androgyny / drag / body

interview. nivardo valenzuela       photos. tyler murphy

Vaffanculo Magazine (VM): What is the name of your alter ego?

Tyler Murphy (TM): My alter ego, Anya Androvna, is a Russian bitch, and she is a bit more sexy than me, but we are a bit the same really.

VM: What got you into drag?

TM: It was a really natural progression actually. When I first got to college I kind of started getting into costuming, as there were lots of parties, and it was something that me and my friends did. [It was] more "club kid-esque" and progressed into more female impersonation, even though my style of drag is really androgynous.

VM: You mention that your drag style is androgynous and it's interesting that in most of your self-portraits, there is the mirror effect. How do you balance what's feminine, what's masculine in Anya?

TM: I do like to think that both Anya and myself are androgynous. But in terms of balancing the feminine and masculine in Anya, it seems to come quite naturally. I don't wear padding (like hip or butt pads) and I don't wear fake breasts, or even a bra most times, so in that sense my body takes on an already androgynous figure. It's not quite feminine, nor is it masculine. Of course the things I wear in drag are perhaps more feminine, or help to accentuate a more feminine persona (high heels, high-waisted panties, stockings, earrings, jewelry), but they are certainly not overt, not frilly, not anything too girly; they ride a certain line of in-between themselves. As for my face I "paint" pretty feminine, or "fishy" as they say, but that's certainly not the goal. As for the mirror effect, a lot of people ask me about that as well, I guess its just a sort of visual representation of my two halves. I believe wholeheartedly that while I identify as a man, I have a strong feminine energy within myself.

VM: What characterizes Anya in terms of styling?

TM: In terms of styling Anya, she is influenced quite a lot by fashion. She doesn't wear much of anything really. I want Anya to epitomize sex, in both obvious, and more obscure ways. I try to define a style for her that rides that line of being feminine and somewhat masculine, while still having a very strong fashion sense, and being more creative with her look than most other queens. Anya's intention is certainly not to be beautiful or appear as a real life woman, though those are occasional byproducts, they are certainly not at the forefront of her thought. She is and always will be a "Creature of the Night."

VM: How would you describe your personal style? Currently, what appeals to you?

TM: As for my personal style, I wear only black, something I have imposed onto Anya as well. My personal style is also androgynous, I will wear a skirt with combat boots and a button up, or wear business pants, with a tank top and wedges. It's just some sort of revolving door of all black looks that feel like me, if that makes any sense. I'm drawn to clean simple items, no frills, no pattern, no extra, just nicely constructed clothes, with interesting shapes and silhouettes, mixing ideologies of masculinity with a more androgynous aesthetic.

VM: Have you thought of impersonating Lady Gaga? Or have you done it already?

TM: As for Lady Gaga, I have been told quite a few times that I resemble her in drag, and I have dressed up as her a few times, and won costume contests for it, but I guess I personally am not drawn to character drag. I would rather develop Anya, and spend far less time trying to replicate someone else. But I do love me some Lady Gaga.

VM: Why epitomize sex? What's your definition of sex? How do you see the relation between fashion and sex (sexuality)?

TM: I want Anya to be some object of desire - not necessarily with a crass sexual undertone, but I want everyone to find her sexy - straight men, gay men, straight women, gay women, just anyone and everyone. For me fashion and sex have a close relationship. I suppose its a bit different as a drag queen, and that relationship might be a bit more evident, and overt, but I do think for me to feel fashionable (in drag). I need to feel sexy, thought my definition is probably a bit different. I don't define sex as this overt, voluptuous, explicit thing. I think for me it's just about feeling attractive and being somewhat coy or elusive—it's important to have a layer of mystery, both in and out of drag.

VM: Let's talk a little about the language and semantics used amongst fellow performers, for example "paint" & "fishy". Could you give us a rundown of some basic expressions and terms?

TM: Well "paint" or "painting" is basically saying how you do your makeup, how you "paint your face." "Fishy" is a term that means a drag queen is passable, or looks like a real girl. A lot of drag queens really like looking "fishy" and some don't go for it at all. Think Jujubee (fishy) and Nina Flowers (not fishy at all).

Other terms...

"Beat"— meaning that a queen has a good face, or her makeup looks good. "Her face is beat!"

"Tucking"— how a drag queen tucks her male parts away, to make it seem like a vagina.

"Campy"— queens that aren't fishy, like a really drag looking, like a more overt take on drag.

"Kiki"— it is just like a party, with anyone.

"Kai Kai"— when two drag queens date each other, or are sleeping with each other.

"No Tea No Shade"— it means to just be honest, not in a mean way, just like laying it all out there, being upfront and honest, and sincere.

"What's the T?"— means like what's the truth, what's the 411.

VM: Lastly, you're certainly comfortable with your own body and it requires a certain level of self-acceptance to pose nude. What made you start taking nudes? Are you trying to explore anything in particular?

TM: As for my nudes, I guess I never really thought that I was sexually attractive, and I think we all have personal body issues (I felt like I looked like a twelve year old boy, with no muscle definition and hardly any body hair). But I have been told over the past few years that I had a nice ass, so I took images on my computer one day just to see how it would look in a photo, and then later decided to post it on Tumblr. People seemed to really like the image, so I posted more and more. I guess it became a way of building my self-confidence. I didn't know these people and it was just a nice exchange for me to put my nude body out there, to force myself to love it; and for people to respond to them so well, and tell me how handsome I was, that's not something that had ever happened for me. At this point in my life I absolutely love my body, I think it's nice, though I still have days where I wish I was toned, or hairy, or traditionally masculine looking, but I think thats something so many young gay men go through.

more images on tumblr