Val - Butch on Butch

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride [00:00:05] I grew up a New Plymouth, and [00:00:09] how long were you in New Plymouth for [00:00:12] until I was about 17. And then I went to Auckland University for a couple of years there and then moved to Wellington. And I've been here since about 1986 or seven or so. Yeah. So, I've been in Wellington longer than I've been anywhere else. [00:00:27] And when you were growing up in New Plymouth, we're girls schools or mix schools. [00:00:33] Well, obviously mix schools and primary and intermediate but an all girls school at high school. Yep. [00:00:39] And how was it for you? Um, it was it was [00:00:43] okay, because I had brothers, so I kind of always had guys around me and I weren't a big deal. Whereas some of the girls that was sort of like, he's a boy, you know, it was a kind of a big deal. But the other thing is that my dad was a teacher at the high school, and he's quite an eccentric character. So yeah, that was kind of interesting. When people found out that my father was, you know, Mr. Little, and yeah, so I couldn't really be too naughty at school. He retired when I was in my same form. And that's probably when I started to be naughty. Yeah. [00:01:16] What were you involved in at school with theatrics? [00:01:21] And I think I was in a couple of school plays, but mostly kind of sports things. I was big into hockey and volleyball in [00:01:33] athletics, maybe, yeah. [00:01:36] And when you went to Auckland, what what did [00:01:38] you go to study? I think it was drinking mostly. Well, it was back in the day when they were no student loans or students game. So you know, we got paid a student allowance and didn't have a student loan. So and I was bit of party Central's out of New Plymouth, which was a interesting town to grow up. And you No, not a lot to do. Not a very diverse kind of little city. So, you know, being away from home for the first time was like, Wow, look at this world out here. And then doing things like sociology university, I was like, wow, this, you know, these different ways of thinking. And so I did a BA in English, because that's what all my friends were doing. And that's what you did back then. But I really enjoyed the humanities more than, and I did better it in, you know, English literature and all that sort of stuff. I hated English. Actually. Yeah, funnily enough. [00:02:35] And were you out in Oakland? [00:02:39] know that all of my friends were telling me I was a lesbian, although I did have boyfriends. So, yeah, it was quite interesting. I had this guy, one of my friends at university said that I dress like a feminist, Butch, feminist lesbian. And I was quite taken aback. partly by that, but also quite chuffed and secretly. And I also saw the top twins for the first time in my life, busking on Queen Street. And they sort of gave me this knowing look, and I was kind of look behind me, like who they looking at on me. And seeing them was just amazingly life changing. I used to go and hunt them down on Queen Street, just a look at them. And just think, wow, you know, you can be like this in the world. And it's really cool. [00:03:24] Yeah. And you came out thin. [00:03:26] No, I didn't know. I had some disastrous relationships with boys until I got to Auckland, sorry, to Wellington. And then finally, Lyft, this terrible relationship. And it would just thought I need to be on my own for but something going on here. That's not, you know, kind of working for me. And then I don't know how I kind of got inveigled into the lesbian community. I think I started working at the National Library. That's right. And the wonderful Glenda Gail was around and they were lots of lesbians at the library, surprisingly enough. And so I kind of gravitated towards them and then got into got invited to a woman's dance at the university, which I was nervously excited about until I went and I thought, well, this is ridiculous, because there are men here, but they weren't mean. So. And I just felt like, you know, the sounds really cliche, but I felt like home, you know, that I'd found where I was meant to be. Yeah. What sort of age we 23 or four? Yeah. 23. Yeah. [00:04:38] And so then what did you get involved in, in the lesbian scene in Wellington, [00:04:43] mostly drinking. [00:04:46] Really bad, isn't it. Um, I was doing a Masters in recreation and religious studies. So I was really into kind of, you know, recreation II type things in. So one of the first things I did was organizer, recreation festival for lesbians. And it was back in the day when they were lesbians. And then there was everybody else. And we were really into reclaiming or claiming our space and our identity. So separate to being you know, women or feminists, we were lesbians. And I think there was a real was an interesting time, because there was, there was the separatist movement, which was all about, you know, hating mean, and denouncing any kind of, you know, straightness, and all that kind of stuff. But there was also New Age philosophy, which was all about getting in touch with your inner child, and all that kind of stuff. So it was a kind of really weird, I had these amazing arguments and conversations with lesbians who was saying, baby boys will be put, you know, should be killed at babies, and because they're all going to be rapists and blah, blah, blah, and women who have ever had sperm in their bodies can never identifies lesbian and all this sort