Fish People: Lavelle & Beirne

Niamh Beirne.  All photos: Kristina Collender.  Make-up assitance: Laelia Milleri.


Fish People

In conversation with Caiomhe Lavelle & Niamh Beirne

DG: How comfortable do you feel, getting nude for the public eye, knowing that it may arouse sexual interest?  Would you feel the same way revealing your body in public, around strangers?

Niamh: I have always felt my body was a bit ridiculous actually. Growing up overweight (and being constantly reminded of that) I never really viewed my naked body as being something that others would desire and I was very guarded about being seen nude. I gradually started appreciating my body in those terms as I came out of my teens but I still often laugh at it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my body –  it’s gas craic and I think it’s ridiculous and beautiful but still my naked body being sexualised by a stranger’s gaze is not a fear of mine.

Caoimhe: I don’t think of my nudity as being innately sexual and as such I refuse to allow the possibility of turning on somebody to prevent me from doing what I want to do with in the body that I live in. I’ve had people tell me that say, the way I dance (conspicuously, with no holding back) is ‘sexy’.  When they do this they are telling me more than I care to know about what goes on in their head and misinterpreting my dancing as an expression of my sexuality when it’s something I do because I’m great at it.



Caoimhe Lavelle, in a fishy nod to Manet’s Olympia.


DG: There’s nothing worse than someone panting about our sexiness on the dancefloor, when we’re freeing our minds and bodies. But teasing can be fun. The bow worn by Caoimhe is suggestive of Manet’s Olympia.  In that famous image, it’s the frippery, the heels and bow, that titillate.  Bows suggest kisses on the neck, strangulation and clowns.  How do you prefer to accessorise your naked bodies?

Caoimhe: I do have my tattoo of Julian Cope embracing a dolphin, so I’m permanently decorated now. Olympia is indeed a glorious example of nakedness being accentuated by an accessory. With this shoot, I was very pleased to find that the raised point of my nipples fit perfectly through the silver stars we had around the place since our festive, aquatic-themed party in December.

Niamh: I’m a total jellyfish human so anything shiny, iridescent or holographic. Glitter, foil, sequins etc.  Celestial vibes.

DG: Niamh, you recently unveiled your drag king persona in a wrestling match.  Who is he and what does it feel like when you are being him?

Niamh: Ah yes, Quarter Pounder with Sleaze is a dirtbag egomaniac who likes nothing more than dominating men, chowing down on chicken kiev burgers (a meal he invented) and crushing cans of Stonehouse cider. Quarter Pounder is the hybrid result of me being bitten by a radioactive Conor McGregor. I don’t really think of him as a dude but my warped view of masculinity on ‘roids.

DG: Is using your body to attract women different from seducing men?

Caoimhe: I feel femme people often have a better understanding of the skill involved in creating a look or statement, whereas men are more likely to believe themselves to be perceiving some ethereal quality that only they themselves can fully appreciate or articulate.

Niamh: (laughs) Yeah, I’d have to agree with Caoimhe. Dudes don’t generally appreciate the true depth to all I might have going on with the dressing of my body.

Caoimhe Lavelle

DG: Are you saying that you can turn on women by how you dress?  Or that women have a clearer perception of each other?

Caoimhe: You bet I can. I do feel women’s experience forms an ability to express it in a comparatively less blundering or objectifying manner. Excellent dress sense in a person of any gender is a massive knee-weakener for me and I have a lot of respect for the craft of it.

DG: Is there a significant contrast in the women you like, compared to your men?

Niamh: Mmm, I feel that the kind of person I like remains the same regardless of the flesh suit they’re wearing.

Caoimhe: Similarly, I don’t feel there is a contrast between the genders as much as any of the individuals contrast with each other.

DG: Have you tried having sex in the bath?  We’ve found it generally challenging to complete congress in the bath, with or without out a cock – if you presume, as we do, that sex is complete when both partners have orgasmed at least once.  It’s very difficult to orgasm in the sea.  What’s your advice?

Niamh: (laughs) Few baths in Ireland can accommodate my thighs, therefore when getting sexy in the bathroom I keep it simple – no mad aerobics. The Irish sea is super-polluted so… yeah, its hard to cum when thinking about bacterial infections and the death of the oceans.

Caoimhe: I’ve managed it but it is a challenge. I was thinking the same thing when we watched The Shape of Water recently. For me, the problem is the way surfaces/skin feels different underwater: somehow less wet.

DG: Would you rather be a fish, a mermaid or a siren?

Niamh: Can I be a dick and say a Selkie, they were seal-women prone to accidentally drowning men and their offspring. I feel more like that.

Caoimhe: I’d like to be a Siren for the music and mischief of it. I’d also like to borrow Niamh’s seal skin when she’s not wearing it because I do love me a ‘wet-look’ garment.


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