In an exclusive interview, the international gay icon sounds off on gender identity, the rainbow flag debate & more.
The Babadook rose to notoriety in 2014, after starring in a claustrobically cool Australian psychological horror movie of the same name. It captivated audiences and garnered universal critical acclaim. It scored 98% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and received shining endorsements from Total Film, Empire and famous film reviewing daddy Mark Kermode. Go to the Wikipedia page and pack a lunch!
However, despite the movie’s critical and commercial success, The Babadook himself remains an outsider. He has never been invited to things like chat shows and film premieres. Many maintain that this is because he’s not actually real, but it does raise some interesting questions about discrimination. The fact that he “doesn’t exist” is very convenient for those who have an issue with what he stands for.
But in recent times, he’s found an unlikely ally – the LGBTQ community. Ever since Netflix accidentally listed The Babadook in their LGBTQ section, they’ve welcomed him with open arms, not just as a manifestation of grief and mental illness, but as a friend.
So what DOES he stand for? What has made The Babadook such a part of the socio-political conversation, and cemented his status as a gay icon? Dylan Jones topped up his Oyster card and popped over to the metaphysical subconscious, to find out.
Hi Babadook! So for those who don’t know, tell us a bit about yourself!
Well, I’m 150 years old, from Adelaide, Australia. I identify as a celestial creature of the underworld. My official answer to “what’s your gender” is queer or non-binary, but right now I’m presenting as male, “he” pronoun.
Tell us a bit about your link to the LGBT community
I’ve always been a bit of an outsider, and I think that’s something a lot of queer and LGBT people can maybe identify with. Also I watch Project Runway on my iPad when I’m bored of terrorising the astral dimension.
Do you have anything to say to Netflix about their recent error?
All I will say, is that they put me in a box. Literally and figuratively. It’s never good to pigeonhole people, but it got me where I am today so I guess I should thank them for that.
You’re now notorious for the Netflix mixup, but did anyone help you to handle fame when the movie first came out?
No-one helped me. Everything that I’ve had, I’ve worked for and I’ve worked to get. And I’ve built myself. And I need you to know that 100%. I never had help. I don’t need help. If I want to get somewhere, I’ll do it myself. Because I am what? Sickening.
What other gay icons do you look up to most?
I think I’ll have to say Madonna. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I just really identify with a lot of her world-views. And I can say, from first hand experience, that the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. I also love her look in the video for Ghost Town, I feel like she owes me a muffin basket for that one.
There’s currently a debate on whether black and brown strips should be added to the rainbow flag, to represent people of colour…what do you think about that?
Well, as a manifestation of grief and mental illness, I think inclusivity is very important. But I also think people need to stay in touch with the real world, and not lose sight of what’s important. Social media debates are, for the most part, utterly pointless. You’re shouting into an echo chamber. If you want to help underrepresented communities, get off Facebook and get out into the world and actually DO something. Although actually, I live in a basement and eat earthworms, so I’m a complete hypocrite.
What do you think of the word “Babashook”?
It feels reductive.
Tell us what you make of British politics right now.
I don’t really follow British politics. I’ve actually been really getting into grouting lately. There’s lots of grouting between the bricks in my basement. It’s a very interesting process. Did you know Portland Cement is the most common agent used in mortar brick grouts? There are other popular varieties though, like thermoset polymer matrix grouts, thermoset-based grout, urethanes and let’s not forget epoxies! It’s all very interesting.
Tell us your guilty pleasures.
Being an all-enveloping metaphorical imperative for emotional anguish. Also, cheesy chips, with both ketchup AND mayo.
Do you think LGBT people love themselves?
They love me, and that’s the most important thing.
Do you consider what you do as drag?
What I do is take people out of their comfort zone, and challenge preconceptions of reality, and that’s what drag does too. So yes, I suppose what I do is a form of drag. I’ve actually been asked to appear on the next season of Drag Race.
Amazing! Are you gonna do it?
There’s too much baggage there for me. I have a lot of issues with that show. For a start, Tattiana was robbed. And also I feel like Sharon Needles took what I do, and watered it down into a mass-consumable, corn syrup-laden piece of shit. I respect myself too much as an artist – and as a manifestation of grief and mental illness – to take part in something so mainstream and basic.
You seem very confident in yourself…what advice would you give to young queer people trying to find their feet?
Always wear black. Don’t be held back by things like physical existence or hair conditioner.
Finally, give us a parting shot – what can we expect from The Babadook in the future?
So much exciting stuff in the pipeline. I’m designing a fashion line – I’m not sure how to do it really but if Jessica Simpson can do it, it can’t be that hard. I’m also working on a musical collaboration with that woman from Evanescence. It’s called Basements & Bereavement (Get Metaphysical) prod. by Larry Tee.
The Babadook will be appearing at various LGBT venues in London over the Pride season. You may not see him, but he’ll be there. Watching. Waiting.