Betty Fvck came from a dark place and brought forth light – something she also does this winter, through us. The persona is just the perfect mix of class and kink that inspires Playful, and oh does she inspire us.
By: Amanda Sandström Beijer
Photos: Lamia Karic
Betty Fvck feels like a perfect name to you in so many ways, what’s the story behind it?
Betty is very classy, and fuck is very edgy. She’s an intriguing artist that spreads her wings all over the place.
I started with drag when I was in a bad shape, I was without a job for many month after the graduation and in a very toxic relationship. While being a foreigner in a country I had a feeling that I didn’t belong, that I was second class. So, in all this mess of struggles, I found drag as a way to channel my energy, feelings, emotions and my art, and put it all into one character, and that’s how Betty Fvck was born.
Through this I could see life in a different view, and it changed my life completely. My mindset and view of my work and mority, as well as my relationships with everyone. It all changed a lot. Before Betty I was a person who didn’t like many things, and as I am a religious, Christian, person, I had easy access to criticism. But from this project I met so many people and they all had their experiences, backgrounds and beliefs and I just started to understand them and accept them and learnt not to judge them.
This also liberated me greatly. I felt that I didn’t need to put myself in a box, and neither should I put others in a box. I should just get out of that restricted thinking and love everyone and respect everyone. As a drag queen you need to seek out some environments where you see many different people, and you need to meet them without prejudice or second thoughts.
You grew up in Vietnam - tell us about your first experience with Berlin.
First time I was in Berlin was 2014 as a tourist after traveling around in Germany and before coming here I had never been in the capital.
Traveling around and discovering Düsseldorf, Munich and Hamburg among other German cities, I felt that Berlin stood out.
The west part is very German and maybe a bit boring, although when I came to a party a whole new horizon opened up. It was something I have never seen before. People stay out so late, and already at 3 in the morning I got tiered, but at that time they started going to the club, and I had to join. Then around 6-7 I had troubles keeping my eyes opened and almost fell asleep, but the energy was so high that I felt I needed to keep it up. Suddenly it was like 9 and it was too heavy for me as a newcomer.
But the difference between Berlin and the rest of Germany is also the people. They never take a break; they just have a cigarette break and then they go back. They are so cool and they’re up for anything. But to be honest I am a very boring person. If I’m not performing at a club or venue. I normally take the time to stay at home and rest.
Although if I would party, I’d chose to go to queer parties, I don’t like to go to straight parties I wanna go to queer parties where gay men can have sex, she laughs. and queer parties are special for Berlin.
But get me right, I am actually a good partier when I do it, even if I might not be as familiar with the club scene as many others, since I need to take care of my looks and my body as a performer, and I can’t have too much of alcohol and stuff.
Make up and clothes are a big part of Betty, tell us about it.
Make up has evolved so much in the past ten years. If you would go on YouTube 10 years ago, there was only one or two YouTubers that did make up tutorials, and when seeing the looks they created, today… They don’t look very good. But nowadays there are hundred thousands make up YouTubers, influencers and bloggers.
Everyone can do make up! You don’t even need to hire a professional makeup artist to do you bridal make up, but just grab an influencer friend and it might look much better than the look a professional would’ve created for you.
Make up today is for everyone. Cosmetics today is very affordable. When I was around 18 years old, I wanted to cover up some pimples or scars or whatever, but it was so expensive, and it wasn’t as easy to find what I needed. Nowadays its everywhere and many of my young friends, started doing drag makeup when they were 13 years old and the looks they create are incredible, much better than my face right now to be honest.
It’s very holistic I would say, and diverse. You can do a Kim Kardashian look with contouring and sexy face or you can do emo makeup – there are no rules. The same applies to fashion. Even though I don’t like the word fashion, it’s too commercial, or couturefor that matter. I’m much more into costume, because theatre and drag costume is totally different.
The thing is that the fashion world, as well as the makeup world learned so much from drag makeup and drag costume, like contouring is from drag and drag took it from theater - we all learn from each other and that’s okay. Fashion is the same, when you look at the Met Gala, they’re all wearing drag. Lady Gagas new album Chromatica is a total drag look. That’s cool and also uncool, because today it’s so mainstream. Drag is for everyone, and I’m not going to complain about it, cause in the end I like it like that.
A lot of Berliners may associate your name with the gay bar Betty F***, but there’s so many clues that lead you to Betty, where does it start?
Before I started with drag, I loved Violet Chachki, and when my mentor asked me about my drag name I was like, ’I don’t know…’ But I thought about Violet’s first album that’s named Bettie and I liked it. And the last name, Fvck, came later.
I didn’t have any drag mom or anything and didn’t want to copy from anyone or belong to any ’family’. I’m a very independent person. It started with a deja vú when I was at the Betty F***-bar and I thought yes, that’s me.
