Richard Verner

Letters from Richard Verner


Richard Verner 1
Richard Verner 2
Andrew Verner

These letters explore different responses to the situation of fatherlessness, of a son’s possible responses to being disowned by his father.

Richard Verner was the brother of Jane (Jenny) Verner, who married John Mitchel. Richard and Jenny appear to have lived for a time in the household of their father, Colonel William Verner at Churchill, a Big House or estate, on the Armagh-Tyrone border, about 40 miles from Belfast. Some participants in the project live close to where this estate was and one is descended from a tenant family who would have been part of this estate, but like most of the Catholic families in a particular area of the estate, removed or were removed (evicted).

It is likely that Jenny and Richard were illegitimate children of the great landlord, William Verner, and when he came to marry, these children were considered inconvenient. It may also be that they were not his children at all and that the mother laid false claims against him. But at some point they went, together, with their mother, to live with their uncle, James Verner, who lived in Newry, some 30 miles away. The fact that James, who never married, took them in, would possibly suggest that they were his brother’s children, for why else, would he encumber himself with strangers? And at some point, we do not know exactly when, Sir William disowned both of them. The beautiful Jenny had eloped with John Mitchel at the age of sixteen, they having met in Newry where he too lived. But Sir William sent his men after them and they were brought back. They eloped again and were finally married in Drumcree Church. The fact that Sir William was so active in the affairs of Jenny would suggest that he had some connection with her.

But what of Richard himself? We have not been able to find out anything about him. So, the three letters are the imaginary responses of a son to a father, and a grandfather who has rejected them.

In the first, the imaginary Richard is a very gentle, artistic man, who is very well aware of the values and mores of his own time and is, thus very accepting of the prevailing conventions where a landlord, or any highly positioned person, would not acknowledge his illegitimate children. The estate would have to go to legitimate heirs and important men of the eighteenth and nineteenth century exercised their ‘droit de seigneur’ with impunity. It would appear, however, that James went against the common presumption in taking responsibility for both the mother and the children.

The second ‘Richard’ is perhaps, rather more like his father in his predilection or dalliances. He is also a dandy, and a dissolute figure, unlike the iron jawed military man who is his father. Still, he does have a heart, somewhere, and appeals to his father, even after they have been disowned, to help Jenny in her predicament when her husband, John Mitchel, is transported. He despises the rebel and Presbyterian Mitchel, but still is concerned about his sister.

The third letter is written by the son of the gentle Richard. He is much more assertive than his father, a little like the second Richard in his defiance of convention. And, a generation on, when values have changed somewhat and the acceptance of important men abandoning their children is much more open to question, he is much more critical of his grandfather. He, like his grandfather, is a man of action, but unlike his grandfather, he has embraced responsibility as a father in a situation where, again, important men sow their wild oats. He has managed to get to Australia and fulfil his father’s dream, and has fathered a child on an Aboriginal woman. But unlike most other ‘whites, he has stayed with her and married her. In so doing, he countermands the conventions of his grandfather’s time and the conventions of his own time that privileged men should reject children born to women who are considered inferior, socially, racially, economically.

There are, perhaps, deeper questions here about why so many men in our own time reject their own children.

Bianca Del Rio: 'I would gladly do my comedy without drag' | Television & radio

Hi, Bianca! So where the hell are you? I am actually in New York City, down on 16th Street. I’ve been here for two days. I’m just schlepping from one place to another, interviewing and talking about myself. Related: RuPaul's Drag Race ends season 7 with one of the best finales in show's history This year’s been quite the whirlwind for you (1). You keep popping up everywhere! pre bonded hair It truly has. Actually, these last few months, I’ve had a couple more days here and there when I stay in the city a day longer, or stay in Los Angeles for three days in a row. That actually makes it worse because you kind of get accustomed to everything, and then you have to leave again. Getting back to that grind is somewhat difficult. All these girls usually complain about, “I need time off,” and for me it’s not good because then it throws me off completely. Actually February, it might be two years that I’ve been traveling as much as I have, which is kind of nuts. I’ve also been one of those people that have said yes to every gay thing that comes my way. I’ve had some great gigs and had horrible ones. I always look at the horrible ones, and think there’s got to be something in this that I can use later in my show. It all pays off in the end. Does Bianca even bother with a personal life at this point?

