The word “doll” serves a compliment word in the greek conversational language in order to address someone for his nice looks. Opened in 1994, “Dolls Bar” (pronounced Koúkles / Κούκλες in greek) was given this name by its owner Marilou in order to honor the girls who were working / performing the shows there. The bar is located at an alley by Syngrou Avenue (a six lane street beginning from the Temple of Olympian Zeus at the center of Athens and ending at the south Attica seasides), which even today remains a synonym for working place of trans- and cis-gendered sex workers (mainly owing its reputation to the former ones).
Although not historically accurate, in many cases and up to a point these kind of shows are considered to be held by men dressed in drag just for the needs of the show. But from the first moment on, Dolls Bar resides shows only by trans women, contributing to the visibility of the trans community in general, as well as to the demarginalization of individuals who historically get discriminated in the labor market on the basis of their gender identity. It has been just recently when, despite the economic crisis and the rise of the alt-right and neonazi agenda, the feminist and LGBTQI demands for equality have gone solid, letting such projects (even though still perceived as “exotic”) to gain some space in the public sphere.
After the first years, the program gradually went from improvised shows to a more “proper” style drag performance bundle. Today five women, Eva, Mania, Alice, Ria and Tania impersonate a number of greek and international movie/theater characters, singers and public figures, lighting up the place with their fancy costumes and hilarious performances. As for my presence there, after having watched the show a number of times i FINALLY got the courage to propose to Marilou (the owner – as mentioned above) a backstage photoshoot. Whoever thinks that dressing in drag and preparing for the show is an easy and cheep (in terms of effort AND money) thing, has to definitely think twice.