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I REALLY Heart Drag Queens



I REALLY Heart Drag Queens


I didn’t know what a Lesbian was until I was 14. I had heard the term Gay, but only when used for men and even then it was in the confines of a pretty Catholic upbringing. I had no Gay friends (as far as I knew). I didn’t know or understand the term Bisexual until I watched the film ‘Chasing Amy’ when I was 16 and even then it didn’t exactly bring up anything particularly constructive beyond the usual stereotypes of Bisexuals making a ‘choice’ to be Straight or Gay depending on who they were with at the time. Even Willow, one of my teenage role models from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, always considered herself having discovered being a Lesbian rather than just admitting to the fact that she had loved Oz, a cis-gendered male, before loving Tara. Queer role models were not exactly easy to find for a relatively sheltered Catholic school girl from Cardiff.



I started going out and drinking with my friends when I was 16. I managed to get a relatively realistic looking fake ID and was super proud that a couple of the establishments in town would fall for it. For this purpose (even though it was half a lifetime ago now), I won’t mention the bars or the people working in them by name as I would hate for them to get into any trouble (it was a really good fake ID… and having been a bartender since then I know how difficult it can be to age-guess sometimes).

We only had one rock/alternative bar at the time. And it was only worth going to on a Wednesday when the drinks were ridiculously cheap, and that was a school night. So Fridays/Saturdays were for extreme cheese. 70’s, 80’s and 90’s hits and even some musical mash ups. Think Steps, S Club 7 and all of the wonderful glory in its heyday. So a group of us underage, naive girls would head to our local Drag Club. Of course we would flirt and drink, not really thinking of the dangers that could come out of it. But we were young and stupid. There was something about being in a Gay bar which made us feel like we were free to dance and have fun without any of the usual come-ons and awkward conversations which would follow when we explained to these older guys that we were too young and not interested.

We managed to make friends and I slowly got to know people outside of my sheltered Catholic upbringing. Soon we were meeting up on Fridays with larger groups of people. We were talking about Gay rights, Pride, drag and I was slowly learning about the importance of pronouns, prejudice and checking my language (I am still learning. We all are). It was the best learning I received from my final year in High School.



We got to know a few of the Drag performers and I’m pretty sure that they knew how old we were. Years later I spoke to one of them and they said that they often got groups of young people coming to their shows as a gateway into the Gay community and that it was safer to let them come into that bar, underage, and keep them safe from the bullying they could experience in other clubs than it was to kick them out for having a drink.

It says a lot that I only really remember three instances of prejudice from my time hanging out at these clubs (and one was on the street, not in the bar itself).

Once was when I was being chatted up by a guy while I was watching a Drag show with my friends. I told him I wasn’t interested and even went so far as to tell him my age (he was in his 20s). He proceeded to come on to me despite this and was saying things along the lines of ‘age doesn’t matter’ and ‘the more fun for me’. It was very intrusive. It was this point that one of the Drag Queens clocked the incident and swooped in like some beautiful protective mother hen. She started berating him from the stage over the microphones and calling him out for his penis size and all manner of possible inadequacies. Of course he shouted back at her calling her all sorts of triggering words which I won’t repeat here. But she just laughed and sent him on his way, using her Queenly power to summon the bouncers to escort him out. She was a bloody hero. I had seen people take on stage abuse at things such as pantomime before, but nothing like this and she just shrugged it off as just another day ‘like water off a duck’s back’ and went back to work.



The second time was while we were all dancing. The Queen on stage had a set where she would throw paper plates into the crowd and get us to all dance to ‘Zorba The Greek’. As a Greek girl myself, this was always my favourite part of the night. During this dance, a man came over and started to grind against me and my friends, groping us and generally being very touchy feely. A bunch of the guys we were hanging out with saw this and began to grind against him, making him feel very awkward. He moved away immediately but as this was a Gay club, he couldn’t exactly go and say they were acting inappropriately so he just left us alone. The power was reversed. It was a pretty special thing to watch. Especially as if something like that had gone down in any other bar in Cardiff it would have most likely ended up with a fight.

The third time I remember was when me and a few of our friends were walking back to the taxi rank. We were being wolf whistled and cat called as we walked down the street which was most commonly known at the time for housing the most gay bars. A guy started following me and trying to talk to me. One of the girls I was with held my hand and told him to back off. He proceeded to shout homophobic abuse at her and suggest that he could change us etc. etc… the usual garbage. He even suggested that we both share him. She turned around and kicked him in the groin and we all ran away laughing. I think about how I would feel in that situation if I was alone and not with a group of Queer warriors and I feel a little bit sick.

