4 min

Gay Astro Boy

Preston Buffalo's a fashion-forward club kid

HIP CABARET. Preston Buffalo is an acclaimed hair stylist by day before transforming into Priska for Tranarexia at night. Credit: Kevin Teneycke

If you have seen Preston Buffalo or his alter ego, Priska, you might have mistaken him for Astro Boy or Kelly Osborne. But do not be mistaken, for this is Vancouver’s reigning fashion-forward club kid. Preston is also one of the city’s top hair stylists and is getting lots of press to prove it! He also comes from a gay-positive and supportive family.

Michael Venus: What keeps your days and night busy? And who the hell are you?

Preston Buffalo: Well my name is Preston and I work at Axis salon and I’ve now started to teach there as well after four years of being there. I cut and colour. We are all generalists there, we do it all … no perms! Vancouver Fashion magazine recently wrote me up for being very skilled with Asian hair; that was cool. Jovainka and I also started Tranarexia which we do once a month. Tranarexia is cabaret, not really traditional drag with feather boas and tiaras. It is a drag thing bit with more modern performers. We do them now once a month at Milk Bar in Gastown. I also like to go out a lot.

MV: You, being as colorful as you are, also have an even more flashy alter ego named Priska. Tell us about her!

PB: She is from the small fishing village of Nanaimo and she doesn’t perform, at least not yet. She is more of a personality. She is pretty much how I would look and be if I were a girl. The styles are actually pretty close to what I wear as a boy, just more make-up. Lately she gets compared to Kelly Osborne, unfortunately! Actually, she’s okay but I’m not her.

I’ve been using my own hair lately and I would have to say my look is kinda goth-ey, lots of black.

MV: What was it like growing up in Nanaimo as such a flamer?

PB: It wasn’t that bad, even though I was pretty much the only out gay person in high school, this particular school being the most redneck of them all. My teachers were all over that; they would say I taught them so much. The worst was walking home from school everyday. The trip home was filled with loggers and hicks yelling stuff. I spent most of my time hanging out in the art room and stuff like that. I started going to Neighbours Lounge when I was 16 (until they ID’d me and I got the boot). It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall-the ceiling is about six-foot-two, and the dance floor is a piece of plywood nailed to the floor! The last time I was there, they put in a stripper pole. Every time I’m back home we go back there. The people there either look like they work at the pulp mill or they’re 19. There is no in-between.

MV: Your mother has some involvement in the drag community as well. Tell our fabulous readers and me about that.

PB: She is an anthropology student and she is doing a study on the drag culture in Vancouver, but more on The Dogwood Monarchist Society kind of drag. They had to study a sub-culture so she wanted to do drag since I was interested in it. So I introduced here to some of the girls and then she would come to Vancouver every weekend for almost a year interviewing people and going to the clubs.

MV: You obviously have a ton of support.

PB: Yes, but it’s not always fun having your mother at the same bar as you (laughing). I’m just kidding: it’s great! She bought me my first pan stick. I also have a lesbian sister, Jessica. I’m pretty lucky, although some of my family thinks it’s unfortunate; but we’re all happy out here. I never had to sit my mom down and come out; it was always casual when I would go to Neighbours and stuff. I really never had to do the whole ‘I’m gay’ thing. My brother and sister will compare girls together and in high school they actually dated the same girl! My mom found out first, I guess, when I was 14.

MV: What do you mean? How did she find out? I don’t understand?

PB: (Laughing) I was going to a boarding school at the time and I was failing math and we had to write an exam. I didn’t know the answers, so instead I wrote a dream I had the night before about my math teacher. When the time was up, I forgot the piece of paper on the desk and he collected it. So we went home from summer break and she got a phone call from the school telling her about the letter or as they put it “the fantasy.” She freaked out at the school for invading my privacy and told them she didn’t care.

MV: Well, then, when did you have your first homosexual skin-on-skin experience with another male species?

PB: When I was 15.

MV: And …

PB: It was good (tongue tied). Nothing too dirty happened; it was pretty innocent! My mom is going to read this you know (laughing)! It was in Edmonton and I met him when I lived there. That’s originally where we are from and the rest of my family lives there.

MV: What nationality are you?

PB: I’m part Native and part Caucasian (Welsh). My friend Sugar, who is also Native, loves to go to the Dufferin and pretend we’re representing (giggling).

MV: Urban myth or fact? Native dudes, like black men, are said to be hugely endowed; is it fact or fiction?

PB: There is only one way to find out! Remind me to include my mailbox number!

MV: What is your favourite position? Or scene?

PB: I like being aggressive. I don’t like wishy washy; just go for it! I don’t like a gingerly soft touch.