of stuff. And so, you know, the conversations would be around, you know, with it's kind of a Nazi way of thinking and, you know, extremist, and how does it benefit us as a community and blah, blah, blah. And then on the other side, we were, you know, we've been teased for our misspent childhoods, and you know, like, getting in touch with crystals. And we started [00:06:21] noticing it was a very cool, it [00:06:23] was a very confusing mixed up time. But it was, it was an interesting time in terms of, I think, the movement, you know, like, for queer or for lesbians. And it's caught, you know, we look back at it now, I look back at it now. And I kind of laugh and thinking, but I can and I also understand how important that time was, because I think, you know, lesbian visibility was something that was so important. And things have changed now, I don't think. Yeah, I don't know, I'm kind of I'm kind of torn, because I do think sometimes, I think there's been visited as something that we don't see. Yet, you know, things have changed. I think the younger generation have have made it far more kind of tribal. So it's not just, you know, separatist kind of communities that were working together. And yeah. [00:07:20] So you're talking about the 1990s? Yes, the 1990s. [00:07:23] I [00:07:24] remember those you think we were in the same circles around them? Yeah. Were you living in a lesbian flat? Or? [00:07:31] Yep. Um, I had I sort of loose from monogamous relationship to have a relationship. And of course, you know, being a lesbian moved on after a few months. I know, actually, not all of them. But yeah, flooded with lesbians, and then lived with girlfriends. And yeah, [00:07:51] yeah. And you were one of the woman self defense teachers. [00:07:58] Yeah, I gave it a go. [00:08:01] Part of my thesis, when I was doing my Masters was around looking at recreation programs that aim to empower young woman. And so I followed Jenny Morgan around doing self defense. And she's one of my heroes, by the way, and I just recently told me that so she doesn't mind. And got rich just got really, really interested in involved in it. So I did, did some learning, I didn't really finish, you know, I didn't get fully qualified as such. But I did run some courses for young women who were doing modeling school. And it was a school holiday program for, you know, school girls that I wanted to get into modeling. And it was a modeling agency, which I thought was a really great thing that they included self defense as part of the training. And so I was working at the Council at the time. And we'll just pop up there at lunch times on the school holidays and run this hour long session. And years later, I'd have these young, you know, gorgeous young woman coming up to me saying I remember you, you did the self defense course that changed my life and blah, blah, blah. So, you know, it made me think even an hour of the stuff really makes a difference to two people. Yeah. [00:09:16] And I remember you getting in touch with mail. Can you remember the year now, but it must be like 12 or 15 years ago, and it was the first of all meet up? I think it was it. Pound during the day. Yeah. Which is really weird. But a pounds nightclub. And to discuss this thing was phenomenal. Coat dragging? Yeah, can you what sparked it for you? [00:09:41] Oh, I think I'd been to, you know, like, I was going to pound and watching the drag queens and loving what they did. But I've always been one of those. I've always looked and thought Why aren't women doing things? Why? You know, like, I mean, things like skateboarding. why don't more women skateboard or this sort of stuff? So I'm thinking why don't we start do this stuff. What you know, there are so many talented lesbians kidney shaped, you know, there was all you were doing stuff. There was all sorts of other people that were, you know, performing. And I thought, let's do something together. And I think one of the things I've always wanted to do was like, looking at boy beans and thinking, I mentioned some really hot docs doing this stuff. And so I sort of hand picked a few people that I knew were already performing. And you were one of them. And I think that was because you [00:10:34] you'd won the Miss, what was it? Gay Wellington was it called? Was it good? [00:10:42] So and, you know, people were raving about how great you were on stage and that sort of stuff. And you've always been, you know, out there and doing MC sort of stuff. [00:10:52] Okay, so you got a few of us together. Thanks. So there was, that was [00:10:56] like, there's about six of us. Because in people told their friends and flatmates and in it kind of grew from there. And of course, we had to have a meeting about it. We couldn't just do stuff. But really part of that, for me was about getting a mandate, you know, that we could do something like we could organize something together. [00:11:14] Yeah. Now, this is pre internet, really. So where did you find out about the drinking stuff? [00:11:21] I don't actually know. [00:11:24] magazines or trip to Australia or anything like that [00:11:27] must have been from magazines like D You know, like the English Deaver and all that sort of stuff, they probably don't know. [00:11:36] Because now we can YouTube it and you can see lots of stuff going on overseas and the websites dedicated to it and so on. But really, at that time, we we didn't have anything to go [00:11:46] through. I mean, it was happening overseas, you