These experiences are so tame in comparison to what so many of my Queer friends have experienced. I was so lucky. I was coming from a place of cis-gendered, white, able-bodied, middle class privilege that I didn’t even know about. As I grew up I met friends who had been thrown out of their homes, abandoned by their families, beaten, abused and generally had to fight tooth-and-nail just to be who they were.

I have also had the privilege of having been a ‘passing’ Bisexual. I have known about my sexuality for as long as I knew there was a word for it (though even now the language is constantly changing – I suppose I would consider myself Pansexual now that I am more aware of Non-Binary, Intersex and Transgender people. But I identified as Bi for so long it is just a term I am comfortable with). But I have only ever introduced my family to my cis-male partners. This was not through any choice, it just so happened that many of my long term relationships were with men. As such I have never had to ‘come out’ to my family, despite all of my friends knowing about my sexuality and me never having been particularly closed off about it.



This year I became single for the first time in five years. I was single at 30 and it was actually incredibly liberating. It was at this time that I got offered the colouring book ‘I Heart Drag Queens’. As I was coming up with ideas for the book (mostly watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, ‘To Wong Foo’, ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ and listening to the soundtrack to Rikki Beadle-Blair’s musical ‘Stonewall’ on repeat) I began reminiscing about the fun I had growing up in the gay community in Cardiff. The Drag Queens, the parties, the nights out, but mostly how safe I felt to be myself and explore my sexuality. You often hear Drag Queens described as ‘Fierce’ and you have no idea how true that is.

I knew that when the book came out I wanted to make sure there were at least a few pages dedicated to representing different genders and sexualities, as well as the different types of Queen including Bearded Queens, Androgynous Queens, Fashion and Pageant Queens and Plus-Sized Queens. I wanted to represent different races and body types as best I can and, most importantly, I didn’t want it to fall into the category of Drag Queens just being ‘guys in dresses’. I really wanted to show their fierce beauty. I hope I’ve done that in some small way as well as made it fun.



With the launch of ‘I Heart Drag Queens’ in October I knew I was going to be posting about this a lot on social media and all over the internet. So, earlier in the year, I decided to finally tell my parents about my sexuality. It was the easiest conversation it could have possibly been. I knew they had always suspected and I had never gone out of my way to hide my affections and attractions to women, but I knew that by not openly telling them I was keeping them out of an important part of who I was.

Again I note my privilege in that I know how lucky I am to come from a family of amazingly understanding and open people. Despite being a majority Catholic family, my family have always been accepting, caring and loving towards all of us and go out of their way to understand and fight for us on a daily basis. Little freedoms like not having to check my pronouns or language or hide my crushes for celebrities around them are finally gone. I could not be happier for having such an amazing family and friendship circle who is always encouraging me to be myself. If there is one thing I regret it would be waiting so long to let them know officially (even if they always had an inkling).


So, while working on a colouring book may not seem like the most enlightening or life-changing experience, I just wanted to share with you a few of the thoughts that have been floating around in my head since I started work on it earlier in the year. ‘I Heart Drag Queens’ is now available to buy on Amazon and from most local retailers. Working on this book was an honour and a privilege and I hope I did some of those beautiful, fierce and strong queens proud; because I really do ‘Heart’ Drag and everything it represents in my small little life of growing up in the LGBTQ+ community.

But mostly, I hope that the book is still fun! Fill it with rainbows, glitter and sparkle and enjoy every page. I know I did. Patreons can view preview pages from ‘I Heart Drag Queens’ over on my Patreon now. You can also view previews of pages from the book via the ‘Look Inside’ option on Amazon, or visit my Gallery here. 


Call For Journalists and Bloggers!


Shout out to all horror, arts, comic and literature bloggers and journalists!


Those of you who follow my Twitter or Facebook accounts will know that I am slowly counting down the days (between catching up on commissions and preparing for Convention season to start back up) to my very own Kickstarter project. You can read more about the project itself here if you’d like.

Cirque Du Mort will be a small collection of horror short stories, focusing around a haunted circus full of tragic, comic, vengeful and even sadistic characters. If you are a fan of The Addams Family, Penny Dreadful, American Horror Story or Carnivale, then this illustrated book will be right up your street. I also intend for the project to have a strong body positive message inspired by the different body types seen in a stereotypical historical circus or sideshow.

