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The Advocates 2024: Drag king Mark Anthony

The Advocates 2024: Drag king Mark Anthony

<p>The Advocates 2024: Drag king Mark Anthony</p>
Veronika Marx/courtesy Trope Publishing

The U.K. performer is creating visibility and inclusivity for fellow cabaret artists who don't necessarily fit the mainstream mold.

This London-based artist is not your typical cabaret performer — and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I was inspired to start doing drag in my 20s, when I discovered drag kings and watched them perform,” Mark Anthony recalls. As a child, I had always secretly dreamed of performing…but I lacked the confidence to pursue it. In hindsight, I think it wasn’t so much confidence, [but] more that I was struggling with my gender identity…. Drag brought me out of my shell, gave me the confidence to be seen, and also to process my trans identity. I never imagined I would end up performing for a living, but I’m so glad I took the leap.”

In his new book, Life As a Cabaret, filled with stunning images by renowned burlesque photographer Veronika Marx, Anthony seeks to show an entirely different side of cabaret “in all of its gritty, subversive glory.” The 120-page book features cabaret stars of all genders and styles, some with disabilities. Anthony says the idea came during a conversion with Marx about the lack of diversity in similar photobooks.

Cabaret artist Mark Anthony (right) strikes a pose with 'Like As a Caberet' photographer Veronkia Marx.courtesy Trope Publishing

“I mentioned that I loved seeing books and photo collections of drag and cabaret performers, but that I felt there were so many amazing people that were never included and parts of the scene that weren't represented,” he says. “As a drag king, a Boylesque performer, and a trans performer, I’ve always felt like I had to work harder to be respected, to prove that I belong in drag shows and burlesque shows even though I don’t fit the stereotypical mold of what a performer in those genres looks like. I know that many of the performers in this book have experienced the same and greater barriers.”

A few gorgeous images of the unique and talented performers featured in the 'Life as a Cabaret' photobook: (L-R) The Chocolate Showboy, Jake Dupree, and Porscha by Veronika Marx/courtesy Trope Publishing

The Advocates is an annual feature celebrating 10 artists, activists, advocates, and others who strive to make the world a better place for all. Click hereto read about our other honorable Advocates, including cover star Cyndi Lauper!

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