know, in the states were quite big on it. And so yeah, I don't know. I mean, I just looked at the drag queens and thought YR Stone woman doing this stuff. [00:11:59] So in terms of our own research about it, it was really about us coming up with exactly that stuff. And calling it the drag kings. Well, we're really fortunate because we could just grab the name. [00:12:10] Yeah, that's right. Yeah. It was kind of like a brain that we've just grabbed and used. Yeah. [00:12:16] So that script went for [00:12:19] often Oh, now anyway, for 12 years. [00:12:23] Yes. Oh, yeah. And can you remember the first shows in what we put into the some of those fish shows? Yes. Do without talking about caught Niger? [00:12:36] No, I'm not going to go there. I'm still traumatized by that one. I'm remember we will rock you, which took forever to get the moves. Right. And they were quite Yeah. But we did you know, boy band stuff, really just parenting boy beans and being characters. So the first show we ever did was at pound and that was in 2001. I think. Yeah, I've still got the poster. So I've kept some archives of it. And I have actually gifted it to leggings on my demise. [00:13:10] And then we did FF is full show it blow night. Yeah. [00:13:16] And I still remember the opening number it was when I did work for it was I'm a woman. And so I was dressed up, as you know, and this glittery, sparkly frock, and I had my backup boys. And I loved it. Yeah, [00:13:29] I got a pretty good crowd. In all those shows. I remember, [00:13:33] yeah, we hadn't quite an amazing following actually. And even to this day, you know, people are saying, oh, one of the drag kings gonna do stuff again. And you know, that people still remember us quite fondly. Yeah. [00:13:44] Tell us about some of your main characters. [00:13:48] I really like parody. Like, I like looking at how people perform and how they, you know, like, people like Tina Turner, he's got such a distinctive sort of style about here. And has also been done a lot by drag queens. So I thought, well, I'd love to do here. You know what I mean. And one of the highlights of doing the performance of her once was somebody coming up to me afterwards and saying, I could have sworn you were a drag queen. So that whole thing of being a woman dressing up as a man dressing up as a woman, it was kind of like this. Yeah, I was delighted. And then I love doing boy, characters, you know, like boy band characters that are kind of, you know, with a little goatee, and piercings and, and that kind of look. And there's something about doing that stuff that you do use that to create a whole persona around it and start to become more aware of your own masculinity, I guess. And, and part of that, I think, as you know, in our society, masculinity is very much tied up and confidence and self confidence. And so that's, you know, like I yeah, I felt like I got a lot of sort of confidence around doing this stuff. [00:15:07] Are the characters that you still want to do? [00:15:09] Yeah, actually, my, my sister's partner and his senior year old son from a first marriage, and my 14 year old nephew came down to Wellington on Friday to go to the Billy Idol concert. And so I drove them into town and drove them back again. And all the way we had Billy Idol just rocking the car. And so I came home and googled, you know, YouTube, and in a thought I saw want to do Billy Idol. Yep. He's next. In a particular song. Rebel Yell? That's the beast. [00:15:43] Yeah, yeah. Did you ever get any grief about the drag kings? [00:15:49] This? Yeah, I think, in the last few years, there's been a bit of kind of mumblings about, you know, the binary kind of thing that, you know, we're not, I don't know, this is a, you know, the kind of political stuff. And that's cool. And I think as long as people are thinking about it, that's great. Let's start discussion. That's what it's about, you know, at a recent thing I did Eminem, number, which he starts off as being m&ms and cleaning out your closet and then ends up as Diana Ross going, I'm coming out. So I was, you know, stripping away of their kind of tough out exterior persona and actually being queer as five. And somebody posted a photo and then somebody else posted a comment saying that, that ruined the night for him because m&ms are homophobic, taught and blah, blah, all that sort of stuff. And, you know, this should have just stuck with, you know, not head to head, my number in it. And I, at first I thought so much. And then I thought, No, this is great. This is really good. Because Because I obviously was, you know, good at impersonating Eminem, which is great. And they have kind of missed the point. But then a lot of people kind of came in and started defending and, you know, discussing and I thought, this is good, this is what it's about. [00:17:17] And the drinking boys did kind of set up a forum for discussion anyway, in terms of what we're doing. And some people probably read us a little bit more deeply than we actually were, but. And we went to Melbourne. Yeah, doing it, john, and talk about how we, what it was for us in Melbourne next time. [00:17:39] I was, I mean, it was a buzz to be involved in something that was, you know, sort of semi international ideas. And I kind of, and I was looking at some of the other x there and thought, Gosh, we're so different. We're so we're quite unique, and what we do, and that's what the characters that we do, we try to tell a story. You know, we did a lot of