As some of you may already know, Kickstarter projects aren’t easy and require a lot of prior research, press contacts and networking, which is why I’m making this post as a shout out for any bloggers who might be interested in helping the project out in its early stages. This could be anything from interviews, guest blogs, articles or even just re-tweeting or re-blogging. Any help would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to see more about the project, including some of the teaser images, please see the original post. If you would like to get in touch you can do so at mail@anastasiacatris.com

Pop Up Cardiff


Today I managed to pull myself away from the drawing table for an hour or two to explore Womanby Street’s first Pop Up Event…


A few months ago, a friend of mine who is also a TV extra and happens to be the proprietor of FUEL in Cardiff (seriously check this place out – the owner is a lovely guy and the club itself plays the best music in town), mentioned that he and a few of the other club/pub owners were looking to encourage an alternative quarter in Cardiff, akin to Camden in London. This was to include independent locally sourced food and drink (as well as Vegan and Vegetarian food), art galleries, vintage clothes stores and live music events. Obviously this idea was right down my street, but also, I fell, much needed in the Welsh capitol.

Wales has always been a brilliant producer of rock talent and encouraging of punk, alternative and rock culture; so the idea of a ‘quarter’ of Cardiff dedicated to this scene would be welcome. Now, I haven’t been out and about on Cardiff’s live music scene for a while now. I used to go out all the time and even worked in a rock club myself, but sadly work has started to eat into my social time quite considerably; but anything that encourages people to appreciate food, music and art is good in my book. I also LOVE Camden. When I was a student in London it was one of my favourite places to be on the weekend, so the idea of that sort of vibrant, bohemian culture being right on my doorstep is very exciting.

The Pop Up Cardiff event was a much smaller version of the Camden vibe, but nonetheless captured the bohemian atmosphere perfectly. From the street food vendors to the galleries, hemp clothes, vintage stores, palmistry and buskers, it was like they had brought a tiny section of London to the Welsh Capitol. I turned up quite early, so did not see the crowds I would have hoped for on a Sunny Sunday, but the food vendors were still rammed with custom with queues for barbecue spilling out onto the street.

Despite the amount of social media attention this event had, it would have been nice to see some more signage around Cardiff advertising it to bring in the sun-worshipers on their way to other bars and restaurants around town. But this is probably more of a Cardiff Council issue than the fault of Womanby Street itself. The interior galleries and stores also seemed a little bit under-staffed as far as vendors were concerned and I was a bit unsure as to who owned what stall, but again this may have been the fault of coming early in the day.

I for one hope that Womanby Street keeps this sort of event up as it is a perfect place to showcase new music, art and foodie talent. I for one would love to be involved with it in the future and will definitely be returning to the Fashion Quarter when my bank balance is a bit healthier. Tomorrow however, I will be heading to the ACTUAL Camden for a gig which I have been looking forward to for a while so expect only a short post from me (probably from the bus!)


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Saturday Stash


It occurs to me that I have yet to do a ‘loot’ or ‘hoard’ post, so I thought I should give it a go…


The last few weeks have been a little bit frugal, so I’ve gathered a few of my recent buys from the last month together into my first Saturday Stash. Considering I don’t go shopping that often (apart from for art supplies), this probably won’t be a very regular thing. But, as conventions are starting up again next week, you never know (I tend to do all my shopping at conventions – I mean, I’m in a hall full of geeky products, how could I not).


Starting off with my best buys for the month. The mister and I went to a car boot sale a week or so ago and challenged each other to go off and buy something for £2! I think I won because I came back with this gorgeous little art nouveau owl statue (two things I love) for only 50p (the base was broken but nothing that some superglue couldn’t fix) and 2 Zadie Smith books I have been eyeing up in Waterstones for a while, for only a £1. Leaving me with 50p for a bottle of water (it was a very hot day).

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This month saw the arrival of my very first Loot Crate. It was pretty obvious what would be inside (the clue was transfrom – hello!) but I was pretty happy with the contents considering that my partner is a MASSIVE Transformers fan. He wore the shirt to work the very next day.

