M : I’m Meatflap, I identify as a non-binary femme.
C : I’m Carey, or Sadie Secrets, and I identify as queer.
T : Tell me about an early imprint or particular Disney memory?
M : My first Disney movie I ever saw in theaters was Aladdin, but I also saw Beauty and the Beast, which really resonated with me a lot as a kid.
T : What was it about it that resonated for you?
M : I really love Belle a lot, I was really into reading and I definitely identified with wanting to escape a little farm life. I enjoyed it a lot and the music is great too.
C : My earliest Disney memory is seeing Beauty and the Beast in the theaters. It was the first movie I ever saw in theaters. My grandmother took me, her name was Roda Belle and I remember crying when the Beast turned into a prince. I don't know why, I just remember it being emotional. I don't remember being particularly connected to the movie, it was more the experience of my grandmother, and I have a tattoo of a bell for her. She would collect bells, and her middle name was Belle. That's my connection to the movies through her.
T : Any particular characters that resonate for each of you?
M : I could really identify with Beast in a lot of ways, because I felt like a lot of times... I was like a monster. And something that, you know, needed a little transformation. Finding somebody that could love you through that was a big thing for me.
C : I don't really have a particular character. I was just really obsessed with the femininity of the princesses and dressing up. I would dress up like any of them, I had my grandmother's old dresses and I would put those on, and make them as poofy as possible and try to put makeup on, or make my hair really big. My mother is a southern belle from Florida, so I learned how to wear makeup very early on. It was never a particular character, it was always the femininity.
T : Tell me about your burlesque and Performing that you do, about this Beast act.
M : So in this act, I come out on stage with Belle and we do the opening song of Beauty and the Beast - when they start to dance together. The “Tale As Old As Time” song, and then it fades into “Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones. It’s the Beast trying to seduce Belle, I sit her down in a chair and start to strip and treat her really nicely, you know. I give her my jacket, to keep her warm. Then I start stripping for her. I wanted to make it super playful, and also a little bit slutty.
T : What are some of the themes that you're playing with?
M : The Beast’s character is always... such an asshole you know, in the movie. And I just wanted to be kind of how men can be sometimes - with that whole, “Oh I'm A Little Bit Of A Douchey Jerk But You Want Me.”
I play with that a little bit and be a little bit raunchy; like I strip down to a leopard-print thong and just kind of gyrate a lot in her face. I just really wanted to do something that was super masculine in that way.. So I strip down, and I've got hair all over my body, it looks really funny, it's all kind of bursting out of the thong. I just gyrate and try to get Belle to love me, even though I’m this douchey guy
T : You’re a sexy beast, why wouldn't she?
M : Yeah totally! Exactly.
T : Do you perform, or do you still dress up like princesses?
C : I do dress up, I mostly do the pin-up look, so 1950’s style. I wear my hair up in a bandana every day with the victory roll. I just kind of like reclaiming that look, as a modern woman. I have performed a little bit, I haven't been doing it recently. I would like to get back into it, but I mostly photograph other people, I'm on the other side of the camera.
T : Other than the Beast, do you do other Disney acts?
M : For me this is the only one, I do have a little mer-man act but it's not specifically a Disney-themed. Although, when I get ready for that, I do try to really think of King Triton, from The Little Mermaid. Where I'm kind of like a dick, a little overbearing, but make it more flamboyant I guess.
T : It feels like you're sort of queering these symbols of toxic masculinity?
M : Yeah, because even though these guys are assholes, we still enjoy those characters. I feel like mostly I perform in queer spaces; I feel like queer people deserve to have those characters back and enjoy them in a way that is better for us. I would rather see some really queer ass King Triton or Beast then just going up and doing something kind of cheesy.
T : Circling back to what we were talking about during your shoot, what it meant for you to see the reveal of the prince at the end of Beauty and the Beast.
M : When I do this act I wear a mask - a Beast mask. It was really important for me to have a mask that I could take off, so that I could reveal a semi-feminine face. In the Disney movie when he becomes human again he has a very structured yet feminine face.
As a kid that really was a lot to me. I really enjoyed that, I thought it was really beautiful and so when I was starting to put this act together, I really didn't want to just paint my face as a Beast I wanted to reveal like the feminine man underneath. So that was a really important thing for me with this act.
T : He is kind of a soft prince in his character design.
M : Yeah, super soft, long blonde hair, bright blue eyes.
C : And when he's transforming, his hair and his clothes, everything's kind of moving around and it's very soft.
