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LIVE 24-SEVEN


David, your recent art exhibition at the Houses of Parliament was the first of its kind and timed to celebrate Pride in London, supporting equality and diversity. You've created history with this exhibition, how does that make you feel? I’m very proud of being the first and I sincerely hope I’m not the last. I had worked with Pride for years when I was a performer, hosting the main stage in Trafalgar Square, so it was a natural thing to do. My husband has the right take on it though when he says, “Don’t get big headed”! [laughing]


The reaction to your artwork and the event was quite overwhelming, from celebrities to Lords and MPs, it was a diverse and impressive audience, were you a little daunted by the venue itself and the guest list? I was more nervous of the art not living up to people’s expectations than of anyone who came. I’ve met some serious stars in my day, so not many people get me flustered, particularly ones wearing suits! The reactions and reviews have been amazing though. There was a strong theme going on in the work and I think people “got it”.


Your work is strong, vibrant and maybe not for the fainthearted! Is there a process you go through in creating each piece? Do you need to be in a certain frame of mind or space? I am seriously opinionated and it shows in my work. There would be no point for me in just producing decorations; my works are ideas and opinions. I paint from home and for me to have a clear mind and form ideas I need to be in a very quiet and self- controlled space. I have three Siamese cats and they keep me company, but it’s just them and me.


You have many profiled collectors of your work, but you're also far too discreet to discuss who has purchased pieces, to include collectors who are probably used to a back story behind each piece, but you prefer not to label your art, why is that? I don’t label them because I think they are strong enough to stand alone and obvious in their intention. If people see something else in them then that is fine. I’m too lazy to explain or nudge people in my own direction. They need to find their own and from that position they will understand the work in their own way. It’s up to the individual to find the joy.


You're famous for your alter-ego Dusty O and you were the leading Drag Queen in London and further-a-field for many years, are your paintings a reflection of David 'and' Dusty? Both I suppose. There are many people I knew along the way in there and they are built around the artificial. The figures can be grotesque and clown-like and feminine and beautiful, but I rarely make gender too obvious. Someone is usually sitting on a secret!


Do you look back fondly on your time running Trannyshack? I was very proud of that club. It ran for a decade and was home to a fabulous family of gender misfits. We were the first club I know of that wouldn’t let fur in too; no fur hags in MY disco! It was a crazy and unique club. It was my most positive contribution to diversity within the club scene. It really was a one off.


You were a role model to many throughout your career as a Drag Queen; do you see your art as a vehicle now to support others? I’m going to sound awful, but I hated all that “Queen of Soho” and “Trannyshack House Mother” rubbish. I’m far too narcissistic to take on either of those mantles, however they came with age and experience. I have enough problems guiding myself without attempting to be a role model. My art is uniquely personal and tells my story and if that helps anyone then that is great, but its main purpose is mine alone.


I can’t imagine there's a simple answer to this, but do you have a favourite painting that you've produced? No I hate them all. They are always a missed opportunity!


What's next for you? As opportunities to exhibit across the globe and potential collaborations are offered to you, is there a plan? No plan at all. Things seem to happen without me trying to manipulate them. I go with the flow. It’s very instinctive. My sponsor helps me, I’m not very business minded I’m afraid. My dream existence would be to be left alone to paint and play with ideas and memories and let someone else make all the decisions. I’m not Alpha. I’m creative. [laughing]


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INTERVI EW DAVID HODGE


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