MARGO MARSHALL is an all dancing, all lip syncing assassin. An old school glamour girl with a party girl attitude.
Direct from the glittery and gritty underground queer scene, MARGO presents the definitive Live Stream experience in partnership with infamous East London performance mecca The Glory. Ahead of its grand re-opening May 17th, MARGO leads an all-star cast in a 1 part rock show & 2 parts drag ‘Top of the Pops’ in what is a true glimpse into the current and future of the LGBTQIA+ nightlife scene.
With set of original music this show is a visceral experience all about gender expression, questioning where you put your limits on what music, drag, performance and nightlife could be. MARGO & her band lead a gang of artists living it for real including special guests: Alt-cabaret legend Jonny Woo, original gay riot girl music from star Baby Lame, an acoustic masterpiece from scene stealer Cassandra, Aus’s sultry songstress Cazeleon, cleverly camp comedian Sue Gives A F**K, an exclusive performance from Crystal & interview from the set of Bimini‘s brand new music video.
This show is a rare snapshot of this seminal moment in punk drag.
PLUS! Premiere performance from Eurovision star and hypnotic Norwegian vocalist Uma Nite and her new single – ‘Memento Mori’
How would you describe yourself and how do you identify?
I’m Margo Marshall, international queer icon on the rise! I’m a trans non-binary artist originally from Leamington Spa, but now an absolute East London queen through and through. I trained as a dancer at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and spent a long time identifying as a young gay twink with an overtly sassy attitude and a secret penchant for women’s clothing; but as time rolled on and I became stuck in a very binaried dance industry I knew something else was up, so after a final hideous audition where I was told “you’re simply too feminine to work with”, I thought screw it, left the traditional dance world and went out to party and let loose. I ended up at alt-cabaret mecca The Glory one night, and as they say the rest is history!
How do you describe your music?
My music is an intoxicating cocktail of lounge jazz, early disco and New York punk rock; throw a splash 80s core in there for good measure and you’ve got yourself a night with Margo and the band. Damn I want a cocktail now.
Where do you get your inspirations and your musical stimuli from?
The scene. It’s honestly where I learnt what music I actually like, what I like to wear etc. Before moving to east London I’d lived such a heteronormative life and I had no understanding of why I still felt awkward at dance school amongst so many other gays and allys.
Being a drag queen I perform and get to look out on the scene I love so much and I see all it’s colours and how people react to me and the subject of my work always comes from that. Working on the scene performing my icons’ songs, Madonna, Gaga or Debbie as much as I love them started to leave me feeling I was almost copying them, my artistic expression felt it could only go so far speaking from their point of view. So often queers are considered akin to women but our stories and lives are so different and that should be reflected in the music industry.
How did everything start and when did you start performing?
Well one infamous night a guy I was seeing took me for a ‘quiet’ drink at The Glory in Haggerston, I saw ShayShay, an incredible east-london performer, lipsync this Bjork song and I was blown away. I’d never seen drag that defied the binary so much. I saw that The Glory was doing a competition called LIPSYNC 1000, by this point I had left the dance world but still missed performing so I applied, got to the final and started getting booked on the scene from there. You can blame Jonny Woo and John Sizzle for me starting drag, they own The Glory and really the magic keys to the hedonistic kingdom that is East London drag. They got me gigs, took me out on the scene, gave me space for my own work and even got me home many times when I couldn’t have afforded the cab!
Do you think it is hard to find people to engage in queer music?
Oh absolutely! Sadly a lot of queer music gets overlooked because so much of the industry is looking for instant mass appeal. The subjects of our lives are taboo, therefore our music is, as like other artists we use our own experiences in our work. A lot of the LGBTQIA scene is still geared towards female pop, of course these incredible women deserve so much of our respect, but do we rush to listen to a new trans artist’s album as we do to a new Kylie one, probably not and I’ve been guilty of it to. Our focus just needs to broaden a little I think.
The most disappointing thing though, is the queer baiting in commercial music, so much of our culture is used in music videos and I think the industry needs to wake up a little. In our interview on the ‘Red Chipped Nails’ live stream that’s coming up I think Bimini summed it up best, “take us off your moodboards and put us in the work”.
