This month’s interviewee ranks among Berlin’s foremost burlesque Drag-Queens. When entertainment time is up, she turns into Wolfgang and runs an ad agency. We present: Sheila Wolf!
First things first – how did you become a Drag Queen?
I guess I’ve always had a knack for dressing up. I started as rockabilly as a teen, before I met this drag couple. I was really fascinated about the way they were living. Years later, I started dressing up too and posted pictures on blogs before there was even MySpace. At some point I really wanted to go public. And I did. The adrenalin rush was intense, it almost felt like I was riding a wave. It turned into a hobby.
Why the name “Sheila Wolf”?
Well.. I felt a little shy at first, so I called myself “Shei”. Of course that turned out to be nonsense. I’m not shy at all! I changed it to “Sheila”. “Wolf” is part of my real name. Wolfgang.
You’re a prominent Drag Queen, run an ad agency and have a family – how do you manage?
It’s all about time-management really. Sometimes important things fall by wayside – the agency, the shows and sometimes even family. It’s not always easy to handle all things well. When it comes to money, the agency comes first. That way I’m independent from the money I make with the shows. It stays more enjoyable that way.
How did your wife react when you revealed you wanted to dress up as a woman?
She was worried – is he turning gay? Does he want to be operated? Or is he just going crazy? Honestly, I think people are either born hetero or gay. They don’t turn gay by some magic force. After that was settled, she was a little concerned I’d fall for one of the young girls in the narrow changing rooms. But the way my dress pinches off my penis… nothing even could happen. *laughs* On the stage I tease men and women a like, but it never goes beyond teasing.
I thought most drag queens were gay. Are there many hetero drags?
There’s definitely a lot of hetero guys in mommy’s clothes who post it online. They like to dress up in private, but I don’t think anyone does it the way I do in public. It works because for me it’s nothing sexual. It’s a show, a provocation – it’s burlesque!
What do you love about being a drag?
A younger me would have said: I love being able to take a vacation from myself. My personality changes when I get styled. Sorrows and worries just disappear with the dress. Now I’m managing 3-5 performances a week, so it also gets stressful. What still drives me is the chance to connect with amazing people and make new friends along the way.
Do people sometimes feel offended by your look?
I found this see-through look 3 years ago. It looked like I was nude below. A woman’s body. Of course it’s all an illusion. But sometimes, real tough hetero guys can’t tell in the dark. They approach, expecting to find a curvy lady. What they get is a little different. I think I already caused some heart-attacks. Some get confused by the deep voice and run away, others get aggressive. Then it’s time for me to tell them to calm down and soothe the waves. But the thing is… I really like to provoke.
You were born in Berlin. How did the city change in the past 10-15 years?
I love Berlin. I’m in a happy and deep relationship with this city, it’s literally the only place I’d want to live. But it’s easy flair from the 80s is long gone, what’s really pissing me off today is gentrification. Small shops and venues have to close for malls and large chains of stores. Parts of the creative scene are breaking away because they can’t afford the rents anymore. It’s sad to see, but no one leaves anyway.
Berlin in 3 words?
Creative. Colourful. Sleepless.
What’s your favourite place to go?
My new favourite restaurant is Funky Fish on Alte Kantstrasse. Amazing selection of fish dishes and absolutely delicious! A must-visit if you’re in Berlin is our city’s little Moulin Rouge: Wintergarten.
Ok, we know where we’re going to dinner tomorrow! Thanks for the interview, Sheila.
If you want to see Sheila Wolf perform live, swing by at her new revue show at Wintergarten on October 15th. Sheila invited the crème de la crème of the international cabaret and burlesque scene, rounded up by a portion of boylesque and drag. Learn more here