I knew 5 years ago it was the right thing to move to Brighton, a city l had been visiting for years well known for having an acceptance of anything a little peculiar. London was getting faster and angrier and I found myself knowing less and less faces, it was time for a move. I arrived broken man to be honest, the club life and my life choices were doing me harm but what to do? I found myself asking the Terrence Higgins trust for help and in a very short time I was volunteering for them and soon after that another local charity - Amaze - for parents with complex needs children. This led me to meet Sue Winter who runs a wonderful workshop for 16 to 24-year-olds with additional needs and this kick-started my creativity again. This lead to a part-time job at Downsview Link college where I become involved with local artists and suddenly I had purpose again! To feel wanted and useful again was just what I need to heal and grow.
With the present move towards gender inclusion and finally a world that’s fair maybe not quite yet but considering I was born the year that homosexuality was decriminalised, I have been fighting all my life for acceptance. For this project, I have tried to involve as many like-minded creatives from a very broad spectrum of the community to show how society could be and in fact should be. The cast are just a small slice of our diverse community who are finally being accepted by others and our right are finally starting to be enshrined in law. I can’t tell you how much that means to me to finally to be told the law is on your side instead of being considered a sexual deviant. So now to the present and my production - Tell me why - and I’ve said that a lot over the years, it should provoke you to feel how I felt at times in my life, at the moments I’ve witnessed throughout my quest for acceptance and hopefully will help some of you think again before judging others. There are moments which will be very hard and brave for the cast to relive but important for us to portray. While enjoying the show and getting to know my cast the only feeling I want you to leave with is one of pride and respect for the company that had the balls to stand proud on stage as themselves with dignity and honour and of course absolutely NoAgEnDeR!
Joy is a 25 year veteran of the London club drag scene with his own TV show - Joy's On Top and roles in music videos, films, MTV's Fired By Mum & Dad and the ground breaking You Me Bum Bum Train London theatre experience under his belt. When not performing, Joy owns and manages a chain of laser clinics and is an artist and craftsman specialising in mid-century kitsch lighting.
Artist and throughly creative soul. Born Ashley Paul James and hailing from the south coast I found my way to Hove after many years in London where I was part of a successful underground band “Synthetic Pleasures” only to loose myself at the hands of an abusive partner who eventually gave me H.I.V.
Struggling through life with another stigma attached. Gay and positive I finally found my queer family.
Carried on producing music and painting my pain away eventually leading to a private show entitled “sex and fear”. All raw and real for the world to see.
Nowadays live as my most authentic self as a pre-op transgender woman. I have endured attacks just for being who I am, I’d rather be me, be proud and stand up for myself and my queer family.
Lauren moved to Brighton almost 9 years ago from the North East to study for a degree in the makeup industry. In that time she has had some incredible opportunities to work on some amazing projects with the Royal Ballet School, Goodwood Revival, Mac Events and a plethora of theatre productions as well as a number of industry professionals. Her focus during has always been to question gender norms when it comes to performance and entertainment and how deep these stereotypical roles run in our society. She's a passionate LGBTQ+ ally and drag enthusiast who has always felt more at home within the queer community.
"This is the first project I have worked on in 5 years, having taken a break from the industry. I can’t wait to reignite my passion for makeup with a project that has such a poignant and important message at its heart. "
Bill is a dual British / Irish citizen and grew up in Australia and Singapore. He returned to Ireland to finish his education and went on to study Multimedia at Dublin City University (DCU). He moved to Brighton 2 years ago to study Filmmaking at Brighton Film School (BFS). Since moving to Brighton he has seen how creative and inclusive the community is here.
He has worked on numerous productions in different roles at DCU and BFS but his passion is Directing/ Cinematography with his initial activities in this area have focused on Camera Operator.
His first solo project since moving to Brighton was a Documentary made for film school which focused on local Artists living in Brighton & Hove. https://vimeo.com/435367295
The Documentary explores how Brighton & Hove has been promoted as a great place for Artists and Creatives to work. However the rising gentrification of the area has resulted in Artists being driven out, as their workplaces and studios get converted or demolished to make way for housing. Since its release it has been screened at four film festivals around the country.
"When I heard about NoAgender I saw this as an amazing opportunity to help with the filming of the show, but to also document the entire build up to the show, the stories of the cast and why they were drawn to the project. I want to be able to use this platform to highlight the stigma still surrounding the queer community as they struggle for acceptance in the mainstream. I hope that by documenting the process, we are able to educate and create a greater awareness and understanding of what it means to be queer."
