Who are you?
I’m Creatrix Tiara, a shenaniganist currently based in Melbourne, Australia.
But where are you really -
Don’t even start.
Where is your name from? Do I call you Creatrix or Tiara? What are your pronouns?
You can call me Tiara - Creatrix is more like a title. I was going to compare it to Lady Gaga being referred to as Gaga rather than Lady, but she requests the complete opposite in this Vogue video so I’m not sure anymore.
I used to go by Tiara the Merch Girl, as my initial foray into the burlesque world in 2009 was through merch, and I even turned that into a side event-assisting business. In 2011, after many events, I decided I needed a fresh start. I think I picked up ‘Creatrix’ from someone else on Twitter - I liked how it seemed to encompass a wide variety of creative possibilities. The name’s stuck since!
I prefer ‘Tiara’ to pronouns, but they/them works.
You seem familiar…
You may recognise me as the eponymous Queer Lady Magician, one of Taylor Mac’s Dandy Minions, an Autostraddle staff writer, a contestant on The Chase or Millionaire Hot Seat, my tweets about Marie Kondo or the Malaysian synopsis of Dora the Explorer, my essay about Ello’s lack of privacy options, my Muslim Beauxbatons Harry Potter headcanon, my quip at Slutwalk Brisbane about “the bastard child of Paris Hilton and Lord Voldemort”, or potentially many other things - including things that haven’t happened yet but will soon. I’ve been around.
(Hopefully it’s not because you’ve confused me with another quirky outspoken furious brown femme, because that happens way too often.)
The hell is a ‘shenaniganist’?
Someone who gets up to shenanigans.
Specifically, it’s a good way to describe the breadth of the work that I do - creative production, performance art, writing, public speaking, organisation, education, activism, media-making, research, audio/visual, games, music, and various others - covering and intersecting a wide range of themes, ideas, and interests. A lot of these projects start out as “hey, what if we did XYZ” or “wouldn’t it be fun if we did ABC” - shenanigans.
No relation to the YouTube channels of the same name, or to Shenaniganism, though the latter is a pretty fitting philosophy.
What sort of shenanigans do you get up to?
Most of my work explores identity, liminality, and the in-between, particularly as it pertains to my lived experience as a queer genderqueer immigrant femme of colour with mental health conditions. Other topics of interest include pop culture, education, youth empowerment, fandom, technology, travel, business, and various others. I usually pick my form based on what I wish to explore and which opportunities are available, and often incorporate multiple forms at once.
I also work with a lot of organisations and groups worldwide that explore similar issues, particularly those that work with communities marginalised by race, immigration status, gender, sexuality, and/or disability (though not exclusively). Some notable examples include The Village Festival, Quippings, Freeplay Independent Games Festival, Autostraddle, Lesbians Incorporated, Yoni Ki Baat, Center for Sex and Culture, the Global Fund for Women, SOMArts, Vulcana Women’s Circus, and much more.
I really enjoy getting up to fun, strange, unusual adventures, especially when it incorporates other people in my communities. Organising a surprise birthday afternoon tea for a local arts legend, performing as Marie Kondo’s queer counterpart, potentially having something to do with a secret society…maybe…
You do so much! It seems all over the place!
The variety is largely motivated by my philosophy of signing up for anything that looks interesting. I actually find the diversity in topics and forms to be really beneficial - their insights and knowledge benefit each other and I get to make new connections between worlds that probably wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
I have also embraced the notion of jokifesting - originally an in-joke by friends who noted that I seem to have way better luck making things happen or having applications accepted if they started off as jokes or casual ideas. I see now that there’s a real power to being loose and open with ideas - the best adventures can often come from things that aren’t meticulously planned. (I discuss this more in my 2019 Emerging Writers Festival keynote.)
There is still an internal logic that underpins all of it - they’re all related to issues or areas that are important to me, my life, my values. A major common factor is making space for those of us who live on the borders and don’t neatly fit one box or another. Much of this is by necessity - I’m a Perpetual Foreigner and am almost always the minority in any given space, so I often have to advocate for myself - and in the process I end up advocating and building pathways for others who are also marginalised.
I thrive when I’m busy and active on multiple projects - it gives me motivation to get out of bed in the morning, keeps me engaged in life, and is really good for my mental health overall. I do still deal with challenges such as burnout and stress, but overall I function much better while busy.
Do you have any time for us? Where do we fit in?
(Hello potential employers!)
Most of my projects tend to be very intermittent or happen in short bursts - for example, multi-year events that are super active for about 3-4 months in the year but go dormant for the rest of the year, or projects that only take up about 1-2 days a week for 6 weeks. There’s often significant downtime between projects, especially when they tend to cluster around the same months or so and leave the rest of the year open.
I have also been actively looking for stable independent employment to anchor it all. It’ll allow for more freedom and headspace to consider a wider range of other projects (without needing to worry about whether they make financial sense) and would also help my livelihood and mental health immensely.
So yes, don’t worry, I can make time for you - especially if I had reached out to you first! Let’s chat to see how we can fit together.
What can you do for us? What kind of services can you offer? How can we work together?
I’m available for work in creative production, consulting, cultural competency, administration, writing, performance, public speaking, and many other ideas - see here to learn more about what I can do.
If there’s something I haven’t listed but which you think I may be a good fit for, feel free to contact me and we can have a conversation about it.
What do you do in your spare time? What do you enjoy?
I spend a lot of time online - the Internet’s been a source of community, creativity, and connection ever since childhood. I’m also a voracious reader, though most of my reading is online now. I have an ever-growing YouTube Watch Later list and a very eclectic taste in music. There are a few TV shows and movies I enjoy, but I’m not that much of a TV/movie person overall.
Besides producing or performing in shows, I also enjoy going to watch them, especially when they involve people I know! I love immersive interactive work and anything to do with audience participation, but I do enjoy more conventional forms like burlesque, cabaret, theatre, circus, spoken word, comedy, and a whole host of others.
I’m super into real-life escape games and treasure hunts (I wish there were more that allowed singletons to sign up). I like the idea of ARGs but I probably overthink them too much to enjoy them. I’m getting into crosswords, especially those produced by groups like The Inkubator (publishing crosswords by women & non-binary constructors) and am experimenting with making my own. I do enjoy particular kinds of video games, especially point & click adventure/puzzle games and investigative games.
I’ve been travelling ever since I was a baby - my family are major travel fans and airplanes seem more familiar to me than anything else. I’ve lived in Malaysia, Australia, and the United States, and have also been to New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Qatar, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, and Canada. I really want to go to Central Asia - hopefully soon!
I’m a massive fan of Darren Hayes (ex Savage Garden) - he’s pretty much my main inspiration in life. I’m also a big fan of Aqua, Steven Universe, Homestuck, Tara from The Wicked + The Divine, Carmen Sandiego, the Ace Attorney games series, and the fandom’s take on the Harry Potter universe after they declared Death of the Author on J. K. Rowling’s less savoury shenanigans.