To celebrate Pride Month, we’re re-visiting our interviews with some of the world’s most prolific LGBTQIA+ club kids. The first is Muffinhead, a former Jehovah’s Witness and current “performance absurdist.”
“Psychedelic trips, a blurred line between avant-garde, drag and Kabuki… Being in a space all of your own is never a bad thing.” Muffinhead is talking about his inspiration and creativity, before going on to address the politics currently shaping and, in some cases, dissolving the LGBTQ+ community in America today.
Muffinhead had an interesting upbringing, one in which creativity was actively encouraged by his father. “My dad was a really creative person—he was always making. He would go from making jogging suits to actually making knives and working on motorcycles. So I come from a really creative place,” he tells me.
However, his childhood was also one of congregations and religion, having been raised in the Jehovah’s Witness community. “I was brought up in a very religious household and it gave me something to throw a rock at,” he says. “I knew I didn’t want to be that. It set up a great spoil for me, in that I would need something to break away from.” But as often happens, the thing you’re rebelling against and the thing that influences you can be the flip side of the same coin. “[Jehovah’s Witnesses] don’t try to be a part of their surroundings. They try not to be a part of the world, so I think that also led into what I do,” he says of his unapologetic and uncompromising self-direction.
So who or what is Muffinhead? “It’s just a figment of my imagination, sort of a ghost that I’ve created,” he says. “It probably came about through a series of hardcore psychedelic instances. The character itself was unassuming. I think there was always a softness to him that people can kind of warm to. It was never about sticking my cock in someone’s face, it was about presenting a set of visuals that would excite people, or at the very least entertain them.”
For him, psychedelia creates a different aspect of the world that definitely evokes individuality in his work. After all, is there anyone else like Muffinhead? “It’s such a big part of it, seeing visions and lines that are really not natural. A lot of the ideas come from different types of psychedelia.”
But how would he define what Muffinhead does? “It’s part drag and almost Kabuki in a way. It’s more Japanese theatre, more than drag. But also pulling a little bit out of both. I try to really maintain my own space and specifically do what I’m going to do.”
The space Muffinhead occupies is certainly unique and his rebellious spirit is rarely matched. After all, drag was not mainstream when he was coming up through the ranks. “Drag has kind of reached a certain pinnacle, in that it’s so accepted and mainstream [now],” he says. “When I was young, it was never [like] that. We didn’t have Lady Gaga at the time—it was a precursor to all of those things. I never really wanted to be accepted.”
Regarding the future, Muffinhead is looking to expand the character and his horizons, possibly because of how he feels about the club scene now. “Nightlife itself can be great, but it’s also extremely limiting,” he says. “I just want to find ways to keep on doing what I do, making it bigger and better. To work with sounds, music, and set design, and make it bigger and more expansive.”
There’s no doubt that Muffinhead represents subculture, but while the internet and technology have done incredible things, have they aided its development? Not according to Muffinhead. “Did the internet destroy the underground is a question that I think can be turned around from this, and it might have, it really might have. Everyone is obsessed with this similar stream of information.”
With America witnessing a recession of rights for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly trans minorities, Muffinhead believes the answer could be found within the community. “It could very well be that drag will save the world. It could very well be that this community of people has something worthwhile that’s so small, even irrelevant to some, but provides an escape and a way of higher expression that becomes common and something that anyone with an Amazon Prime account can access.”
The self-described “performance absurdist” utilizes hyper-surreal cartoon imagery that runs in tandem with the personality of the character he has created. The result is fascinatingly unique, coming from a place that only psychedelia could inspire.
Styling: Patti Wilson
Makeup: Lena Koro
Hair: Ward Stegerhoek
Talent: Kyle Farmery
Set design: Stefan Beckman