Zack moved to Brighton 3 years ago after traveling to work in fashion studios in Berlin And Los Angeles. "I'm excited at the opportunity to give my time to such an awesome production where personal journeys can be portrayed in a celebration of art, music, dance, song and fashion. This production is shining a spotlight on issues in the world that are not being heard and very much ignored and this is why equality is something we need; we deserve and we will fight for. As a fashion designer, self-expression through clothing can be viewed with haste and negative slurs but being able to find confidence in presenting yourself to the world, feeling like you’re going to slay every hurdle brought onto you though style and fashion is so empowering. With Mr Venus’s visual aesthetic I felt that this is something that I could donate my expertise to by in the way of being on hand for photoshoots and being a seamstress."
I first met Mr Venus when I started volunteering at the Terence Higgins Trust, Brighton in 2019. I have so much admiration for his Art and work ethic. He is a true and consummate professional. I am 100% supportive of his latest venture with the NoAgEnDeR collective - Tell Me Why is a remarkable piece of work.
He quite literally brought ‘Joy’ into my life and I am blessed to count Mr Venus And Joy as my friends.
Melanin is a multifaceted queen - an amalgamation of a K-Pop diva and old Hollywood glamour with a sense of humour darker than her contour.
Melanin was born at a Mindout charity event at the Marine Tavern for mental health awareness, which has become an integral part of her act combined with the topics of black culture and current affairs with a light sprinkling of shade on top.
Offstage Melanin gives talks to schools and businesses on diversity, LGBTQIA+ & black history, mental and sexual health.
"My name derives from a type skin pigment, as I am of Caribbean decent, my heritage plays a big part of stage presence as in my home country of Trinidad it is still illegal to be who I am, but I am working with amazing activists and educators to help change that."
Anyone who has been to Broadway, Times Square or London’s West End & seen the iconic “Stomp” billboards will have seen Theseus Gerard.
Famous for his joint creation and participation in “Stomp” the musical, Theseus has since moved on to become a well known performer and musician in his own right, frequently touring nationwide as both a percussionist and drummer, and also as a solo performer- singer songwriter, showcasing his unique vocal talents and incredible rhythmic skills.
Jo Maultby began her music career as a child, with ‘cello as her first instrument before teaching herself the guitar.
After becoming homeless as a teen and adopting the pseudonym Dirty Scavenger she busked on the streets and worked her way up to pubs clubs and festivals as a singer songwriter and has enjoyed acclaim both nationally and internationally, whilst building a solid online following.
"As a kid, every time I watched the classic Disney movies, I was always way more infatuated with its princesses rather than the male characters. It wasn't in a romantic way, but a relatable one: I wanted to BE them. It'd take me a long while to process and understand why I did stuff like taking pictures of myself whilst hiding my penis at the tender age of 10. Or even why I ended up developing an eating disorder driven and fueled by my unaware need to adjust myself to society's concept of a valid and desirable "female body".
Now I find myself living the best time of my life in Brighton: a 27 years old trans woman that loves looking after people as a support worker as she challenges gender roles and cisnorm every single day of her life. I'm Alice, I'm female and so is my dick."
Steven began dancing at the age of 8 after he had tried every other hobby a “boy” is meant to do. 22 years later he’s still going. Always grateful to be able to support himself from his art “Tell Me Why” marks Steven’s first performance since the pandemic began and he lost his performing job in the international tour of “The King and I”.
Having grown up as a religious Muslim, I have a deep understanding of how difficult it is to suppress my inherent homosexuality and subsequent pressure to conform to socially acceptable stereotypes. Becoming the person I am today has come at the heavy price of public ridicule by way of verbal insults and physical abuse, as well as inaccurate personality assumptions from those who do not know me personally. I am a very quiet person who would much rather spend a night in at home with a cup of tea than to be out clubbing. Due to the way I dress and my penchant for heavy glamorous makeup, people who see me assume that I would be a loud party animal type of gay. I am somewhat grateful for all the negative things I have been through, as I have subsequently developed a very thick skin and I refuse to live my life vicariously through others opinions of what is deemed acceptable by way of my looks or personality. I am both extremely lucky and infinitely thankful to my family, especially my mother for always supporting me no matter what my life choices have been and I know that she is a blessing bestowed upon me that many people have been denied the luxury of having.
Maddie an 18 year music student from Brighton who studied for a vocal diploma at BIMM and is currently studying at Falmouth University and is as a Career Musician at Waterbear Brighton. She is new to the music industry and beginning to find her way and develop a career as a vocalist. "I have an eclectic love of music and performing from Drum’n’Base to Disney. I love the all embracing Brighton scene and how here, it’s is normal to be different. I'm really excited to be apart of this project."
