fantasy. That’s magic. Next to that, my very queer references are my partners and friends from La Barakakings collective, La Prigari singer, Blanket LaGoulue, King Baxter, and the BAP’s performers, they are so many! They give you the power and security to be who you are, just by being who they are.”

What Brussels queer initiatives are you fond of?

“Well again La Barakakings! All the projects my friends are creating to get the space we deserve with our own tools and backhoe loaders. But also the Queef, Vulcana, the Brussels Porn Film Festival, the cinema Nova and The Pink Screens, Jacques Franck cultural centrum during the Pride Festival, Queeriosity, Festival Anima with the Queer section. And big up for my camarades Blanket La Goulue with Playback Show, Crash Test with Samantha and Chroma, Brenda for Just the tip, Cabaret Mademoiselle and of course the Sassy Cabaret, Brussels Art and Pole, Les Peaux de Minuit (go to see them!) and so many beautiful people… to allow this visibility.”

Picture credits: Jonathan Petit, Les Nouilles, Sam