A conversation with Pvssy divx, Honey Vergony and Ixjona_tamara, who arrived in Berlin in July after being locked for months in Madrid due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As members of the House of TUPAMARAS they are engaged in dancing, choreographing, managing and animating the “Balls”. Besides this project they also perform solo as contemporary dancers.
man*Check, The Pink Post & LoveLazers speak with them about lockdown in Madrid, sexdates and new experiences of being high in the gay queer scenes.
Alejandro: You consider yourselves as gender fluid and non-binary. Would you consider yourself as part of a community? If so, then which one?
Pvssy divx: Of the sexual dissidents, of the outsiders, of the trans people, of the faggots, of the precarized …
Honey Vergony: Categorizing ourselves into one community is complicated, because we always cooperate with so many collectives, many different artists.
Ixjona_tamara: Within the collective we have acquired a very strong bodywork, which deals with sexual dissent, breaking the binarism that exists in our bodies and in our aesthetics. In Bogotá we work with different groups, with everything concerning the dissident queer community, with trans people, non-binaries and queers. We are artistically and politically related to them.
Alejandro: And how did quarantine affect the communities that you are active in?
Honey Vergony: It concerns us economically, because we work mostly in the artistic, cultural and party environment. Now the parties are over. There are no places to meet anymore. In places like Bogotá this is especially true. The communities are really having a bad time, because right now they have to organize themselves differently to receive aid, money. The Trans Community Network (Red Comunitaria Trans), for instance, has organized itself in an incredible way to support the community. It provides food to prostitute girls and transsexuals who cannot work and earn money. So, I think it has greatly affected our way of making money.
Pvssy divx: Yes, our dynamics have also changed. We worked at parties, in open spaces and also on the street or in nightclubs. Now we have to look for other ways to provide for ourselves. We connect with social organisations that provide food and economic support. When we were stuck for three months in Madrid, we joined a migrants group. I think our migrant allies were a great support for us because they linked us to projects they have already been working on. We could connect to local artists and with latin migrant sisters.
Alejandro: Has there been solidarity within your communities or have you only felt individualism?
Honey Vergony: Solidarity came mostly from the Sudaka people, especially from the racialised. We were closer to them than, lets say, to the …
Ixjona_tamara: … gays of Madrid, like these queer circles in Madrid. We were more into the Latino immigrant community, which is also organized bearing in mind that they are fags, but also migrants, racialized and do not have the same spaces that Madrid white queers have. So there is a support network among all of them.
Alejandro: So the racial component, so to speak, has been more important to you than the sexual component for building community?
Ixjona_tamara: I feel that it has to do with both, because they are just like people or collectives that unite on the basis of sexual dissidence. But they also have a reality of being migrants, which is the basis for self-managing and creating support networks … For example, we were working with Mama Lynch, a girl who does performance activism and had a project about sexual dissidence within the group of the excluded. She also had a project of exiled people with the Reina Sofía and it deals exactly with these two things: exile and sexuality. So, you work in those two areas. But I felt more support from the migrant community.
Honey Vergony: Yes, from excluded people, who also do not fit into these stereotypes. Because those gay circles present themselves as super open and inclusive but actually they do not include everyone. So, people feel excluded, want to do their own things and so they start to create their own support networks. For example, if someone new arrives, everyone starts working on finding them a place to stay. And it’s not about giving a handout either. It is simply a help that is born from the fact that we come from the same place. And not only that, it’s because we’re human beings and we want to help each other get well. That’s how I felt about the groups over there. The people we get to know are racialized and the queer patch is also different from the queer white fag.
Alejandro: What could have been done better, both by the communities which you feel supported by and by the other communities that you do not feel so supported by?
Ixjona_tamara: Well, I don’t know. There are two different sides and each one is pointing at different things. White queers and racialized queers are moving in very different contexts. So, I couldn’t say what the white queers could have done better, because I’m not that interested, you know? I’m not interested in those groups, because they just lean on each other and just look for a common good for a sector that’s white, maybe privileged.
I am more interested in thinking about what we did and what we could have done with the racialized communities. Because they have to cope with more difficulties and I feel that if something could have been done better, it would be looking for more support or places where you could get support and help for these specific communities. The white queer scene, where I feel a bit excluded, is not a space where we can work. So, what the queer white community does and how it organizes is its own problem. The best thing would be to break down those barriers and help somebody regardless of their origin. If you are a white queer, who lives in Madrid, you have privilege and support. You should admit this to yourself and that you could, without any problem, use it to help another queer from somewhere else – and doing so without expecting anything in return.