Is it safe? Back in 1976 Birmingham being a punk rocker it sure as shit wasn’t. Daring to be different meant running the gauntlet ever time you left the house, and frustratingly being banned from every pub in the city. That was until I discovered the sanctuary of gay bars, thanks to a friend’s mom who was a barmaid at one such heavenly haven. The patrons knew what it was like to be branded an outcast, they suffered the same slings and arrows as us punks, and they saw fit to welcome us in – as long as we were accepting and respectful to them. That was my first encounter with the homosexual community, and, even though I was a young, straight, working class man, I didn’t think twice about embracing it and the flaming creatures I was surrounded by. Hell, it wasn’t much of a stretch… I was already in love with David Bowie, Roxy Music, and the New York Dolls. Punk changed my life and puked up a yellow brick road that led to me working with Siouxsie and The Banshees, and saw me running with the most wonderful bunch of international misfits and creatives that one could ever imagine. Life became a whirl of risk-taking excitement that eventually saw me relocate to Hove, start a family, and forge a future as an artist in my own right. I have No AgEnDeR. I believe everyone should be gender fluid. To be so equals freedom, which subsequently equals fun… something we all need in these doom-cloud laden times.
Like a lot of gay men I’ve had my own struggles with anxiety and depression. I did a lot of my growing up in 1980s small town England, surrounded by religion. Someone called me ‘gay’ at school, so I asked my mother what it meant. She shouted at me never to utter the word in her presence again. Whatever ‘gay’ was, it was obviously a terrible thing that couldn’t be uttered out loud. What does that do to a young person – when they eventually start to realize they are gay, and that all their family and friends might one day reject them for just living truthfully? It’s fucked up. I went into adulthood pretty scarred, and I struggled with intimacy. It was years before I could even be hugged. I’ve had some therapy so it’s better these days – but I imagine it will always be an issue. I’ve never been to the doctor about my mental health issues. Like lots of people in my generation, I can’t really talk about how I feel. But I cling to the hope that we can all connect more and be kinder – and that if the gay community can keep sharing all this stuff and talking, we can find a better way.
Sharing a year of birth, overlapping taste for eclectic and diverse music spanning every conceivable genre, and a long-standing involvement in the live music, clubs and festivals scene, Screwpulous & Pescatore describe themselves as similar in their difference.
Maurice (aka DJ Screwpulous) has been a stalwart of the gay clubbing scene in the UK and abroad since he began DJing professionally in Bristol in the 1990s. He has held long-term residencies at clubs such as Club 46 in Bristol, Subline in Brighton and The Eagle in London, as well as 25 years worth of appearances everywhere from Poland to Ibiza and regular broadcast guest slots.”My first ever DJ appearances were in a gender neutral non judgemental club in Bristol where people came together because of their diversity and difference, rather than despite it. Like many of my generation, my personal journey from West Country teenager to adult gay man, took may twists and turns, but the one thing that I have found and has kept drawing me back to Brighton is quirky tolerance.”
Adrian spent 25 years as a gigging saxophonist and began his music career in Australia as a radio DJ, hosting a weekly all-night show on Adelaide’s 5MMM:FM before relocating to the UK in 1989. Having picked up numerous degrees in his spare time he alternated working as a journalist, a literary agent and a publican, with gigging at events and music festivals with a wide range of bands and music groups. Having clocked up over 200 stage appearances at Glastonbury alone (yes that is possible!), he has come a long way from the timid classical flautist wondering where to go?
With their combined lifetime of music commitments neither Adrian nor Maurice have had a weekend off from 1981 until the lockdown last year. Despite hitting the decks together a number of times over the last 5 years Tell Me Why is, much to their surprise, the first time Adrian and Maurice have formally collaborated on a project. "With lockdown the whole musical world has been turned on its head and then turned on its head again. Clubs, venues, touring bands, everything that drives music forward and gives musicians a platform to reach their audience has been interrupted. Also the public’s gateway to new musical adventures has been stopped dead in its tracks. Bit instead of being lost, we are really thrilled that Tell Me Why came along, a show that brings together the soundtrack to much of our lives from the 80s to today. It comes out of the cheeky, adventurous and irreverent subcultures of the underground marries in an unholy union with the mass sensibilities of pop and makes something that feels new and exciting. We all stand on our collective past experiences but look firmly into the future. The events of 2020-2021 have made us take stock of who and where we are. It also gives the chance to stop and look at what we are doing. This is a turning point in history, music and life , and like all turning points it is an opportunity to acknowledge where we have come from, to pay tribute to the brave souls before us. We owe it to those who sacrificed their life and Liberty to give us the freedom to be ourselves, to evolve into something new, vibrant and different, much like this show.”
Screwpulous & Pescatore are working on a series of new projects - as well and returning to study to refresh up their production and electronic music qualifications, restoring and customising vintage audio equipment, and have been brewing some new remixes and edits for release later in 2021.