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379309_10151421689237284_1877178110_nHailing from Tel Aviv, Arie Oshrie was one of the first drag queens in Israel to sing live on stage. After many stints living around the world, night owl Oshrie is redefining what it means to be a drag queen all over Berlin. We interviewed Arie to find out just how he got to where he is today.

BM: Tell us about what you do, you’re a drag queen who also sings live and a host?


A: Well, I’ve been working with Revolver for almost a year now. The first parties I was performing and then because not every time a performance was suitable to the theme of the party, they asked me to stay as part of the team and offered me to be a host because I absolutely love night life.

BM: Where about in Israel are you from?

A: I was born and raised in Tel Aviv but I’ve also lived in London, when I was 19 I lived in Germany for a year but in the Ruhrgebiet area and I lived in New York for four years.

BM: And always working as an entertainer…

A: As an entertainer, singer and host. I did anything with nightlife because I love it,  I even used to work on the door many times. I first started as a performer in Tel Aviv, when I was much younger. I started as a club kid and you know everyone knew me and everyone always had this energy about me, so when I come out to a party I brought all this energy and joy and laughter. After a while people started asking me to work for the parties and that’s basically how I started, but I only started working as a drag queen when I came back to Israel after New York.

BM: Is Arie your stage name?

A: No it’s my real name, my last name is Oshrie and most people know me as Oshrie, so Oshrie was basically my stage name and here because of Facebook everyone puts my first name as well which is not [pronounced like] Arie – but Ar-ea – which means lion.

BM: How is your act for people who don’t know it?

A: I sing. I have some of my own tunes but I sing a lot of covers that I revamp and make more dancey and more suitable to parties. At least once a month I perform at Chantals House of Shame. Chantal was my first gig in Berlin.

BM: And why Berlin?

A: The thing is that I came to Berlin first in 2012, on vacation with a friend for my birthday and I’ve known Gloria Viagra for years – we met in Tel Aviv and she said “girl whenever you’re in Berlin let me know and I can hook you up with some gigs” and then I came to Berlin and she hooked me up with Chantal who I’d also met in Tel Aviv. I did like three songs and after I finished my three songs people wanted more but I just didn’t have more after that. Gloria called me and said she had two more gigs for me so I did Propaganda and then Meshugeh, which were amazing shows. So I kept on coming back a few months later in 2012. I thought I really liked it here, I loved the audience and I liked the fact that people here really like to listen when there’s a story to tell. Thing is, in Tel Aviv I was really famous, everyone knew me. But Tel Aviv is so tiny compared to Berlin, it’s 450,000 people compared to 3.5 million people and at least five to seven hundred thousand gay people plus all the tourists that come here on the weekend, so there are a lot of things to do. Whereas in Tel Aviv I felt like I had hit my own glass ceiling because I had my own little Friday night party at the only gay bar, Evita in Tel Aviv and I kept on seeing the same faces and it seemed like I could have kept on doing that but I wanted more I wanted an adventure. I wanted to grow as an artist, as a performer. And also it really fitted the other thing that I do. I’m a professional chef. I’ve been doing that for years, those two professions.

BM: Well singing and food, it goes well I think…

A: It goes well but the problem is that you know when you’re cooking, it’s a day job and then when you’re performing and doing your night job, sometimes you get to the kitchen and you just haven’t slept the whole night and you still have to produce amazing food.

BM: What’s your favourite dish?

A: You know my favourite cuisine is everything mediterranean, from Israeli to Turkish to Greek to Italian. It is something that I do really well and I do it really different. And I do it really different because I studied french cooking and those are the techniques that I studied, those old school techniques I also learnt from my mother and my grandmothers food and the markets of Tel Aviv – with all the colours, I created something more fresh and light and very colourful and very tasty!

BM: Just like your performances! So what drives you as a performer, is it the crowds is it the music?

A: Well you know a lot of people are surprised because they don’t expect that a drag queen to sing but my singing started long ago, I had classical training, I was an opera singer until I was 15. And then when I turned 15, that’s the time when my voice started changing (well it didn’t change that much). So I had to take a break to not stress my voice. After that I didn’t want to go back to opera, so I started singing more musical theatre and I started traveling when I was 18 because I didn’t go to the army. What drives me is something that comes together, because I love singing, singing is something that comes very naturally to me, it’s an expression of what I’m feeling, it’s my inner thoughts. When I sing songs, I only sing songs that I feel an emotional connection to. I just sing my heart out. People always say that they really feel that I’m touching them with my voice. It’s not about being famous or being on stage. Of course I light up when I see the audience when I see people when I’m on stage I can be in a bad mood or having a bad day or cranky or even sick, but the minute the lights are on and I’m on stage nothing else matters and that’s what drives me. I really love the nightlife culture, you know I’m a night creature.

BM: Who are you idols?

A: There are so many of them, Billie Holiday of course but also Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue and Adele and you know I mostly I love female singers.

BM: Do you ever get confused with your identity?

A: No, you know for me it was never about being a female or about the dresses, I started doing drag because it was an opportunity – someone asked me to do it. I came back from New York and in the four years I was in New York, all the people I knew in nightlife in Tel Aviv had already moved on and all my friends were not going out anymore and I felt like I was left alone on the dance floor. One night I met a guy I knew from New York and he was like yeah I’m starting this new very hush hush party and I want you to be a host and help me produce it and I started doing these parties and they became very famous and around Porim (a jewish holiday). We were hired to do a big party for this new club and this really big club owner producer hired us to do his party. A friend of mine told me that he wanted a drag queen and that I should do it. Which I first refused to do because I’d never done drag in my life and my friend said “you’re an actor and a singer, so act and sing just in a costume”, So I told him you’re gonna have to do everything for me and he was like I’m gonna hire the best make up artist for you – we’re gonna buy you the dress, the shoes, everything will be covered. I did it for that night and a week later the owner of that club called me in for a meeting and said I’ve never seen anything like you. And I want you to be the house resident, I was like fine – but you should know that I didn’t do the make-up, I don’t have anything to wear, AND I’m not actually a drag queen. So he asked who did the make up and I told him the name of the make up artist and right away he called him and he asked if he’d do it every weekend. So that’s how my drag career started actually out of nothing and a month later people were already talking about this crazy drag queen. When I first started working for him I had two major conditions, first of all, I’m not putting a wig ever again on, if I do drag, I’m gonna do it with no wig, and I’ll only do it if you let me sing live in your parties. And he was like you know what, this Friday you’re singing live. I was the first you know live drag queen singer and the first one with no wig, breaking the gender ideas and bending it. Showing the audience, that it’s actually from a very artistic place. So many times people didn’t think of me as a drag queen but more like a performance artist but I really don’t care if you call me a drag queen or performance artist, whatever I do what I do and I know what I am and you have to see it to understand it.

BM: Well Thank you for speaking with us, I look forward to seeing you on the stage!

A: Thank you!330A4611_CR21d

 

Interview: Torsten Schwick[:]

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