The Kingpins are a bunch of truly fabulous dickheads. Part drag stars, part performance artists and part pranksters, the four women have parodied rockers, rappers and boy banders with intelligence and humour.
The video installation Welcome To The Jingle, now showing as part of the MCA’s Primavera exhibition, epitomises the group’s style but also raises the stakes. Emma Price, T?a Noble, Katie Price and Angelica Mesiti are shown dressed in tracksuits, blond wigs and moustaches jogging into Starbucks shops around the city and executing a bizarre deadpan aerobics routine.
Curator Julianne Pierce suggests Starbucks is a drag version of an authentic European coffee house. The banal green uniforms and WASPish hair also bring to mind another possibility: if Starbucks were a person, he would be a man, and this is what he might look like.
We used to do this little outfit called the Diorama Queens, doing stuff at the Performance Space -“ we’ve been involved with the Mardi Gras heaps, Noble says, adding that it all began with Sydney drag king club night DKSY.
Drag kings for us are really amazing, Noble says. It was really interesting for us and kind of empowering -¦ So we took that and tried to put it back into our art-making and back into the gallery-based projects. It was really successful and people thought it was really hilarious.
Hence, the trip to Starbucks.
With that work we were interested in showing the artifice of it all -¦ Noble says. We wanted -¦ it to be lo-fi and kind of guerilla-style videography.
Guerilla is right. No permits, no dress rehearsals, no shame.
We did six sites within one evening, Price says. We had a full strategy happening, we had an AVIS rentabus, three cameramen, a stills photographer, someone to mind the van, makeup.
We had a decoy to come up and order coffee while we went in, did the show, went back out again, Noble adds.
It was a dream run, Price says.
Next up is finding a balance between their continuing success as serious contemporary artists and keeping up a presence within the burgeoning drag king community.
We’re headlining the next King’s Ball at the Metro next February, which is really exciting, [but] it’s so hard, Price says.
Noble picks up the thought. We spend so long on our shows too. Months -¦ It’s hard to find a happy medium to be constantly into that scene. But it’s a very alive and happening thing and I think Lexie [Sexy Galexy] in particular is doing a lot for it.
Emma smiles. And girls love it, you know? They love it.
Primavera 2003 is running at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay, until 30 November. Admission is free.