27.09.2019 – Culture & Nightlife

‘We want to move beyond anything that has ever been seen in the Zurich drag scene’

Interview: Valérie Jost

Comedian Ágota Dimén is now performing with Zurich’s drag queens because she believes these artists belong on the big stage. We talk to Ágota and drag queen Vicky Goldfinger about the Late Night Drag show, go-go dancing and giving birth.

Ágota, you spent two years as Dominic Deville’s sidekick on the Late Night Show on SRF. Now you’re hosting your own show, Late Night Drag. How did this come about?

Ágota Dimén: It all began when Andrea Schulthess told me she was opening a theatre. I was really keen to put on drag queens, so I got our director involved and suddenly we had a logo. From then on, the project grew like mushrooms in a compost heap.

Vicky Goldfinger: Are you saying we’re rubbish?

Ágota: Yep! (laughs) No, you know how much I love drag queens.

Vicky: I know. You’re like a mother to us.

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‘Drag is a statement.’

Vicky Goldfinger

Why is director Piet Baumgartner so important?

Ágota: I’ve always been keen to do my own thing, but I’m terribly lazy. That’s why I lose interest in new projects when I realise how much work they entail. But as soon as someone else gets involved, it clicks into place. Our director Piet Baumgartner is awesome, he pushes us so that we automatically start pushing ourselves.

Vicky: He gives us homework. That’s great for lazy artists!

Ágota: We want to move beyond anything that has ever been seen in the Zurich drag scene. It’s absolutely not a case of redefining the word ‘drag’. We just want to provide a place for what is already there, so that drag queens can blossom like flowers.

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What do you think about that, Vicky?

Vicky: It’s a challenge. I can no longer just churn out my act like I’ve been doing for years. I’m used to working mainly in clubs, which is a totally different way of working. The Swiss drag scene is often just a nightlife thing.

You want to get the drag scene out of the clubs?

Ágota: Definitely. Drag is an incredible, amazing art form in its own right, and so much more than merely decorative. But at some parties drag artists are just expected to stand around and look pretty – hang on, what do they call those girls who mingle with guests at parties?

Vicky: In the business we call them ‘hostesses’, we’re a bit like go-go dancers in costumes. Everything has to be flashy, awesome, Instagrammable – all in the space of two or three minutes. I like contributing to the party atmosphere, but it makes a nice change to go on stage, dig a little deeper, and try out some ideas that I could never do in a club.

‘Sometimes drag queens are just big, foul-mouthed bitches.’

Ágota Dimén

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Vicky Goldfinger

Is the show scripted?

Ágota: No, not at all. It’s true that some performances are rehearsed, but there are also improv challenges where you have no idea what’s going to happen – it’s like giving birth. For the audience, there’s nothing better than watching someone creating something live on stage. What we want to say is: ‘Look, fucking world! This is what drag artists do! They can turn a slice of bread into a spaceship!’ Because sometimes drag queens are just big, foul-mouthed bitches. Sorry, ladies! What I mean is the whole thing is about fast repartee, just like a Romanian Christmas.

Vicky: Of course, we make a plan for the evening, but we deliberately try to come up against things that we haven’t prepared for. This brings us closer to the audience.

Ágota: It sounds a bit pervy when you put it like that. My Catholic father would have a fit!

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Would you say your show is political?

Vicky: We’re not looking to be a typical late-night show that chews over the latest political topics like we’re used to seeing on SRF. But we certainly talk about things that affect our daily lives.

Ágota: And this private stuff is political. The mere fact that I’m a foreigner who lives in Switzerland and all the drag queens are part of the LGBTQ+ scene – that automatically makes it political!

Vicky: It’s like when a drag queen steps out of her house – she is already being political. A lot of drag queens wouldn’t agree with that, but that’s how I feel. Drag is a statement.

Ágota: Like when a woman hosts a late-night show.

Address

Miller’s
Seefeldstrasse 225
8008 Zurich
+41 44 387 99 70
Website

Info

Late Night Drag premieres on 4 October at 8 pm. More performances – including a Halloween special – are planned until the end of April 2020. Tickets cost between 18 (discounted) and 35 francs. More information can be found here.