2006. RTE decide to air a series of camp programming over what they called a,'Queer Weekend'. I was almost 15. On the brink of coming out and still a little confused as to where I fitted in. Although I didn't fully understand the concept of Queer, the idea of an entire weekend of it got me very excited. So I locked my bedroom door,turned on my small television and sat on the edge of my bed. First up, a documentary featuring Shirley Temple Bar doing her stuff all across America.Oddly fascinating. Next, a show that would change my life for ever. A screening of the Alternative Miss Ireland. What happened over those two hours I had no idea. A bunch of strange,weird,sparkly contestants lip synching and dancing on stage and all in some sort of character. I had no idea what this was but I was hooked. And the entire affair was hosted none other by Panti, I was officially reeled in.
Over the next four years I had come out, finished school and packed my bags for the bright lights...of Limerick. It was during my first two years of art college I began to put an idea together. Still not fully understanding or experiencing drag I started putting a character together, all with the screening of AMI in my head. For two years in a row I was put forward as a contestant for the Alternative Miss Cork and Limerick. And for two years in a row those shows were cancelled. Finally, in 2011 I entered the Alternative Miss Ireland. Exausted, excited and overwhelmed each contestant was brought downstairs to meet the producers. Suddenly a friendly face stepped forward and began to thank everyone and remind us all why we were here. It was Panti. And I had just realised that my little country boy dream was happening and the tears came.
|'Just Keep Smiling' I thought. Terrified,Overwhelmed & Excited, I 'meet' Panti for the first time.|
Three short years later and Panti is ever more inspiring. Next month marks a year since I have begun regular appearences with Panti at The Panti Show. An experience that changed everything for me and still teaches me so much. I've learned countless tricks of the trade, a little Brazilian and to never encourage Blathnaid McGee.
Its while watching and listening to Panti that I fully realised what a natural storyteller she is. Wit and humour come easy to this Queen and she was born for the theater. One regret I always had while looking at the posters on the Pantibar walls was that I missed out on the chances to experience Panti in a full on theater show. Sold-Out success' like 'In These Shoes', 'All Dolled Up' and 'A Woman In Progress' have been hailed by critics and the public alike. And in a time when queer theater really needs a good uplift, Panti has decided to return.
'All Dolled Up : Restitched' is the very best of Panti. A mix of all the old with the new and everything in between. I CANNOT WAIT.
TICKETS ON SALE NOW! http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/whats_on/event/all-dolled-up-restitched/
Can't get enough? Watch Panti's 'Ask A Dublin Drag' Here :