ADAM’s career started in musical theatre with the 2019 production of ‘Rock of Ages’ at the Teatro but quickly found her love for drag when they hosted the Detox club show. Since then, she has hosted for a number of RuPaul’s Drag Race Alum – including Detox, Alaska 5000, Trinity the Tuck, and Brooke Lynn Hytes.
ADAM has also become the creative director for DragCon SA and has managed the back-end staging of these illustrious tours. Their crowning achievement has been the starting of their company, AT! Media, with their business partner – Theo de Jager.
In doing so, ADAM has brought the Johannesburg Drag Scene into the spotlight, going on to start a new wave of popularity for the next generation of South African drag, going so far as to be the first Drag Queen on 7de Laan, paving a new way forward through the glass ceiling of South African media. Johannesburg’s Queen of Nightlife has also collaborated on major queer events such as Vogue Nights Jozi, Night Embassy, and much more.
ADAM is a force to be reckoned with in the South African drag scene, but all of this is only the beginning.
Q & A with ADAM:
Tell us a little bit about your career and how you started:
I’ve been a host in drag since 2018 at Babylon. I was lucky enough to host and creatively direct the Alaska tour for Drag Con and it was a natural progression into being a drag entertainer myself. but I started doing drag officially as the pandemic eased in 2021 creating events like Drag Brunch and Johannesburg staple queer events. Once everything opened up fully everything bloomed and no we are doing corporate events.
What sets you apart from anyone in your field?
I think that I am very performance orientated. I host so I’m good at building relationships with my audience and making them feel included in the show and removing the 4th wall between myself and my audience. People feel very comfortable and at home with me when I’m entertaining. I don’t really take myself too seriously – drag queens, especially the more established ones take themselves very seriously which is to their detriment which is so sad because drag is so fun. And so freeing.
What projects are you currently working on?
It’s pride month so busy with pride-orientated events but also do my usual – doing my residency at Streetbar Named Desire in Rosebank. I have my residency at Babylon which is the most incredible experience. We do mini theatre shows. This weekend for Pride we have a Thriller themed show that I put together. I’m working on my corporate shows – this weekend we have Uber and coming up is a Clicks Corporate. Halloween and Christmas are drag artists’ busiest times. I’m currently planning my Christmas One Woman show.
What is your favourite thing about what you do?
The fact that I get to do it. Covid put into perspective, how difficult it is to make it as an entertainer – the government doesn’t subsidize you, people don’t care about it even though they need it. My favourite thing is that I get to bring people into my world. I love doing drag – I love the process and how I look at the end of it. There’s a big sense of accomplishment when you present a polished drag look because of how many aspects go into it. There are a lot of things I love about my job but my favourite part is that I get to do it as my career.
What is your best career highlight so far?
My best career highlight has definitely been the Trinity Tour in 2021 which happened basically a year ago today. It was absolutely astounding. I loved that tour. I really got to know Trinity, we really hit it off. I felt myself really grow a lot. My first one-woman show was also incredible. It was sold out and I got a standing ovation which was so rewarding.
How do you think we can grow the creative industry and bring African content to the world?
From a drag perspective, what we are currently doing is on the path to achieving that. Drag in an African context is very taboo and I can’t particularly talk about it from a cultural perspective but from a socio-political as someone who experiences the response to drag. I think that doing more outward-facing, public appearances on mainstream media that demystify drag a lot is what will help the most. That’s why appearing on 7de Laan is something that people are going to talk about. We are pushing through the ceilings and getting to a place where we can do things in the mainstream media without it being a token or a petting zoo.
Tell us a little bit about why you love Cape Town – The host city for FAME Week Africa.
I love Cape Town because the drag culture that is fostered there is like nothing I have ever seen. You could throw a stone into a room and hit about 10 drag rooms in Cape Town which is incredible. It is a difficult industry to break into there. Johannesburg is my home which is where I have built my career and a name for myself. Cape Town is a lovely getaway. The queer energy of Cape Town is astronomical. So good.
What and who inspires you?
I’m not particularly inspired by many drag queens – funny enough but comedians and characters that are a lot less flamboyant. I love Joan Rivers, Amy Winehouse and Edda James – they have helped me in my artistic endeavours to dive into and reach into places that are not necessarily great mental spaces to make something, to project it outwards – that is meaningful. When I engage with my audience and talk about hard times and then I get to make fun of it and make something nice out of something terrible it is freeing. Also, a lot of my act is as Beyoncé.
What tips can you give an artist who wants to build a reputation and a career that is going to keep them relevant in the industry?
In drag – bring something new and just do it! If you can’t do something, find a way to get it done – hustle. Find the thing that you think gives you star quality and roll with it. Having attention to detail is important but being a human being that is likeable – they will remember you if you make them feel like you were their friend. There are lots of pretty girls – be different.
Follow Adam Instagram @Adaamahh
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