Drag according to Mama Tituba

Mama Tituba has been present on many queer stages. Part of La Barakakings and co-founder of Les Peaux De Minuit, They are now giving drag lessons at Brussels Art Pole with Blanket La Goulue.

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

I started to do drag a bit by accident. If someone told me four years ago that I would perform on stage, telling personal stories half-naked in front of a crowd, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second! In 2018, I was working for a big company as a graphic designer in France, and at the time, I defined myself as cis-hetero and hated my job. When I arrived in Brussels, Massi aka Blanket la Goulue was the first queer person I met with my friend Laïss Barkouk. They introduced me to the LGBTQIA+ community and its struggles. I went to demonstrations and I discovered some of the city’s most emblematic and alternative venues. The first drag performance I saw was a concert by King Baxter, my future drag father, at Le Barlok. It was a shock for me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged. I felt free and surrounded. I’d never felt like that in my life. Then, I realized why, so naturally I started the process of deconstruction, and later, I came out as non-binary and pansexual.

All this has opened up new horizons for me, but I’d say that it all started with the drag show “Not Allowed – Glitter’s Time”. This alternative show was born during the pandemic, founded by Blanket la Goulue, Dame Lylybeth, Shlaggy Daddy, Rose Gigot, Drag Couenne, Chimey Blue, Camille Nestor Josie Pier, and Enby Valent. It was the first time I saw non-heteronormative people on stage, trans bodies, racialized bodies. It was my epiphany! It took me another year to get going, but I made my first stage appearance in April 2022, for the anniversary of the Vulcana organization.

Mama Tituba was born as a reference to the novel “Moi, Tituba sorcière” by Maryse Condé. I wanted to pay tribute to all those strong, racialized women who fought during slavery and even now, those who have been erased from the history books. Tituba is a witch, a drag queer and has no gender. As a child of the dynasty of the Nocturnal Kingdom, I answer to no physical or moral rules. Rage and anger are my driving forces, and my ultimate goal is to put down the patriarchy and white supremacy. While telling my story, adelphity is my most precious remedy. My solo performances are quite diverse, touching on themes of colonialism, racism, empowerment, and my relationship with my body. Drag king and group numbers allow me to move into more comical and offbeat registers. My aesthetic draws its inspiration from the worlds of punk, combat, boxing and bdsm.

This year has been full of encounters and opportunities, and I’ve performed at lots of different events, in front of lots of different audiences such as: Show Playback, Just the Tip, Propaganda, Crash Test, Queeriosity, the Hippocampe project, the Queef pride, Fatsabbats, Homografia, Museum Night Fever, Snap festival… And in very different places like: The Agenda, The Crazy Circle, Cabaret Mademoiselle, Os à moelle, Grands Carmes, Théâtre Varia, La Vénerie, Beursschouwburg.

Only a short time after I started, I joined my first collective, ‘La Barakakings’ with Cherry Chapstick, Enby Valent, Ernesto Coyote and Dicklan. This collective is made of drag kings, drag queers, drag creatures, in clear, everything but drag queens. Then, last March, I co-founded the collective ‘Les Peaux De Minuit’, made up entirely of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) artists, with Lassyri, Paula Roïd, Meltyn’Pothead, Daisy Lusion, and Tasty Desire. These two collectives are part of my queer, non-binary, and racial identities. These collectives were born with the same goal: to come together and make our identities and stories visible. Because even in Brussels, white cisgender drag queens have more privileges and opportunities than AFAB, trans and black people. Without minimizing the struggles of the cisgender gay community, I think it’s important for drag art to be more diverse and inclusive. If we’re always watching the same bodies and listening to the same stories on stage, then the most precarious communities, to which I belong, stay invisible.

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

I’m happy and proud to be part of the queer community in Brussels. Even if it’s not easy every day, I know I’ve found my chosen family among my adelphes and among the incredible artists I work with. I know that I am supported, I know that I am loved, and I know that Brussels still has a lot to offer. I see and observe new initiatives every day, new baby drags getting started, new collectives being set up, and that fills me with joy.

What are your current or future projects?

In the fall, I’ll be giving workshops for the drag academy at BAP (Brussel Art Pole dance) with my sister Blanket la Goulue. In September, La Barakakings is back with a new show at Magic Land. I performed at the Fame festival and at Recyclart for the queer festival, “Random act of community love”. There’s also the play Hippocampe, directed by my drag mother Lylybeth Merle at La Balsamine in October. Not forgetting “Les peaux de minuit”, which is also back. I’m currently working on some new solo performances, which I can’t wait to show you. My dream for this coming season is to be able to play outside Brussels, discover new venues, and make new collaborations – I mean, I’m just getting started!

Picture credits : Laetitia Bica, Anne-Sophie Guillet, Matey