Drag is more mainstream than ever, and it’s impossible to imagine the scene without it. The Zeedijk has a special history with drag, as Amsterdam’s most pleasant street was already the scene of the annual “Hartjesdagen” even before the war. Cross-dressing played a major part in this.
Twenty-one years ago, the legendary Dusty turned the Zeedijk upside down every week with her famous drag bingo in The Queen’s Head bar, a tradition that continues to this day on Tuesdays.
Victoria False is now the most famous drag queen on the Zeedijk and has been a great success on and around the Zeedijk for years at various bars and events. She is also committed to pink seniors, and this year, she is one of the Pride Amsterdam Ambassadors. She can be admired again at the Zeedijk stage during Pride, along with various other drag queens, for instance Mayday, Abby OMG and Ivana. We’ve asked her some questions.
How long ago did you start your drag queen adventure on the Zeedijk?
“After a twenty-year break, it all started again nine years ago at former gay bar De Barderij, and that same year I was asked to sing on the big stage during Pride. I swear I was in a cold sweat that day...”
You perform throughout the country, but we mostly see you on and around the Zeedijk. What is it about this street?
“I used to think that the Zeedijk was just a scary street with many problems. But during the celebration of the ‘Hartjesdagen’ I fell in love with the Zeedijk. The major improvements of and changes to the street coincided with the resurgence of these Days of Hearts in 1997. Over the years, the street party has changed somewhat and has become a bit smaller, but despite that, I still think the ‘Hartjesdagen’ are one of the nicest days of the year.”
So, drag actually started on the Zeedijk?
“Originally, ‘hartjesdag’ (heart day) was actually ‘deer day,’ a day on which the flesh of young game shot was shared by the rich with the poor, who usually had no money for meat. Fancy dress became part of these celebrations over time, but in terms of transvestism, it was small potatoes. Grandma came out with a moustache and grandpa wore grandma’s apron, which was completely hilarious.”
“Cross-dressing only came when Dusty, known for her bingo in the Queen’s Head, started organizing the ‘Hartjesdagen.’ It evolved into a colorful event with singing and dancing, and was so popular that there were too many people on the Zeedijk, and safety could no longer be guaranteed. Partly for that reason, the scope of the party was reduced and it was moved back to just Monday, like in the past. A pity, but it is nice to see more faces from the neighborhood. Initially, it was a party for the residents of the Zeedijk and that really is how it feels now again.”
Where can we find you this Pride?
“I will of course join Ashley Knight in visiting the elderly in care facilities to give pink seniors a beautiful show. Furthermore, I will be present at all official Pride celebrations, and will be on the ambassador’s boat, in a dazzling dress of course. I will open the Senior Pride on Thursday, and am very excited to perform on the Zeedijk stage at The Queen’s Head alongside Ashley Knight and hostess Coby van Dam.”
As a Pride ambassador, what do you want to focus on?
“In a care facility I heard the statement ‘you’re gay? - then the Germans forgot to get rid of you during the war, dirtbag.’ That was the reason to commit myself to pink seniors in care facilities. These pink seniors were the pioneers when it comes to gay rights and emancipation. They often had a difficult childhood, and grew up in a time when being gay was not accepted. Through their perseverance, dedication and courage, we now can enjoy the rights and freedom in the Netherlands we are so proud of. It is heart-breaking to see how they sometimes have to go back into the closet when they end up in a care facility. Through my performances I hope to give them a great show, to support them, and to draw attention to the problem of bullying and discrimination against pink seniors in care facilities.”
Pride Ambassador Victoria False will be present at all official Pride gatherings and will perform at the Zeedijk stage on Friday, August 2 2019.
photos: Prisma Compositional e.a.