I have my dogs, I have my friends, but as far as relationships go, it’s a little difficult when you’re on the road as much as I am. It’s not a bad thing. You also got to be somewhat careful with the people that you meet on the road. You don’t know if they really like you or if they just want to borrow your dress. Speaking of dresses, how many suitcases do you typically travel with? remy hair extensions Usually four. There will be one that is my actual drag clothes and shoes. One of them is my makeup and my jewelry and my wigs and that kind of stuff. Then usually the other two are merchandise, and then I use a pretty large carry-on for my boy stuff, depending on how long I’m out. No wig boxes?

No! I assemble my hair on my head. I started out with wigs years ago when I was younger. I’ve always done wigs. For me, it’s part of the process. I don’t carry around wigs on sticks. I put my hair together every night, and then I just mantle it every night because it’s just the best way to travel. Related: RuPaul: 'Drag is dangerous. We are making fun of everything' perruques cheveux naturels You drink a lot in your show. Are you actually swigging liquor, or do queens tend to fake it onstage? It’s no act, it’s real. I know some people that do pop drink and stuff like that because they can’t handle it. For me, when I started working at bars, I would drink. I’m used to drinking. It’s very Dean Martin of me.

You’re so polite on the phone – not the Bianca I was expecting. Well, catch me after a couple of drinks. The world is just a little too fucking serious. I take pictures with fans, and I always show up on time – dispel all those drag queen myths of being late and all that madness of not showing up. When it comes to the stage, I just let it rip and let it happen because I know somewhere, somebody else is tanking it. I don’t really do it so much in real life; it might just work through my advantage at the DMV or something. perruques cheveux Variety recently singled you out as a “comic” to watch out for in 2015 – and not as a drag performer. Do you consider yourself a comic first and foremost? For me, call me what you want, as long as I’m working. I’ve been all of those things. I don’t really know about a title, but the interesting thing with drag, particularly when it comes to comedy, I don’t do any funny dressing up. I’ve made it a point with this show to make it more about stand-up comedy and less about drag. I didn’t want to do costume changes. I didn’t want any music. I didn’t want any of that, because I didn’t want people who may not know me outside of the Drag Race bubble see me as, “Oh a drag show.” I’ve done those things. I would gladly do my comedy without drag. I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

Do you think you could be as lacerating, the way Bianca is, without the full regalia? I think yes and no. There are friends of mine that I’ve known for years who didn’t like my brand of humor, but once I was on Drag Race, they loved it. Really, I don’t know. I wouldn’t know until I tried it. Seeing you as a person can either help or harm you. It’s definitely something worth experimenting with. You’re known for your comedy, not your lip-synching abilities. Do you think not wanting to have to lip-synch helped you win the Drag Race crown (2)? This is the thing: A lot of queens basically say that Bianca’s not even a really drag queen because she doesn’t lip-synch. I’m like, “What a fucking idiot”. Isn’t that the point of the fucking show? Which is not to lip-synch because that means you’re in the bottom? No, I didn’t want to lip-synch. If I had to, I could, because I learned every song. But that’s not the point of the show, stupid. Every season, it’s the pageant queens v the comedy ones. Do you think that battle has run its course on the show? lace front wigs I don’t know their intention. You got to remember when we go in, we don’t know the information. I don’t know everything. They don’t give a file on each person. We meet everybody when we actually meet them when we first come in the room. It just becomes what it is. I’m not privy to any of that information, but it’s not as fascinating to watch. Either young versus old or comedy queen when they’re ugly. The people that spend all this time and energy making these audition tapes, when they get on the show and then they go, “What? I got to do this?” It’s silly. Realize that’s the show! You know the structure of it, so be prepared. Do the best that you can in those elements.

Related: RuPaul's Drag Race: which queen should win season six? What was RuPaul’s reaction to seeing the Rolodex of Hate show? I don’t know if she has seen it. What? She’s doing 40 different shows on TV right now. cosplay wigs True. Any time I’ve seen her, she’s always been very supportive and she’s always proud of me. I thank her immensely for this opportunity. TV’s a pretty powerful thing. I recently did a podcast with her and she’s obviously generous and laughed. Getting a compliment out of her is not that easy. If she comes, I’ll give her free tickets. I’ll hook her up. It’s the least I could do. (1) For more than a year now, Del Rio has been touring her comedy show, Rolodex of Hate, to cities worldwide. A taping of her show in Austin, Texas, is now available to watch exclusively on Vimeo. (2) Del Rio won the sixth season of Logo TV’s popular drag queen contest series, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Every episode, one queen is eliminated following a lip-synch “for your life” battle.