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Me and My Collection: Willow Yamauchi


The Bovines

In the coming months the Museum of Vancouver will be highlighting several of the fabulous collectors who are currently part of our exhibition All together Now: Vancouver Collector’s and Their Worlds. Off the cusp of Pride Week, the museum will be throwing a Happy Hour event on Thursday, August 18 featuring Willow Yamauchi and her collection of drag queen dresses that she inherited from her father. He was a member of the drag troupe - The Bovines - who performed across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland during the 1980s. “I never saw my dad perform in drag. I was too young for the clubs. I wanted to understand why he did drag and what it meant to him. Collecting has helped me answer these questions,” Yamauchi explains. Discovering this captivating past led Yamauchi to participate in the important discussion of gender and sexuality.

Don’t miss Undressing Drag where we will continue the discussion with several guest speakers and reminisce and honour the glory days of The Bovines, plus a special drag performance from Peach Cobblah and Isolde N. Barron!


Photo by Rebecca Blissett

Q&A with Willow Yamauchi

Why do you collect?
I inherited my dad’s drag queen costumes when he passed away 10 years ago. I was initially confused by this accidental collection, but eventually I realized it was something rare and special that I needed to preserve. It’s a springboard for fascinating conversations with people who knew him. You can collect things. You can also collect ideas and people. My collection contains all of these.

How does your collection relate to Vancouver?
The Bovines were an important drag group in Vancouver in the 1980s. They raised money for people living with HIV and AIDS and increased awareness at a time when there was little government support. The Bovines were “out,” loud and proud, when it could have been dangerous to identify as LGBTQ.

How does collecting connect you with people?
People who knew my dad share with me their stories, pictures, and films of him. In turn, I am sharing my collection with the city in the hope it might open a larger conversation about sexuality, gender, and artistic expression.

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