Greetings readers I am Tom Barrie, a trained actor, event host, Drag Queen, and a wedding celebrant. Never one to take the easy route in my career, it has often been through my own volition that some of the best opportunities have come my way. One of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made happened in 2016. At the ripe old age of 50, a move from a fantastic job, home, great set of friends to Liverpool, the birthplace of my partner of 20 years+
During my ‘settling in period’, I was asked by my best friends son to perform a wedding ceremony for him and his long term girlfriend. Having known him since he was 12, I was both honoured. Delighted and excited to say ‘yes’.
Tom Barrie, Wedding Celebrant
Then the reality set in, what the actual….! This was nothing I’d ever considered but, biting the proverbial bullet and not wanting to let the side down on the big day, I decided to go the proper route and train to be a celebrant. Thankfully I was given the gift of Ellie Farrell to be my trainer and mentor, and it was great to get the creative writing cranny of my brain dusted and back in working action too!
Slowly but surely, the great day arrives and. Despite indecisive weather, the wedding was a huge hit, and I had an absolute ball.
A Drag Queen is Born
A couple of years later, and now with several wedding under my belt I was thrown the curviest of curve balls when asked to host a family friendly drag show in Liverpool. This was for one of the most iconic buildings in the city, the Cunard Building. Alongside the Port Offices and the world famous Liver Building; collectively known as ‘The Three Graces’.
Once again, and probably with the person who offered me the opportunity being unable to finish their entire sentence, I’d said ‘yes’ and was already considering what I should wear! Hosting events was second nature to me, but having proclaimed that I should do this specific event in drag, I was now committed and expected to deliver!
The venue was vast and thankfully all forward planning was coming together, with interest in the event encouragingly huge. The city hadn’t had an all inclusive drag event like this, and apart from what I do now, still may not have.
Come the day, there I am, new to drag, head to toe in Primark with the biggest, sparkly sunglasses on. A bit of foundation, lippy and a generous dollop of blusher! I’m stood waiting, (in shoes that are already pinching after 5 minutes), for the 4 professional Drag Queens I’ve booked to entertain the masses. The doors open, and what I still envisage was a big, rainbow coloured cloud; the girls have arrived! Each one a stunner and making me feel like their over made up and inappropriately dressed Grandmother.
That feeling soon subsided and I was ‘one of the girls’, and what a day! I genuinely can’t remember having so much fun and despite every part of me aching, I knew right away, there, and then, I’d be a fool not to do it again. However, if I was going to do this again, I needed to step up my game big style, and that’s exactly what I did!
When a gay man has WAY too much fashion sense for one gender, he is a Drag Queen.
Ms Noxema Jackson: Too Wong Foo
Over the coming months I worked on a name and style. Drawing on my professional training as an actor an identity to the Drag performer I become was created. ‘A star is born’, a Dame is recognised. Dame Fanny De Faux had arrived!
In recent years I have been in a fortunate position to have more of a choice in what engagements I accept as Tom, and what ones I accept as Dame Fanny. If they aren’t appealing to either, I don’t do it.
Dame Fanny De Faux, From Debutante to Celebrant(e)
Having only recently leading ceremonies as a male celebrant, I wondered if there would be any interest in leading a wedding ceremony as a 6ft5 (in heels) Drag Queen? The answer to my questioning thought was soon apparent when I was asked to attend an alternative wedding fair as Dame Fanny, and I received my first wedding booking for the Dame. Wedding date booked; work begins on writing the ceremony then covid strikes!
3 years and 3 different locations later and the wedding went ahead in Brighton. It was such fun for all involved/ Only the Bride and Groom knew that I would be in attendance, and we are still friends too. As a celebrant, the process of gathering personal information about those we are writing a ceremony for let’s us into some of the more intimate memories and feelings.
As I write this, I am preparing for another Drag wedding in a few weeks’ time, with two more booked for this year. Dame Fanny will also be hosting various other events this year. Drag is pure escapism for me but when I am in celebrant mode as Dame Fanny, my professional acting training and writing skills come together with my event hosting. A celebrant is much more than a reader, a celebrant is a storyteller who needs to hold the attention of those present for the sake of those the ceremony is for. Tom or Dame Fanny, professionalism and laughter are guaranteed.
I am so glad I said ‘yes’ to hosting that event in Drag as not only has my life changed, but I have also been able to provide others with a lasting memory of a special moment.
If you would like to book either Tom or Dame Fanny to host an event, or create and lead a wedding ceremony for you, they can be found here: https://www.ukweddingcelebrant.co.uk/. Follow Dame Fanny on Instagram