Performer in focus: James, the first one out

Kinkykvarteret (The Kinky Quarter) interviews (Photo: Vesa Tyni)

This time the Kinkykvarteret (The Kinky Quarter) editors have gotten hold of James Lorien MacDonald who will do the opening speech at Kinkykvarteret, and also some other performances. From previous years, we know that one can expect a lot of laughter whenever James is around. Will it be the same this year? Read on and find out!

In short, who are you?
I'm James Lorien MacDonald, forty one years old, a half-Finnish, half-Scottish, all-Canadian stand-up comedian who's also a gay trans guy. I live in Helsinki, and perform just about anywhere I can.

Have you been active within BDSM/fetishism for a long time?
I'm one of those people who came to it a bit later in life if we're talking about the structured, recognisable BDSM culture - for that, maybe about 7 years. If you're asking did I wrestle all the neighbourhood boys as a hobby when I was six, then hell yes.

What is your own main area of interest in the Kinky world?
Gosh! What to choose from... I think I'd say a bit of adventure. I'll try just about anything twice and meeting people who are interested in these kinds of deeply caring, challenging physical encounters.

What made you "come out" and enter "the scene" and gatherings etc?
Friends and lovers, mostly. I was never that interested in the whole aesthetic of leather or rubber when I was younger, but when you love someone you might humour them and try something on for a night - and before you know it, you've started to rather like it yourself.

What are your performances about? What will you do and hope to achieve?
I'm a comedian, so mostly I'm telling stories about all those times that kink goes a little sideways. On the surface, people often think that kink is really serious and about pain and suffering, but I swear I've had some of the biggest laughs of my life when a session takes an unexpected turn.
Sometimes I do jokes about kinkiness, queerness, or trans experiences in my performance. For a long time, I've wanted my performances to steer away from shame, oppression, and frustration, and talk about marginalised lives from the point of view of the absurd. A lot of what I talk about is just being queer, or being a man - but it's from a trans perspective, so different absurdities come out.
I've performed all around the Nordics as well as in Germany, Canada, and as far as Singapore, always doing queer trans material, and it's really stuff that cis people need to be educated on; they need to hear it. But I think a lot of folks find my "education" a little easier to take, since I'm coming at the whole phenomenon from a place of laughter. So they don't feel so bad about not knowing something, or finding something unfamiliar.

It is Europride in Sweden this year and it will come more international visitors than usual. How do you feel about that?
Perfect - I'm dreadfully international myself! I will fit in very well. Sweden is a great host country for pride - I've been to Stockholm Pride a few times as a visitor.

How was your own interest for fetishism/BDSM born?
No idea, really. Oh wait, no - I didn't think I had a connection between intimacy and, well, discomfort or pain, until I saw a dance piece by Felix Ruckert called The Messiah Game, in 2006. It was a piece that used dominance and submission, bondage, and impact play in a way that was entwined with the ways professional dancers relate to their bodies; constantly challenging them, seeking sensation and limits. There was no "obvious" BDSM in the costumes or anything, but watching that piece I felt like I understood the connection all of a sudden. It was riveting, beautiful, sensual, sexy.

Do you have any particular found memory that you would like to share?
I have a particularly good story about a spreader bar and a kitchen incident, but you'll just have to hear it live.

When it isn't Kinkykvarter in Pride Park, where do you usually "hang out" then?
At comedy clubs in Helsinki or elsewhere; lately also I've been enjoying Helsinki's "Rebels" nights at our gay club, DTM.

Where can one find you online?
Follow me for trans activism and silly jokes on Twitter and Instagram: @happeningfish

The Kinkykvarteret editors thanks James for the nice chat and we can't wait to attend the opening performance that will start four days of kinkiness in the Kinky Quarter!



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