Honey Vergony: Yes, exactly, as it also feels like “Oh well, I’ll help you and we’ll take a picture for Instagram” to say that “We want to show everyone that I’m helping you” thing. It’s like … “Girl, please!”.
Alejandro: Did quarantine change the number of people you were in contact with?
Ixjona_tamara: Yes, we were in contact with several people. When we arrived in Madrid we began to socialize. In the time of strictest confinement, we were locked up without any contact with anyone and then, when the lockdown loosed up, we began to go out. We met Mama Lynch and discovered a space called Nigredo, where we met more activists, like-minded people and their friends – usually Latino and some Spanish. We would go to the park or for a drink. We got together and kept on meeting people – also via Grindr. One started to get by.
Alejandro: Has the virtual been more important than the physical sphere during the quarantine?
Honey Vergony: Yes, of course, because we were still very locked in. And we didn’t know Madrid.
Pvssy divx: Actually, we met Mama Lynch through a boy I knew from Grindr. So yes. In fact, Grindr had information on how to access food aid or registration to a social service that Madrid offers. We even made a contact to get tested for HIV, hepatitis… Grindr connects a lot and during the lockdown it was very useful.
Alejandro: So, through Grindr you got access to tests on sexually transmitted infections (STI) …
Honey Vergony: Yes, a profile said it offered that service for free – no matter what papers you had or hadn’t. Just your passport and that’s it.
Pvssy divx: In fact you could give any name for these tests on hepatitis C, syphilis and HIV – free of charge. And they allow you to get tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B somewhere else. So let’s say the Madrid health system is cool.
Alejandro: Did you get tested then?
Honey Vergony: Yes. You had to fill out a very long form about the drugs you had taken – and many drugs I did for the first time, in Madrid! “Well, yes, I took that one, this one too …” The list increased more and more. (all laughing)
Ixjona_tamara: But the experience was calm, it was like on my own. They gave us all the information we needed. Also a box of condoms. Yes, that was a quiet and relaxing process.
Alejandro: Has quarantine changed your way of socializing?
Honey Vergony: Well, everything has changed a lot, because we are from Colombia. It was like doing new things. Well, I was more active because of Grindr. In Bogotá I hardly ever use it. I didn’t even know how it looked like. I started to use it more here.
Pvssy divx: The first month of quarantine was super strong because we could only talk between the three of us and on platforms like Grindr, Wapo, Tinder, Scruff … Somehow they’d allow you secrecy around your conversations. Then, they would also filter your dates or give you just a moment to talk to someone else. Then you realized that the other person was the same or in a worse situation than you, super bored and so on … So yes, I use these platforms a lot now.
Alejandro: And before you didn’t?
Pvssy divx: Well, in Colombia it was very easy without, you just go to a bar and pick up guys there.
Alejandro: Did you have a partner before the pandemic, or a stable relationship?
Honey Vergony: We have been working with the Tupamaras for three years. We are together all the time. So this is the relationship we left behind when the three of us decided to leave Colombia.
Alejandro: Not an affectionate couple, or a stable one, but you had sexual intercourse during the quarantine. How has your sexual life been affected during quarantine? How have you felt during these sexual encounters? Have you had some anxiety because of the C19 virus?
Pvssy divx: Yes, there was a lot of fear about meeting another body. Let’s just say it was the basic precautions, like wearing gloves and masks that scared me. But I also felt pressure because of police repression, quarantine measures, etc. If I wanted to go out on the street I had to go with my shopping bag, carrying food with me. And also the meetings were very ephemeral. I suck, I penetrate and bye. 10 or 20 minutes. It was basic and boring.
Alejandro: Was that because of the quarantine?
Honey Vergony: I think it has to do with it a lot, but it also has to do with what sex is like in Madrid. Well, there are many binarisms, especially in sexual encounters.
Alejandro: Do you see a big difference between how sex is in Spain and Colombia?
Honey Vergony: Yes.
Alejandro: Yes? And that it’s totally independent of quarantine?
Honey Vergony: I think so. It’ s more like chemsex meetings, it’s different. In Colombia it’s not like that, right?
Pvssy divx: Right, it’s not that common. Most people had nothing else to do in quarantine: invite a couple of friends and get high. Some of those encounters were super odd. I couldn’t connect very well, because they were all very stoned, their dicks didn’t get hard or they got in a state of fear to get over.
