I had the pleasure of getting glittery with drag artist King Tito Bone discussing bios, bodies, and being an everyday baddass.
U: We’re fascinated to talk to a drag artist who is able to use their body in different ways in performance! Thank you so much for being willing to do this e-interview with us!
You have worked as a performance artist in the world of drag for a number of years now, becoming widely known for your incredible vocals, as well as your striking glitter beard and cane. What was it that first inspired you to perform as a drag king and is that initial inspiration still what guides you now?
KTB: Well thank you! I’ve only been working for a few years in drag, Tito is juuuust under 2 years old. I have been a performer outside of drag for about 20 years though.
I think the thing that inspired me to do drag was to have an outlet to fully express my gender queerness, and also to get to try things that I never would have done as a performer otherwise, especially things like comedy.
I literally didn’t know I was funny until Tito came along. I also like having a camp and cheerful way to talk about my lived experience as a queer disabled person. And yes, this is the stuff that still guides me now.
U: I can vouch for how brilliant your comedy is! Where did your drag name come from?
My drag name is a link back to my heritage as an italian american. I had a number of name ideas but landed on Tito because it felt versatile and easy to remember – it also has the words ‘tit and bone’ in it, lol. I found this name via my wxfe who literally googled ‘common male italian names’ and Tito came up. Bone sounds like an anglicized version of a word like buono (which means good in English). This type of American-ifying Italian names was really common when Italians were immigrating to the states.
U: I love that! In your instagram bio you define yourself as a: “Blind enby bisexual drag king who wants you to smell the world through their nose.” I’m curious about every element of that description, could you elaborate on it?
KTB: Well, I am registered blind, I am nonbinary (enby) and I am bisexual. There’s something nice about just saying what is there, and there’s a nice alliteration to those words together as well. Wanting people to “smell the world through my nose” is a jokey play on “see the world through my eyes” that feels very blind specific, by which I mean I can make that joke, but if you’re sighted, you can’t. It also signals that when you watch me perform, you’re getting a sense of what it’s like to be me.
Also, I have a big nose.
U: As you’ve come from across the pond, how does the UK drag scene compare to the U.S. drag scene?
KTB: Honestly, I have no idea! I have lived in the UK for over 15 years. I think in general because of the size of the country, it is much easier to connect with drag in different cities in the UK… but of course the pandemic has shifted all of that because we’re all working online, so it sort of feels like it’s all up for grabs, which is great.
U: Would you ever consider doing make-up tutorials for other visually-impaired queer performers? And what would your advice be for people like you who want to get into drag?
KTB: I do actually have a glitter beard tutorial on my Instagram TV. It was a Live and took about an hour though so I don’t blame folks if they don’t want to sit through that. I am not a makeup artist. I really have one face that I know works on my face that I do pretty well. I don’t know enough about make up to advise other people how to do it.
U: Fair enough, I’m the same with my own makeup to be fair, it’s been the same for the past 10 years! What would you say is the biggest difference between your day-to-day fashion and drag fashion, or do you find that they blend into one?
KTB: My drag fashion is a lot less comfortable to wear and a lot shinier. Tito in particular seems to be in gold a lot which is not a colour I would ever wear out of drag. Also, out of drag, I’m very much into the ‘wear your pyjamas but make it look fashionable’ aesthetic. In both though, I love a geometric pattern and bright colours – especially neon.
U: The gold looks fab on Tito! I wonder, have you found that you have become more comfortable on a daily basis being in drag?
KTB: If I’m being honest, I am not sure I know what it means to be “comfortable on a daily basis”.
I am a visibly queer disabled person with a hell of a lot of anxiety, so when I’m at “functional on a daily basis’ I’m winning.
What I will say though is that doing drag really helped me solidify who I am as a nonbinary person. I’m someone who has never really had gender dysphoria in the bigger senses of it. I like my body and my voice.
I just literally assumed that everyone thought gender as a concept was weird – turns out that’s not the case! This came with a lot of internalised transphobia where I (like many) didn’t think I was gender queer enough to actually claim being nonbinary or to actually use they/them pronouns.
Being Tito and having something as simple as people using different pronouns than my assigned ones was, and is, huge for me. The gender euphoria is beautiful and at times overwhelming. I’m really grateful to Tito for that.
U: I love that Tito has been such a gift in that way. Thank you so much for your time talking to me. As a last question, who would be your dream person to perform with?
KTB: Ooooof… I’m not really sure. I’m already kind of working towards my own one-person show just based on the acts I’m making for Tito. It would be great to have an outlet for that. I also think Tito would be great on TV.
I am very much a “one foot in front of the other” type person, so for me I think I just want to keep working. I’ve been pretty lucky to work with some amazing people and in some amazing places. More of that generally speaking would be great!
Also, it should go without saying that wherever I work,
it is essential that it is an accessible space for me and other disabled people. That’s not just about ramps by the way…
Thank you so much for King Tito Bone for chatting to us. Not only do we wish that more people feel comfortable with the small wins day to day, but with big wins like having your artistic creation introduce you to gender euphoria.
We’re buzzing for Tito’s one King show.
Interviewed by Bella Cox