Able2Do Anything: Music & Arts

The House for disabled drag queens

four drag queens from the house of deviant

Welcome boys and girls, boys who want to be girls, girls who want to be boys, to the House of Deviant - the only drag troupe in Wales which caters for glamorous queens with learning disabilities.

Since Autumn 2020 the inclusive project has been spreading fabulous joy throughout South Wales with a number of online and live events.

Supported by professional drag artist Ernie Sparkles, the House of Deviant builds self esteem and boosts the confidence of those who dare to swap trousers for skirts and smooth facial skin for moustaches and beards.

Sparkles, lesser known as Gareth Pahl, came up with the idea whilst taking their Masters degree in Drama.

They wanted to discover how people with learning disabilities and/or autism could become more involved in the arts, especially drag performances.

At first the initiative ran for a month with a 2 hour weekly session, over the four weeks it was obvious how the participants’ built their confidence, had a more positive outlook and were able to find answers to real life situations.

When lockdown was finally over the team started regular meetings at Chapter Arts Centre, in Cardiff, to discuss how they could continue the House of Deviant, they knew the project had to keep going.

"When you see that change and just how a person thinks about themselves," Pahl told BBC News.

"Yes, they are showing audiences how great they are, and how fabulous, and what they can do, but also it is having a real profound difference to that individual as well."

Drag artist Becky King, from Cardiff, is just one of the people who has benefitted from the House of Deviant.

"It makes me feel like a different person. I look young for my age so it makes me feel older," she said.

"It's tricky sometimes, but I'm excited to show the audience my confidence and show them that I can do a good job at performing.”

[ The drag queen was invented by a formerly enslaved man called William Dorsey Swann who started hosting private balls in the late 1880s. ]

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