M : There are flowers everywhere and, and glitter. That just really spoke to me a lot as a kid. And looking back on it now.. who I am and who I'm becoming in my life, the more I'm being myself, that still really resonates for me. When I was thinking of doing an act, that was a big important part of it for me, I wanted to reveal my manly feminine face at the end.
T : Let's talk about princesses. Let's talk about that kind of empowerment.. Do you still watch movies and enjoy that aspect of those characters?
C : My dad was in the military when I was a kid, and I grew up overseas. So I was actually more into anime, and I watched a lot of Sailor Moon and those kinds of things. I still very much appreciated the, you know, they're very feminine, and they were supposed to be damsels in distress but it still felt like they were in control.
Because they were so desirable, you know. Like in Cinderella the prince is searching everywhere to find this one woman because she was, I don't know, magical. Powerful in some way, and they also have their power, like Snow White with all the animals coming to her when she's singing. I think Jasmine was a badass with her big tiger you know and wearing her belly shirt, even though she's up in the palace, I think she was still a badass. I don't think I was as obsessed with the romantic aspects of things, it was more about how cool I thought they were.
M : They were so cool.
C : One thing I really like about your Beast act is that Belle is so into it. She's not scared of the beast at all, she's into it the whole time. There was that time where I take the Rose from your butt, (laughs) and I smelled it, and I'm very pleased. She's just very into it and then when you turn into the prince she’s still into it, she's into it the whole time.
M : That's an important aspect of it for me - performing anything in general really - if there's a duet or, if there's any sort of audience interaction or anything like that, consent is the most important thing for me. I don't ever want to perform an act where the person I'm performing with doesn't want to be doing that. So it was really important that Belle be like “Oh Yeah Daddy Let Me Smell Your Butt Rose.”
C : And she's into you through your transformation.
M : Yes, that to all sides of it. Yes it's very important that she is into it.
T : I feel like that's a little in the movie as well, she's not really afraid of the Beast. Like, she won't put up with his bad behavior, but she's also saying “I Made This Deal With You But You Also Don't Get To Yell In My Face”. That's kind of that power of her, she has all these guys chasing her because she's beautiful, but to her - her defining feature is that she's smart. And that she's loyal.
C : And I love that she doesn't put up with Gaston’s crap
M : Yeah he was such a dick! The three women that follow Gaston around and are always, like, falling over him. That always kind of pissed me off in that movie. I never liked that, in that movie as a kid watching it, and now it makes me angry.
C : Why did it make you angry?
M: Because.. don't be showing kids that that's how they should be. Or that women should be into that, let alone three of them. Like he's so desirable but he's a terrible terrible dude.
T : I have a headcanon where the three of them all fall in love with each other and form a triad.. They realize they don't need Gaston.
M : Ha ha!
C : oooooh
T : Maybe one of them transitions and becomes the not-toxic new Gaston or something.
C : I like that story.
T : I love that you're into Sailor Moon - also another show that's an amazing example of magical baddass femme empowerment.
C : Yup. Them and the Spice Girls, those were my two favorites.
M : Oh yes!
T : Who’s your favorite Spice?
C : I don't have a favorite, I think I always felt… different ones for different days. I did dress up as Baby Spice, my mom made me a whole outfit, and I got to wear velvet high platform boots and I was really excited about it.
T : Your mom is so cool.
C : Yeah she's very cool, and growing up, she grew up a strict Southern Baptist. Basically an odd situation, and the one thing she was allowed to do was be very feminine and express herself through femininity, so she kind of passed that on to me. I grew up watching her do makeup, her hair every day. She's always the most well dressed person in any room.
T : Anything else on any of these themes that you feel like we didn't get to?
M : I appreciate all of the performers that I've seen that have done different takes on Disney characters, and things from the films. I live in San Francisco, so I've seen a lot of acts, I’ve seen people take on even more minor characters, smaller characters from the films. I just really appreciate really everything I've seen, it's been so great living here and seeing people also like me turn Disney stuff into super queer, slutty, smutty, performances I really appreciate that a lot
T : What do you think it is that queer people love about Disney so much and why we do these kinds of Acts?
M : They have so many Disney movies and there are so many characters, there's so much great music in them. I think that even though they're not always perfect, especially a lot some of the older ones have problematic things in them, I think a lot of queer people can identify with a lot of the feelings and themes that these characters go through.
Their transformations, they're wanting to escape the situation that they're in, wanting to find love. And even though it's a difficult or tricky situation, that's stuff that all humans can identify with, but but queer people definitely can. I think performance art or whatever kind is great because there's space for you to reclaim that, be like.. this is my favorite Disney movie and maybe it was a little problematic, but I'm going to take it and I'm going to make it nasty. I'm going to make it queer.