Honey Vergony: And then it was as if I started to question the pleasure a bit. Like this is not pleasant for me, because sex suddenly seems to be something else. I like to get high and I think everything is cool. But I also think that when the boys are already so odd, so drugged up … It’s like nothing’s happening. It doesn’t even influence sexual energy. It’s very weird, but well, it’s like seeing new things. At the beginning of the quarantine we were very horny.
Ixjona_tamara: We were locked up for a long time and we had a high expectation about the sex life in Madrid: much more open, dirtier, more hardcore. And then we started going out. I felt that just like me, the other person wanted to fuck. It had been a long time since the last contact with another body, so I wanted to enjoy it. And the first days of loosening the restrictions, I became more calm because it was allowed to go out. Meetings were more intimate and intense. But then I felt that everything returned to normal. I started with all these drugs that I had not tried in Colombia. I started to try them in Madrid.
Ixjona_tamara: Like Mephedrone, Speed, G: other ways to enjoy sex. It is different in Colombia, because the encounters are more sporadic there and do not revolve so much around the substances. But in Madrid there were moments in which you could stay for a long time, a whole night, a whole day in one place, with people, sniffing, consuming things and not all the time fucking, going through other states. That was something new, these exposures, those ways of interacting sexually with other bodies. – Why not? Well, in Colombia it was not so often. But later it returned to normal: groups, dates and cruising as well, which happens a lot in the street, in the parks, it was like a form of satisfaction.
Alejandro: So do you see the use of substances related to quarantine or is it totally independent?
Honey Vergony: I think you can see it a lot.
Ixjona_tamara: I think it was already happening before. It was weird, because guys said that they only want to fuck with drugs. If there are no drugs involved they can’t. Where we come from you get horny, you fuck, maybe not as long as here, but you don’t need a substance to prolonge it, to create an atmosphere. But here I feel that they depended a lot on certain drugs.
Honey Vergony: It’s just the mixture of so many substances … They start to take Mephedrone, they take a Viagra to get a hard-on, and then they start to sniff Poppers. Then many things start to happen at the same time. And then another Viagra. I was once with a guy, it was very good and he sniffed poppers, but a lot, and from one moment to the next, I don’t know, he turned pale, and I was very scared. I thought, “Is he going to die?”
Alejandro: So you consumed less before quarantine?
Honey Vergony: Well, in Colombia we use other drugs. I personally like coca better. I like Poppers, but not for partying. I like a joint, a bit of Ecstasy … (laughs) But I don’t find the drugs here unpleasant. What I don’t like is that feeling that I’m going to fuck. So, if I do mephedrone then I won’t get a hard-on and I have to take a Viagra. I don’t think I want to do that, so I’d rather fuck for a while and then decide if I’m going to get high.
Alejandro: So the relationship with substances was less sexual before quarantine?
Ixjona_tamara: Yes, it was more of a party thing.
Alejandro: More recreational, so to speak.
Honey Vergony: Right, they weren’t indispensable for sex.
Alejandro: And now?
Ixjona_tamara: In fact, since we arrived in Berlin we haven’t fucked on so many drugs. We fucked more open air in nature. We still have pleasure. In my case, it’s no problem not to have drugs.
Pvssy divx: In Spain I felt like there was a pressure on consumption, too. There was this idea that I have to be ultra high to get fucked, to feel great, otherwise it didn’t work. In fact, when I got there and I didn’t want to get high, I just wanted to fuck, I felt pressure: “Why don’t you get a little high?” Mephedrone or Speed lower my libido a bit, I get into a state of inactivity, and I don’t like it that much.
Honey Vergony: I think we were in transit, experimenting, getting to know new things.
Alejandro: You wanted to meet boys, so maybe you said “wow! I know that what I’m doing may not be totally responsible with the quarantine, but I want to do it”. Have you had these conflicts with yourselves?
Pvssy divx: I’ve felt a bit attracted to it, the illegality; the illegal and clandestine sex. I really got into going out alone,at midnight without seeing anyone or being seen. Clearly we set a couple of rules where we lived during the peak time of the pandemic when the mortality rate was very high. For that month and a half we all agreed that if any of us went out and fucked with someone, she couldn’t return to our place.
Ixjona_tamara: One getting exposed is like the three of us being exposed. We decided to stay quiet at home until we could go out. I also felt there was a lot of fear around. A general fear was developed around relationships, police actions, the news … At that point I did understand the seriousness of the situation but also felt this fear as a form of domination.
Later, after the loosening of the restrictions, during the second phase, you could go to bars and terraces. I asked myself about the people being exposed there, at these places: Do they really care? – Then, what’s the matter about meeting another boy?
