Johannesburg

#MyJoburg by ADAM 'The Glamour Clown', drag performer

30 Mar 2023

The best way to get to know Joburg is to hang out with an insider. In our #MyJoburg series, we speak to people that add uniqueness to this city, and get the lowdown from them on what makes Joburg home.

ADAM  or adaammahh (he/she/they) is a drag performer and iconic host whose live performances are a glorious sight to behold. We first encountered adaammah practising a walk in impossible heels outside a venue in Rosebank, and have been fixated on him ever since. 

What inspired you to get into drag performance?  
It feels like a calling. There was always a feeling in me, from the moment that I first saw a drag entertainer on TV, that I could do the same thing and that I could execute the same calibre of Drag as what I saw on TV. It felt really natural!   

Adam Benefeld or adaammahh (he/she/they), drag performer and iconic host.​

How has the drag scene evolved since you first began performing?
The Johannesburg Drag Scene was very limited when I first started performing. We had Beefcakes that, at the time, wasn't hiring a lot of new queens, and Babylon that was very new as the shows there started when I first started hosting Out of Drag in 2019. Since I started drag, my company AT! Media has really pushed the Johannesburg Drag scene and expanded its audience. 

We work unbelievably hard to follow suit under legends like Betty Bangles who have always pushed Drag into spaces that don't traditionally showcase our talents. We have sold out shows at The Maslow Hotel, been booked for huge public-facing corporate shows like the Clicks Beauty Playground, and even managed to be one of the first (if not the first) Drag Queens on 7de Laan. The growth has been beautiful to watch.

Belle of the ball, Betty Bangles.


What is your measure of a “good drag performance”?
I know that I am doing a great job when the tips are flowing, the audience is on their feet, singing along, and forgetting the rest of the world. A good Drag performance sells a fantasy, and when people get lost in that fantasy it doesn't only give them a serotonin boost – it almost always pushes performers to be even better.
Drag performance really feeds off of its audience, and I think that the best performers know how to work their audiences, no matter what number they're performing.

Name three accessories you think every drag performer should have in their wardrobe?
Earrings (please wear earrings. Please.) Rhinestones for your makeup. And a card payment processor.   

What brought you to Joburg or what makes you stay here?
I was born here! I have always loved Joburg - I think that, apart from naturally wanting to stay where I am most comfortable, I think that Joburg has so much soul. I LOVE my city and its thin air.    

What motivates you to perform?
It feels super natural to me! I have always been a performer.

What drives your love for drag performance?

I really feel like it is a calling, and I answer the phone every time.    

Home is... where my peace is. There are many people and places that I am grateful to call home.

Your favourite Joburg suburb, and why you choose it? 
Linden has a special place in my heart because it's where I spent my late teens, and it was the first suburb that I ever lived in away from home. I made some of the most beautiful memories in Linden, and I still frequent it all the time. It's beautiful.

What three things should a visitor not leave Joburg without seeing or experiencing? 
Drag Brunch at A Streetbar Named Desire, a VNJ Ball, and a meal at The Shortmarket Club

A Streetbar Named Desire is a great place to catch the sunset.

What’s the one thing no one would expect to hear about Joburg?   
The Queer community here is enormous. I think Cape Town has a big reputation for having a large gay male community, but a big part of the soul that makes Johannesburg is our queer community. We have a lot more integration of different gender expressions and sexual identities that I really love being immersed in. Also, our ball culture is leaps and bounds above any other South African space I've seen.
 
The most underrated Joburg sight or experience?  
Melville can be really beautiful during the day.
 
Favourite restaurant or cafe, and why?
My favorite restaurant is The Whippet in Linden. That team has that space on lock, and it shows in the quality of service and the quality of the food.

The Whippet in Linden, the place to be seen (try the burger sliders!)

The most memorable meal you have eaten in Joburg?    
Definitely a tie between the T-Bone from The Shortmarket Club and the Paella from Ethos right next door.

If you could buy one Joburg building which would it be?    
The one where I could most lucratively be a landlord.

Favourite way to spend a weekend in Joburg?  
When I'm not working (which is very rare) I am usually in rave spaces. I don't think that many people know this about me, but I am a huge fan of techno and I love AND club and the team that runs it too. Really stellar people.

On a weekend in Joburg you’ll find me ….    
Working, partying, or both. Usually both.
 
What makes someone a Joburger?  
Their compulsion to recommend going to Pantry even though it's too expensive. 

What do you love most about Joburg?  

Pantry.
Just kidding, I love the queer scene in Joburg more than anything else. 

What do you least like about Joburg?  

Pantry.
Just kidding, I'm not a big fan of the nightlife scene in Fourways. 

Pantry, the best 24-hour grocery, patisserie, ice cream, pizza and coffee spot.

Your number one tip for a first-time visitor to Joburg? 
Get a plan beforehand. Joburg is quite big and trying to come up with an itinerary once you're already here might mean missing out on something that was actually really worthwhile.
   
What's happening in Joburg right now that you think everyone should know about?

DRAG SHOWS! We have Drag Brunches and Quiz Nights all the time! The Drag revolution is in full swing, and one would be remiss to avoid showing up.
          

Three words that describe this city     
High-end. Fast-paced. Elevated.          

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