By Hannah Stevens @hannahshewans

AN armless drag queen is storming Newcastle’s drag scene with her act as a masturbating T-Rex

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Videographer / director: Matt Smith
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

 

Sophie Harris has thrombocytopenia absent radius - also known as TAR syndrome - a rare congenital disorder which meant she was born without forearms.

The 26-year-old has found confidence and acceptance by performing as a drag artist inspired by the famous - and armless - Greek statue.

Sophie saw her first drag show on holiday in Turkey when she was ten-years-old and instantly fell in love with their flamboyance.

She initially held back from the scene until she learned more about female bodied and transgender drag queens and decided to create her own drag persona, Venus Dimilo.

Now she’s part of the Hoose of Cunny, which is made up of her friends and housemates Ill Health and, the mastermind behind most of her dresses, Opium.

Sophie told Barcroft TV: “When you’re on stage and you see the audience react to what you do it’s validation for all the hard work that you’ve put into it, and it gives sort of like a power, like things you never think of doing normally and you see yourself doing it on stage.

“It’s a very sort of out of body experience but in the best possible way.”

Following her drag awakening in Turkey, Sophie decided to attend a voguing night in drag but still felt unsure of her place in the community.

“After that was finished, I was telling the Queens how I wish that I could do drag but I couldn’t. And that’s when they told me about bio Queens and it just snowballed from there,” she explained.

Shortly after that Sophie’s brother Daniel got quite a surprise when he spotted her out on the town in full drag.

Daniel said: "When she first started drag she never told me about it. I was on a night out and she had a wig on and this leotard thing.

“I was thinking, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ She was just like, ‘Oh, I’m with the drag queens now.’”

Although Sophie found a welcoming drag family, she has also faced criticism from those in the drag community who still struggle to accept female bodied queens.

She said: “I don’t use the term 'bio queen', which a lot of people put on female bodied people, but for me the makeup is completely over the top and the wigs over the top and I think my drag is as valid as anybody elses.

“A lot of people do criticise bio queens. A lot of it seems to be online, not many people tend to say it to your face and, for the people who criticise and don’t like what it is we do, at the end of the day don’t look.

“It’s my drag and I do it for me and If you don’t like it then you don’t have to like it. If I’m performing and you aren’t happy you can go to the toilet.”

One of Sophie’s favourite routines to perform involves the struggles of a T-Rex trying to masturbate.

She said: “The strongest reaction that I’ve probably ever had was my T-Rex performance, essentially what it is is a T-Rex who can’t masturbate because it’s got short arms and can’t reach.

“I come out with a dildo attached to a wooden stick and people just don’t know what to expect, and that’s probably the most positive and loudest reaction that I’ve had to anything that I’ve ever performed.”

Daniel has always been supportive of Sophie’s drag but did struggle with her jokes about her disability for a while.

He said: “I used to find the disability jokes hard to come over just for the sheer fact of how much time I spent protecting Sophie when she was younger.

“But it’s not that I don’t go to the shows because of disability jokes or anything like that. There’s just certain things a little brother should never see an older sister use.”

Using drag as her platform, Sophie wants to continue subverting audience’s expectations of what a disabled person or a drag queen should look like.

Sophie added: “When people see me perform I’d like them to see inclusiveness in what I do.

"I’ve got the different gender to everybody else, I’ve got the physical appearance and I like to think that I represent at least one thing that other people can associate with themselves.

“I think I’d like to inspire people.”