Thank the universe for manifesting people such as Andre Charles/RuPaul for normalizing alternative performers and expanding gender boundaries; non-the-less, due to the fragile and foolish nature of humankind’s mental structure, we like to generalize and put people into boxes – this story is about Destroying the Drag Delusion.
The buttermilk battered chicken fingers arrived at our table at Friends of Dorothy Lounge downtown Victoria. But what was already looking finger-licking gorgeous was Aaron Tlucko fully decked out as a LEOPARD CHEETAH DRAG GODDESS – Immacolata Vintage.
Okay, so Aaron Tlucko wasn’t dressed in drag, but no less equally GORGEOUS.
“When I started doing drag in Victoria, I was kind of a club kid, but it felt like you had to be a drag queen to be taken seriously. So, I slowly got into the realm of drag. But I found while doing drag, there were a lot of binary preferences and a heteronormative sense being pushed on a community that was already oppressed,” expresses Aaron while sipping a glass of water.
They tell me the name Immacolata came from their interest in Clive Barker's epic fantasy novel Weaveworld after the main villain, an ethereal creature hellbent on destroying the magical creatures known as the Seerkind. “She had no front hairline,” Aaron states with a wide-eyed expression. “It was a receded forehead with long luscious locks. She was the essence of real beauty, which was exactly what I needed to inspire me. Also, Immaculata is Italian for immaculate, which I chose as a compliment to steer myself.”
With everyone throwing their expectations of what kind of a drag performer Aaron should be, they decided to steer in the direction of identity discovery. The name Immacolata held a source of power. “It was when I was feeling like garbage, I could look in the mirror and say to myself, you were immaculate when you were born.”
It wasn’t long ago that mainstream society was oppressing the queer and LGBTQ+ community. Now, the same industries are capitalizing on a notion of trendy tolerance. “I find that a lot of queer culture gets forgotten, and the straight world ends up taking hold of it and capitalizing on it," Aaron stated passionately.
"They weren't there for it. People need to stop applauding straight people for doing things that the queer community has been doing for decades and being abused for. Immacolata Vintage was my way of turning pain into something beautiful because, like I tell everyone, when I paint, I paint my demons. I paint my struggle onto my face, no matter how beautiful that is. There's always pain in every stroke of the paintbrush."
In addition to choosing their stage name, Immacolata had other trials to face in the early days of their drag. “Being someone who has Slovakian and Portuguese heritage in me, I naturally have a lot of body hair. One of the things I was looked down upon for was that I have a lot of chest hair. And people, you know, either verbally expressed or created an atmosphere that instilled in my mind the ideology that I have to be smooth.”
Disgruntled but resigned by the notion that professional drag queens must be smooth and hairless, Immacolata, took the burning blades of Gillette to cleave off pieces of their identity – the chest hair. “I was altering my body without my consent. Which caused a lot of conflicting turmoil in me, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. And it also gave me a bad case of razor burn,” they laugh loudly. “I, over the years, had a lot of back and forth about what my drag was because the drag I did earlier wasn't binary. It was the kind of drag I wanted to do, but a lot of people did not like that. A lot of people said to me that what I was doing wasn't drag.”
Currently, Aaron lives with their two-spirited First Nations adoptive father, which grants this lovely soul another window into their own non-binary identity.
"My adoptive father Brandon Robbins, a CAF Veteran of 20 years who is now on his new career path becoming a counsellor to help aid and provide mental health services to indigenous, military communities across greater Victoria area. He is a huge source of inspiration during this trying time for myself."
Aaron closed our conversation, “You don't owe anyone androgyny or any certain assumed presentation, you don't need to be thin, you don't need to be hairless, or XYZ - we need to start normalizing that non-binary is as fluid as the waves of the ocean.”
In recent developments, this artist is working as an Amazon influencer in the realms of makeup and cosmetics as well as working as a model and non-binary artist across British Colombia, and the notion of ever-shaving the body-jungle is “a nightmare of the past.”
Luckily this island is evolving every day to include many hues, different tones, and different stories. Stay tuned for the next installment of Conversations.