I had but one night in Dublin on my way back from Paris this holiday season, and I wanted to make the most of it, so I stumbled my way over to Pantibar, a lovely little pub near the Temple Bar area of the city. I’d read that the bar was fun and had a young *mixed* crowd which I prefer to an all-male circuit party-like scene, but it was a Monday, so I wasn’t expecting much.
It wasn’t terribly crowded yet, and everyone was sitting around their tables focusing intently on something – not alcohol or conversation – but what looked to be miniature arts and crafts projects. Plasticine, feathers, pipe cleaners, and toothpicks were arrayed across the end of the bar, and people were grabbing these supplies and scurrying back to their tables constructing little figures and sculptures… why? Although I did notice a very attractive drag queen with that charming Irish accent who seemed to be the host of this arts and crafts night, I failed to ask her what exactly was going on and instead just grabbed some supplies and a pint and got to work.
After about half an hour, the drag queen (Panti) called for all the pieces to be delivered to the stage as the competition time limit was up and it was time to be judged! I carried up my weird worm-monster with giant feather ears and put it up on the table alongside a menagerie of colorful creatures and objects of all sorts.
Panti then began picking up the sculptures one by one, examining them closely, commenting on their relation to the theme (which Irish people pronounce like “team”), which was “Your hopes and dreams for the New Year.” Certainly my worm-bird hybrid creature had little to do with this theme, but I stood by and enjoyed every minute of Panti’s banter with each person who created an entry. I thought, wow – what a FUN, POSITIVE, and HILAROUS drag queen is this! And what a great idea for a slow night at a gay bar! During her banter with me, where she picked up on the fact that I had no idea what the “teme” was, I told her my relatives are from County Mayo… and that’s where she’s from, too. I gave her my card at the end of the night.
When I got home, I told my roommate all about it and he immediately knew who Panti was (he lived in Dublin for six months a few years ago), and he was excited that I’d been able to meet her. Then, just two days ago I got an email from her because she’d found my business card in her dressing room and then later, browsing the Interwebs, had discovered my post re: Dame Edna’s new line of MAC Cosmetics makeup!
I wish I’d been able to get some of Panti’s art for the WOW Storefront Gallery art show for RuPaul’s Drag Race. I just didn’t realize how well known Panti is around the world. She’s even included on Wikipedia’s list of famous drag performers. According to Wikipedia:
gay scene and the most influential of all Irish drag queens, Panti
spent several years in Tokyo, (performing as part of double act called
CANDIPANTI), she returned to Ireland in 1996. Panti co-created
(together with Niall Sweeney, Tonie Walsh
and Trish Brennan) and hosted several transgressive and popular
performance based club nights – GAG, POWDERBUBBLE and H.A.M., in turn
spawning sister clubs such as GRISTLE.”
Wikipedia also says “‘Panti’ is believed to be an abbreviation of ‘Pandora Bliss’,” but I bet it’s also a reference to “pantomime,” which is often abbreviated as “panto,” (read the Wikipedia on “pantomime” and I think you’ll agree), not to mention the obvious reference to ladies underpants. ;)
I hope some LA-based drag queen steals Panti’s arts and crafts night idea. I think it could be a big hit for a slow night here in Hollywood!