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#handdrawninterview with Reg Vermue on DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING MY FUCKING SELF?

August 12, 2014

On Friday I had a chance to sit down with Reg Vermue AKA Regina the Gentlelady, the face of Light Fires– to talk about upcoming show DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING MY FUCKING SELF? The show is running Aug 14-16 through the SummerWorks Music Series featuring collaborative works between musical performers and performance artists including theatre, dance, installation, and video art. This show features Light Fires teaming-up with Adam Lazarus. Tickets are $15, or $25 if you want to do a double feature with Young Drones- A Graphic Novel Rock Opera by the Bicycles, Amy Siegel, and Maggie MacDonald.

(tip you may want to get tickets in advance for this one, as this show sold out at the Rhubarb Festival)

interview sketch provided by Ehab Arafeh.

greetingsfromtoronto: So, this isn’t your first time playing the SummerWorks Music Series.

Reg: I did do the festival before as Gentleman Reg, and the year before that with the Hidden Cameras.

greetingsfromtoronto: Why don’t you tell me what you’re going to be doing for this performance. Are you going to be playing Faces, or have you written some material specifically for this performance?

Reg: This show is going to be a little bit different from the Music Series, because technically it’s a remount of a show I did in the Rhubarb Festival in February. That was a one woman show for Regina, and I was paired up with Adam Lazarus- who is this amazing director, clown, and like so many things. There was already this pairing and I was dying to do a remount, so I talked to SummerWorks about if this could fit in- because that show involves spoken word and jokes and songs.  Yeah, there are some songs from Faces, but the show is actually more based around getting to know Regina. Her story, and her humour. It’s a lot of talking, actually, but there is a comedy base to it.

greetingsfromtoronto: Is this your first time delving into the theatrical, or do you have a bit of a background in it?

Reg: Sort of, actually. Like, I would never ever say that I’m an actor- but all through my childhood and teen years, I did theatre. And I’ve done a lot of stuff with Maggie MacDonald from the Hidden Cameras. I was in The Rat King. Last year I did Cowboy Mouth. So I’ve done some little, tiny roles in some tiny productions. But this is the first time I’ve written anything for the theatre, so that’s a first for me. It’s a totally different experience writing than just saying someone else’s lines.

greetingsfromtoronto: What are some of the challenges of being in a one woman show?

Reg: Well, as the title suggests- you’re going to have to do everything yourself. It’s very challenging keeping people’s attention for an hour. The whole reason it came about was that people had been telling me they really like my banter during Light Fires shows. Yes they liked the songs, they liked the dancing- but after every show people would come up to me and refer to a joke I’d said, or that stuff. After a few years, because I’ve been doing Light Fires pretty solidly for a few years now, I was like- maybe I need to do something with this banter. And that’s kind of how the idea of it came- to write all that stuff down and turn it into a show.

greetingsfromtoronto: When would you say that Light Fires & Regina became your main artistic focus?

Reg: Sometime in the last year. I did put out an album as Gentleman Reg in 2012 which was very independent and under the radar. It was a small release. I was doing Light Fires (concurrently) all the time, but it was really in the last year where I was really just like- okay, I need to do this. I’m also just trying to pay more attention to the signs of the universe. It’s what people are asking for, and what people want to book. We did that show for Rhubarb and it sold out- which I can almost never say with anything else I do. There’s just a lot of signs that make me think I need to do this a little bit more.

I did Gentleman Reg for so long, and it’s not technically dead- I’m just not focusing on it. I just got tired of pushing stuff on people if they were maybe over it. Whereas I’m really excited about Light Fires, and it seems like other people are too. I had a nice, long over a decade run with Gentleman Reg. I’m totally comfortable with all of that.

greetingsfromtoronto: Do you think of Regina as being more of a drag act, or more of a musical act?

Reg: That’s funny that you say that because I’ve been referring to Regina as a drag queen, but I’m trying to do that less. The more I do it, the more I realize that it doesn’t really have a lot in common with drag aside from the fact that I am a male dressing up as a woman. There are similiarities, but the fact that I write my own songs and sing live-

greetingfromtoronto: Yeah, that’s really different because a lot of queens don’t do that. I would love to see it, but that’s just not what they do.

Reg: Some of my favourite shows- even though I love playing Pride Parade and festivals- but my favourite shows are like, when I’m playing music festivals like Sappyfest.

greetingsfromtoronto: I heard you actually recently had an amazing performance at Hillside. There are some really great photos of you (as Regina) and little girls.

Reg: It was awesome. I did something at Girls Rock Camp recently- and it’s just like all those things, where it’s Regina in the real world and not in a gay specific situation- that’s kind of my favourite stuff. I don’t feel a lot of drag queens reach beyond that, because it doesn’t really work well outside of that world- the way that this stuff does. So yeah, I think of it more as a musical act. The music is not an after thought. It’s just as realized and put together as anything I’ve ever done.

greetingsfromtoronto: The last thing I wanted to ask you about, is that you identify as a gentlelady. What does it mean to be a gentlelady?

Reg: That really sprung up from Gentleman Reg, from which Regina the Gentlelady was kind of an easy thing. And someone else actually came up with that- some drag friends of mine. I’m actually thinking of keeping the Regina part, but it may be time to sort of cut the cord. Just because it’s kind of misleading. I think Regina is really strong, and in your face. And has a lot in common with like Peaches, for example. Stuff like that doesn’t imply gentlelady to me anymore.

greetingsfromtoronto: Most of the times I’ve seen you perform, you’ve been in short shorts, and I’ve actually thought to myself- hmm, that’s not very ladylike.

Reg: Exactly. And even in the show, the name is still there- but uh, to be honest it was partly a facebook thing. When you get an account you need a first name and a last name, and I thought, I guess I’ll use the Gentlelady. I hate bringing Facebook into this, but that was partly where it started. There’s going to be a change, I just don’t know what it’s going to be yet.

#handdrawninterview Gentleman Reg

#handdrawninterview Gentleman Reg

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