The end of an era for Titti von Tramp: Gay icon's retirement
It's the end of an era for Northern Ireland’s gay and alternative scene as the Queen of Drag, Baronness Titti von Tramp has announced her retirement.
Last weekend the leggy blonde icon hung up her wig for last time as Titti's creator Robert McCready, 41, prepared for a new beginning.
In the early 90s a young 20-year-old Robert visited his cousin in Birmingham for a weekend and after a fateful job interview stayed in the city for over seven years and the legendary Titti von Tramp was born.
Robert said: “I only went to Birmingham for the weekend but as I was walking past Top Shop I seen they were looking for staff and on the spur of the moment I went in and asked for an application form.
“They interviewed me there and then and asked me when I could start, so I said ‘a week'.
“While I was working in Top Shop one of my colleagues worked for the super club Miss Moneypennys and they were looking for new drag acts.
“I had nothing to lose so I gave her a picture and they tried me for a week and I was there for over six years. Since then I have worked everywhere from Northern Ireland and England to Ibiza, Switzerland and even Beirut.”
Over the years Titti's creator Robert used his alter-ego to help highlight many issues surrounding gay rights.
But despite being considered as an icon of the gay and alternative scene in Belfast, Robert is modest about the impact his character has had.
As time passed it was believed Titti von Tramp paved the way for other drag acts and made it acceptable for many young people hoping to enter the drag queen scene.
Having led Belfast’s Gay Pride many times over the years as well as launching numerous club nights and events Robert takes his ‘Northern Ireland's Queen of Drag' title with a pinch of salt.
He said: “I am just who I am, I try to use my voice in positive ways which benefits the gay community.
“My friends and family were always really supportive of me. My parents are a mixed marriage and got a lot of hassle in 70s which is probably why they are both so understanding and supportive to me in my life.
“The crown is there for whoever wants it, there are some really great drag queens out
there who are special in their own particular ways and as far as I am concerned each and every one of them needs a crown for doing what they do.”
Last Saturday night Robert took to the stage at Belfast club El Divino for the last time as Titti von Tramp to rapturous applause.
Despite being dubbed Northern Ireland's answer to Lily Savage (AKA Paul O'Grady) Robert played the character Titti for 21 years and soon made a name for Titti as one of the UK's most striking drag queens.
Robert said: “I never in my wildest dreams expected to become Titti for 21 years. I suppose I was just in the right place at the right time.
“I remember my first show like it was yesterday, I didn't have time to think as they messed up running order and I was just pushed on.
“My last show was amazing, I ended up crying on stage with a packed out club chanting my name.”
Although Robert gained much recognition and fame as Titti, he admits there were times when he considered giving it all up.
The make up artist by day revealed: “I was lucky in that I don't really have any bad experiences probably because I was on the scene in Belfast for over 15 years but I did consider giving it up once or twice.”
And as Robert begins selling his stash of wigs, costumes and trademark boots, he prepares for a new chapter in his life abroad.
He said: “I'm retiring Titti because I've always said you should quit while you look good and people are laughing with you and not at you.
“I won't be bringing Titti back ever, she's gone now and I will miss her. I am going travelling around the world for 11 months now and I have no plans after that.
“I will miss all the banter and getting served first at bars but I won't miss the shaving, or the sore feet or standing outside in the cold with hardly any clothes on.
“I'm looking forward to the future and I can't wait to not shave my whole body and get hairy.”