(Unholy) Mother Mary

Artist Virgin X drops music video for their latest single 'Billionaires' - now exclusively on TUSH

Glitter Makeup on drag performer, Virgin X

Virgin X's music video 'billionaires' | lensed by @mattfordstudio

There is a common theme with the otherworldly contemporaneity of London-based drag entertainer and recording artist Virgin X. For their interview with TUSH we meet Drew Caiden, the creator of the burgeoning „unholy“ Virgin Mary. Think sexless, genderless, ultra-femme presenting alien-like cartoon with an appetite for anti-fascist, -patriarchal, and -corporatist vengeance.

Growing up in a small town in southern Oregon, virtually tucked in the backwoods, Drew confronts the dwindling sense of belonging, experiences with religion, and how living closeted led to transgressing social mores. Hence the affinity for villains, like Elvira or Maleficent as the 38-year-old enthuses. An apt reflection of Virgin X, who typically chants electronically charged, pop-anthems that broach the state of disparity and prompt joyous frolicking despite their serious subject matter. Virgin X’s debut EP, „The 4 Corners of X, “released amid the pandemic, explored the collective guilt of queer people on the brink of the Catholic institution; and the subsequent rage and rebellion that came in the wake of realizing the toxicity of such an environment for someone who was always “the other.” With their latest single, „Billionaires,“ the artist endeavors to grapple with sobering realities regarding the state of the world. Our interview and a first look at the music video can be found below.

T: How did Virgin come about; can you tell us a bit about her beginnings?

V: When I first moved to London, I went to drama school but the whole education process was kind of disheartening. I was seen as “an effeminate man”, and so it was made very clear to me that I would never get cast in leading roles unless I could appear straight and cisgender-which, in turn, meant hiding my non-binary identity from the institution that I knew wouldn’t accept it. I went on to work in a call center to get the bills paid while still pursuing a career in acting. But I didn’t fit into any of the boxes, though. Eventually, I decided to go with something that felt more natural. I had this idea based around the Virgin Mary for ages, rooted in my Catholic upbringing. I saw her as this kind of bratty teenage valley girl. I developed the character around this idea, and I started working in the cabaret and then the drag circuit, and suddenly this “idea” became my full-time job!

Ironically acting is what brought you here. 

Everything to do with Virgin sort of happened by accident, which I think is quite funny because I feel like I tried so hard to be a “serious artist” and never found success. Then I do something where I’m just like, oh, this feels good, and suddenly it’s paying the bills.

When did music come about?

I wanted to get into music for ages, but I myself am not technically a musician. I’m a trained singer, and I wanted to be a songwriter, but I just never had the chance to develop that as a craft. Then the pandemic hit, and I had quite some time on my hands. It really taught me the power of community too-  A few creatives that I was living with at the time decided to come together, and create for the sake of creating, we didn’t know what it would be, but we had time so why not! Those efforts culminated in becoming the EP ‘ The 4 Corners of X’, and now I’m working on releasing singles, and music has become my full focus creatively speaking.  

Can you give us a little rundown of the process of becoming Virgin?

In terms of my makeup process, I like to block out 3 hours. I always give myself more than enough time. It’s also a mentality thing- because it’s one thing to get into drag, but there has to be this gear shift before you go out into the world.  I feel like there’s a point when Virgin takes over from Drew, and then she’s in the driver’s seat. She steers the ship. I love that she’s so much ballsier than I am.

How do you assert yourself through your makeup looks?

Virgin’s face has changed dramatically over the years, and I think the dominance, almost aggressiveness to her face- the heavy eye and rebellious moustache, and huge mouth- it’s all aspects of her personality.  She is ALWAYS the drama, I see her as a tropical frog- very colourful and many would say interesting-looking if not beautiful, but don’t get too close or you’ll get hurt, haha!  In all seriousness though, Virgin is a manifestation of the parts of Drew that I don’t feel are very confident, or strong, and she MAKES me strong and confident.  She’s the superhero version of Drew in many ways.  

If you could veto one beauty trend, which one would it be?

ALL THE TRENDS!!! I don’t think anyone should follow trends when it comes to self-expression.  Do what works for YOU.  Not someone else. Teach yourself- I did!  Let your imagination guide your hands and PLAY!! Makeup, like life, really isn’t that serious.  The best thing to do is walk your OWN path, and have FUN as you discover who and what you want to be!

What challenges do you face when navigating the world as a queer creative?

The world itself is a challenge, and becoming more so, sadly. If you go out presenting yourself in an authentic way that some may deem attention-grabbing, the world is going to negotiate with you on a certain level. Things have definitely taken a step back in the UK due to the 12 years of conservative government and it’s palpable… London is not as safe as it used to be for queer people, because the public is being conditioned to reject queer/gender non-conforming people, most notably the trans community. Drag queens are being toted as “child abusers” and “pedophiles” by the idiotic far-right extreme in America, and now we’re starting to see drag, which is just an art form remember, being basically banned in states like Tennessee. It’s categorically insane to think that this is where we are at in 2023 but this is why the essence of my work has always been, and will always be standing up to these toxic mentalities and institutionalized ways of thinking that breed such extreme ignorance.  

How did you come up with the idea for ‘Billionaires’?

To be honest, one day I was just walking down the street and it just came to me. I started humming, and rapping “eat the rich, feed the poor” and the rest just poured out. Everyone is affected by how wealth is distributed, and we are living through a time of total disequilibrium in this regard. It is my belief that NO ONE should be a billionaire, there’s simply no reason for a single person to have so much money.  Especially not when so many people in this world are struggling just to eat or have clean drinking water. Billionaires is a tongue-in-cheek call to arms for change- for wealth to be more equally distributed in the world; for massive corporations to actually pay tax and not hide their profits in off-shore bank accounts, and for the middle class to not be eradicated as it is now.  We need to hold the Uber-rich and big corporations accountable- and it might take going to drastic measures to do this. Sometimes you need to break some windows and some doors in order to pave the way for a better future… 

Today looks like a good day to…

be shameless.

Virgin X BILLIONAIRES – TUSH Exclusive

[Artist & Songwriter]
[Screen Direction]
[Creative Direction]
[Featured Designers]
@markeyew @magdaleneceleste @broke_boutique @monikabereza @engineersofdesire
[Interview & Text]
März 23, 2023
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