Madame Heinz is probably the most popular queen in the drag scene of Stockholm. Her signature beard along with her influential personality make her distinguishable and one of her kind. She started her career as a drag queen by chance and she has managed to become an absolute reference in the Swedish LGBTQ+ scene. “As long as men are trapped in the stereotypical male gender role as dictated by society, drag will never be mainstream” she says and our heart melts.
YASS Magazine spent a night with Madame Heinz, the drag persona of Stefan Boström and these are her YASS confessions:
What is the kind of drag you represent?
I am a Bearded Queen. I’m also into gender bender/gender fuck as I don’t wear padding or tits and I don’t tuck. I love the contrast between beard, hairy chest, hairy legs, bulge; and the drag face, heels, feminine clothes and body language.
When did you start your drag career and who is your drag mother?
I started doing drag about four years ago. I had wanted to try it for years; I just never had the courage. However, four years ago my boyfriend at the time and I decided to do it. We bought the clothes, wigs, and makeup and watched countless drag tutorials on YouTube. I had just started to grow my beard and didn’t want to remove it, and he was sporting a big moustache. So I never aimed to be a Bearded Queen, I just wanted to try drag, and at the same time keep my beard. After some practise, we went out to a gay club in drag a couple of times. One night I ended up on a photo. Peter and Erik, who have been running clubs in Stockholm for years, saw the photo and asked me if I wanted to host one night at their new club, King Kong. I had been doing drag for about four months and had no experience of hosting, but I said yes. They asked me to come back the next week, end the next, and soon I was the official hostess of King Kong where I worked for three years. Thanks to the platform provided by Peter and Erik and King Kong my drag career took off.
My drag mother is YouTube 😉
How does it feel being one of the most popular drag queens in Stockholm?
That is very hard for me to answer. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that Madame Heinz is well known and popular. Maybe I am to humble for my own good… Of course, I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity to perform and express my art to people, and earn a bit of money from it. So how does it feel being one of the most popular Drag Queens in Stockholm? I feel lucky and humble.
Was it a big statement to be a bearded queen when you started doing drag?
I don’t know that it was a big statement, Conchita Wurst had just won the ESC, and Mathu Andresen was quite well known through RuPaul’s Drag Race. However, I was the first and only Bearded Queen in Sweden, and still am (I believe). So it wasn’t a big statement, but it was something totally new and unseen in Sweden, which of course helped boost my career.
Is it hard to be a part of the night scene?
No, not really. The only annoying thing would be middle-aged drunk women who tells me I’m so beautiful, how bad they are at makeup, and that they want me to do their makeup, all the while grabbing on to my clothes and trying to hug me for 30 minutes straight.
Have you faced any discrimination or homophobia during all these years?
Other than the odd taxi driver’s hand on my thigh, I have never really experienced any of that. Of course it’s all a question of living in an open-minded city and staying out of certain areas in Stockholm. Even when doing a gig at straight clubs, most straight men are very nice and interested (maybe a bit too interested…). It’s always fun to see straight men struggling not to be too obvious when they stare at my bulge with thirsty eyes! Haha!
What is the best advice you have been given?
You do you!
What makes you cry?
Show me a YouTube video of an abandoned dog getting rescued, a person coming out to understanding parents, an under-dog getting the golden buzzer at America’s got talent, a man crying, brothers reunited after one of them have been in the army for a year, a homeless person getting a total makeover, and so on and so forth, and I will cry like a baby. I am a very empathic person, so others people’s feelings move me a lot.
Have you ever faced any problems in a relationship for being a drag queen?
No not really, more than the fact that the boyfriend of a drag queen often ends up waiting for hours or carrying bags and opening doors a lot. Also, when I host I can be very physical and frisky, which can stir up some jealousy in your partner.
How do you identify yourself?
I am a homosexual cis man. Drag has never had anything to do with my gender or sexuality, but is purely an art form in which I can express myself.
Do you feel you have left your mark in the Swedish gay scene?
I do. As I said, I never planned to be a drag queen, let alone a bearded queen. I never aimed to become famous or get attention. It all started as a fun thing. But, as I worked I realised that my drag affected people. People started to come up to me and thank me for doing what I do, showing the world that you can be and do whatever you want. You can have high heels and a beard. You can wear jockstraps and stay-ups. Now I know that what I do is a statement that can help people to dare to be themselves. I even got a message on Instagram once from somewhere in the USA, where a girl wrote that her friend was alive thanks to me. He was going to end his life because he wouldn’t fit in where he lived. When she showed him my Instagram he didn’t feel alone anymore and realised there is a place for him on earth.
How long does it take you to prepare for a night show?
From nothing to full drag takes about three hours.
Can being a drag pay the bills or do you need to have a day job too?
Absolutely not. Sweden is too small a country where only a lucky few (maybe 5-6 people) can make a living of doing drag. I have a full-time job in customer service, and I am the conductor of a classical choir (I am a classically trained singer and conductor).
What is a regular day of yours?
I wake up, go to work, meet friends after work and go to sleep…
What is your opinion about RuPaul’s Drag Race?
I absolutely love Drag Race, and I am one of those who do drag thanks to that show. The only thing I’m missing is that I think that the show maybe could have educated people more regarding the origins of drag, the whole ballroom scene and so on. I mean all the catch frases and everything have a long history and very interested origins, but I feel that most young drag lovers have the impression that RuPaul invented it.
Do you think that drag has gone mainstream?
As long as there are religious fanatics, drag will never be mainstream. As long as there are people scared of things they don’t understand, drag will never be mainstream. As long as men are trapped in the stereotypical male gender role as dictated by society, drag will never be mainstream. As long as one person lifts their eyebrow at a boy wearing eye-liner, drag will never be mainstream.
What are your future plans?
To keep improving my drag, work hard, do all I can to touch as many people I can through my art and always aim to be a better person tomorrow than I am today.
If you could change one thing from your past what would it be?
I would have seized a lot of opportunities and believed in myself, instead of waiting for opportunities to seize me.
Have you regretted anything?
If you learn from every mistake you make, there is no need to regret anything. So, no, I don’t regret anything. Regretting is useless as it won’t change anything while stealing your energy.
How is your drag persona different to your non-drag self?
We are quite similar. Madame Heinz is slightly more care-free, outspoken and daring. I have actually learned to be more social out of drag thanks to her.
more of Madame Heinz here:
*all images are courtesy of Madame Heinz and Stefan Boström