Juno Birch is a drag icon from Manchester UK whose make-up style is inspired by The Sims and has become such a statement that other queens have been attempting their own take on it. She is also such a unique character that she’s developed a cult following across social media and in real life.
Juno has also been putting her stamp on the world of The Sims, creating highly entertaining and off-the-wall YouTube videos following their exploits of her creations.
Alongside her drag, Juno is also an accomplished artist and sculptor.
I had the pleasure in sitting down with her to talk about her inspirations and creations!
Robin: Juno, thanks so much for joining me, when did you start doing drag?
I’ve always kind of been doing drag dress up and such ever since I transitioned when I was 14. I’ve constantly played around with the way I dress, but my first live drag performance wasn’t that long ago, it was in December of 2018.
If you have to describe Juno Birch in one sentence, what would it be?
A stunning alien goddess exploring the earth with great confusion and fascination.
Your YouTube channel has become well known for your Sims videos and I’m a huge fan… I might go so far to say they are ‘stunning’! How did that all start?
Well I’ve always played The Sims, it is something I like to play when I need a bit of escapism. But I started to feel guilty of spending too much time playing and not enough on my drag and productivity, so making Sims videos is a stunning way for me to be able to be productive and entertaining whilst feeling my Sims fantasy!
Who are some of your favourite characters you’ve created?
Stunning Pancakes of course! She is absolutely iconic and is based on my stunning self. Joy Despret… dare I say her name… isn’t my favourite but I do take great pleasure in making her life unfortunate.
What inspires your Sims adventures?
Honestly, I’m a big fan of the base game of the Sims 2. They have so many interesting storylines that are already embedded within the game, it’s so weird and wonderful, and I just feel like I fit in so well with it! So I’d say that inspires me, but I also like Tim Burtons old movies and the pastel moments.
What was your favourite game last year?
Probably on the console it was Luigi’s Mansion, I had so much fun playing that. I was also shocked to find out that I made an appearance in the game! There was a character that looked just like me.
What games defined your childhood?
Well I remember crying and throwing the PS2 controller at the wall when I couldn’t complete the troll mission in Lord of the Rings, so that probably wasn’t my favourite!
Sims is something that I always used to play to escape, Sims 2 specifically, I had a pretty stressful childhood before I came out as trans so playing The Sims was a way for me to live out my fantasy and forget about the problems in my life.
It’s amazing how many trans people have used The Sims to explore their identities. Do you play other games besides the Sims? What’s been in your console this past year or two?
Not at the moment, I go through phases of gaming. But some recent console games I’ve been playing are Red Dead Redemption 2, Zelda Breath of the Wild and Batman Arkham games (City being my favourite). I also like buying old games like The Urbz: Sims in the City, The Sims Bustin’ Out, and Cel Damage Overdrive… Cel Damage gives me the chaos I need in my life!
Your makeup style is iconic, where did that come from?
Well I’ve always been a painter and I’ve painted my sculptures that way for a long time, so it’s just sort of worked it’s way onto my face!
The sunglasses is something I’ve loved since I wrote a story about a alien beauty salon and all the characters had 60s oval glasses resembling Grays alien eyes.
What inspires your drag style?
Tim Burton inspires me a lot and also The Sims 2 believe it or not. I also love to look at a lot of old 60s and 70s commercials at the moment.
You could say that your style is similar to cosplay, do you like seeing cosplay queens and who are some of your favourites?
Nina Bo’Nina Brown is absolutely fabulous and also Charity Case is great at costumes and makeup! But I don’t really dress up as other characters very often so I don’t really know that much about cosplay. Maybe I should dress up as Batman or something that would be iconic!
You are also an illustrator and sculptor and have some amazing pieces on your website, what are some of your biggest inspirations for your art?
Tim Burton’s claymation has always inspired my art, and I’ve spent a lot of my life collecting action figures – I have the full Scooby Doo collection! I take a lot of inspiration from my toys around my house.
How have you found the drag world being trans?
When I started performing in the drag scene in Manchester, everyone was so welcoming and nice. The scene in Manchester is also very queer so there isn’t much judgement about gender that I’ve experienced, but I’m usually in a world of my own so I sometimes don’t notice when people disapprove of me or don’t accept me!
On the internet it is a different story though because people seem to assume I’m a man out of drag and call me he and him a lot, I guess that’s because of Drag Race. My pronoun is she and has been since I was 14.
Away from drag, what more do you think the LGBTQ+ community can be doing to support trans folx?
Well I think there could definitely be more inclusivity of trans women who do drag on Drag Race and queer people who perform in general.
Trans people are at a disadvantage in society and I just feel it needs to be brought to attention more. Specifically black trans women, there is a fund raiser running at the moment which people can donate to which helps homeless black trans people.
What does the future hold for Juno?
Well I’m hoping I will be getting on stage more! Since the Coronavirus lockdown happened, I’ve been missing the stage so much and just can’t wait to get back to entertaining a live crowd with alcoholic beverages, lights, smoke and curtains! I’d also like to learn Japanese.
For now though, it’s more videos I guess! I never plan things in advance as I usually like to do things in the moment, so just more videos of different stupid things!