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  • Henry Longstaff

Wasteman - Assembly Edinburgh Fringe

“There’s glitter in the garbage”

Joe Leather in Wasteman
Photography - Corinne Cumming


During the pandemic Joe Leather was working in refuse collection, navigating the early starts and a lack of direction but clearly, this was not the end goal. After breaking up with his less than supportive boyfriend, this bin man found a way to trade in the high vis for something a tad more sparkly and begin the process of becoming their more authentic self and win a Greggs gift voucher along the way.

Joe’s journey to the fringe is almost as miraculous as their journey to drag. A slipped disc in their neck resulted in an initial cancelled first performance but with an injection to ease the pain they have somehow carried on, albeit with reduced physicality and an absence of high heels. That’s show business baby!

Arguably the Billy Elliot of drag, Leather’s story contains similar beats of encouragement and hopelessness to the musical. Despite a clash of self-belief and prejudice Joe manages to forge their path with humility and honesty that is wholly inspiring to witness. From trying on his friend’s sister’s dance outfits at a young age to entering the Miss Stoke competition, Joe’s story is brave and mighty with the authenticity needed to pull it all together.

Leather’s writing is direct and accessible, guiding us through the highs and lows expertly, the weight and truth of the piece omnipresent and of course the looks are fabulous. Leather has a natural comedic talent which adds needed shimmers to the often uncomfortable junctures. In spite of the struggle, this is a beautiful story that brims with joy, overflowing with moments that can cause tears and laughter simultaneously. This is what the fringe is all about.

Running 6-16th, 18-28th - Tickets

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