This exhibition brought back some fond memories for me. Bloolips were one of my first utterly gay experiences. And I went back for more whenever they sashayed back into town.
Bloolips were a radical drag theatre group, operating on a shoestring, and all the better for it. Their costumes were imaginative and, sometimes, hilarious. I'm thinking here of the garment I recall as the 'flip-flop frock': a shift with dozens of flip-flops sewn to it.
Sadly, though it clearly made a big impression on a younger me, I haven't been able to find a photo of that frock, though there was a 'rubber glove robe' on display in the exhibition.
Their drag was androgynous, rather than feminine. Costumes were often made from found materials (see above) and the makeup was based on whiteface clown makeup. In fact, Bette Bourne, who started the troupe after working with Hot Peaches, a New York-based gay cabaret group, would speak in rehearsal about 'finding your inner clown'. The idea was to find something fresh, rather than used tired stereotypes.
A few posters:
The exhibition ends on Friday 26th July 2019.
The Bloolips Archive:
Better Bourne has had an interesting career:
A search for 'bloolips' on YouTube will find several clips of the troupe in action. This may be a good place to start: