Creature Feature: Femmale Fatale, An Interview with Sophia Scott

Posted June 4, 2013 in
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Sophia Scott's outfits are almost always a blend of masculine and feminine elements. Lace is the feminine element of the day. Photo: Paul Duane

At last week’s Bad Kids Pageant, local performing artist Sophia Scott elegantly dismantled the so-called “gender binary” by showing that femininity is more than just a pronoun, it’s an identity. Amid a group of performers whose goal is stylized femininity, Sophia Scott took to the stage in a suit, which he took off during the performance to reveal a gorgeous black dress, all while singing, rather than syncing. Such an approach straddles the boundary between the masculine and the feminine and across the fields of gender and sexuality to reveal the drag performance that’s lurking behind everyone’s fashion choices. SLUG sat down with Scotty to talk about embracing his “femme-male” identity and about living and performing in Salt Lake City.

Around the age of 5 or 6, Scotty began wearing his mother’s clothing. “I started getting into her clothes at an early age—I’ve always been sort of a different breed,” he says. “My mom didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she had me.” Scotty grew up in Layton in an “anti-religious household,” though he had little support when it came to transgressing gender norms. “She didn’t like me getting into her clothes,” he says, “so it was always wrong to me. As I got older, the desire never went away, so I stole somebody else’s clothes.” In his early teens, Scotty told himself, “I need to learn how to be a boy,” while still being attracted to women. “Growing up, wanting to be a woman, but also liking women was extremely hard and difficult to do,” says Scotty, “because I thought only gay men wanted to dress up like women.” It took over a decade for Scotty to fully embrace the feminine.

“When I first started coming out, I denounced all my masculinity,” Scotty says. “It took me a really long time to accept it, and when I did, I went full-on hardcore to the other side of the spectrum—I spent five, six, seven months dressing in nothing but effeminate clothing, being a girl, using girls restrooms just because it’s my fucking right to do so—that’s the way I lived.” He also forced himself to wear makeup and effeminate clothes. “I started going out to parties and clubs completely feminized, to the best of my ability.” Nowadays, he’s unapologetic—“I deserve to announce myself as a femmale,” that is, a femme-male––basically, a male who expresses societal coding of femininity. “Now you’re catching me at a point where I’ve evened out,” he says. “I’ve totally embraced the fact that I’m a male, even though as much as I want to be a female, it will never be the same because I come from the male side of things—I’m not a girl, I’m a boy that wants to be a girl.”

As Scotty has been dressing up in women’s clothing since his childhood, he doesn’t really consider his stage persona to be much different from his everyday life. “It is stereotypical drag for somebody to have their boy name and then their stage name,” Scotty says. Onstage, the name Sophia Scott is always somewhat of a formality. “I feel like I’m always onstage,” Scotty says. “So, I’m always Sophia Scott.” Whether it’s Scotty J or Sophia Scott, she or he, this lady’s got nothing to hide—expressing the feminine, while remaining biologically male and straight, he brings a unique awareness to Salt Lake’s growing gender-integrated performance scene.

Though its expression is more common than many even within the queer community may realize, femmale identity is often misunderstood. “A lot of people feel that I don’t deserve to be a drag queen because I’m not gay,” says Scotty. Such misconceptions plague most discussions of LGBTQ issues. “Gender and sexuality are two separate things,” he says. The distinction that’s easy to confuse is that gender deals with how you identify and sexuality deals with whom you’re attracted to. “When you distinguish things as gay or straight, you’re creating another gender binary system—if gender’s not binary, neither is your sexuality,” says Scotty. “What’s funny is that it’s nothing new.” He lists a handful of pop culture femmales: Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Eddie Izzard and Axel Rose. “Eddie Izzard performs onstage, in drag—he’s a sweet transvestite, and he’s married to a woman. He’s a very attractive man and woman,” says Scotty. “Even growing up, as much as I wanted to be girl, I still, like the plague, avoided things like men personifying women. I never saw Rocky Horror Picture Show, I was never a fan of David Bowie or Prince or any effeminate males. So I fell into the rock category––Guns & Roses was always my shit.”

He’s performed onstage only a handful of times, once in last year’s Miss City Weekly Pageant and three times now with the Bad Kids. “It’s always a different kind of lineup whenever [the Bad Kids] do something and they don’t give a shit, which is what I like,” says Scotty. Each new performer stands out from the rest in their own way—some embrace the culture of drag, others push its boundaries to bursting. Sophia Scott always brings a rocker’s attitude and passion to her performances. Catch Scotty on stage and you’ll be treated to rockin’ music and gender integrated performance.

Sophia Scott's outfits are almost always a blend of masculine and feminine elements. Lace is the feminine element of the day. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott discusses the finer points of straddling the gender binary over a bowl of chili in his apartment. Photo: Paul Duane A more traditionally feminine trait emerges: stressing over which shoes to wear with which dress. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott's counter full of fragrances knows no gender boundaries. Photo: Paul Duane Breaking from the well established female tradition, Sophia Scott did not ask me if that dress made him look fat. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott's shoe rack. Photo: Paul Duane Having settled on a blouse and skirt, Sophia Scott slides into some tights. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott opts for a decidedly feminine look. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott (R) posing for a photo with Niya Suddarth (L)in the midst of a gender bending shoot. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott has explored the idea of transgender modeling, a path that has yet to gain widespread acceptance in smaller markets. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia Scott on stage during the Bad Kids Pageant at Metro Bar. His performance was particularly interesting because he did not lean on the idea of a man being in a dress. The suit was a perfect expression of the idea that drag is a mindset, not a miniskirt. Photo: Paul Duane Dresses aside, Sophia Scott brings debonair charm, but not without a few subtle feminine elements. Photo: Paul Duane Sophia finishes his performance in the revealed dress. Photo: Paul Duane It's not uncommon to see heads turn as Sophia Scott moves through a room. Photo: Paul Duane It's not uncommon to see Sophia Scott on the dance floor with beautiful girls. He has a complex relationship to the feminine, being a biological man that is attracted to women, but identifies internally as a woman. Photo: Paul Duane