Inside The World Of A Belfast Drag Queen: Sassie Documentary Premieres

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

A NEW documentary which takes a unique look inside the world of a Belfast drag queen was screened as part of the city’s Pride festival.

Photographer and videographer Tony Webster’s documentary Sassie featuring Scott Shilliday as Sassie Longshaft was premiered at Maverick Bar on the opening night of Belfast Pride last month.

Sassie  Scott, pic by Tony Webster

Sassie Scott, pic by Tony Webster

In the film Scott, 22, from Ballyrobert is seen going through his transformation into his bitchy alter-ego Sassie.

Filmed between Los Angeles and Belfast the rising star on the Belfast scene talks about his character and performing at some of the biggest drag friendly clubs.

Although Scott is lucky to have had a network of friends and family who were supportive of his career choice he says there are always going to be people who don’t understand.

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

He explained: “I started drag in my final year of secondary school when a few of my performance arts classmates dared me to do it for our end of year final night out, I did it and loved it.

“At the time I had no worries about trying drag as I had a very strong group of friends behind me and to be honest I don’t really care what people say or think.

“Everyone was all very supportive of my decision to become a drag artist, I feel very blessed to have so many people around me who are extremely helpful, supportive and are always inspiring me creatively.

“As a child, and now as an adult, I never associated gender with clothing, so I wouldn’t have classed it as experimenting. I was a kid just having fun.

“Of course there is prejudice for drag queens, people don’t always understand because I wear dresses that I actually don’t want to be a woman.

“Sassie is a caricature based on some of the women I grew up around. Assuming every drag queen wants to be a woman is disrespectful to the drag queen and more importantly to the transgender community.”

Despite being relatively young on the scene Scott has already made a name for Sassie, seeing her take to the stage at Maverick and Boombox, two of Belfast’s best known clubs for drag performance.

And his work has seen him working with some of the world’s most famous names.

“I’ve had several highlights in my drag career so far” said Scott, adding: “I have been lucky enough to travel as far as LA and to work with worldwide known names such Peaches Christ and Manilla Luzon.

“I’ve also been featured in fashion shoots in Vogue Italia online.”

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

But what seems like a fun industry to be in doesn’t come without hard work.

Scott tirelessly works to improve his act, his look and Sassy’s character.

He said: “Of course, like anything there are downsides to the industry. It’s expensive time consuming, it can affect relationships, it can alter people’s views on me and shavings a bitch.

“There is no single hard thing about being a drag artist, it can be a struggle at times but I wouldn’t do it unless I loved it. Which is why I have so much respect for my sisters doing it for themselves.

“It’s a competitive industry, but it’s like many others, if it wasn’t competitive it wouldn’t push us all to be the best that we can be.

“It generally takes me two to three hours to get from boy form to full queen, I start of by having a long shower which entails a lot of shaving in a lot of very awkward places after this I start my makeup which takes up most of the time after this I choose an appropriate/unappropriate outfit to put on.

“I don’t count up how much I spend it’s not cheap I can tell you that.

“Everything I earn in my day job goes back into my craft. Very few queens would tell you they are in it for the money. Wigs don’t come cheap and if they do they take a long time coming from China.”

Now Scott is concentrating all his efforts on promoting his new documentary directed and filmed by photographer Tony Webster.

He said: “I met Tony through his fiance Martin who I worked with. We have a lot of the same interests which means we work very well together. As he has a keen interest in drag, so we did a few shoots together for promotional images for myself. We’ve also worked together for a local vintage clothing boutique KLOTH and since then are working relationship has gone from strength to strength.

“I’m constantly finding myself in awe of the work he produces. He is constantly pushing boundaries and using new techniques and is somewhat avant garde in Belfast. Simultaneously he always makes his models feel at ease while he encourages them to test their own limits myself included making for outstanding unique images.

“A few months back Tony had asked me to play a small role in a music video he was shooting for american drag sensation Manilla Luzon.

“When it came to the premiere of the video Tony asked me to come along with him to LA and we decided to document my time there.

“That’s the story we showed in Maverick bar as part of Belfast Pride week. I am overwhelmed and excited to show everyone exactly what Sassie is all about.

“Tony is also taking part in a short docu-series for Channel 4 which will be exploring his particular style of photography known as homotography. It’s definitely going to be worth a watch.”

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

Sassie, pic by Tony Webster

And for those who’ve never encountered Sassie, Scott says they will know when they’ve met her.

“You may not find me lip syncing to Gloria Gaynor I will survive however you can expect a mix of electro pop, 80’s, 90’s with unique looks and performance style. I strive to entertain various crowds while staying true to myself” he said, adding: “I would describe Sassie as queen C**t. She’s a lot of fun, always up for a good time, the life and soul of the party.

“Keep her on your good side though cause this bitch got bite. As she always likes to say ‘Never classy, Always Trashy cause I’m Sassie’.”

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About the Author

Tina Calder
Journalist, commentator, author and content creator specialising in showbiz, entertainment, business, trade, human interest and lifestyle.