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Probably my biggest expenditure for the month – I got my hair dyed and cut! My roots were coming through something fierce and as I am growing it long I hadn’t had it trimmed in a while. Thanks to Owen from Slunks in Cardiff I now have healthy ends with a Summery turquoise blue on top and Neon Blue underneath (Colour by Manic Panic).

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Before…

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I stopped in to visit my partner in his new job the other day and he happens to work opposite a Waterstones… yeah, that’s going ot be a problem. As I was waiting for him I noticed this lovely copy of the novel of Battle Royale and it just so happened to be in the ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’… it would be rude not to, right?

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Finally, my copy of Afterlife Inc, the gorgeous Hard Back edition came through yesterday and it is beautiful. If you haven’t checked out Afterlife yet you seriously need to. I have been a die hard supporter of these books since I first found them at Bristol Comic Expo two years ago and have reviewed them several times for Chaos Hour as well as funding their various projects. It is a brilliant story and this new edition bundles them altogether into a wonderful hard back with a load of fun added extras in the back.

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1404577240144Well, would you look at that! You have to read it now!


Wednesday Wish List – Totoro Time


Wednesday Wish List – Totoro Time


Those of you who know me well may have noticed I have a slight… itsy bitsy… okay HUGE obsession with ‘My Neighbour Totoro’. Even though ‘Spirited Away’ remains my all time favourite Studio Ghibli film (so far – I mean, there are a lot of them), I just love the character of Totoro and his little tororo friends. My partner and I actually have plushies of the grey, blue and white totoros above our bed and occasionally I come home to discover they have been on some fun adventures. They’ve even left me notes when I come home after a hard weekend of conventions (They’re in my mister’s handwriting, but that can be forged right?)

You can see some of my own Totoro Fan Art here and even buy yourself a print of it, should you so wish, on my Etsy Store. But for now, here are some of my favourite Totoro related pieces from around the web for my Wednesday Wish List.


Totoro Sweater Jacket 100% hand knit from pure merino wool by AnnaWoolMagic on Etsy – £137.56

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Starting with this gorgeous cardigan/sweater from Etsy. I believe it is actually one of a kind (or she only has one in stock) which is why the hefty price tag, but when you see the amount of work put into hand crafting this, that’s not really surprising. I love big baggy cardigans, especially over skirts and tights, so this would see a whole lot of use out of some one like me. Not exactly a Summer choice, but still a beautiful find.


Studio Ghibli Spirited Away Sootball Slouch style jumper by ZenohTee on Etsy – £22.99

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As a ‘larger up top’ kind of gal, I find off the shoulder numbers to be incredible flattering, I also like the look of the length of the sleeves on this piece (I’m a fingerless gloves lover, so long sleeves are a good replacement for those sometimes). The design is cute and fun and can be classed as either ‘Spirited Away’ (the sweets in the top soot sprite’s hand) or ‘Totoro’ so that makes me happy. There is also a soot sprite on the back right shoulder.


All 3 Posters – my neighbor totoro, princess mononoke, spirited away – papercut style print – ghibli, movie poster, wall art, decor by BigBadRobot on Etsy – £16.75+

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I really love the design of these paper cut-out prints. They are stylized enough that you don’t even have to be a Ghibli fan to enjoy them. A very stylish and classic way to put some Totoro love on your walls. If you like the style of this print you should definitely check out the Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away Prints that come along with it, they are gorgeous.


Totoro in the Mountain Art Print by YouCouCou on Society6 – Variety of Prices and sizes

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I don’t know what it is about this piece, but I really just love Totoro’s expression! There’s something imposing and Godzilla-like about this poster whilst also retaining the cute kawaii nature of the characters.


Totoro Soot Sprite Slippers – Available to Bid on EBay

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As some one who works at home, slippers are a must have and these are just awesome! Look at their little faces! There is also a range of Totoro slippers too, but I am not a fan of the Totoro smiling plushie/onesie style that I see around, I prefer his cute quizzical look.


We Are The Children Who Never Grow Up’ Vest Top – Available to bid on EBay

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My one and only ‘Summer’ piece of the bunch, but the bright colours and floaty material definitely make up for it. The quote kind of sums up why I love Totoro so much – it is just a gloriously innocent children’s film that makes you feel like a kid again.


Don’t forget to check out my own Totoro artwork on Etsy. You can even earn £5 off your first purchase on Etsy here. What is your favourite Studio Ghibli film? Also, is there a character or film/TV series/book etc, that you always have to buy the merch for whenever you see it? Leave a comment below…