Sister BangBang
Sister BangBang

“The first step to becoming a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence is becoming an Aspirant. You aspire to being one and Lav did that. Actually, she harassed me whilst I was trying to shop-lift two pairs of tights and a sofa whilst in Next but that’s another story. The next step is coming out with us on a number of our saucy shennanigans and having a look at what we do, but this time as a Postulant. That’s what Postulant Lavinda Tantrum did…”


Postulant Lavinda Tantrum
Novice Lavinda Tantrum

After yodelling and banging a pan outside the convent for the last six months, the Manchester Sisters finally ran out of earplugs and let me come and annoy them on some of their jaunts. Hooray!

And what exciting, varied, and sweaty jaunts they’ve been – I’ve had a seething migraine at the Manchester Rubbermen bingo, I’ve blessed a sausage stall on Bury market, and I’ve had a lovely time at Cha Cha Boudoir with bona fide drag celebrities Cheddar Gorgeous & Anna Phylactic (I say “with”, I mean one of them stabbed me with a hatpin as she passed. But that counts! I won’t let peripheral stardom change me, plebs).

Truly, Lav is All Around, and as such here’s what I’ve observed about Sisterhood so far from my Postulant cupboard under Sister Bang Bang’s skirts. Why? Because they’re making me do it:

People Talk to You

Whether it’s deep-ish theological conversations about the nature of God and precisely where she lies on the gender spectrum, or just how Sister Bang Bang stops her grease paint from running (spray-on roofing sealant), you are suddenly everyone’s best mate, confidante, therapist, priest, and possibly mum.

Don’t ask why, but there’s something about a seven-foot tall twinkly purple drag nun that people really open up to.

Manifesting Makes You Tactful (to an Extent)

Do you know the feeling when a conversation takes a sharp right down a dark racist tunnel and you think, “Uh-oh, I’m going to have to tell someone to fuck off again?”

Sisters don’t do that. Well, we might ultimately do that, but we’d say “fuck off dear“. Sisters find common ground. Sisters are surprisingly diplomatic. Sisters vow to promulgate universal joy, and that includes people who have been misled into some unsavoury ideas.

And if you’re out of reach of our promulgations for now, dear is gender neutral and always applicable to take the edge off our damnation. Having said that –

People are Generally Decent

Don’t roll your eyes at me you little shit, they are. “But people even shout insults at me from passing vehicles if I go out in my least avant-garde trousers!” you cry.

And they do, you’re right. Fascinatingly, however, going absolutely sartorially batshit in public is somehow tolerated, and even respected. An Inundation (geddit? Oh, fuck off then) of Sisters in full Nunday (sorry) Best and looking like the aftermath of an explosion in a feather boa factory inspire joy, awe, and sometimes indigestion. 

And if not, incidentally, you can run faster in heels than you’d think.

Force of Habit

You may be a fresh-faced thirty-mumble-something in your secular vinyl arseless chaps, but in habit you are somehow suddenly older and a lot more approachable.

Sister Martini looks like your favourite kindly maiden aunt in hers, whereas she’s actually a formless eldritch horror from the Void, and I personally haven’t looked this beatific since I played Mary in the infants nativity play – a thrilling piece of mis-casting second only to John Wayne as Genghis Khan, even then.

You could probably get away with murder in a wimple, or at least some shoplifting. Strangers trust you to watch their drinks! (They shouldn’t).

It’s magic, there’s an assumption that anyone looking that much of a spectacular berk must have official dispensation to do so; it’s a clipboard or a reflective vest for the terminally glamorous. Speaking of which –

You Will Be Photographed

The last time you had your photo taken was on Tesco’s CCTV after shoplifting some KY jelly and a butternut squash, now you’re documented as thoroughly as Annie Sprinkle’s cervix.

It’s extraordinary and gratifying, and you begin to suspect this is the natural order of things. What took you people so long to realise my outrageous charisma? Which brings me to my next point –

Your Secular Self is Different from Your Sister Self

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be colourful and friendly”, you simper naively pre-Postulancy, “to spread glitter and joy throughout the community”, and then you somehow find yourself looking up full-face vinyl fetish masks on Ebay.

Don’t ask me how this works – it’s not me, its Lavinda. Lav has ideas of her own.

Lav keeps making me leave the house in heels. Heels! I’m the biggest Birkenstock apologist since Jesus. Lav wants me to super glue three inch false nails to a pair of latex gloves. Lav’s favourite colour is “sheer”. Lav must be stopped! (Or encouraged, whichever)

Sisters are Everywhere!

It’s true: you’re never more ten feet from a rat, twenty feet from a Sister, and fifteen feet from someone passable on Grindr.

You go out to the Village to distribute leaflets and have a quiet drink or forty-seven, and Sisters percolate mysteriously out of the walls or drop from the rafters like ninjas and say, “Oh, do you know Sister Whatserface from the House of Something-or-other?”

It’s quite extraordinary and rather lovely.

It’s Heartfelt

The most important point, and not something that surprised me in the slightest: We are genuinely committed to the good we can do as Sisters.

It’s silly, but the right bits are silly, and we are completely serious about our silliness.

If we can make you smile whilst we hand you some condoms, a badge, or a one-nun deforestation initiative worth of leaflets, we’re as happy as Sister Bang Bang with a new can of roofing sealant.



The Manchester Sisters and the Manchester Leathermen at Salford Pride 2019

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