Hjálmar Poulsen—or, as the world knows him best, Miss Gloria Hole—first performed as a drag artist for the guests of her 12th birthday party. Keen to celebrate her 25th year with a bang, Miss Gloria is now preparing for her biggest show yet—a large-scale blowout featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race hall of famer Alaska Thunderfuck.
In recent years, RuPaul’s Drag Race has continued to gain a worldwide audience, propelling drag into the mainstream. But, in many ways, Miss Gloria Hole paved the way for drag in Iceland. That road was often lonesome.
“It was terrible to have this dream,” Miss Gloria recalls of the early days on the scene in 2006. “You constantly think ‘What’s wrong with me? Why do I like this?’”
Not having a drag mother to mentor her pushed Miss Gloria to build herself from scratch. After years of perfecting her craft, Miss Gloria built an arsenal of tools for creating unforgettable shows.
“If your face starts leaking somewhere, you can just throw some glitter on it and say it’s a look,” Miss Gloria says. In addition to doing drag, she teaches makeup at Mask Makeup and Airbrush Academy in Reykjavík. One thing she has to have when getting ready for drag shows is a hot glue gun. “It might burn a little, but you have to sacrifice yourself sometimes.”
A hot glue gun is not the only thing that stings for Miss Gloria. When she decided to pursue drag full-time, she knew that she was signing up for a career that comes with hate and criticism. Miss Gloria often uses dry humour onstage to cover heavy subjects, and believes that laughter helps get through terrible things. “When you have a person in drag, it’s a character and not a real person with real ideas or opinions,” Miss Gloria says. “If you can’t take a joke then don’t come to a drag show and sit in the front row.”
Miss Gloria shared that drag queens also get a fair share of hate from gay guys. “A lot of guys don’t want to date a drag queen because they think it’s unattractive,” Miss Gloria says. “But what if I were an actor in a theatre or movies, would it still be a problem?”
Miss Gloria says the American superstars set to perform in her upcoming show at Gamla Bíó are impressed by Iceland’s drag scene. “Many drag queens in America live in a box where everything has to be planned, but in Iceland we don’t have that. We have the ‘fuck it, it’s gonna be fine’ attitude.
“If I were not Icelandic with this mentality, I think I’d never have dreamt about staging a show like this.”
Miss Gloria’s Birthday Party will have cabaret, parodies, live performances and cutthroat comebacks. “We will have no limits, it’s going to be sexy, nasty, beautiful, ugly, but mainly bitchy,” Miss Gloria says. “If you’re easily triggered, don’t come to my show.”
See Gloria Hole and Alaska on March 22nd at Gamla Bíó, with plenty of local and international talent. Get tickets here.