group numbers, which you didn't see a lot of, I think the the Melbourne ones were very much characters that they're created, and they're just be that character. So yeah, and, and a lot of this stuff was very, it was very penis oriented. There's a lot, you know, like it's in sight. That's not the only thing about being male. Did I you know, so. I liked it that we sort of were ourselves but with these different characters. Yeah. And kind of playing. Yeah. [00:18:34] Yeah, I remember. So kind of noticing that, because it was really the first time that we'd actually seen a whole lot of other drag kings at this extravaganza. And that pretty much every every x ended up with it. Cock joke. Yeah. And, and we did it occasionally. But it's not. It's never been a real focus of what we've done. Yeah. So yeah, you set up this quite amazing thing for Wellington. And I'm going to say we did travel in New Zealand. So you know, Littleton and we were, [00:19:06] we were big in New Zealand. I remember my one of my highlights was actually the top two ones coming to see us in Auckland, one of them because Linda, and I just done Tina, Tina. And I came off the stage. And she was standing sort of by the aisle where we went into the changing area. And she was clapping and smiling. And she said bloody gorgeous. And that was a highlight for me. I thought, well, if she sees that must be good. [00:19:30] You made it? Well, in the fortune watch photo exhibition, we took the photo of you and a music shop in town. And we've got a lot of albums behind you. And can you talk about the significance of that sitting for you? [00:19:48] musics always been a big part of my life. I mean, if I suppose everybody sees that, you know, sort of grew up with, you know, lots of different music in my house. I had an older sister and two older brothers and a twin. And so, you know, all had quite different musical tastes. And I mean, as you know, look, I have fond memories of rifling through records and the weekends and there's something about records that had you know, you had your artwork there as well, the covers. But I've always been sort of moved and touched by music. And I used to pretend to be, you know, musicians, and it was kind of my heavy place to go. And one of them particularly was Paul Simon. I wanted to be Paul Simon. So I was I was Paul Simon, I'd have concerts. Yeah. Yeah. So music is really important to me. And I love dancing. So you know, yeah. [00:20:45] And you're a DJ. [00:20:46] I am a DJ pattern, DJ. [00:20:48] Yep. And what's your DJ name? [00:20:50] My DJ name is DJ bullet, and that spelt BUWLITT. And it's a play on the fact that I'm a Taurus, and little Li TZ, but also, I was shocked at the first time I ever DJ is, yeah, so tell us about it. So I've been going to the dude's dances, which were the, you know, lesbian dances that were held monthly [00:21:16] dykes out of date [00:21:18] instead of DS. Yeah, that's right. Yeah, so the lesbian month lease, and also, they should play the song or they should play that song. I sort of like, put your money where your mouth is in offer to DJ, you know, if I think I'm not good, you know? So I did. And I said, Yeah, come along, do this, you know, this first one. And so I was, you know, I was always listening to music when I was, you know, at home and all that sort of stuff noise dancing, like everything I do, I just dance, I was doing the dishes, I was dancing when I was coming out of the shares dancing. So the music I listened to, I thought was great. And really danceable. So, I took along my little collection of CDs and realize that actually, not everyone knows the songs just because I do it you know, love dancing to them. And so it was I was shit. I was actually quite shit and didn't have a big collection. So I was kind of repeating some songs [00:22:14] any I saw was [00:22:16] the way the DJ booth was it was right by the window to buy them you know the road coming up? Yeah. It was upstairs and I was kind of like bending over to get a CD or something and I felt something just was past my head and I thought it was weird. [00:22:37] And then [00:22:39] that night was disastrous is very drunk woman came up and see your shit. I'm gonna bash you like she actually hit to be dragged out. Looking back, I thought I don't blame her. But you know, it was it was a disastrous not end. So then on the Monday, I was reading the paper and there was a article about some guys that had been driving up and down. Courtney place and Tory Street, which is where the thing was shooting air pistols, it bounces and people were nightclubs. Yeah. So I rang the police. And I said, Look, I don't know, it might not be anything like the car accidents. But I have a feeling I was shot it on Saturday night, blah, blah, blah. And so they investigate it. They went up to the nightclub. And I got this letter from the place that said, we can confirm that the pellet that went past your head was from any again, blah, blah. The case is now closed. But I had this letter and it's like, wow, this is street cred. mean, I've been shot it. I'm like a DJ who's been shot it so then I thought woman I used to be DJ bullet. Yeah. [00:23:48] Kind of harrowing, but perfect as well. [00:23:52] I will frame it one day. [00:23:55] So Bill, Phil, you're, [00:23:58] you've been a recent holiday to Thailand, or in the last year or so. Yeah. And you went to stay or help out at a sanctuary for Elephants? Can you tell us about your interest there? [00:24:11] Um, it's