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dramna italian drag artist leigh bowery
DramnaPhotography Daniele Fummo, production Caterina Maiolini

Meet the Leigh Bowery-inspired artist taking over the Italian underground

Surreal drag star Dramna talks to us about his place on the nightclub scene, his unique aesthetic, and more

Leigh Bowery’s debauched artistry changed the face of the underground club scene in both London and New York in the 80s, and even after his untimely death due to Aids at the age of 33, his legacy lives on.

“He was an extraordinary artist, revolutionary for his time,” explains Italian performance artist Dramna. “His performances, photos, and creativity have been fundamental in my inspiration. They definitely left a mark on my artistic and performance life.”

After working behind-the-scenes on the underground nightclub scene in Naples, Dramna realised he wanted to be on-stage instead. “I love the night, and its magic and mystery,” he explains. “Everything takes another form at night, even people change.”

Like Bowery, Dramna’s Tranimal aesthetic sees him wearing Zentai-like morphsuits, which are often worn under tailored vintage looks or under a bikini on the beach. While Dramna doesn’t have a background in design, he sources pieces for all his looks himself – creating the headpieces from scratch. With silver lobsters nodding to Dalí, or replicas of Shaun Leane’s mask for McQueen’s Dante show, the pieces are always OTT (see: the headpiece that gives him two additional – but equally shrouded – heads.)

Here, we speak with the artist on his inspirations and surreal looks.

How did you first get into performing?

Dramna: It actually started as a coincidence. After working as a behind-the-scenes creative person at nightclub parties, I felt the urge to be on the frontline and to express my ideas and creativity. I didn’t imagine when I started that I would become a performer, especially one outside the nightclub scene.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Dramna: I wanted to create a world that belongs only to me, but could also invade everyone’s day-to-day lives in a disturbing and provocative way. Dramna’s aesthetic is a contrasting one: dramatic with an infusion of pop. I like to bring beauty with strong make-up, and fabrics that look opulent but are usually leftovers from beautiful garments I bring back to life.

“I wanted to create a world that belongs only to me, but could also invade everyone’s day-to-day lives in a disturbing and provocative way” – Dramna 

Where do you find inspiration?

Dramna: Art, fashion, photography, music, and cinema… what would we be without these beautiful creative arts?

As for who inspires me specifically, the list is very long. I can’t not mention Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Marina Abramović, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Lady Gaga, Marilyn Manson, Róisín Murphy, David LaChapelle, Tim Walker, Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, and Oscar Wilde. I believe that if you open your mind and your eyes then you can be inspired by anything and everyone!

How do people react when they see you out in public?

Dramna: I get a variety of reactions, from simple curiosity to more disquieting ones. Even though it’s not easy walking around as Dramna, it always amuses me to observe people’s reactions. That’s my ultimate goal, in the end, to instigate feelings from people who live in this society with their eyes wide shut. I think it’s extremely important to awaken some sort of reaction within those who come across Dramna.

Who are some of your favourite performers? 

Dramna: Apart from icons like Leigh Bowery, some more contemporary ones include performers like Sussi, Daniel Lismore, and Pandemonia.

What’s next for Dramna? 

Dramna: I’d love to have a personal exhibition in a gallery, but I don’t really plan ahead too much as I prefer to live in the moment.