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Last Words: Iceland Loses A Wonda

Last Words: Iceland Loses A Wonda

Photos by
Courtesy of Wonda Starr
Júnía Líf Sigurjóns

Published February 7, 2018

The departure of Iceland’s favourite drag queen to England may just be the death of the queer culture renaissance in Iceland. Its life was short and troubled, but for a while there, it was bordering on impressionable.

Perhaps I’m biased, because said drag queen is me, but the thriving queer scene in Iceland will struggle to survive once I’ve gone. Unless you’re a philistine with no interest in cross-dressing attention seekers, life in Iceland will become more bleak and dark than… life in Iceland? I don’t think there’s a better analogy.

Arrest warrants & wetness

I first landed on this sorry little rock four years ago, with nothing but a restraining order from Kevin Spacey and a few international arrest warrants. The cultural scene was a puritanical wasteland. Performers, no matter the medium, were universally clothed; trigger warnings were issued then not lived up to; and audiences would leave a show in the same state of pregnancy, mental wellbeing and wetness with which they entered. It was tragic.

Thankfully, through the art forms of performance, writing and shameless self-promotion, I changed all of that. From nothing, queer variety shows were born all around the city, and all of those that were at least half-decent starred me. While some say I cannot claim full (or even any) credit for the blossoming drag scene across Reykjavík—with regular shows now in Gaukurinn, Loft and Kiki—I like to do so anyway.

Sorry not sorry

My work is now a legacy. Performers once again know that the more clothes they remove, the more tips they receive. Ethnic jokes are back, more ostracising than ever. And drunken acts of public violence are once again considered a form of entertainment. Let’s hope it lasts.

Through achieving these goals, however, I have also been part of a powerful youth movement. The drag renaissance has reinforced the ideals of LGBTQ+ liberation and celebration, challenged ideals of the gender binary, and brought attention to the needs of the disenfranchised and ignored. It has also proved that every oddball child will have an avenue where they can express themselves and a community to embrace them in the future.

For my part in these things, I sincerely apologise. For the rest: you’re welcome.


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