• Gabriel Featherstone

Queen of The Apocalypse: Dharma Geddon's Mystery BOKX and Drag In The Time of Coronavirus

Dharma Geddon has many talents. She’s a musician, a 3-D visualiser and designer, and one of Glasgow’s most visually inventive and technically accomplished drag artists. She’s been performing for five years and has become a much admired and respected figure in Glasgow’s drag and cabaret scenes. During this time she has organised a number of drag shows with fellow performer Alana Duvey, the most well known of which is Dragopticon: a regular drag showcase which took place monthly at The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall.

Dharma said: “I feel like Dharma is the funnel through which all my creative thoughts come through. Before that everything was a bit scattered. “Dharma has a very apocalyptic sense about her. I revel in all things dangerous, dark and apocalyptic. That’s why I’m quite liking this period of time. It’s well suited to what Dharma wants. She’s in her happy place right now!

“I’m a 3-D artist and visualiser, so I do a lot of 3-D animation work and a lot of motion graphics work. And when I’m able to combine what I do in Clark Kent mode with what I do in Supergirl mode at night, that’s my favourite thing.

Photo courtesy of Dharma Geddon

“I feel I’ve been doing a digital personification of myself for a while, but now the only way I can get myself out there is to do digital drag and digital shows; we can’t do anything live. Music is another thing to tack onto it and make it a full experience; the full Marvel universe wrapped up in a Glasgow drag queen.” Her latest single, BOKX, is now available on Spotify and iTunes. It’s release was accompanied by an incredibly stylish and evocative music video, which Dharma made in her living room under lockdown conditions. She said: “I wrote the song a year and a half ago. Have you ever heard of those things you can order from the dark web? They’re called dark web mystery boxes. I don’t know how legitimate they are, but, apparently, if you can access the deep dark web, you can order one of these. And it can contain anything! Sometimes it contains things that have value, but a lot of the time it’s just people taking the piss and putting stuff in it to make it a scary experience. “I thought ‘what if I did a musical journey via that?’ Maybe it could be a physical thing that people could open and dive into with zero idea of what was inside. Ultimately, the single that I’ve released now is step one in that journey. I picture it being an album or an EP or something where you do physically have this mystery box in front of you and it leads you to more stories or more music.” Describing how the pandemic has affected Glasgow’s drag scene, Dharma said: “It’s literally just flipped it on its head. I think we were getting to a very exciting point in terms of the amount of shows that were running; the amount of shows that were running successfully; the ones that were making okay money, which is kind of unheard of in the drag scene here. Then it just collapsed. Being creatives and being performers, there’s an element of ‘okay, what can we do now? How do we adapt to survive?’ “It didn’t take very long for us and a few other people to start churning out online versions of what we do onstage. Me and Alana started running a show called Cabin Fever on my YouTube channel. It was a monthly drag and variety show. The latest one is still on my YouTube. We didn’t do one last month (November) because they’re so much work. We held on for as long as we could, but then I noticed online stuff started going downhill. Audiences weren’t as enamoured with online shows as they were at the start. The interest for them has gone down a little bit. “That’s just from my drag perspective. I’ve done Spangled Cabaret, I know Spangled is running ad hoc online stuff, and there’s a lot of burlesque nights as well. What else can we do?

Screenshot from BOKX music video.

“Going back to the single, that’s another way I can keep doing what I do from home. Music is a format that people can enjoy, regardless or where they are, what time it is, what equipment they have. It’s not live. If I can do something like that, that can last longer, I’ll do it. I’m quite happy to do stuff like that.” Talking about how the pandemic has affected her personally, Dharma said: “In mid-April I was put on furlough for four months. Furlough is a funny thing because it’s great that you get this support, but there’s this element of the unknown. You’re not told ‘you’re on furlough for four months’, so you can go and make life plans for four months. It’s week by week, sometimes day by day, that they update you to say if they need you.

Photo courtesy of Malimoria Photography

“You feel trapped. It’s a mixture of being trapped with freedom, because you really can’t make plans. In those first few months the only thing I could do was funnel all of my rage and energy into my digital performances and the online shows. For a good five months we really hammered that, just to do something and to keep offering people a little bit of the magic they’d become accustomed to.” Dharma is hoping to release the next chapter in her Mystery Box project sometime in early 2021.