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You are in: Birmingham > People > Gay village > Discovering Twiggy

Twiggy

Twiggy

Discovering Twiggy

Twiggy is one of the Midlands' most well known and outrageously flamboyant drag artists.

Twiggy

Twiggy is one of the Midlands' most well known and outrageously flamboyant drag artists.  Turning heads wherever he goes, the self-styled queen of eccentricity and all-things-bizarre has become a symbol of Birmingham's constantly evolving and extremely outlandish gay club scene. Richard Keddie delves into the glamorous world of big shoes and glitter to discover the real story behind alter ego Twiggy.

"My life has basically been one long fancy dress party," says Twiggy, Birmingham's larger-than-life god of flamboyancy, and it would be wrong to challenge the claim of the costumed one whose somewhat unconventional presence has graced fashion shows, night clubs, alternative events, exhibitions, carnivals and parties for over a decade.

Twiggy

But Twiggy wasn't always dolled up in foundation and lipstick or showcasing amazingly spectacular masks and head-dresses while wearing 20-inch platform boots.  Although, his thirst for rebellion did in many ways dictate his taste for the unusual.

"I was into punks and the New Romantic scene from 1980, resulting in me frequently being sent home from school because of my appearance - having a pierced nose and mohawk were unacceptable in those days which is why I went down that route, I suppose. "I hated blending in and thanks to my appearance, I've excelled at that for
most of my life."

Attacked

Today the alter-ego that is Twiggy can quite comfortably stroll the streets of Birmingham's Gay Village as he casually struts his eye-catching attire along Hurst Street but the long journey to a fashion freedom now enjoyed by so many drag artists and cabaret acts can't be described as an easy one and for Twiggy, like many, getting where he is today has been no less a battle.

Twiggy

"When I left school in 1982, I embarked on a fashion design course but as I was wearing my own outré creations, it lead to me being challenged, spat at and attacked in the street. I gave up college after 14 months because I felt I was being suppressed and not taught anything, which led me to begin making clothes and jewellery for people in 'club-land' to increase my income.

"I'd been clubbing since Valentine's Day 1981 so I had made a few friends. Luckily, one of those friendships got me a foot in the door with Patty Bell from Kahn & Bell, the hottest alternative shop outside of London.  I began working there which helped me meet local club kids and celebs - Boy George, Martin Degville and Duran Duran."

Spikey, sexy, rubbery

"I then had a stall on the Rag Market selling my own bits and pieces which lasted six months as my desire to work in clubs and do shows took over.  I worked at The Kipper Club for Gay Jon which led me to getting more well know and performing at other venues, broadening my audience and forcing me to look more over-the-top and immaculate."

Twiggy

As time moved on along with clubs, music and a new generation of party-goers, keeping up with the mood and expressions of the day presented further style challenges for Twiggy.

"When Acid House came along, which made me go down a 'day-glo' colour scheme
route, I began to wear things that were spikey, sexy, rubbery, distressed and constructed. My college education enabled me to make things no-one else had thought of but pattern cutting was still a bit of a mystery resting in both triumphs and disasters!"

International Affair

In the early to mid-1980s, there were early introductions of 'Hard House', a more radical form of 'house' music, leaning towards aggressive 'hoover' type sounds.  With the advent of these new fast-tempo styles of electronic dance music in clubs, Twiggy was provided with the perfect opportunity to exhibit his wild designs and more recent innovations to a whole new crowd.

Twiggy shoes

"I began working at Tin Tins and Sundissential which was another great chance to model the creations I produced or had custom made.  I'd tried my hand at making footwear but cobblery wasn't my strong point.  I now own 14 pairs of boots and shoes that have all been custom made in Venice, Germany or Catalonia which range from 12-20 inches high and cost between £300-£600. The fabrics I use for outfits are mostly inexpensive so I can afford to pay that amount of footwear.

"I prefer to buy plain fabric and enhance it with appliqué, rhinestones, feathers, paint, spiders, glitter etc. knowing that on its original viewing, I will be the only person that will own the item I'm wearing."

Cheap Imitations

"Because my imagination, manufacturing skills and precious time are used when creating performances or costumes, I feel it's a horrendous act of theft when I see people attempt to recreate what I've concocted.  Something compels me to conceive and give birth to my ideas the way an idea or inventor does and I feel that part of me is being taken away when it's not of offer. I hate imitation and despise duplication."

Twiggy

Since inception, the persona that is Twiggy has appeared in print over 200 times, has featured at several art exhibitions, on television and  in film and has even helped students pass their course work projects by standing in as a subject. 

The determination of the one who peers through from the masks and make-up of Twiggy to achieve what he has is quite astounding to say the least.  But what does Twiggy, who has donned his many guises in over 18 different countries, make of his long and eventful journey as the region's most popular costume queen?

"Not bad for a boy who wanted to be Joan Crawford dressed in a gown by Adrian... I suppose in a way I've sort of realised that ambition."

Images courtesy of Twiggy, Wayne Evans and Adam Yosef.

last updated: 06/08/2008 at 18:58
created: 03/01/2006

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Sheila
brandi - are you referring to your manners or opinion???

kari
oh, i know him, was just checking his myspace, love the xmas fotos!!! c ya at dv8 love!

Princess
Not been on the scene for aages, but Twiggy is a Legend. End of. Always says hi, always got some affectionately bitchy remark to hand, and has to crawl through doors if she's got her big boots on :) Don't ever stop honey xxx

brandi
ugly really really ugly

opal degville
well martin is related to me! heard osme stuff bout him so thought i woudl see who is really is!

