Effigy of Chaos
Effigy of Chaos is a Brazilian drag queen, model and performer based in east London. Her performance and aesthetics are very inspired by Brazilian culture, music and lifestyle, with references spanning Brazilian top models, sex symbols from the early 2000s and vintage Hollywood glamour of Carmen Miranda.
Effigy defines herself as a visual representation of multiple icons and her mission is to promote Brazilian culture in the London scene. She mixes her personal references with her experience of being an immigrant in the UK, making social and political statements during her acts concerning LGBTQI+ rights and other meaningful issues especially for Latinos and mixed race members of the community.
Q: How old were you when you first did drag?
I've always liked to dress up like a woman since I can remember, but it was always indoors/private or just to have fun on the internet. I went out in full drag officially last summer on my 26th birthday.
Q: When did you start developing your drag identity, was it in Brazil or the UK?
Brazil has definitely played a fundamental role in shaping and defining my drag persona, style and aesthetics. Brazilian music, pop culture and lifestyle - it's an essential part of my drag. But also all the discrepancies from Brazilian society like homophobia, inequality and racism have been really important to create Effigy of Chaos because I was born and raised within this chaotic tropical paradise called Brazil. The UK has been really kind to me since I first started to do drag because despite all the growing hate and fascism going on, I could feel some sort of freedom to express myself out loud and find out the best ways to communicate my ideas and concepts. Also I do owe a lot to the London queer community and scene because for the first time in my life I feel welcomed, loved and respected for who I am and what I do. My east London gang has been really amazing to me; all my drag friends and the safe places I have been able to perform in over the last year. They have been really supportive and have changed my life forever.
Q:How does being Brazilian influence your drag in terms of fashion, personality and aesthetics?
Being Brazilian it's about being loud, sexy, friendly, spontaneous and funny and this is my drag personality. We are not as camp or flamboyant like Americans or British queens. But we do love a party and we are always the soul of the party. The tropical nature, it's definitely the greatest influence in my drag alongside the tropical weather; the heat, the sun, the beach and the lifestyle in Rio and its suburbs and favelas. The Brazilian top models from the 90s and early 00s like Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrósio and Gisele, Brazilian sex symbols from telenovelas and obviously Carmen Miranda - the most iconic Brazilian performer of all time, are all my influences in terms of fashion and aesthetics. Brazilian urban music funk from the ghettos but also the classics from Samba and Bossa nova are always present in my acts. Brazilians have a very strong connection with music and we are all very proud of our musical culture and artists.
Q: How would you describe effigy? What influences her? What is she motivated by?
'Effigy' means a visual representation of an icon. It can be a queen, a war hero, a painter, a saint or a goddess. So I would be pretty much describing myself as all of these icons. As a Gemini, I love experiencing and trying new things. I want to be 1000 in 1. My main motivation is definitely bringing joy and enchantment to the audience. I want to make people laugh and rejoice every second of my presence on the stage. I want to create a meaningful connection with every single person in the audience and make them remember my energy, charisma and passion once the party's over.
Q: What do you like about drag?
It's a completely free art form, a territory with no rules, limits or boundaries. You can be whoever you want, whenever you want. The best thing about drag is entertaining and socialising with different people, getting to know people every night and making them feel happy and inspired. For me, it's also really important to deliver social and political statements during a performance and try to use my voice to say something meaningful about the world and society itself.
Q: Do you think it's hard to start off as a new drag queen in the London scene?
The scene in London compared to Brazil is very open and supportive. You need to work hard, always improving your look and skills but coherence and honesty is paramount. You need to be real and faithful to yourself.
Q: How close is your drag identity to your true identity?
They are the same. Effigy is just an elevation of myself. An exaggerated version of my feelings, my thoughts and my dreams. It's the artistic and visual representation of my soul.
Q: Your performances often use your own text and voice, which you perform to. Can you tell me more about your performances and what goes into producing them?
Making social and political but also very personal statements is essential for me. Most of the time my creative process starts with a thought, a sentence or even a paragraph that I write about contemporary issues. I love writing, monologues, literature and poetry. So to bring these theatrical and acting elements into my performance is the most important step for me. But of course, I can’t forget to bring my sexy and provocative side as well. So I always tend to mix my tracks with pop culture hits so everybody can sing along with a new element for the London audience which is Brazilian music - usually Carmen Miranda classics and funk. This balance between two different cultures is the definition of my performance.
Q: What do you think the LGBT+ communities can do more of to support POC drag queens wanting to start out?
Be kind and welcoming. That’s all that matters. By being kind and welcoming you are being extremely supportive because for someone who is starting, the most important thing is to have a safe place to meet like-minded people and share stories and experiences.
Q: What words of advice do you have for any new drag queens wanting to start out in the industry?
Listen to your heart always. Listen to yourself and always do what you like to do. Listen to people, the audience. Feedback is everything. Don’t be afraid to ask for open mic sessions and opportunities to perform whenever you can.
Q: What's next for Effigy after the coronavirus pandemic finishes?
I want to be booked of course lol. I want to present myself as a club icon and professional performer so I'm ready to give my best. I also have plans to collaborate with other artists, especially stylists, designers, photographers and makeup artists to create stunning and high-quality fashion content for my social media and live performances.
Photo and edit: @asafeghalib
Makeup artist: @amandinermua
Published: 31/03/2020 by Queerdirect
Edits by Tamar Clarke-Brown