Culture: Theatre

Put Out Your Little Tongue: Tales of the Queer and the Surreal

 Baby Lame, image by Ryan Mcnamara

This month The Arcola Tent, one of London’s most exciting pop-up performance spaces, will host Put Out Your Little Tongue, a unique queer storytelling event through live art, music, film and cabaret. Alex Hopkins talked to Kirsten K. Kunt, who is both one of the organisers of the night and the nightmarish child pageant star Baby Lame.

What was your motivation for the evening Put Out Your Little Tongue?

Put Out your Little Tongue had been an idea kicking round inside of us, fighting to get out for a while, but only really came out when we heard about the Dalston people’s festival, which our event is part of.

The festival is about celebrating diversity, local talent and bringing our different communities together. It was created by local community and faith groups joining forces organically, rather than just through the council, and that really appealed to us – D.I.Y communities! We felt that this was something we wanted to be part of, and that the festival, equally needed a strong queer element. There needed to be (and needs to be generally) a space for queer culture, stories and storytelling. It needs to be more than just showcased, but to be explored, experienced and opened up – sliced down the middle so that its organs are on show. So, we hope you’ll get to see acts and films together which you might not see in the same context. Livers and hearts and lungs – oh my!

How do you feel our queer stories have changed over time?

I think it really depends on who is communicating our queer stories – there are plenty of tales spun in mainstream media about queer culture, but they are often chopped up, lazy re-writes of outdated stereotypes. When it comes to communicating our own stories I feel one thread has always consistently remained, and that is defiance…whether banned, destroyed or simply forgotton – queer stories have always had to fight to be heard.

The night promises to ‘reclaim queer history’? Do you think we are in danger of losing sight of our queer past and how important is it that we maintain a connection with it?

I think the danger is that there is already a huge division in the queer community between ‘old’ and ‘new’. I would like to think of myself as someone who is pretty clued up on queer history, but fuck me I was wrong – I only discovered what Polari was a week ago! I’m part of a certain age bracket in London (not quite 30, I would like to add) that has been privileged enough to witness a new wave of queer culture and politics flourish in the capital. I’m not saying life is a walk in the park by any means, but compared to the community before us and the legal and social barriers that they had to break through to get us to where we are today, I think we’re doing ok. My point is that I don’t believe younger queers necessarily feel associated to their history – and why should they? To understand our queer past we have to actively seek and research it… mainstream society doesn’t have a place for it. Who are the people passing down these tales? And who’s listening to them? Unfortunately a lot of queer culture seems to follow an ‘out with the old and in with the new’ mentality. It’s a problem.

It’s also an evening about the queer stories of the future. What do you think are the issues we should be addressing through queer story telling as we move forward?

I think the importance is to share our stories and to continue communicating them on as many different platforms as possible. I also think it’s time to shake up the conventions. Most children are brought up on fairy tales or ‘other’ moral tales, we’re taught wrong from right, assigned gender roles and are led to believe that life is all about happy afters… really? I think we need to fuck up these concepts – who says that big old hairy beast wasn’t just using Belle as a beard, to cover his passionate love affair with Gaston in Beauty and the Beast?

What are your opinions on the current queer role models we have? Are they the wrong sort or role models and, if so, what do we need more of?

I’m not sure I believe in having generic role models for a community. I think we choose our own people to look up to. John Waters wrote a very interesting book about role models, explaining in detail the people that shaped and inspired his life – we’re talking people ranging from a member of Charles Manson’s cult to a toothless lady in his hometown, and these people were unique to him. I think we are too quick to criticise people in the public eye who are seen as role models; let them live their life – and let’s get on with living ours.

There’s a diverse range of artists taking part in the event. Tell me about some of these. Who should be on our radar and why?

Diversity is the key to this event. We have scoured London looking for artists and performers from all sorts of backgrounds, with different messages and stories to communicate. The night is going to be a real clash of genres. We have  people like Ernesto Sarezale doing some very funny, erotic but also intimate, stripped down performance poetry and storytelling, clashed  with Marnie Scarlett  in breath taking, skilfully crafted latex from top to toe, performing  twistedly deviant, shock filled fetish. right next to Lazlo Pearlman’s often sweeter, stripped down physical performance that often talks to an audience in a different, quieter, poetic away.  We’ve got MC Angel, a London born and bred spoken word and hip hop artist who inspires with her sheer wit and passionate emotive rhymes. I’m very excited about seeing more underground and newer artists like Punk performer Rene L’Amour, drag artist Darren Purnell and Genuinely Subversive neo caberet performers Rubyyy Jones and MissCairo Mascara.

You’re asking the local community to submit their own queer stories before the performance. How will these be incorporated into what unfold in the Arcola Tent?

Well that would be telling, now, wouldn’t it? All I can say is that we want to ensure that these stories live on in some way – create a new legacy. The only way to truly find out is to come to the show! Or to send us your stories and watch the skies .. and the gutters.

Put Out Your Little Tongue: Tales of the Queer and the Surreal is at The Arcola Tent, E8 3DL.

Thurs 18 July, 7.45pm

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