An interview with...
A creation from the mind of Tristan Urriola a Melbourne based drag performer.
What is Moxie?
Moxie started out as the personification of the feeling where you feel so powerless and hopeless that you decide, “fuck it! I’m just gonna act a fool!” Moxie came from a place of darkness, and was used to make something positive out of a bad situation, I feel like that’s what’s been so helpful to the development of who I am.
I now consider Moxie an extension of Tristan. I kind of interpret my drag now as a superhero version of my non-drag self. Moxie is the shameless, stripping, ridiculous queer that I wish a younger version of me could become.
As for my brand, I describe Moxie as having an expressionist approach to drag and burlesque, as in performing and tackling creative projects as they feel, not what they necessarily are (hence why I love a good ballad number). My brand is all about expressionism and the deconstruction of masculinity. I get confused for a drag queen so much, and I think that’s ultimately because people’s idea of masculinity is so limited. My aesthetic is camp, glamorous and sometimes filthy. I always unintentionally have an element of androgyny in my drag, but I think that’s just me. My look is characterised by a distinct, clown/Divine inspired makeup, no wig, *gasp*, usually a ridiculously bedazzled outfit and/or very little clothing.
Where do you find your costumes, how do you store them and what is your absolute fav?
Well as the drag grapevine says, Moxie Delite only has one look. I bought all my blazers and top hats from savers in different colours, bedazzled them in shitty acrylic gems and called it there! My favourite costume is my black blazer and top hat, obviously!
When did you start playing with your body as a canvas?
I have been doing makeup since I was around 16, and using my body in my visual artworks around the same time. While doing makeup, the goal was to feminise myself, to feel more like the person I wish I could outwardly become, back when I was a very shy and quiet gay boy in high school. As for my visual art, I was a mixed media collage and realism artist. I would draw a lot of shirtless self portraits, not because I was self obsessed (it was quite the opposite during those times), but to show vulnerability and transparency. My art was always a way of understanding the things about my darkest, most difficult moments that were hard to process. And with the accessibility of social media, my visual art has always been about being open with the struggles we all go through. I think my body and giving so much of myself to an audience has always been part of my practise.
What's your favourite act you’ve ever performed?
I think when I did Venus by Lady Gaga, that was the best I’ve probably performed. Just wish I spent more time on the costume. Otherwise it’ll have to be when I did Cake by Melanie Martinez while in lockdown. Who knew digital performances could be such a great way to show the range of your drag character in one video?
What messages do you share through your art?
I try to share the message that masculinity is not limited to traditional masculinity. This was something that I learned through doing my first drag king show with Kongs Kings and being a part of my first all king cast. Even now the drag kings and AFAB drag queens play a huge part in inspiring me and my drag to be about questioning masculinity and using your experiences with your gender as a theme in your creativity.
Something else I also want to share is that everybody is sexy. Absolutely everyone. I know my belly sticks out when I strip, so what? Starting to be more interactive with the burlesque scene taught me that absolutely everyone is sexy, you just need to own it. I have Dolores Daiquiri to thank for that lesson. And know that when you take off your clothes in front of a crowd, it is beyond empowering!
A message I have always wanted to share with my art is that you can turn your darkness into beautiful art. When I was a visual artist this was the case, and now as a performing artist, I just want to show everyone that to be open about your dark times brings people together, lets them know they aren’t alone – and there is a lot of power in being open with your struggles and owning it.
If Moxie had children, how would you raise them?
I imagine myself as the crazy overworked parent, but also that dork dad that tries to be friends with their kids. Also that dad that loves his dog more than his kids. Not that this is much different to how I am now. A single dad if you will.
You’re not often someone who ‘plays it safe’ - How important is experimentation to you?
I spent most of my life being scared, when I left high school I promised myself I wouldn’t let my fear govern my decisions. I’m very daring and bold with drag and have done very questionable things, but I would rather try, fail, learn than to be one of those people who is too scared to try in the first place.
You’ve been invited to Antarctica to devise and perform a one off performance - What do you perform?
I’d love to do Hotter Than Hell by Dua Lipa in front of some penguins. I think it’ll be stupid lit.
What direction is Moxie heading in the future?
I want to develop my live show, Cirque De Moxie, into something fabulous, colourful and inviting. I’ve always felt a need to develop a show of my own in Melbourne that is very “anything goes,” creatively. But at the same time, something that is accessible to drag teens and kids. My good judy, Theresa Problem has really educated me on how tough it is to do drag being underage, and how there isn’t enough accessibility to drag for them. I think it’s important to let young people have that space and creativity to explore and express themselves that I never had. Not sure how I’ll do it, but that’s the goal.
In the future, Moxie is taking more of a burlesque direction, I’ve been very inspired by the burlesque performers such as Bettie Bombshell, Maple Rose and Azcadelia who have a drag twist to their acts and signature paint. Ultimately, I want to create acts that I can look back on and be proud of, but what makes me proudest is to give others opportunities who may be overlooked by the mainstream audiences. To be able to do these things to my fullest ability is the goal.
If you were to form a superhero gang with other performers who would be on your team and what would be their powers?
What a fun question! I’d say Linh Uendo, Theresa Problem, Freida Commitment and Kira G Addams. I feel like we’d be that superhero gang that operates like a sitcom rather than an actual superhero group. Like we all have actual legit powers but we don’t get shit done, we argue and we make idiots of ourselves, solve a problem, cue sitcom music!
Why is art important to you?
Art kept me together and it still does. My own art has always been an incredibly personal experience, and for that reason it has always helped in understanding who I am and how I process how I feel. It’s also given myself a huge sense of power that I have never had in my life. I feel powerful being Tristan now because I know what I am capable of as Moxie, to be a performer and an artist taught me that we as people are more than meets the eye, that we all have something special to offer the world.
Check out The Moxie online!
1, 3, 4 and 6 - Self portrait
2 and 7 - Jacinta Oaten
5 Telepathic Creative