something I've always you know, it's one of those bucket list things. And I'd love to go and work on a century with wild animals and love elephants. And you know, and so, I was few years ago, a friend of a friend had been talking about that she had gone to the century. So sit down and talk with her. But how do you do it? You know, what, how do you do it? So she told me and she gave me a name of a century. And then I thought, I'm going to be like the girlfriend of the century and shout, my girlfriend, who also loves animals, and as really passionate about animal welfare, and you know, preserving, you know, wild species and all that sort of stuff. I'm going to shout her for her birthday, a trip to Thailand to the century. So it took months and months to do that. And I had to keep it a secret. And it was really, really hard. So I presented it to her on her birthday. And then we had to wait. Because their birthdays October mines in May. So we were going on my birthday the following year. So we had this long white butterfly. So anyway, and in the meantime, did lots of kind of like reading and research about just the whole co popper of, you know, centuries and the treatment of animals and Thailand especially. And so yeah, we went there for about two weeks volunteering, and it was absolutely exhausting getting up at six o'clock every morning, and we can basically 12 hours on doing really physical stuff like scrubbing out, you know, poles with the beers would swim, [00:25:48] you know, with little wire [00:25:49] scrubbing brushes, and the middle of the day and tie hate and, you know, it was, as you know, and then fading out, like 600 animals, you know, through the day, and all that sort of stuff. And learn so much about the plight of animals and also like the whole dichotomy of poverty and what that drives people to do. And, you know, so yeah. And then, that, that century, was run by a guy who was a bit of a prick, actually. And so some friends of ours, that were working the paid workers there, he had a book falling out, and I was just, it was all pretty yucky. And he was doing some stuff behind the scenes that we didn't know about. And Barbara anyway, so we [00:26:36] heard about this other century, which was [00:26:39] pretty much, you know, very small, and pretty much dedicated to elephants, run by an English woman. And so we, my partner, and I just loved it. And as they were going, so we just plan to go on to this on this trip. And it's just something that, you know, I just fills my house, I just, you know, I can't describe what it's like to actually be around these animals that, I mean, they should be in the wild, but they've been totally abused and, you know, exploited for, for tourists. And now that get to live the rest of their lives out. And, you know, and freedom and comfort and, you know, being looked after. And they what blows me away is their resilience and just how they actually trust human beings after what they've been through. And it kind of teaches you a lot about yourself and about other people and about the world. And yeah. [00:27:34] Was it a North Thailand? [00:27:37] The first one was sales. The second one was kind of halfway between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. [00:27:42] Yeah. Iran, she goes beautiful [00:27:45] into every stay connected with them. [00:27:47] Yeah, absolutely. On Facebook. And one of the guides there, this lovely woman, Molly is, you know, we're friends. Like, I've seen a boost I presence and we're always chatting on Facebook. And yeah. So [00:28:00] going back to the photo exhibition. [00:28:04] Do you want to say a bit about why you got involved in it? [00:28:09] It's funny, because I actually feel a bit like a fraud. And terms of I don't know that I identify as Butch as such, and then I sort of have to think about as that kind of Butch phobia, or is that, you know, like, where does what is that? What the reason I wanted to get involved as I saw some fabulous photos from a woman in San Francisco, was it Yeah. And just stunning photos of these, you know, supposedly masculine looking woman who identified as Butch. And I thought, wow, that's I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that. It was it was raw. And it was real. And it was just beautiful, actually. And somebody said to me, all these somebody in the who looks at your doppelganger, and I said, [00:29:04] Wow, she's amazing. She's hot. Well, that's great. [00:29:10] So when I saw that you were doing it, I thought, our Look, I really want to support it. And like, I don't, [00:29:17] yeah, it's interesting, because when I came out, it was you had to be one or the other. And a few of fame are here to be female, but one of the other, a few female, quite marginalized, actually. And it was a lot of crap that kind of went around, you know, woman who did look straight, you know, I'm doing equal. But I've always identified as a tomboy of always and so if there was, you know, there was a continuum. So I'm kind of at the at the boyish end of it and androgynous and tomboy and and I've always been attracted to, not necessarily physically or sexually attracted to masculine kind of woman. Yeah, and then it makes me think that what is masculine and, you know, we all have both, you know, and all different shades of this stuff. So I thought, you know, it's good for me to to do this sort of stuff, just to have more than a self exploration I guess. Yeah.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.