Is there enough queer representation in the music industry?
I mean first of all NEVER ENOUGH! It’s my love, it’s what I love so I of course want more and more! But in all seriousness I think it’s coming, Bimini’s rise to international stardom is a real sign of an art movement and thirst from the public for it. YungBlud and Lil Nas are making awesome work. There is some way to go and some attitudes need to be changed for us to be given the fair space, but there are amazing signs. We need to continue to encourage the famous artists and search for the unknown talent. Within just my East London nightlife scene it’s fit to burst, my friend Hellistiko just released music and it’s breathtaking. As queer artists we have to do so much ourselves to get the music made and heard, we have to be so creative and resourceful, just give us the money we’ll turn it out, we’re ready!
Who are your inspirations and role models?
Madonna was and still is my first love, the energy, the attack, the ownership of her body and sexuality, Debbie Harry hit me hard too, urgh just the ultimate cool girl, makes everyone else look like they’re trying hard. I read her biography, ‘Face It’ last year and it taught me a great lesson when I was deciding whether to create music as a drag performer, she spoke about how she worries about young artists now deciding what they do and are before they do it and how she just made, I wasn’t a singer or an actress or whatever, just an artist. In recent years, Bimini honestly, to see what she has done and to the level she does in such a short space of time is nuts, most people couldn’t keep up I’m telling you.
Talk to me about the collaboration with Johny Woo and Bimini Bon Boulash. How did this collaboration happen?
Well meeting Jonny & Bimini all happened in the same moment, LIPSYNC 1000, Bimini was also one of the queens plucked from obscurity by Jonny and came up doing the same shows as me. We’d run all over town doing brunches, gigs, clubs, another club, even a cruise. In actual fact Bimini danced as my back up dancer years ago, ha! Even the thought now is quite humbling. Since we’ve become more established it’s been so nice to write music with Bimini rather than just share a bill, to create work together and encourage each other’s music journey, it’s been a real joy.
Since that first time Jonny has also been a huge champion of my work, directing and producing my solo show, casting me in their Unroyal Variety and other shows. They have not just given me gigs but made me be more considerate with my work, trust myself as a young queer artist. He’s got me doing things on stage I never would have, namely at the Crazy Coques dressed as Jackie Curtis, singing live while twirling with my dick out.
What did you see in these two and what did you learn from them?
As a dancer I’d built up so many walls of what I couldn’t, shouldn’t or wouldn’t do which I think is one of the reasons I became so addicted to the East London vibe of rule breaking. Jonny helped me strip all that away and made me ask myself the important questions you have to as a young artist. Are you willing to go there.. Do I care that people might find my work too much.. Is that what I want to say or a trope of the arts industry.. Simply watching them and John Sizzle, fellow owner of the The Glory & drag icon, hosting a stage together is a masterclass in comedy, timing and playing with an audience. As a dancer I never used my voice and certainly didn’t think I was funny, but they both passed me the mic, told me to try, encouraged me, gave me an opening line and now I’m even singing, it wouldn’t have happened without them saying ‘you’re great, you can do it, now get on with it’.
Bimini has always been a star, an eternal cool girl and the second I saw her I knew I wanted to be around her energy. It is always so special in life when you experience something with someone, learning and growing at the same time. Starting drag was such a rush, a beautiful change in my life but it all happened so fast and Bimini was there, supported me through the madness and still does. As young non-binary queers finding your gals is always just so special.
We first met you at the iconic night “Lipsync 1000” in Glory, the Mecca of London LGBTQ+ spaces, where you captivated us. How was this experience?
Honestly like Dorothy walking into Oz, I was taken aback by the sheer velocity of the crowd’s AGGRESSIVELY celebratory attitude. This experience honestly made me understand what people meant by the queer community. No one knew me and I got just as much love as the known East-London babes. There were so many clashing styles, bodies, forms of people and drag, I was in awe, the way a child stares at a giant cake or a twink at a Little Mix megamix.. Do twinks like Little Mix now? I’ve no idea. When I turned up for the final of LIPSYNC 1000 it was like that meme of the girl in the middle of a circuit party.. I was like OH! I’m a queer, it just clicked and felt like I’d been given the golden ticket. Little did I know, I had.
