Where you are originally from:
How long you have lived in London:
What you do in the community:
Produce Queer events with Wotever World
How long have you been running LGBT events?
Since the mid 1980’s - I have a long history of being in a lot of organisations and fighting for a lot of things.
What was your first event?
The first event in England was when me and my then partner organised a drag king event at Oak Bar back in 1998, then the first Club Wotever was in 2003. Bar Wotever, our mega popular weekly events started in 2005.
How do you see that the scene in London has changed?
The reason I started Club Wotever was because we didn’t see any mixed places where it was ok to be who we were. It was very segregated – gay men went to one place, lesbian women went to another, trans people didn’t go out and bi people we didn’t talk about! If it was mixed it was in a non-sexual way, so we wanted to create a space where you could be who you wanted to be and be able to flirt, where what you had between your legs and who you have sex with didn’t matter - nice people are nice people.
I think the scene has totally opened up and there are a lot of innovative, small, monthly little clubs with a punk attitude – i.e., everyone can do it: go to a pub or bar, do one night, bring their friends etc. Now there’s a lot of that. I like it, it’s flexible. It’s not only big venues that have one big event once a month, you have things going on almost every night where factors of political beliefs, music taste and /or entertainment are more joining factors than sexuality and/or gender.
How have you adapted to these changes?
I don’t know if I have adapted, I’ve sort of just continued to do what we were doing. We’re still following the same ideology, but now it is easier for us to do all these things.
What regular events do you currently run?
Bar Wotever, Club Wotever, occasional themed cabaret nights, a bimonthly queer fayre in the day time and a queer youth group, House of Stars, which is based around social meeting. What we have expanded on is that not everything is a club night.
Do your various events attract a similar profile of customer or a range?
In an ideal world I would say that everyone who comes is politically informed or engaged, but some people are happily fluffy and that is totally cool too. I think people are literally between 18-82 and have different set-ups, nationalities and backgrounds. We also get a lot of people coming to London from somewhere else who find Bar Wotever and feel at home.
What are your current challenges?
To survive. We don’t have any budget whatsoever so every week we are still here is a success!
How much does the increased use of Social Media (Facebook/Twitter) affect you (i.e. instant access to customers, public feedback)?
We have a lot of people knowing about us all over the world, but at the same time there are so many people in London that don’t really use us. People like to know we are there instead of going - we are so prolific at the moment, but they haven’t gone for the last 2 or 3 years. They forget about coming but they comment on all the events and that is a negative. We would rather meet and see people in the flesh. But we love the way we can reach out to new comers and we are big fans of our on line presence...So it has its advantages but also a lot of negatives, it makes people lazy.
What has been the highlight of your ‘event career’ so far?
Meeting all the amazing people that I work with. Our loyal regulars are the best, many who I see at the Wotever events are sooo lovely. Seeing the change in people when they find a safe space to explore and celebrate their sexuality and gender.
Do you have any exciting future plans you would like to share with us?
We have a book in the pipeline which is really exciting, plus a theater run, more challenging shows and we already have a few really cool people and performers who are going to come back. There is a lot of really cool stuff happening at the moment - amazing performers, really cool collaborators, nice people from all over the world . and local London performers we are lucky to work with again and again. We are very lucky and we are looking forward to more, more of everything!
Ingo has been guest blogging for Planet London. You can check out her guest blogs from our 'A Day in the Life...' feature.
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/barwotever/