Profile | Tamara Mascara on Confidence and Being a Wiener

Whether she’s playing games with gender and sexuality, or just celebrating love, music, fashion, this drag queen is an expert on being fabulous

Tamara Mascara, Drag Queen

 

I’m a Wiener – I love saying that. In Austria we have one Wurst, but I’m a Wiener!

When Tamara Mascara came to meet us at a little coffeehouse in the 1st district, she took a taxi. An easy target, she’s not fond of using public transport when she’s in drag. The Viennese like to stare. “Sometimes they’ll even start talking to you even though no one asked for their opinion,” she added, rolling her perfectly made-up eyes.

From the moment Tamara steps into a cab, she’s already in performing mode. As a drag queen, she makes a respectable living through performing, DJing, burlesque dancing, designing clothing (for herself and others), making YouTube videos, and simply “being all-round fabulous”.

Sometimes she’s paid just to show up somewhere in drag. Although gigs like that are not always easy. People can make a lot of unwelcome assumptions.

“Sometimes I have the feeling that people are only treating you as the image you project, not realizing that there’s an actual person beneath all this. They’ll grab you inappropriately or ask you to do this or that. When you don’t do it, they’re pissed. My response is, ‘Girl, I look like Wonder Woman but I’m not!’” Tamara explained, with a diva-esque head roll and finger snap.

Being a drag queen doesn’t necessarily make you accessible in the gay scene either; Tamara considers herself lucky to be in a stable relationship. “The gay scene loves their queens, but we’re, like, untouchable,” she explained.

But Tamara loves her job and the confidence and opportunities it affords her.

“Drag is empowering. You stand taller in heels, your corset gives you another posture. You’ve checked your makeup 10 times so you know your face is stunning,” she remarked, glancing in a nearby mirror and taking another dab at her lipstick.

Not that Tamara is lacking in confidence. She attributes her success to her years of experience, along with knowledge of fashion design, business savvy, even dance. When she first decided she wanted to study ballet at the Vienna State Opera as a child, she just picked up the phone and called them herself.

Tamara is also a strong advocate for LGBT rights. She concedes that Austria has made some progress in this area, but she still thinks there’s a long way to go.

“Our society should be as equal as it is diverse. In my dreams, you can walk down the street in whatever gown you want, and people won’t give you strange looks or uninvited comments. They’ll just respect you for who you are.”

Janima Nam
Janima Nam is a freelance journalist, translator, and editor living in Vienna. She has a BFA in film from New York University and a Masters degree (MA) from the London Consortium in Interdisciplinary Studies.

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