Lily Slaptsilli


Medium: Oil on wood Size: 880 x 720mm From Kelly's catalogue 'Outsiders'.

Artwork Story:
Lily Slaptsilli
Drag queen

“I once went to a well-known venue in Cape Town, not in character, as Clive, to watch a drag show. The drag community is a very small one, and most drag queens live the ‘drag lifestyle’ day-to-day, even when they’re not frocked up. I am very much on the outside of this; I’m not overtly feminine when I’m not in character. Clive is a very different person to Lily, and that puts Clive outside of most people’s expectations and frames of reference.

“When I arrived at the club, no one recognised me. I was made to feel very unwelcome. People couldn’t place me; I didn’t fit the stereotype of a drag artist, whether dressed up or not, and so I wasn’t welcome.

“I returned the following night in frock and suddenly – the same people, the same bouncers – Lilli was treated like a star. They knew who Lilli was, but Clive was nobody. Clive didn’t fit in. Clive wasn’t in the inner circle. It was the most bizarre and eye-opening experience.

“For me, to be an outsider is to not be in the inner circle. The inner circle may vary depending on where you are, but everywhere and every context has an inner circle. Which means that there are always outsiders.

“The drag community’s inner circle has a lot to do with what you’re like when you’re not in character: how feminine, dramatic and akin to your alter ego you are. It’s safe to say I’m not in that inner circle.
“But being an outsider allows you to view people, situations and characters from a completely different perspective – as an onlooker. It also allows others to relate to you – something I can use in my shows and in character as Lilli. Being an outsider keeps both Clive and Lilli unique, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.”