We first witnessed Rosie Lugosi The Vampire Queen alongside Chloe Poems at the Green Room back in February and were drawn in by her parodies of Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. A truly unique performer and one that straddles the literature, S&M and queercore scenes with relative ease. Designer Magazine caught up with Rosie to find out how she started out in the goth band The March Violets playing alongside the likes of the Sisters Of Mercy and took it up to the present day.
Q: Yourself and Chloe Poems have obviously got similar
links in that your shining lights on the Manchester Performance Poetry
scene, but when did the idea first come together for the joint single?
A: We have got links. There aren't very many queer costume performers that do stuff that is dangerous and thoughtful and poetic and musical, so we were kind of fated to meet. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship really. But the thing is that although we have got that in common, what we both do is very different and that's great.
People say in Manchester we're only two of a kind, but
if you go to London you'll find a whole world of people like us. But name
me someone else. Of course there were people like Leigh Bowery, Matthew
Glamour and the performance artists that hung around that circle but it's
surprising exactly how little there is around the country.
Q: I know from speaking to people like the Divine David
and Chloe Poems previously that characters like Rosie Lugosi can often
take years to develop. How has Rosie developed over the years from initial
gem of an idea to the Rosie we all know and love?
A: Naturally she's grown out of me. I guess she's kind of an alter ego really. There's parts of her that are definitely parts of me, but i'm more than her. She's not the only thing I am and sometimes people who haven't really met me before sometimes get a bit confused and expect me to be Rosie Lugosi the whole time.
I've got a Goth background and I was in a 80s goth band
called The March Violets in Leeds fascinatingly enough at the same time
as Marc Almond and came from the same stable as the Sisters Of Mercy, we
released a few singles on their label. We toured round Europe and the States
and it was really good. It just fell apart acrimoniously like bands usually
do and I got the hell out before it got too acrimonious. So i've always
been into wearing black and being a bit mad and Rosie is taking that to
it's logical extreme. But I got a bit fed up with working with other people
and finding out they had very different agendas, so the reason she's a
solo performer is the fact that i've only got myself to rely on and not
having to work with a drummer who doesn't turn up cos' he's stoned somewhere.
Q: So how long has Rosie actually been in existence
- a living character as opposed to the actual idea?
A: If course she is 475 years old and has a long history in Transilvania...but the character I started to develop her 5 or 6 years ago. She grew quite organically. She's got more and more outrageous as each year has gone by. She started nice actually and she's definitely got very horrible and everyone loves her the more horrible she gets really.
People don't always get why I dress up Rosie Lugosi the way I do. She works on a load of different level. I dress up as the classic dominatrix. For me that's for a number of reasons. Part of it is because it looks bloody brilliant and it feels fantastic. But it's also that playing around with how women are and aren't supposed to behave, because she's scary at the same time as being very attractive. It's the idea that she tells the audience off and plays with them and threatens she's going to beat them all up afterwards. It's interesting playing with that because if you imagine you were a comedian and you got up on stage and told the audience you were going to punch them for being bad - could you get away with it?
Every performer has and S&M relationship with their audience, but i'm just making it really overt. Every performer that stands there is the centre of attention, the audience is down there looking up, while you speak they listen and if there's hecklers you have a go at them. I'm just making it really overt cos that's what all performers do, they stand there and wait to be worshipped.
Q: Chloe Poems has released "The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock"
previously, however "The Queen Of The Night" this is your first single
for Switchflicker records. Tell us a little about it?
A: I got the idea for the song through Mozart. Like I was saying before about having very eclectic tastes. I really like opera and one of the aria's that I really really like is the song of "The Queen Of The Night" in "The Magic Flute" by Mozart. She sounds majorly hacked off during this song, there she is singing away in German and it just suddenly came to me that here we have a heavily pre-menstrual woman....and I was thinking if she was singing about being pre-menstrual what would the words be, so i've just wrote the words for "The Queen Of The Night" as if she was very pre-menstrual. And i've actually kept quite a few of the original german words and translated them over to English
Q: And the other cover versions you do. "I Eat Babies"
by Andy Williams. "W*nking Is Forever" by Shirley Bassey?
A: I've always thought it's great, the idea of Andy Williams having a cannibal zombie version of one of his songs. I have a sick and twisted mind and I really shouldn't be let. I've got a very strange sense of humour, but again it's how i've grown up. The idea of writing parodies and writing new lyrics to songs is something that's really well established in the States, it seems part of their cultural history from the beginning of American cultural history which goes back about 2 1/2 minutes. Whenever i've performed over in the States they see me as totally fitting in to a really well established way of performing whereas over here people have never heard of the idea of writing parody's.
I think a lot of it is my dad. We got a lot of American music in our house when I was little so I was listening to Stan Freebird and Weird Al Yankovic and really surreal American comedians. My dad was one of these people who would always walk round the house singing and he'd always sing the wrong words. He would sing a really well known song like "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window" and just make the words really strange. So I grew up with the idea that you can do surreal words to songs...it's just like i'm following in my fathers footsteps (laughs)
One of the reasons I chose to play the well known songs
is the idea of taking songs that people have enjoyed as kids and twisting
them and perverting them. I think the most contemporary I get is probably
"Anarchy In The UK", i'm writing a new version of that at the moment. The
thing about a lot of very contemporary songs is that nobody has heard of
it, but the idea of covering Britney Spears "Baby, One More Time" would
Q: Yourself and Chloe and even back to the Divine David
don't really fit into the traditional image of Manchester, which I think
is probably a good thing.
A: I think Manchester has got this flamboyant underside which it doesn't always let itself express. It's this idea that we've got to be cool in Manchester and never show that were a little bit mad. Were only ever aloud to be mad for it in a really conventional way. I think there's a weirdness that runs under Manchester. Then again Chloe wasn't born in Manchester, I wasn't born in Manchester and I don't think David was born in Manchester - maybe we're just a corrupting wave kicking against the shore of Manchester. I do feel i'm here to pervert and corrupt everybody, not just you but the whole world!!!
She's very pansexual. She appeals to all sexuality's. I've had gay men come up to me and shudderingly admit to having sexual fantasies about Rosie Lugosi. Men want her, women want her and the whole world wants her!!!
I don't just do queer gigs. Last year for example i performed
S&M Pride, which was great performing to a bunch of perverts - fantastic,
and also I performed at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. I've got a
finger in a lot of pies - i fit into the goth scene, the vampire scene,
the SM scene, queen scene - but that's just cos of what I do rather than
because I want to fit into a particular scene. It's almost sometimes like
you're only allowed to be one thing - you're not aloud to be queer and
Rosie Lugosi performs at the Swindon Festival Of Literature in May
"London is Paranoid / The Queen Of The Night" is out now on Switchflicker Records
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