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RainbowGore Cake by Christian DeFonte
RainbowGore Cake by Christian DeFontePhotography Christian DeFonte

The 13-year-old taking Seattle’s drag scene by storm

RainbowGore Cake greets us in flowing blue wig and flawless make-up to enlighten us on her style, personality and how her mother opened her eyes to the world of drag at eight-years-old

It is hard to think of a world more louche, of the night and anarchic than the world of drag. Despite its growing popularity in mainstream entertainment, it remains a scene which has the potential, when done well, to be riotous, questioning and uncomfortable. This is what makes the existence of RainbowGore Cake, – rising presence on the thriving Seattle drag scene (its most famous alumnus being RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5, Jinx Monsoon) – so remarkable. Last year, at a gala event she devised and produced herself, RainbowGore Cake debuted publicly for the first time with a screening of her own short film, “Fire”. The reason that, even before our meeting, I am unusually intrigued that RainbowGore is the creation of Seattle resident Sailor Hank – who is only 13.

How does someone on the cusp of adolescence make their way in the typically adult world of drag and negotiate the breaking of gender rules at a time when many of his peers no doubt struggle, as all teenagers do, with developing a sense of who they are? When we met RainbowGore to chat about this, she appears in a flowing, electric blue wig and flawless makeup to give us her perspective.

“My whole message is you can break the rules!” – RainbowGore Cake

How did Rainbowgore Cake come into existence and how did you create her?

Rainbowgore Cake: My mom (performance artist Kook Teflon) introduced me to the art world and art shows. I had my first art show – my first big thing – when I was about five. My mom got into the cabaret scene here in Seattle and she took me to those shows and I saw the performers – people like Vinsantos (Defonte), Jackie Hell and Peaches Christ. I thought “I want to do that!”

And how did you start to create Rainbowgore Cake’s personal style?

Rainbowgore Cake: Well my mom opened me up to this world and has allowed me to be who I am – RainbowGore would not exist without her. I was always interested in makeup and my mom would help me. I did my first drag show when I was eight years old – which was in a venue called Vortex in San Francisco. Then a couple of years passed and I wanted to get more into drag and create a full character to show people you can be who you want to be, at any age! Now, my outfits mainly come from thrift shops and a store called Champion have sponsored me by providing my makeup.

So you’re 13 now. That’s pretty unusual for someone of your age – drag is a very grown up world. What do friends and people your own age think?

Rainbowgore Cake: A lot of people at school don’t really get it I’ll show them pictures and they’ll be like “what?” but now I do have a friend who knows what drag is and is into it so I like hanging out with her.

What is Rainbowgore Cake’s personality like?

Rainbowgore Cake: She’s come from my love of cult TV and movies like Twin Peaks, John Waters and David Lynch which influenced her She is sweet but she also has a dark side – she’s inspired by some of my idols like Peaches and Elvira – her name is a clue: she combines sweetness with elements of gothic.

Have you found other drag queens and performers and helpful – you’re very young for their scene do they find it strange as it’s a very adult scene – it's very night-time and presumably often takes place in bars?

Rainbowgore Cake: Yeah they have been extremely supportive and it has been very cool that I have had the opportunity to do this. I get special permits to be in the bars as someone under 21 – my whole message is you can break the rules!

“I am very young so people assume I’ll be into performing with newer music... but actually, when I performed in Austin, Texas, my act was very Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks” – RainbowGore Cake

You recently performed a gala at the International Drag Festival – what kind of style of drag do you do and how you perform on stage?

Rainbowgore Cake: Well, I am very young so people assume I’ll be into performing with newer music, for example. They think I’ll like pop like Ariana Grande or Miley Cyrus but actually, when I performed in Austin, Texas, my act was very Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. So I try to be original and defy expectations. I tend to lip sync mainly and I have learned to do the splits and so I’m incorporating those kind of moves into my choreography. Soon I want to start singing live.

How do you expect her to evolve throughout your teenage years?

Rainbowgore Cake: People think my drag is going to be insane when you’re 18 and I’m like – probably!

What would your advice to people your own age interested in what you do and maybe wanting to get into it, if they’re also young?

Rainbowgore Cake: I was lucky my family support me and not everyone’s parents do – but do whatever you want. Do it secretly. It’s so wrong that we tell people they can't be who they want to be. Telling boys they have to like certain things or that girls can’t play football. It’s stupid! People should just do what they want, try stuff out and if you like, it own it.

All photographs by Christian Defonte