A few weeks in the past I watched Melbourne’s DJ Tanzer take the stage within the early hours of the morning. She was sporting a full-body, hot-pink sequinned outfit so tight it might have been suctioned on. The look was accomplished by an identical sculptural headpiece. It was her second costume of the night time and regardless of the hour and smouldering warmth, she was utterly otherworldly.
I typically watch efficiency artists in high-camp glamour and surprise how they look after the piles of sequins and reams of shiny spandex, and picture a puddle of sparkles and hosiery on the ground on the finish of a night. Right here two artists clarify what truly occurs when the lights go up and the costumes come off.
Fantasy meets practicality
Given the dynamic nature of their performances, some effort goes into balancing sensible constraints with the fantasy of theatre.
Typically style comes first for Tanzer: “Consolation? I don’t know her.”
Though she concedes: “I’m incapable of shifting in a stiletto and spend lengthy hours on my toes when DJing, so I take particular care to spend money on comfy but glamorous sneakers. I’ve two pairs of glitter Fluevog Munsters that tick all of the packing containers.
“If I’m performing a full set of music and wish to dance and breathe on the identical time, any look that requires heels or a corset is off the menu,” she says. Ensuring her headpieces are suitable with headphones is an added concern, though “the headphones themselves are frequently shredded from contact with sequins in fact”.
Rian Difuntorum has been performing underneath the drag title Aysha Buffet for eight years. She is famend for sporting towering stilettos, voluminous trains, architectural robes and 80s tailoring – all made in vibrant colors and glowing metallics.
As a result of she takes to the stage at the very least 4 instances per week, she wants simply as many costumes that may stand up to repeated put on – with out compromising on visible impression.
For Difuntorum, costume modifications could cause essentially the most bother. “I’ve to think about whether or not my outfits are simple to get out and in of,” she says. “My go-to outfit is a catsuit … I’ve a superb half dozen. The outfits I don’t put on typically are often those I can’t get into alone.”
She works carefully with Melbourne costume designer Bryn Costume on all her seems to be.
For DJ Tanzer (actual title Hayley Tanzer), her signature outré headwear and matching bodysuits begin as drawings and sketches. She then turns to costume designers Tristan Seebohm and Alice Edgeley to assist convey them to life.
Put up-performance care
“My long-suffering costume makers will shudder, however most of my sequinned seems to be go in a fragile bag within the washer,” says Tanzer. She prefers to scrub clothes over airing them out, since she works up fairly a sweat when performing. She describes herself as “a perfumed princess who can not tolerate the lightest skank”.
Difuntorum additionally throws her machine-washable costumes in together with her laundry. Or she’ll spray them with a material freshener and air them out earlier than placing them away.
Restore and rewear
Maybe unsurprisingly given the creativeness, effort and expense that goes into a chunk, each performers put on their costumes for years. Rounds of repairs and alterations assist maintain them practical.
“It’s widespread that costumes I carry out in will bust a seam or two, or a zipper,” says Difuntorum. “I do a number of mending to maintain them sturdy. An enormous a part of rising the longevity of the outfits can be updating and altering them to vary the look.”
Tanzer says her costumes get “a protracted and brutal run”. She wore a silver sequin catsuit from her earliest efficiency days virtually 100 instances. “It was solely retired as soon as the material had develop into so sheer it began to disintegrate. I nonetheless have it, I can’t bear to half with it.
“I additionally prefer to restyle outdated seems to be to provide them a brand new context. I had an Edgeley gown from 2016 refashioned right into a catsuit that’s about to star in my new music video,” she says.
When a fancy dress is able to hold up its skilled sequins, Tanzer and Difuntorum guarantee it has a second life. “There may be all the time one thing I can do with an outdated costume,” says Difuntorum, “Even whether it is simply to show it right into a sample for an additional costume.” Usually she passes them on to her drag daughters or members of the broader queer efficiency neighborhood, or she sells them on-line.
Tanzer both offers her costumes to buddies or to her favorite Melbourne costume retailer, Rose Chong. “I hear of my outdated costumes showing at fancy gown events and in different individuals’s music movies on a regular basis!” she says. “I really like listening to about their new lives.”