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To Know A Veil: An Interview with Jodie Harsh Exclusively for FGUK Magazine

Pre- London Men’s Fashion Week photographer Studio Prokopiou shot famed Drag Queen and DJ Jodie Harsh, whilst we sat down and discussed influence, life in drag and being one of London’s hottest DJs. Styled by Marina de Magalhaes who pulls pieces from What Katie Did, PiersAtkinson, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano and Lorenzo Buzzi. Set Design by Panos Poimenidis and Stylist’s assistant Dhalyn Warren. MU Thanks to Luke Harris

Read Full Exclusive Interview below and Check out more in our Gallery. 

 

Thanks so much for sitting down with us, let’s start at the beginning, when did you know you wanted to do drag?

To be honest, it was all a happy accident. I didn’t really plan it at all, I just kind of started doing it when I was at uni and when I realised I could make money out of it and entertain people it felt right to carry on. I guess with Drag Race’s popularity it has become more an aspirational career choice and a legitimate business, but back in the early days there weren’t many of us doing it and we were just sort of winging it – it felt a bit more bohemian. 

When I first moved to London to start uni, I tried it and it felt so fun, so punk rock. I loved how it gave you a free pass to behave how you wanted and get attention from people in public places like nightclubs. I enjoyed the creative freedom – the clothes and the makeup. I used to play about with new looks all the time before I finally focussed on hair, makeup and styling…this ‘branding’, if you like. I guess all that stuff became kind of addictive, and I ended up wanting to push it as far as i could, to make a career out of it. That was more than a decade ago. Fuck..! 

In such a political time, do you feel you have ever been or will become more political in terms of your art?

I think drag is such a political statement in itself. It’s a big fuck-you to society, a complete subversion of gender what is considered ‘gender’. I’ve always taken the approach to my drag that I just do my job, barely referencing that I’m doing it dressed up. I just kind of carry on doing what I do. I won’t change myself for anyone or anything – quite literally, as is represented by the way I don’t alter my hair and makeup. There are queens and queer figures that spread a very loud and direct message in various political causes, but my statement has never been about that – I would rather provide safe spaces for those who feel ‘other’ – the weirdos and the fags and the queer – my family, basically. And I would rather make music and play music and create an escape from the doom and gloom through that medium. 

You’re an established name of the British night-club scene, is this always where you wanted to be?

Always – from the moment I could get my hands on fake ID I was down at G-A-Y three nights a week, and Heaven…I started going out really young…like 15. (I was definitely 15 the first time I stepped into a gay club). I was off my head with a whistle around my neck and a crop top #LivinMyBestLife. I’ve always loved the comfort of a dance floor, the excitement of meeting strangers, the journey of music through the night. I love getting ready for a night out, the experience of being there, and then washing it off at the end of the night. As someone quite famous once said, ‘only when I’m dancing can I feel this free’. 

Was djing and creating music always part of the big plan and do you see yourself raving it up forever?

It all sort of happened organically – I started DJ’ing after I threw open the doors to my first club, ‘Circus’ because we didn’t have the budget to pay a warm-up DJ! That led me to investigate how the music I was making was made and producing and writing. It’s all part and parcel really – it’s all the same job as far as I’m concerned. 

Will I do it forever…I hope so. I can see myself being 75 and still look like this, still working the dance floor into a sweaty frenzy – I hope I never stop! I used to say I\’d stop when I turn 40, which is a long way off, but Botox has come along since then and also I don’t really know what I would do instead! Maybe become a manager…

Can you tell us more about your connection with fashion?

I’ve always been into clothes and followed designers and stuff. I love the craftsmanship and I love a pop-art take on fashion that serves as light relief in an otherwise turbulent world – that’s why I am such a fan of Jeremy Scott and Versace and the like. It’s fun, it’s a conversation…I’m definitely an onlooker rather than an insider – I’m a fan, and I DJ at some of the parties and have relationships and friendships with a bunch of designers, so I guess I’m somewhat connected there. 

Social media is a powerful tool, but would you say your social self is a 100% true representation of who you are?

It’s the best thing and the root of all evil. I love my Instagram and my Twitter, I think they’re really fun ways to stay in touch with people, make new friends, gather visual information and news, and of course, self-promote, but I  could survive without it I think. Some of my friends are totally obsessed with their social media – especially Instagram which is like crack. I like to keep it just to work and a little bit of day to day stuff if I think I’m doing something that might be interesting to at least 1% of the people who follow me.

I’m a pretty private person, to be honest – I never post pictures of me out of drag for example. I don’t express my problems and concerns, it’s just not what I’m about, you don’t look to me for that. For kids these days, there are some amazing role models online, like bloggers and YouTubers and the like, that really serve a purpose in helping and inspiring people, but oversharing has always left me feeling quite uncomfortable. I don’t really want to drop the mask or spill my guts – I think plenty of people do that better than I would and are more comfortable doing so. I’m more into the idea of creating an escape through music and nightlife than exposing too much of my real self. 

What’s Jodie Harsh’s perfect day off look like?

Definitely begin the day with a gym session. I started working out properly around 18 months ago – I’ve always been relatively fit but I really started to eat well focus on training and maintaining my body at the start of last year. I saw a paparazzi picture of myself coming out of a restaurant with a supermodel friend of mine – she looked great, I looked fucking awful. I had a black vest on which went sort of see-through in the flashes and it literally looked like I was pregnant. I thought…OK…let’s work this out. Now I lift weights, do a bit of yoga, some cardio classes…you get one body, so you may as well keep it looking and feeling healthy. 

After the gym I’ll maybe meet up with a friend for lunch – do some work on my computer or in the studio (because there’s never really day off…) go for a cycle around one of the Royal parks….nothing out of the norm really. I always fall asleep to a documentary on YouTube or something on Netflix – I’m obsessed with Westworld at the moment, it’s so clever. Love a bit of trash, too – I could talk you through every episode the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills!  I definitely won’t hit a club on my might off, that’s not my idea of a relaxing day off – that’s a day at the office! I’ll try to pop into an event or someone else’s club or party if I’m already out and about for a DJ set or something. 

What’s next for you?

Right now, this very moment, I’m off to the Life Ball in Vienna. It’s a charity event I’ve been involved with for about 6 years. We raise millions for AIDS research via a huge concert and party in the city hall – it’s one pot the grandest venues in all of Austria. It’s well worth a google – a lot of very fabulous people fly in from all over the world for it. I have my party Dollar Baby every Friday in London which is just massive now, and I tour a lot, which I really love. To be given the opportunity to go to Australia or Asia or wherever and play my music to rooms full of people…I am so lucky!  

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