Alejandro: At this point you decided to end your lockdown?
Ixjona_tamara: The first thing was not being afraid, we didn’t know anyone there so we were willing to meet people. We decided not to be afraid and took some risks.
Pvssy divx: Like “I risk my life for a good fuck”. (Editor’s note: quoted from chapter 7 of the “BE A LOVELAZER” declaration 2019)
Alejandro: The use of new substances, the impossibility of meeting people, the recent fetishization of the pandemic – In terms of mental health: Do you feel better or worse than before quarantine?
Honey Vergony: The Lockdown ‘withdrawal symptoms’ were extremely hard, because we interact a lot with others, when we party, perform and in everything we usually do. Arriving in a city we didn’t know and being locked up was tough! Personally I was isolated, we were living in the same space, but everyone owned a part of it. Some days we didn’t talk and some days we didn’t see each other at all. I didn’t experience depression, but I missed a lot of things! I felt that the situation was never going to stop. I felt like… ‘Bitch! What am I going to do with my life?’ Sometimes I wanted to do something, like work out or move, but it simply didn’t happen. Creatively I was stuck. I started reading and watching movies to distract myself from the boredom of living under the lock down.
Ixjona_tamara: I went through several small crises precisely due to being locked up; I felt I was losing my time. We had a lot of plans and we couldn’t do much. Our visa time was running out and it was frustrating to be tied down. Economy issues were always tough: we couldn’t work, but we needed to pay for housing, food and basic stuff. There were pressures at the moment but we managed to find a way to solve them. We stayed in a big place, we were able to be together, to play music and have a drink, but also we could be alone by choice, so that was cool. At least we knew each other, we could fight and chill, but that was ok… not too toxic.
Pvssy divx: I did go through anxiety moments, a lot of anxiety that I coped with through food, eating like a pig – but I was also training a lot. I was pissed about being in one of the most architecturally beautiful cities of the world and not being able to explore it, meet people, network etc. I also believe this anxiety happened, because we didn’t have weed, a month and a half without a single gram of weed, that was like… fuck! I needed to replace that with something else, like training, creating and making things but there were some introspective moments that led me to think about the life I was living and I was also very productive by thinking about surviving: making calls, sending mails, reaching institutions. That was positive too.
The most negative thing I felt was getting used to being isolated. Whenever I went out, I wanted to return to lay in my bed after half an hour outside. There were weird dynamics with others on the streets, distance, no visual contact because of fear. When we had sex again it was also weird. Physical contact was OK and I think drugs made it easier, but the sex was way too genital, no tantra, no skin connection. Sucking, fucking, cumming and that was it.
Alejandro: … consumption of bodies instead of drugs …
Pvssy divx: It’s just masturbation with some help from another body. It was satisfying, but I usually ended up doing Grindr again and again. I could have sex four or five times a day for six or seven hours … It was way too excessive!
Alejandro: Did any new perspectives emerge in these times of being locked down?
Pvssy divx: Being able to get close to politicized people that are aware of their context and the existing struggles. For example, I realized there is a strong search within the migrant community to occupy spaces that are not usually meant to be taken by them. But then, in order to get “citizenship papers” you need to marry someone or to ask for political asylum. Let’s say the spectrum regarding migration and minority matters opened a lot to me. That was positive.
Ixjona_tamara: Well, a good thing about all this was the change of our plans. What we did after the shitty state of emergency was actually better than our original plans. We got to know many more people and we gave ourselves the opportunity to be more open and to follow chances. A positive thing was that being locked up here is better than in Bogotá. Here we could access social services to get food. In Bogotá, without any job, I wouldn’t have been able to afford a place to live or even food. So, what I experienced here was not as tough as what I would have had to endure there. Everything is being mediated by a call, especially parties. Watching parties streamed online. It doesn’t make sense to me. After all, you are on your own, alone, connected through a screen, it doesn’t feel like a real interaction, it just doesn’t feel like reality to me.
 Sudaka: originally a derogatory term in Spanish for immigrants from South America, today also used as a proud self-designation.
© ThePinkPost, man*Check & LoveLazers, Aug 2020.
All rights of the texts are reserved by the interviewer and the interviewed persons. The text represents the opinion of the participants and not of publishers.
Photo: „Madrid 2020, I – III“, Collage by Diashi. Based on the private photo library and instagram pictures of the interviewed persons.
Interview: Alejandro (The Pink Post); Transcription and Translations: Fabián, Alejandro, Jan, Cristian, Julián, Falk, Christian, Simon, Sergio, Iván, Schexi.