About The Show
Can an overly honest person be a good magician?
If you failed at something once should you never try again?
And what's with all these straight White men in Orientalist drag?
Queer Lady Magician tells the story of Creatrix Tiara's first love of stage magic, losing the love from failure, and revisiting her childhood passion as an adult. In the process of doing so, she is forced to confront her demons: impostor syndrome, fear of failure, trauma from emotional abuse.
Interwoven with autobiographical storytelling are acts that politicize stage magic to question norms about magic and society: assumptions about people's identities based on their appearance, gender stereotypes of (male) Magician and (female) Assistant, cultural appropriation in magic, and much more. Serious social and personal issues are tackled with humour, silliness, saltiness, and heartfelt sincerity.
Through this show, Creatrix Tiara learns what it means to be a Queer Lady Magician, eventually taking ownership of an artform that has traditionally been dominated by straight cis able-bodied White men and making it queer, feminist, decolonial - by battling internalised and externalised oppression.
My love of stage magic possibly started before when I was born, when my maternal grandfather was bedazzled by legendary Bengali magician P. C. Sorcar while working as a Customs Superintendent in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Decades later, as a kid in Malaysia, my sister gifted me a magic kit from iconic British toy store Hamley's. This then led to a growing collection of magic books and tricks, visits to local magic shops during family trips, and hours of watching magic with my dad (a fellow enthusiast) - including my first live performance, David Copperfield's Singapore show that featured his Flying illusion. Magic was my life.
Then I tried to put on a magic show for school - and failed. Looking back, it probably wasn't as bad as I thought (just lackluster), but I grew up in a culture where failing once meant never trying again. I moved on to other skills and interests, such as writing, fandom, and media.
I started my performance art career in 2009, working with burlesque, circus, physical theatre, spoken word, improv, and other forms. I did incorporate small elements of magic into the occasional burlesque or drag number, and in 2012 I befriended a professional magician in San Francisco, Blake Maxam, that sparked all kinds of possibilities for magic in performance art. However, I didn't really do much with the idea until the past year, when my idle musings about being a "queer lady magician" was met with extremely enthusiastic response.
I decided to make 2018 the year of the Queer Lady Magician. The project started with an Autostraddle themed playlist in January, followed by discussions with potential team members, including director and coach Sharmini Kumar. It quickly transformed into a full-blown production when it was accepted by Women's Circus for their Still I Rise Fringe Mentorship program. This was both extremely exciting and extremely nerve-wracking: it would be my first full-length production, I hadn't worked with magic seriously for a long time, and I was grappling with the aftermath of manipulation and deception, which are supposedly key to magic. What business do I have putting on a magic show?
I decided to turn those feelings of impostor syndrome into the core of the show - imbuing my first passion for magic with my current passion for social justice and my deep ethics around honesty. The process of making the show itself has informed a lot of the show's content in a rather meta way: questioning not only the norms society places on magic, performance, and marginalised identities, but also questioning the stories I and others have believed about success, failure, authenticity, and talent.
The support from Women's Circus, the team, our friends & loved ones, and wider communities has been really heartening. I'm very excited to see where this project can go next!
You Should See This Show If...
You enjoy watching magic shows and would like to try out a different style of stage magic
You enjoyed magic as a kid but didn't really connect to mainstream stage magic as none of the magicians really looked like you
You are part of the LGBTQ community and want to watch one of the few openly-queer magicians in the world (and possibly the first non-binary magician)
You're a person of colour who gets annoyed at cultural appropriation and whitewashing
You're a feminist and want to see women & non-binary people hold magic powers for once (with a male Assistant at their service)
You've ever battled with impostor syndrome and want to know if it's ever possible to recover from failure and try again, especially after a long absence
You want to embody the confidence of a Mediocre White Dude (quote from Sarah Hagi)
You want to support new, queer, independent art from emerging artists in Melbourne
Quotes & Reviews
“It's about magic, yes, but it's also about storytelling, about systemic power imbalances, and redemption. Go and see it.” - Mama Alto, jazz cabaret artist and community activist, Melbourne
“This is so much more than just a magic show. It’s a magic show with heart, soul and some thrilling surprises along the way. Potent poignant prestidigitation!” -Tay Around Town
"Still I Rise is designed to support the next generation of female and GD circus and performance artists in Melbourne and provide them a platform for sustainable and healthy art making. Through this program and with the resources offered, Women's Circus hopes artists feel nurtured and supported and therefore be able to focus on their creative practice as well as their wellbeing- making art is hard and making art sustainably and with self-care is even harder. Women's Circus is proud to be the honorary "Aunty" to these artists and is thrilled to support the circus sector with the creation of new vibrant circus productions." - Devon Taylor, Executive Director, Women's Circus Melbourne
"I remember seeing the concept and thinking about every other magician I knew of and every single one of them was a white guy. The revolution is here." - Brodie Turner, performance artist, Melbourne
"It is a clever synthesis of bending the dynamics of traditional women magicians and magic history" - Samizdata, Illinois USA
"Tiara catches you off-guard in Queer Lady Magician. The duality of her work is the surprise; one moment you are watching a complex magic trick, the next you are faced with the white-washing and cultural appropriation of the Magician industry (and society more broadly)." - Lulu Venom, performance artist, Melbourne
The Magician / Writer: Creatrix Tiara
The Assistant: Bradley Storer
The Dancer: Chelsea Byrne
The MC: Sonia Marcon
Auslan (Melbourne Fringe): Marc Ethan & Lynn Gordon
Producer: Jaq Avery
Production Support: Mx Munro
Stage Manager: Casper Williams
Director: Sharmini Kumar
Magic Consultant: Anthony De Masi
Dramaturg: Zeb Direen
Milliner: Miss Fairchild
Costumer: Natasha O'Brien
Props Design: Bryony Stringer
Lighting Design: Ashleigh Barnett
Fairy Godmother/Mentor: Mama Alto
Guest Voiceover: Asha Gill (& Kids), Hailey Cooperrider
Inspiration: Blake Maxam
Other Credits & SOURCES:
Co-Producer (Melbourne Fringe): Women's Circus (Devon Taylor, Penelope Bartlau, Betty Musgrove)
Workshop Space: Snuff Puppets
Venue (Melbourne Fringe): Gasworks Art Park Studio Theatre
Poster Art: Sam Dow / Charmingly Antiquated
Media Release: Kitty Stryker
Past Team Members: Gem Mahadeo, Roslyn Quin, MJ Hughes, jnine
Other Support: Alexei Othenin-Girard, Manny Cylich, Darcy Turnbull, Nikki Spunde, Artemis Munoz, Tara Leigh Dowler, PIXY STYX, William Elm, Chido the Eth(n)ical Dilemma, Six Inches Uncut, Anh-Tu, S’average Garden, Lulu Venom, Pink Flappy Bits, Emma Hones, Siobhan Ball, Sofia, Tiara's Safety Team, Tinyletter Subscribers, Team Queer Lady Magician FB Group, Pozible Supporters