Katy Jalili aka Cool Dad - Host & Performer FF#17
Katy Jalili aka Cool Dad is a non-binary, gender-queer, Iranian born, East London based multidisciplinary artist, performer and writer. A recent graduate in Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins, they’re currently focusing their research on how the femme identity / body occupies spaces in society and on the performance stage. Katy’s performances have been described as provocative, terrifying, and wickedly entertaining, channelling the spirit of punk to express their frustrations with society. As well as promoting and performing at Dalston Superstore’s other Femme Focused clubnight Femmi-Erect, they are also a regular at many of London’s Cabaret nights, including Bar Wotever, Non-Binary Cabaret, Carnesky Finishing school + more. We’re excited to have Katy Jalili aka Cool Dad come and host for us at Fèmmme Fraîche #17 and we caught up with them, for a little interview before the event.
KATY JALILI aka COOL DAD
Hi Katy, thanks for having a chat with us and for coming to perform at Fèmmme Fraîche, we’re super excited! So let’s start from the beginning, tell us about your first ever public performance, how did it come about and how did it feel?
My first ever public performance was about two years ago at RVT as part of the Duckie DHSS course. I had just created my first ever performance which was about being perceived as a child, and I screamed along to Cherrybomb by The Runaways. I was quiet scared, I remember sitting in the bathroom and trying not to cry before I went on, but as soon as I was on the stage, I forgot about all that anxiety and I had a lot of fun, I just knew this what I wanted to do with my life!
Amazing, so your performances are said to be based on femme identity and have been described as provocative, terrifying, and wickedly entertaining, but describe to us how one of your performances might play out, the inspiration behind it and what the aim of your performance is, in terms of the audience’s perception and reaction.
I’m pretty much inspired by a concept, most of my performances come about From a sense of curiosity about an idea like “wouldn’t that be funny” or “how would people react to this idea”. And that’s where I start. Most of my shows are super sexual and i don’t wear much but still end up fully naked at every show. There’s always a bit of humour, Right now I’m exploring making performances that blur lines between live art and entertainment/comedy.
Moving from front end performance, to more back-stage stuff, as non-binary POC, do you find this hinders you as a performer in terms of being booked, or how you’re treated as a performer by both audience or fellow performers and artists? And if so what are the most frustrating problems you encounter?
When I started out definitely, I used to only get booked for women’s nights because I was perceived as a woman, and people would book me as the brown token to diversify their line up, it was really frustrating to be honest, because it feels like people actually don’t care about your work and your talent and only book you because of how your body looks, it’s very objectifying. But in the past year I feel like that’s happened less, I feel like now that people know my work more and know what I stand for they don’t book me on the grounds of tokenism. But the most frustrating thing for me is that the more political your work is, it makes it harder to get booked, but that’s part of the wider issue with performing arts anyways, people want to have fun and rarely want to be reminded of political issues in a blunt way. But my body is political no matter what I perform, it’s always going to be political.
I did a gig recently where the audience were predominantly cis gay men, mostly white, and as soon as I started my set a few of them walked out, and some continued to leave through my act, which was funny, I didn’t mind, but they were obviously offended by me being on stage. This is the sort of thing certain performers never experience.
Let's talk a about Femmi-Erect your clubnight, which is also at our Fèmmme Fraîche home of Dalston Superstore, tell us a little bit more about the night.
I started Femmi-Errect to make more space for people like myself, we all have different ideas of what makes a good party, and femmi-errect is my idea of a fab night out, The party is for anyone who loves and respects femmes, The music policy is no known abusers or racist musicians, and fronting female musicians and queer music. I only book DJs who identify as femme and queer, and prioritise Trans and POC DJs. I’m on the lookout for more DJs who are femmes of colour, at the moment I’m working on creating a database of queer femme DJs for other promoters to use, you can find out all of this on: https://femmierrect.wixsite.com/femmierrect
Every Femmi-errect also has performances/gogo dancing by queer femmes, as well as art work display based on different themes, for example so far we’ve had: soft femme, Femmedomme and Brown Femme Supremacy, I want to cover the whole femme spectrum and celebrate all different femme identities.
There’s a distinct lac of Femme or female focused parties on the queer scene, why do you think that is?
There’s more and more femme and female fronting club nights happening in London now which is fab, I think there’s a lot being done and a lot have been done in the past few years, like BBZ, Pxssy Palace and another night I recently discovered called GRL GNG and they’re all queer BPOC led, but compared to how many nights cater to gay men, it’s definitely not enough, we need more, and I think we’re going towards the right direction, the more people who are outcasts take on producing roles, the more encouraged everyone else will feel, and it’s all about working together and supporting each for a better femme future, not just in London but all over the UK.
At Femmme Fraiche we’re all about female and queer empowerment and supporting female, female Identified and non-binary artists, who are your other fave female / female identified / non-binary performers on the scene we should check out?
Some of my favourite femme performers are Luna TikTok, Lilly SnatchDragon, Karnage Kills who have all performed at Femmi-errect before, and other cabaret performers I love are Rubyyy Jones and Bae Sharam who’s making very revolutionary work, they’re all queer femmes, some female identifying, some are men or non-binary.
What can we expect from you at Fèmmme Fraîche?
You can expect lots of sexiness, including ass and tits! And some sort of glittery beard! I’m planning my outfit at the moment and I can’t wait to party with all the femmes!
Amazing, we can't wait.. And finally where else can we usually see you performing regularly or what other performances do you have coming up?
My night FemmiErrect is bi-monthly and the next one is August 17th. I’m a resident performer at Bar Wotever which is on every Tuesday at RVT, I perform there monthly. Right now I’m also running a non-binary drag competition at VFD and the finale is on July 20th at Redon. But also I’m starting a new cabaret night with my friends Tallulah and Ellie called FemmeDaddy at CAFE Cairo which debuts on July 12th, it’s gonna be full of messy sexy acts!
So there you have it, a small insight into the world of Katy Jalili aka Cool Dad. Make sure you catch them playing host, upstairs in the bar of Dalston Superstore for the next Fèmmme Fraîche and follow them on their socials below.