How is it to be mentored by Johny Woo and to have worked with Sink the Pink, Melanie C, Robyn, Ava Max and so many more big names?
Wow, even just hearing you say the names makes me proud. To have had and still have Johnny and their watchful eye, giving advice and taking me over town, I felt I could actually relax and enjoy my drag youth. It was a real luxury, I know I would have made so many more mistakes and grown so much slower had I not had them in my life. As a young male bodied queer I also don’t take for granted the amazing relationships I have with other members of the community, because of our history we have had a huge percentage of them robbed from us and it’s really important to keep connected as a community. Pass down the stories, listen to the music recommendations, watch the tv show specials or concerts they went to. They have had such a wealth of knowledge and it’s shaped so much of my taste now.
Like most young dancers I had dreamt my whole life of dancing for one of my favourite pop stars, I danced along like mad to the Spice Girls movie with my mate Becky and once said, that’ll be me one day! I didn’t believe it was going to happen in all honesty until we walked out on stage and the noise HIT us and I said to myself “get it bitch, you’re actually dancing for a Spice Girl”. Watching Melanie work was so inspiring, you have an idea of how hard popstars work, but then to get to see them do it in real time behind the scenes is incredible. She NEVER stops and has honestly never been better. Working on her live stream encouraged me to do mine and seeing her dedication to pushing out music and making such a daring pop album at this stage of her career, she deserves every bit of success she has had and continues to get.
What are the most powerful moments you experienced while working with these legends?
It has to be the date we did with Melanie at Brighton Pride, I knew it would be special cause my dad and my sister were finally coming to see the show and it was a whole Sink the Pink Ball so the whole queer family was going to be there. I was sitting in the car with Melanie and we just got chatting about the amazing moment in the show when Melanie sang 2 Become 1 and dedicated it to and highlighted her love of her kinship with the LGBTQIA+ community. I mentioned that it’s a shame we don’t see the trans flag so much at Pride, how as trans nonbinary people our community sometimes still dont include us and the wider issues of trans individuals. She just asked me to keep talking, just gave me the space to share, before the show she asked to borrow the trans flag I’d brought and did the whole moment but for the trans community. The crowd went MAD. It was honestly so humbling to have a moment like that with someone I had looked up to for so long, turn to me and learn from my experiences. I’ll always be so grateful to her for making that myth about meeting your idols completely false, and for so much more. I could sing her praises forever.
Talk to me about RED CHIPPED NAILS. What shall we expect to see during this event?
WELL, Red Chipped Nails is a Queer music live stream, like a queer BBC Live Lounge or Top of the Pops. I’m performing my music with my band for the very first time. These songs were meant for a live show before Christmas, but it was cancelled due to lockdown 3.0. I’d been working with my incredible writing partner Robyn Herfellow for about a year coming up with these tracks and I was so sad to not do something with them, hence the livestream! I’m also debuting my first original produced track with an incredible collaborator and friend Asian Hawk – the most insane DJ, producer, singer, musician and force of nature. They sent me a track last year without lyrics and I sat on it over lockdown and when things were eased I went to the studio in Bath where they’re based and we smashed it out in one evening. They honestly got me singing in ways I never thought I could.
The hottest woman in the world Bimini Bon Boulash pops by for an EXCLUSIVE interview about her new music dropping later this month, all things queer music and life after the race.
But honey I didn’t stop there, I’ve asked all my closest queers, the same group that helped me develop the initial live show to collaborate with. More of my drag fam, Crystal has produced the most INSANE lipsync music video to a Goldfrapp track and Baby Lame has done a cut of her track That’s So Gay, which is such a camp riot girl banger for homoz! There’s Uma Nite from Norweigan Eurovision debuting her brand new track Memento Mori, if you want hypnotic vocals we’ve got that too! Plus there is work from the creme del creme of the scene, Grace Shush, Cassandra, Sue Give A F**k and Cazeleon. I’m honestly so proud and honoured of the level of the work everyone has brought to the show. It is a real time capsule to a moment in the resurgence of punk drag, this is the future kids so snap up a ticket NOW!
More of Margo Marshall here: