BRISBANE’S Melt Festival kicked off with a massive opening night extravaganza at the Powerhouse on Wednesday.

Photographer Joel Devereux’s witty, sexy exhibition #FOODP*RN heated up the foyer with a whole wall of colourful images of hot men posing with food, that has to be seen to be appreciated. Upstairs by the bar, Queer Comics showcased some of Australia’s most talented LGBTI comic artists, with themes of sexuality and identity woven into comics that are funny, spooky and everything in between. Both exhibitions are showing for the duration of the festival.

The highlight of the night was the third annual Melt Beauty Pageant. Hosted by hilarious Brisbane favourite Tina Bikki, the contest pitted four diverse drag personalities against each other in the categories of Graceful Glamourzon, Tremendous Talent, and Costume with a Message.

With fake eyelashes, glitter and sequins as far as the eye could see, it was definitely going to be a spectacular pageant. The crowd was treated to diverse performances from the drag hopefuls, including ballet, burlesque, cello, and striptease.

Against fierce competition, glitter-bearded drag king Archie Arsenic wowed the judges and took out the crown of Brisbane Beauty with a provocative genderfuck performance.

“I don’t know yet how to feel, what just happened,” Archie said after the show.

“All my fellow queens, thank you for being incredible. Thank you to the incredible judges. To everyone who has inspired me and believed in me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The festivities continued with a massive opening night party. Featuring Fluffy’s resident DJ Harry K and Brisbane gay club fixture DJ Ish, the party was a huge colourful celebration of the festival and all things queer.

As the evening wore on, things kicked on at the official opening night afterparty at Fluffy nightclub. Revellers made their way to Fortitude Valley to keep partying into the small hours.

The Melt Festival will continue celebrating LGBTI arts and culture until 5 February at the Brisbane Powerhouse. Shows will include comedy, theatre, music and more, all showcasing some of the best queer entertainment Australia has to offer.

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