Sincere Punk-Drag: Skaði Turns Her Gender Into A Mythological Music Being - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Sincere Punk-Drag: Skaði Turns Her Gender Into A Mythological Music Being

Sincere Punk-Drag: Skaði Turns Her Gender Into A Mythological Music Being

Published August 30, 2017

Steindór Grétar Jónsson
Photos by
Hörður Sveinsson

“My art has a lot of sexual energy,” says Skaði, the music producer and performer known for her punk-electro drag performances. “I see drag culture as a way to perform as a sexual being, like expressing an orgasm. I let it flow without specifically meaning to shock. We should all be allowed to express this, wherever we are on the spectrum; gay, bi, straight, trans, non-binary or whatever.”

A ubiquitous figure at the rowdy Drag-Súgur shows and Gay Pride celebrations, Skaði performs in a way that juxtaposes the colourful mainstream of drag. “I feel punk is sincere,” she explains. “You do what you want, whether or not you know how to or can afford it. The cave paintings—the first pieces of human art—are a form of punk, because we needed to create. This is me, this is us, we exist and we made our mark.”

Spiritual awakening

Skaði Þórðardóttir, born Ægir Þór, chose the name of a goddess from Nordic mythology associated with winter. Skaði married Njörður, the god of the sea, when she had to choose a husband based solely on looking at the feet of her divine suitors. The real-life Skaði posits, “I see mythology as a way to explain to myself the struggle of being a woman born in a man’s body. Ægir, the name I was given by my parents, is another name for the god of the sea. It’s like I’m married to myself!”

“I’m not hurting anybody by being who I am, being trans. It’s not like when I take my hormones, some orthodox Russian guy gets leprosy!”

Coming to terms with being trans was a decades’ long journey for Skaði. “I was thirteen years old when I first put on a bra in secret,” she says. “I experienced it like there was something wrong with me I needed to overcome. At 16 years old, I’d become a daily drug user. In 1998, I felt a sort of spiritual awakening—this strength came over me, and I threw away my cocaine and speed, poured the rest of my alcohol down the drain. I went to rehab, joined AA and NA.”

After having a daughter in the early years of sobriety, Skaði attempted a heteronormative life, with occasional secretive cross-dressing, resulting in cycles of depression and self-harm. Finally, while doing her graduation project at the Royal Academy of the Art in The Hague, she began to come to terms with her gender identity. “I kept asking myself; who am I, what’s the substance of my art, what do I want to convey?” she explains. “My teachers and co-students sometimes told me my art was revealing and brave. But I thought, ‘if you only knew’.”

Barbie dating He-Man

Three years later, she’s more content with herself than ever before. “People didn’t believe me, like ‘I never thought you were like that, I’ve never seen you as feminine’,” she reveals. “I mean, what is it to be a woman or a man? I never played with Barbie, unless she was sleeping with He-Man. I loved skateboarding, but there’s a bunch of girls who love skateboarding and never play with Barbie.”

Having taken this step, Skaði now feels set to focus on her art and performances. “It may be a cliché, but I feel that I can be a voice that says ‘don’t doubt yourself’,” she concludes. “I’m not hurting anybody by being who I am, being trans. It’s not like when I take my hormones, some orthodox Russian guy gets leprosy!”

Find out more at skadimuzik.com. Read more about Icelandic drag here.

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