Because Fvck is my signature, it’s censored but it’s still Fuck and nowI’m gonna have my own house of Fuck. Because I work with young people, and they love me so much that after hanging out they want to change their drag names into Fvck because they want it ‘to belong’ to my house. But I have to consider that it’s a lot of responsibility to have my own house of Fuck.
I heard that Fuck also comes from the fetish scene in some way?
Where did you hear that?
Well, I love fetish fashion but I’m not a fetish person in sexual life. I’m quite boring. I’m not doing any BDSM or anything like that, I’m too lazy. Let’s just fuck and finish it, not spend time for this and that, but I love latex and these kind of craziness masks and accessories. I’m totally in love with that.
And then Betty is very classy, with a lot of jewelry and diamonds and gemstones.
I think my mom sometimes had a lesbian vibe. She loved divas from back in the days. She grew up in the 80’s and back then you had to love Madonna and Marilyn Monroe and she really did. She had posters of them all over the house and she was like ’ look at that, wow look at Marilyn Monroe’. Even if I don’t see myself becoming Monroe, I kept the picture in my head and when you keep it so close to you, the picture becomes you unconsciously.
My mom inspired me a lot, she’s a fucking strong person. She taught me a lot about always trying my best and to never surrender. Just go for it, without being afraid to fail. Her character really inspires me, she’s much stronger than me.
So, no fetish clubs in Berlin then?
I love the club scene in Berlin, I hear that they fuck in the bars and I love that. I love the club scene here because it’s nothing like what you experience anywhere else. People can be themselves, and they can do things differently than in other places in the world. That’s why so many tourists come here - it’s just for the party. Because it’s totally unique, and I hope that the party scene won’t disappear and fall during these times, because it’s so unique to Berlin.
In what way is the drag scene in Berlin unique?
Berlin has a strong history of embracing LGBTQ culture. Here are many gay districts, with the biggest of them, Schöneberg, also being the first in the world.
The drag scene in Berlin is really diverse. Really engaging, sometimes it can be quite political. They fight a lot for trans rights, for refugees’ rights and are at the same time very artistic.
The drag scene in Berlin is unique because of Berlin’s history. If you look back there was many drag shows, well they didn’t call it drag back then but crossdressing. Something that was a big cabaret and it was just the beginning of the drag scene in the city that grew and grew.
But a lot has changed since 100 years ago. Today you don’t need be beautiful to be in drag, because drag is beyond the looks, it is so much about the personality and that’s what I like about it. Berlin is one of the first places where drag started with a beard - a very rough and hairy look, breaking the images of masculine and feminine. They also removed the word queens within drag, today we speak about drag artists. But we also have kings today where a female becomes a drag king.
What more does the city offer that you love?
One of the producers of Berlin burlesque festival, where I’m going, Else, produces Bohème Sauvage here which is totally beautiful and if you haven’t been, you must go. You have to wear clothes that are inspired by the 20th and there are these cabaret shows with singers. It’s an absolute ’20s experience from inside and out.
They have been doing that for over ten years, it’s totally cool. That’s something that can only be done in Berlin, because of the mood, the vibe and the history. If you’d do that in Spain or something it wouldn’t work because of the heritage. It just wouldn’t be the same. The same goes for those kind of kinky parties like Pornceptual for example - they have a concept that they bring to other places around the world as well, where I have worked for them.
What I have noticed when being at Pornceptual Helsinki, was that the people at the party weren’t the same. That’s why some things only work in Berlin - it’s the vibe, the atmosphere, the smell. If Berlin would fail the entertainment and club scene, the city will disappear forever in this world, that’s what I think.
What’s something you miss when you’ve been away from the city for some time?
When I get to Berlin I love going to the saunas, the Pornceptual parties and the dark rooms. They don’t really exist anywhere else. I love them, and the drag shows. There are many good locations here like Zum Starken August or Ichiban Karaoke, although I heard it’s closing down. They’re going to have a crowdfunding hopefully survive - please, save it.
Speaking of, why do we need that- and art in general would you say?
Art is everywhere. Imagine, only in one song there are more than 10 artists behind it who are creating it together. Everything we do is art, turn on the tv, even advertisement is art and the clothes you’re wearing. Art is everything. We can’t live without it, we have to look beyond the performance art. It’s not only limited to shows and performing.
There are so many people around every piece of art that are affected by it. It’s the technicians, it’s the staff who are cleaning the venue, it’s the ones working in the bar,
and that is why we need to support it. If we don’t, it’s like the collapses of everything.
After corona I recognized that everyone depends on each other. We have to take care of ourselves to be safe, and we need to depend on each other in a way so that we’re recognizing that we’re not a single island. We’re not alone, we relate to each other and need to be there for each other. Are you having a friend who’s out of work for a long time, ask them how they’re feeling and if you have the opportunity, please support them. Maybe they have ’Only fans’ or ’Patreon’ or anything - help each other out, it’s very important. Together we’re making the world go around.