With Hallow’s Eve just around the corner, it's time to bring out the ghosts and ghouls that make the celebration fun. But drag performer, Hollow Eve, takes it a step further and leaves a crowd at the edge of their seat. Hollow pushes the limits of what their body can do.
They pierce their skin with needles, dance with live bugs all over their body, and perform with their mouth sewn shut. Their extreme acts got them the opportunity to compete on Dragula season three.
It’s a pretty lit night here at Beaux, a dance night club in the Castro. Tonight I’m planning on hanging out with friends, getting a few drinks, and watching a drag show. The drag performers go on stage one at a time and do whatever they can to entertain the audience. They’re lip-syncing while doing splits and grabbing dollar bills from the crowd. Then onto the headliner. The hostess introduces the next act, “We have one of the cast members from season three joining us, San Francisco’s very own, I’m obsessed, it’s Hollow Eve.”
Hollow Eve gets on stage wearing a black top and loose bottoms with black and green makeup around their eyes and lips. Their mouth is sewn shut by string, but loose enough to lip-sync to the song. Their hat has three syringes sticking out of it and four needles pierced through their forehead. The crowd is cheering and living for the performance. Then, in an unexpected moment, Hollow grabs a syringe from their hat and sticks it through their cheek and ejects some liquid from their mouth.
I’m in total shock, but I cannot take my eyes off what is happening. As the number goes on, Hollow ejects the rest of the needles into their cheeks. The crowd is in awe, but Hollow doesn’t seem to flinch from the pain. They look fearless and comfortable being on stage. San Francisco is after all where it all started.
“It was the early 2000s. I was going to San Francisco State University. My friend asked me if I wanted to do a drag number with them and that was the beginning. I did a drag number at Trannyshack as Rush Limber. Being in San Francisco for almost 18 years. This drag scene was such an artistic boundary-pushing, life-changing, mind-blowing drag scene. Art makes you throw away your fear. Art that makes you want to challenge your fear. That is San Francisco drag to me. That’s where I was raised in,” says Hollow Eve.
Eventually, from their experience, Hollow Eve came about. The said, “Hollow Eve was born six years ago and I wanted to be able to have a drag identity to be whatever I wanted it to be. A lot of people think of Hollow as negative but I see negative space as an opportunity to fill it. A lot of people talk about Hollow as being vacant or vacuous but I don’t see it like that at all. I see it as an endless opportunity.”
Hollow identifies will all pronouns as long as they’re spoken with respect; but after their experiences on the show, they’ve moved away from using she/her pronouns because of how they are being used more as a slur. But their identity influences their art. “The reason I approach my art with the idea it was post-binary is that my art is about deconstructing more than the gender binary. It’s about asking questions that activate critical thinking. I myself am non-binary and so I wanted to dismantle monarchical structure of king or queen for myself so I was like I’m going to be a drag socialist to give myself the playing field to represent and embody any gender that I choose when performing. So that I can ask all the questions I want to ask in order to deconstruct binary structures in general. And I’m a bit of an anarchist so my art often comes with a total sense of self-destruction,” Hollow explains.
Some of the acts they do are straight out extreme. They stretch their skin, perform with live bugs on their face, dance with candles on their fingers before putting them out with their tongue. Some people might attempt these after having a few shots in them, but Hollow performs them on stage without a second thought and so calmly. Hollow says “I have a very different pain threshold than most people do. Things that most people see as painful are not really painful to me. I generally found that all you have to do is the first time and then you understand yourself. Yeah it’s a fear and some of the stuff I do does seem extreme but once I’ve done it it’s not extreme anymore. I’ve just opened a door and walked through a cage and walked to the other side. I love challenging my fears because it allows me to be myself. To free parts of myself that didn’t allow me to exist.”
And their art and extreme performances got the attention of the Boulet Brothers and a spot on season three of the reality competition show, Dragula. Surprisingly, Hollow was pretty hesitant to be a part of the show, even after auditioning. But after talking with friends they were on board to shake things up. Hollow already knew some of the other cast members but that didn’t take away any of the excitement being on set. “When I looked around the room and it’s such a diverse and interesting cast. There wasn’t even someone I thought I can compare myself to which I think is a really healthy place to come into competition. When you’re so different and you can see the value of the people around you that’s healthier because then you can just make art for yourself. I’m always in it to make my art and I believe that failure is one of the most important things that we can experience in life. And that failure when things don’t execute in the way things occur the way you want them to. It’s nothing but a moment to learn,” Hollow describes being on the show.
And Hollow did have a moment. Hollow does these crazy acts and a lot of people think they’re fearless, but there was a moment that caught them off guard.
“I’m making my entire outfit out of panty liners and tampons and I’m decoding my entire body in a feminist manifesto book called Cunt. I’m really inspired to bring light to what women are made to feel shamed for so I attach two panty liners to each other. The entire look is just an homage to women and putting out there something beautiful at what we’re meant to hide and shame,” Hollow said while on Dragula.
“I did release a public apology as soon as I watched episode five because I connected menstruation to being a woman. I honestly do not identify as a woman, but I think part of my experience being on the show was to be treated as a woman and to be that because I feel like that’s what they needed me to be. I was personally very upset hearing myself, caught myself a woman. It felt like an out of body experience. That was really hard,” Hollow says when recalling that scene.
Hollow ended up placing seventh in the competition, but left with lasting memories and a special bond with the rest of the cast.”I think the most exciting thing about doing Dragula season three is my family and the drag family that has been created and our cast which is super connected. I feel like I can have a relationship with each person that was really lovely on its own,” Hollow recalls working with the rest of the cast.
Ok, back to tonight’s show. It’s almost done. We are all waiting for the finale. After seeing Hollow’s first act, I thought there was no way they could top it. Oh man, was I wrong. To end the night, they come on stage with their breasts pierced and string pulling from the ends of the stage. I’m totally freaking out, but to simply put it this is Hollow Eve in their fullest.