- Dusty Limits says going on OnlyFans is helping queer comics and cabaret stars survive coronavirus and perform free of censorship.
Cabaret by definition is a live art form. It’s all about being ‘in the room’, with the audience, no fourth wall, connecting with those people in that moment. It’s ephemeral, and it’s immediate, and that’s what makes it wonderful.
When all the venues closed, and all my gigs were cancelled, I felt like a little part of me had died.
Pure drama queen, right? Maybe I need other hobbies. But it was a shock, and on my birthday in March, just after the news, I had a proper freeze-down. That’s like a meltdown, only cold.
That night I did a sponsored fire walk for Cabaret vs Cancer. Walking over hot coals is a great way to wake yourself up. (666 degrees centigrade, in case you’re wondering).
And after the initial shock wore off, I thought, ‘well, it’s time for me to embrace technology and make content online’.
I’d been dragging my feet for too long. I’m an old dog so it’s hard for me to learn new tricks, but there’s nothing like sheer desperation to give you focus and drive.
I first created Cabaret Virale, which is a pre-recorded variety show featuring some of the best performers in the cabaret and burlesque scenes, all in their lockdown nightwear.
We take donations, and when we hit our target, everyone gets the same fee and we start on the next show. We’ve done three and more will follow.
I’ve made a silly series of ‘instructional’ videos called How to Enjoy Wine, more for laughs than for money. And my boyfriend Sebastian ‘Snuggles’ Angelique and I are making bespoke Singing Telegrams.
Coronavirus is showing the camaraderie of the cabaret scene
We were forced to think laterally and get creative, and now ‘Angel-Dusty Studios’ is up-and running. We have a ring light, a couple of velvet bedspreads held up with gaffer tape, and a lot of very happy customers.
So many stage artists are now making online content in return for fees and tips and it’s genuinely inspiring. Why didn’t we do it sooner? Some of the donations are small, some are very generous indeed.
It’s a strange way to redistribute wealth, but I’m constantly impressed by how kind people can be. There’s a real sense of camaraderie in the cabaret scene and that’s coming to the fore now.
I’ll be totally up-front and say I’d only heard of ‘OnlyFans’ via jokes made by fellow performers about how they’d make a living in lockdown.
The implication of course was they’d have to turn to making saucy videos and naughty live-streams to generate funds. (All of which is great: we’re adults, we have urges, though I won’t be stripping in front of a camera any time soon. Nobody wants to see that.)
So I was slightly surprised to be suggested for OnlyFans. Some of my work is definitely ‘adult content’, but not in that way. On my albums there are as many tracks with an advisory warning as without. But hey, if I’m going to sing about blowjobs, that comes with the territory.
You have to speculate to accumulate or whatever that saying is, so I thought ‘why not?’ And it turns out it’s a perfect fit.
It’s a relief to tell the jokes that I would at a late-night cabaret
There are other platforms, of course, but a lot of my material is quite provocative, either because it’s proudly queer, passionately political, just plain filthy or a magical combination of all those things. For my OnlyFans fans, I don’t have to censor myself. They get the full works.
Songs like The Music of the Night and MSM get to be seen by a grown-up audience who know what they signed up for. It’s a relief to sing the songs and tell the jokes that I would at a late-night cabaret and not to have to bowdlerise.
I miss singing ‘A Lovely Day’, a song about wanking, for the people in the room. But I’m happy to do it for people out there in their various domiciles. And no need for a dress-code, so that’s nice.
As an aside, scientific research has suggested that swearing and cursing can be very good for stress levels, so there’s also that. And there’s quite a lot of that. A fuckload, in fact.
I can’t wait to get back on a real stage and sing for a live audience. But if I’ve taken one thing away from all this, it’s that these virtual platforms are now an integral part of live entertainment. I’ll be keeping one foot in that world even when this is all over.
Among many things, it’s made me think about accessibility, and how online content can reach people who might not be able to make it to a live gig.
Also, I have perfected a Black Forest Bavarois and binge-watched The West Wing, so this lockdown isn’t so bad.
More LGBT+ comic and cabaret talent on OnlyFans
The pandemic has encouraged a host of LGBT+ talent to open OnlyFans accounts. Here is a roster of stars to check out:
Myra Dubois: Multi-award-winning performer.
Thom Tuck: Actor, writer, comedian, clown, director and hand model.
Sam Pamphilon: Best know as a team captain on Dave show Go 8 Bit.
Yianni Agisilaou: Award-winning stand-up comedian, and writer.
Grant Busé: Australian comedian, singer and multi-instrumentalist.
Jojo Bellini: Saucy songstress, culinary queen and fringe circuit favorite around the world.
Sandra London: Drag cabaret star who has been singing and cracking jokes for 30 years.
Jonathan Phang: Best known as a judge on Britain’s Next Top Model he brings a unique blend of food and laughter to OnlyFans.
Rosco McClelland: Scottish Comedian of the Year in 2016.
Richard Sandling: Award-winning stand-up comedian, actor, writer and content creator.
Eleanor Conway: Comedian and presenter and advocate for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.