House of Grand Parade

Graham Robson January 24, 2015

Graham Robson talks to Lydia L’Scabies, Crystal Lubrikunt and Rococo Chanel of House of Grand Parade (HOGP), a hybrid of alternative cabaret performance within a nightlife setting.

House of Grand Parade
House of Grand Parade

Tell us a bit about yourselves…
Crystal: “Together we’re electric but as individuals each of us has a genre of our own; Lydia L’Scabies is the innocent and preppy girl at school gone venerably bad, she is a critique of youth culture and promiscuity, and is back for blood every time she hits that stage, and she leaves you needing a shower every time. Rococo tends to be the eerie one, she uses her own brand of ‘angry-stripping’ and with her love for horror, the supernatural, and Disney princesses you end up questioning whether you want to run from her or be with her. And my name is Crystal Lubrikunt and I’m known for my tight lip-syncing, ferocious attitude, non-stop sass accompanied with gigantic heart, and the odd psychotic obsession with cake.”

How does HOGP fit into Brighton’s drag scene?
Crystal: “We started out representing the youth of Brighton’s LGBT scene through the very first alternative drag night in Brighton because there wasn’t a real safe environment for some LGBT youth who didn’t particularly enjoy being surrounded by bitchy twinks on poppers. But in a wonderful way we’ve grown and now we cater to all generations with respect and love. Respect for each and every venue in town that gives us queens a chance to do our thing. We provide a style of drag that’s been missing in Brighton through The Powder Room at Club Revenge and our own HOGP events.”

What can people expect at your Anniversary Event at Funky Fish Club on February 25?
Crystal: “This event marks a year since our last capacity-hitting show at The Blind Tiger (where we began back in June 2013) and we intend to bring you the best of Brighton’s current scene, whether it’s alternative burlesque, drag and new talent that has yet to hit any of Brighton’s stages. There will be glitter, heel-stomping and a whole lot of talentless men on that stage! We say each one we do gets bigger and bigger… this time, we’re not kidding.”

How did HOGP come together?
Lydia: “Well it was by eavesdropping on my behalf! We were all at University Of Brighton together; myself in the year above on Performance and Visual Arts. I overheard the others talking about Paris Is Burning and I sparked interest in starting an alternative drag night. After the first one in June 2013, we felt like we had something, and then HOGP was formed! Through the last year or so it’s been a beautiful but of course trying experience, through getting to know each other so intensely through work and personal lives; but ultimately I wouldn’t change a thing. I am proud to call them friends and collaborators.

You’ve been called ‘Unnatural, disastrous, glamorous & talentless’, is that a fair description?
Lydia: “It came from a press release we did in which I quoted us as an ‘unnatural disaster’. We intended to be this creatively terrible thing that had been intentionally bestowed upon Brighton audiences, and we like our work to be disruptive, but also engaging. Talentless came from a popular ‘frape’ I received from a dear friend (honorary member of HOGP, Penelope Pitbull) and it sparked something of a proud title. And Glamorous? Well, we need to say something nice about ourselves.”

You’ve been known to challenge an audience, such as bashing Russia at Brighton Pride. Is this something that’s missing in a lot of drag/cabaret?
Lydia: It was one of the main reasons I wanted to start drag. Not to discredit anyone because the Brighton drag scene has many hardworking and talented people within it, but I wanted to do something that didn’t rest on ‘light misogyny’, cock jokes, and tired show tunes. I’d say the new faces on the scene are challenging drag’s ‘typical’ representation as well. The cabaret and burlesque collective in Brighton is very strong, with some wonderful and crazy talented people we’ve had the honour of working with, such as Joe Black, Coco Deville, Dixie Dread, and Lux Values. I was really into the idea of bringing drag on the cabaret platform back to a ‘Weimar’-style that had social or political critique, or even something visceral to myself that I could use to give back theatrically to others who may have felt a certain way.”

How do you go about challenging the drag art form and its ‘typical’ perception?
Rococo: “Traditional drag in the UK for a long time has come with a stigma. The beloved stereotype of the northern man in a sequinned gown will be forever treasured in our society. However, times are changing rapidly, particularly the last few years. More and more individuals and groups throughout the country are cropping up, taking drag artistry to the next level, perfecting their craft, looks and performance. Drag can be whatever you want it to be. It’s the increasing diversity and originality that keeps things fresh and exciting.”

Is Brighton getting its alternative spirit back?
Rococo: “Moving to Brighton two years ago as an introverted, nightclub-avoiding country boy (not much has changed) I honestly stayed at home as much as I could. From the little tastes of nightlife I sampled, compared to sleepy Devon, it was intimidating but I saw the alternative events bubbling around me, even if I wasn’t directly involved. Now that I live in the party scene, I see things coming to the forefront, slowly but surely. The alt-kids never left, but now we’re coming back to the surface.”

The Powder Room returns to Revenge for the Haus of Edwards in March. Tell us about that?
Rococo: “Initially with The Powder Room, we tried to create and serve performances that one would expect to go down well in a nightclub, but soon realised that this wasn’t the route to pursue. Now we will not compromise our performances there and we always perform our undiluted work, no matter how theatrical or cabaret it may be, and I think our crowd appreciates that. It’s fascinating to see how a club crowd will react in different ways to something that’s a little more out of their comfort zone. But enough talk. See you there!”

HOGP are appearing at:
• Funky Fish Club on Wednesday, February 25, doors at 9pm, show at 10pm.                                    To book tickets, click here: 

• The Powder Room present The Haus of Edwards with three of the fiercest queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race: Alyssa Edwards, Shangela and Laganja Estranj, and host Ginger Johnson on Friday, March 6, 9pm.