With Pride in London in full swing, it’s set to be a month-long celebration of fun, festivities, and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
With more than a hundred different events, it’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on. One of our most anticipated events on London’s Pride lineup this year is ‘Everyone is Divine’ by Darren Evans. As a hair and makeup artist for film, television, and fashion, Darren knows his stuff. As a big fan of drag legend Divine, his photographic exhibition sees a whole host of people from different backgrounds transformed into the superstar. 30 years on from Divine’s death, it’s a homage to the impact the star had (she recently even had a make-up range inspired by her art) and a welcome celebration of her success and achievements.
We caught up with Darren, ahead of the June 30th launch, to find out a bit more on the exhibition and to see where his love for Divine came from.
In your own words, what is ‘Everyone is Divine!’?
‘Everyone Is Divine!’ is a photography exhibition featuring fifty different people made up in the style of the drag icon and muse to John Waters, Divine. The diversity of people all with the same trademark Divine drag makes us wonder who is behind the makeup. Many of the sitters are performers (Marc Almond, Lavinia Co-Op, Mizz Kimberley, Rubyyy Jones) but there is also a Gardener, a tram driver and even a ten-year-old boy.
What made you decide to create this exhibition?
Initially the project was meant to be an homage to the fabulous brash, punk and glamorous
Divine but it quickly became so much more as I starting taking the pictures. There is much debate about what drag is at the moment and I believe it has no gender and that is reflected in my work. I also realised that confidence, body image and self expression all played a part in the process. People found the experience of expressing their inner Divine quite liberating and I felt privileged to be a part of that.
What’s your favourite Divine look or moment?
My favourite film has to be Female Trouble. Dawn Davenport in her many fabulous looks are all amazing! From the same film when Divine eats little baby mascara brushes and becomes so obsessed with beauty that she starts mainlining liquid eyeliner are two hysterical and brilliant moments.
It’s been 30 years since the death of Divine, why do you think she still has such an impact on the LGBTQ+ community and queer culture?
Divine was a maverick. She made it on her terms despite being a bullied and overweight queer kid from Baltimore, she was a true punk and a rebel who became a star. In a time where everything now seems so corporate and manufactured, genuine originals like Divine are a reminder that queer culture is so much more than reality TV and packaged pop stars.
London Pride is recognised around the world for being one of the BEST Pride events. What makes it so special and unique to you?
I moved to London from Australia in 1987, the first London Pride I went to was in 1988. It has been amazing to watch how Pride London has grown to include the inspiring diversity that reflects this wonderful city. My favourite place in London is The Royal Vauxhall Tavern where a few years ago they did a fundraiser to help get Sadiq Khan elected, it was rather fabulously called Khan’t Get You Out of My Head. At the benefit, Sadiq made a wonderful speech saying how proud he was proud to be a Londoner and how he couldn’t think of any other city in the world where the LGBTQ+ community would be rallying around to help get a muslim mayor elected. I cant either and that makes us special and unique.
Besides Divine, who are you other queer inspirations and heroes?
Marsha P. Johnson for being one of the founding members of the Gay Liberation Front and for playing a prominent part in the Stonewall Uprising. Del LaGrace Volcano for their photography, installations, performance and film that makes people question gender on many levels. Obviously, John Waters as well for enabling and helping Divine to be.