Celebrating Pride in London at Berlin Berlin: The Birthday & Pride Special on Saturday July 7th 2018 is the punk and gothic inspired host and freelance gallery producer, currently working with the Serpentine Gallery, Parma Ham.
Co-director of performance based night Coven also where he regularly DJs and hosts, we catch up with Parma to talk about what Pride means to him and his experiences as a member of the LGBT community as well as their other-worldly interests.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride is foremost a celebration of LGBTQI’s ability to reclaim our self worth in a world that has constantly tried to shut us down and oppress our identities. Despite so many obstacles, we have continued to survive, and more recently we have begun to thrive. Pride is also a time for remembrance of those that have come before us and lived through chaos and oppression, and those that we have lost in the fight for recognition. Most importantly Pride remains a protest : one that cannot be stopped, where so many people continue to be persecuted around the world, and in particular transgender, gender non conformers and people of colour who are the most vulnerable among LGBTQI; they need our support and we must listen to them in order to bring about change.
One of Berlin Berlin’s favourite performers and host, what kind of things can we expect for this anniversary and Pride show?
Egg London will be a maze of different floors and performers. The mix of DJ’s, performers, hosts and looks ensures it’s a party for everyone to enjoy and come together. As a Pride after party it’s gonna be extra queer!
Do you think being part of the LGBT art scene and community in London, do you think you’ve ever faced setbacks in your industry because of who you are?
Yes – I was once fired from an art gallery for looking too gothic and extravagant! I have also faced discrimination and bullying in the workplace for my gender and sexuality. Fortunately in London these things are usually dealt with quite well and the appropriate action was always taken. I have friends in the USA who have been in a similar situation but when they complained they were then fired.
What advice would you give to anyone/LGBT people trying to break out into the performance/hosting industry?
Relentlessly work on your craft and start getting gigs at smaller venues while supporting grounded performers. Make yourself adaptable to each event and the organisers vibe, but always retain your identity.
Which performers and artists did you look up to when you were growing up?
Peter Burns of Dead or Alive is my ultimate icon. Unashamedly himself, he never had to explain his actions to anyone, he was such a force.
How would you describe what you do and is there such a thing as a regular day at the office for you in terms of what you do?
I’m a freelance gallery producer, working with public art galleries on their exhibitions, programs and publications. I also co-direct a performance based night called Coven, and I regularly DJ and host. Every day is entirely different as I do project work. I have zero routine: routine and schedule suffocate me.
With incredible outfits, looks and imagery coming into play, where do you get your inspirations from?
I love the identity and extravagance of Punk, the New Romantics and Goths in 1980’s London, it’s incredible heritage. I also love to explore gender non- conforming beauty, which is often overlooked as there is so much pressure to present as male or female in order to feel and be regarded as beautiful and sexy. I’m trying to prove that wrong.
Where and when did you start performing and why does dressing provocatively and performing hold such allure for you and for an audience?
I love to push boundaries and provoke, and one of the easiest ways to do that is with my appearance which I use as a visual language. I put my sexuality and gender non-conformity as far out there as possible. It’s easy to forget how cruel the world remains when we live our lives in filter bubbles; we need to change this, and visual identity is one in-your-face step towards that.
How do you create your own outfits and where did you learn to be so creative – any professional training or did you work with any designers
I honestly can’t make clothes for shit, but I love to wear and support young talent such as Sade English, Jacob Nowacki, Possessed Fetish, Ingrid Kraftchenko, and Fecal Matter, along with established designers such as Rick Owens and Gareth Pugh. These designers either produce dark fashion or are queer, or in most cases both! I love to support my own.
How did you come up with your unusual name?
I changed my name to Parma Ham on social media as a comment on the way I was being branded and commodified just like a meat. I also found it surreal and silly. When Facebook banned me for having a fake name my stubbornness got the better of me, and I legally changed my name to get unbanned (as a fuck you to Facebook). I’m actually vegan and have never eaten parma ham. More recently the Parma Ham Consortium in Italy have tried to sue me for intellectual property infringement and my goal in life is to be more of a household name than the meat company.
Lastly! What are you looking forward to at the Berlin Berlin Birthday and Pride edition on Saturday July 7th at EGG LDN?
I love to dress up and have a really hedonistic night with all the beautiful people and dance to techno.
Parma Ham leads the roll call of performer for the Berlin Berlin: The Birthday & Pride Special on Saturday July 7th 2-18 at Egg LDN alongside Bitch & Party, Cain, Gregory Kara, FoxGlove. Kokaine Tyson, Luke Harris, Plastic Sister Marnie Scarlet and Syban. The incredible Lady Starlight headlines the Ground Floor whilst Buttons/BLN takeover the Middle Floor with DJ Holographic, Akirahawks and Jacob Meehan. East London’s Homostash crew of Deepchild, Pavline, Twang and Tafanik are in The Loft whilst Lewis G Burton, Kassandra Powell & Guests host their Kuntskammer Salon in Cell 200. All info www.egglondon.co.uk or https://www.facebook.com/BerlinBerlinLDN/