Vanilla Lush – Aalbert Martijn Smit was one of the loveliest Queens (people x) you could wish to meet.
Talented, funny, friendly, with time for everyone – confident as a boy, confident as a girl, always creative and to exhibit ALL of these characteristics ALL of the time is somewhat of a rarity in this world…
Vanilla performed in WayOut Star Search, and was soon a regular on our stage joining us in our crazy shows and in later days singing Solo and with various duo colaborations. She would always be the first to pledge her help to our anniversaries, for my birthdays, for tributes to Steffan. She (infamously) auditioned at WayOut for the bid to win ‘Britains Got Talent’ as one of the ‘Kit Kat Dolls’
When The Supreme Fabulettes was put together featuring Vanilla their debut was at WayOut.
This is a fab tribute by QX magazine
Boy George, Jason Reid & more pay tribute to a scene legend Vanilla Lush
14th June 1978 – 22nd June 2017
Born and raised in the Netherlands, Aalbert Martijn Smit, also known as Vanilla Lush, sadly passed away last week. He made london his home in 1999, and soon became a familiar face on the drag cabaret circuit. He performed and hosted at popular LGBT venues like Madame Jojo’s, Escape, WayOut Club and West 5, as part of the Supreme Fabullettes, Drama Queens theatre group and as a solo artist.
My first memory of Vanilla is from around 2011. I was a regular at Escape and Trannyshack, new to the world of gay media, and he was always so approachable and happy in what he was doing.
However, it was in 2014 that we struck up a lifelong bond. We wore both asked to take part in a QX World AIDS Day feature. The idea being, as HIV positive people, we’d ‘come out’ to the world and its husband. The photoshoot took place in an East London flat (bloody high up, too); I was so nervous but of course Vanilla was very familiar with posing and pouting for the camera. Instead of being a typical drag diva he instantly put me at ease and guided me through the whole process. This made the situation immeasurably easier for me to deal with.
Vanilla and I shared a life-changing experience, one that I will never forget. When I look back at it now, it reminds me of what a kind and humble human being he was. Our connection grew from that day, as we dealt with both the positive and negative responses to the article. When I wanted to lose my shit over the (odd) negative response, he would drop me a message and calm me down.
Even though we didn’t see each other much recently, I’m deeply saddened by Martijn’s death, which is a testament to the effect he had on my life. I’m incredibly grateful that I got a chance to meet and share time with such a beautiful soul.
Here, scene and pop culture faces say a few words on the passing of a scene legend:
Martijn was my best friend throughout my time in London, and we stayed in touch after I moved back home to Newcastle. I loved his spirit and his positive, witty personality. His death comes as a huge shock to me and others as he remained positive throughout his battle with cancer and didn’t broadcast the severity of it on social media. Martijn loved cabaret and expressing himself through music and fashion. That’s how I’ll remember him: A whirlwind of colour and laughter. I miss him so much, and would love one last duet – one day ‘son’.
Aalbert, Vanilla, Tain or Martijn, However you knew him, whatever the name. You’ll remember his laugh through Dietrich lips, The backhanded compliments passed off as tips! Dressing up for the shack or am-dram performance, Glitter and glue and hair sprayed enormous. The body of a man in sequin and crystal, The face of a woman, or John Cameron Mitchell. All quite magical in a plausible way, How things can transform in less than a day. Supreme and fabulous throughout his life, But not without ailment, trouble or strife. A soldierette ’til the end – deep when it mattered, oh hearts how they flattened, makeup did pattern, how did it happen? My brain how it rattled, but now we can breathe… Because the rest has been laid. Respects have been paid. His colours never fade. Vanilla was just the beginning – he was also as orange as Holland, as red as the ribbon, gold was a given and all six colours of his pride and his vision. We will see you every time it rains and heat remains – our treasure at the end, ’til the end, our friend.
by Jess Marshall
So sad about the passing of Vanilla Lush. A trouper in high heels and a true character.
My one-time time housemate and drag sister, Martijn/Vanilla had such an effect on my life. He gave me my first lesson in make up, gave me the frock for my Drag Idol Final four years ago, supported me through every stage of the competition, and most importantly, we stood side by side waving our banners outside the House of Lords for marriage equality. Without Martijn, my life would have turned out differently. I will remember him the best way I know how: being truly fabulous. Sleep well lovely man.
I am devastated that the gorgeous Martijn has left us. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and he was still full of beans. I have so many wonderful memories and will never forget his booming voice.
Vanilla Lush was my best friend in the whole world, my drag sister (sisters grim) and my soul mate. We did so many wacky shows together and performed with some amazing artists over the years. Life won’t be the same without you here with me, sister.
I’m truly heartbroken that Martijn has passed away after a long battle. He was a true warrior, standing proud and brave and being open about his HIV status; always helping others, a truly selfless and lovely guy. Proud that he was one of the Drama Queens’ founding members, we have all lost a talented STAR.
Thanks to everyone that came to WayOut for our Tribute night on 19th August 2017
At which we celebrated the life of Vanilla Lush …
we also remembered Steffan Whitfield, Pandora De Pledge, Robbie, Laura, Lyn Danials and all those lost in our community xxxx
I am sure we will have raised a good amount for charity ‘Cancer is a Drag’…
I will let you know how much when I get the final count.
Thanks to ‘Cancer is a Drag’ who donated for a raffle Champagne, Vodka, and tickets to West end show.
Thanks to Katt Kitten who presented a cheque for £345 raised at her Fitness Studi (ClubK) she also donated a hamper of chocolates and a teddy bear to the raffle….
Thanks again to all the artists that gave their time and talent for free xxx
Jess Marshal, Lana Pillay, Stephanie Starlet, Geri Love, Katt Kitten, Dee Chanelle, Farrah Mills, Miss Huggy McGuire, Geyzhel Sparks. Linda Bacardi ( Flynn Allsup-Burge ), Miss Sarah Lloyd (Giles Edwin Bishop ), Lady Bee, Debbi Reader…
Thanks to Steve and Shaun from Cancer is Drag
Thanks to Jamie DJ Titch for making a lovely video that we ran all night…