Star
good on u for being urslf!

sean
i have met twiggy loads of times at dv8 and his a funni hot man loland he makes the night a night

Tassa Rose
I've always been a massive fan/admirer of TWIGGY; AND clipped pics out of magazines when I was a child in the 1960's, all featuring TWIGGY! Today, I am a successful make-up Artist; and I can honestly say that TWIGGY influenced MY "virgin" eyes~LOL~and inspired me to get into the FASHION business, Thank-you, TWIGGY!! Tassa Rose!

Shaz
Maybe not everything is about money Prince Samrming.He's an artist and you can't suppress that.Many artists do what they do as they're driven by something inside and not for profit.

Prince Charming
Twiggy retire to the sun? at what they probably pay im at dv8, he'd have to keep going for another 60 years yet :)

Asha
Why can't we see more things like this on the BBC? It's a great and what I thought the BBC was about man.Wickeds!

Dan
Twiggy is da best around. i know his boyfriend in glamourous showbar. luv ya twigs xxxxxxxxxx

jd
how the hell did he walk in those heals??? love you all

rob (missing)
twiggy is really imaginative and very impressive but to be honest i think he should hang up her boots and retire to the sun and grow old gracefully

tom
saw twiggy at glam just after last pride, loved the show. cant want to see twig's again for new show on 14th! Bet the shoes are even taller : ) c u friday babes! x

philip
Good on ya girl!!!

Alice Klarr.
i bloody love this page.Best on the net in years man

Sylvia
AMAZING!I am from Italy and I had never saw anything look like this people.Very bootiful. Ciao x

Penny.
FAO - "new fan"-Glamourous show bar IS next to the Hippodrome/opp the green room new and there's nocharge,it's a bar - hope thats helpful x

John Travolta's hairpiece
Oh yeah Leigh Bowery! He was fantastic. The whole world has a communitiy of Twiggys - they're known as the Blitz Kids! 80's freaks and divas. Twiggy's part of the global ensemble. Check the out, you'll love them, they're sooo fab-u-ola!

Blue Peter
its a free show...come on you don't think people would actually pay do you? lol

new fan
this show on april 14, how much is it and where tickets? or just turn up? Is glamorous near hippodrome? Ta!

Rachel
Twiggy, you are a gem and nothing could do you justice better than this beautifully written BBC article. Now get this guy to write your biography and watch that money come in because you have such a story to tell. Luv u xxxxx

Blue Peter
Its amazing what you can do with a bit of sticky back plastic a bog roll and an old washing up liquid bottle! Blue Peter have a lot to answer they've created some right monstrosities!

Chad
I see twiggy most weeks outside DV8 and think he is fantastic, as for needing to change his costumes as mentioned below by 'Gina' take a closer look, as a young desingner myself I appreciate his ingenuity, style and variety. The detail is amazing the outfits are exquisitely made !!! keep it up, your great

Shaz
MADNESS IN A GOOD WAY.

Berni
I have been to Twiggys flat and it's really plain in all the room apart from what he calls "The creativity suite" and it's incredible.A really large workshop/dressing room/storage area.Packed floor to ceiling with creations.he spends ages doing all those costumes.I'd like to see someone else who has a collection like that!

Sionice
I have found a few more sites with Twiggy on www.gaydar.co.uk/.twiggy and www.gaydar.co.uk/twigletzone I live in Brum and see him all the while in the clubs and that and think he looks wicked.It's not really drag in the normal way he's like living art i think

Curious
How do you get in touch with Twiggy for photo shoots and projects and stuff? He's just ideal in so many ways...

rita
i loveeeeeeeeeeeeee the twiggy gallery the outfits rock.

Paulie
WICKED!!!I have seen this "guy" about in the clubs and always liked the way he looks but never had the nerve to say hello.He looks bit odd but you can't help but admire him.I heard him on the radio the other week with Janis Long and he came across really well.It's great seeing someone so colourful in whats sometimes a miserable world.He makes me smile and anyone who can make people feel good is worth praising.Lots of best wishes,Paulie.

Ross
Hey dude! You rock! I love the makeup on the headshot, thats amazing! Nice to see someone not scared to be different for once!

lucia (garlands babydoll)
I think your amazing, I've never met you but heard so much from the garlands family specifically Miss Cortisan and Lady Sean. I, myself am flamboyuant and admire the one and only Lee Bowery. Your an amazing gal XXX.

abdul
all i can say is wow!

Tatum
Ooh, love the shoes, LOVE THE SHOES! want the shoes, it's like Kinky Boots but in Brum. Go and save a poor old shoe factory Twiggy. Can't wait to see what you have prepared for Pride, make it the biggest and best sister - just steal the show, you know you want to. Someone give this girl a bronze statue please. Hi to Kath, Mike and Gav while I'm here, nice site too!!!

Za Za Da'Hor
Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous dahrling! I know it's only been so many years but how could you have forgotten to mention DV8, your current nest! Oh, how celebrity makes one forget... titter!

Sean
Far, Far too way out and over the top its a wonder he dont break his legs walking in boots like that.If he makes a living like that ok,but what does he ware in the day time never seen him on Hurst steet snd i dont live far away.

Tilly
Not only is Twiggy a great mate, he is unique, talented and witty/venomous. A show to blow your mind and a "Door Whore" with Attitude. Sock it to em babe. Love ya xxxx

Dave
love him, unique, shut that door xxx

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