Self-Care is an Exorcism Practice

You’re probably wondering why is someone who is a horror drag queen writing a post about self-care?

Like most people, I’m fucking grieving. Even if I do look great in black clothes. “Thank you.”

The truth is, I’m having a bloody gory time trying to be creative and feel connected. The need to produce, to create, to survive, to feel connected, to make things feel normal – all feel so immediate. I still feel like I’m at the graveyard mourning what has been lost, you know. What ever happened to Rest In Peace?!?!

For the last month, I’ve said “no” to invitations to perform online.  Attaching with it excuses similar to “my dog has died”, as if “I’m not well” wasn’t enough of a reason. But with this reality continuing, I am possessed and I need an exorcism.

This is my story.

Like any successful exorcism, it is a matter of collecting the right tools to do the job. Now put down your holy water, Priest. I can handle this.

I began listening less to the news and social media. I needed to hear something else – I just didn’t know what that was.

Realization #1: I could find ways to still feel like myself. 

I began by going outside or at least opening my windows. Attention! Couples holding hands that never budge on a sidewalk, like cis-heteronormative couples in the village, YOU are all very rude! And bro runners, why are you running towards me?!

Last week, I started wearing my demon mouth mask (yes, you can call me doctor) and I sometimes have a smoker’s cough at just the right time. Since then, couples and bro runners cross the street.

I stopped conversing with my demons and started talking to the trees, the grass, plants and seeds, the land, the sky, the moon, the stars, the wind, and the cloud that looks like a penis head.

I focused only on the sounds. What do I hear?

I began to sense texture.

I could hear the sounds get quieter, louder, closer, more distant.

I could feel the unevenness of the ground.

I even petted a black cat that kept following me, “Good Puss.”

I started connecting to the narrative potential of nature. The stories they hold, the advice I could take, and stories I wanted to tell them.

I told nature about my grief and I received in return,

“I am alive.”

“I am not alone.”

“I am enough.”

“I can hold your grief.”

“I can ask for help.”

“I can bring you life.”

“Your neighbour is a lesbian.”


“There’s a Goblin running up behind you.”

Feeling different, I reached out to friends, chosen-fam, “How are you? Got any scary stories for me?” They always did. I joined friends in online trivia, charades, and dinner dates. I took live virtual tours of places like the National Aquarium in Boston and the Vatican. I felt holier.

Realization #2: I can easily get possessed again.

I joined a queer party online in New York. The drag performances were amazing, but it made me miss what I love most about performing – the experience of instantly connecting to everyone’s energy. I’m a succubus like that, I guess. So, the walls started to crack again, the restraints loosening and my head started spinning.

But like a ‘final girl’ chased by Michael Myers, I was determined to survive. I told myself, “It’s like this right now.” I took my time and performed every task with undivided attention so I wouldn’t think of anything else. I noticed the soapy suds when I did dishes, the mixing of scents when I cooked, I listened to the broom bristles as I swept the floor, and sunk into the comforting warmth when I showered.

I also created an activity to deal with my anxiety.

If Anxiety/Stress were a monster….

What would it look like? How does it move?
It must stink of something. What is it?
How does it’s skin or lack thereof feel?
What are the sounds it would make?
What does it feed on?
Give this monster a name.
Inhale. Exhale.

If you were to fight against it, what would be your weapon?
If you were to defend against it, what would your shield be made of?
Is there a spell or incantation that could drive that monster far away? If so, say it out loud.
Inhale. Exhale.

Realization #3: Connecting to the moment, to others, to myself, helps. 

I’m still possessed. But I’m starting to find more than grief within myself. Casting a similar spell for you, too. My first performance online will be on Saturday, April 25th with New Ho Queen and Club Quarantine. It’s gonna be killer.

Ok Priest, shower me with holy water now. But do it from a 2 metre distance.


Photo of Patrick Salvani/Ms Nookie Galore in Scary Stories People of Colour Tell in the Dark at The Rhubarb Festival 2020. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Patrick Salvani

Having been raised to fear everything, Patrick Salvani/ Ms. Nookie Galore has an un/comfortable relationship with stories that haunt us. Their art has been spotlighted in CBC, showcased at the AGO, ROM, Rhubarb Festival 2017 & 2020, and published in the book “Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries.”

Read all posts by Patrick Salvani