I think I have always been a drag queen: I am a drag queen trapped in a lesbian’s body. I have always loved shows and performing. I am actually really pissed off that I wasn’t born a man, so I could dress up in a dress and put make-up on and mime to songs, if you get what I mean.
I was born in Caringbah, so I’m a Shire girl. But most of my memories are from Iluka, on the NSW North Coast, where I spent a lot of my childhood.
At school I was always in choirs and always the soloist if they needed one. After my HSC I went to music school in Goulburn. I studied an associate diploma of music there. I am opera-trained -“ I can sing in five languages but I can’t speak any of them.
I liked the country life, but I knew it just wasn’t for me -“ I had to come back to Sydney. I came to live here in 1990 when I was 20 and started living with some old school friends on the corner of Oxford and Crown Streets. It was like Welcome to Sydney.
I was up at the Albury one night that same year trying to make friends. Like a typical Aussie girl in the big city, I was sitting at the piano bar with a beer in my hand.
This bloke sat down next to me. I said with a very colloquial Aussie twang, G’day, how you going?
He said, good to meet you. He said his name was Graeme. He asked me what I did and I told him I worked in advertising.
I asked what he did and he said, I’m a drag queen. I threw my head back and had the biggest laugh I have had in my life. I asked him what his drag name was and he said Mitzi Macintosh. We’ve been friends ever since.
We even got married once at the Albury. I had gotten a ring out of one of those $2 machines and I came in in a tuxedo jacket and said, Will you marry me? and Mitzi said all right. My girlfriend Megan was the best man and Leggs Galore was the bridesmaid.
I met Megan around the same time I met Mitzi. I had gone to the photo shop on Oxford Street where they used to display Mardi Gras photos and saw a nice one with a girl in a leopard print corset on the back of a motorbike. I thought she’s hot and bought it to put on my wall.
I went to a couple of parties in 1990, and this stunning girl walked in and I just thought, Wow! But I didn’t approach her at that stage.
One day I was at the Cricketers Arms Hotel in Surry Hills. I turned around and there was the girl I had seen at the parties again. I thought she looked really familiar and guessed she was a friend from school. I walked up and said, Didn’t I go to school with you on the North Coast? It sounded like such a pick-up line. As soon as I said it she flashed me the most dazzling smile, and I was hooked.
One night we had been partying and she came back to my place. She was sitting there and looked across at the photo I had bought. She said, What are you doing with this?
I said I just really liked it. She said, That’s me. I’ve got the corset at home. It was bizarre. We have been together ever since -“ 15 years now.
I have done just about every job you can think of. I’ve got a degree in graphic design. I have done bar work and worked in a gym.
I am also a qualified automotive mechanic. I always wanted to be a mechanic because as soon as my Dad retired, he showed me how to replace four tyres without using a jack in about 15 minutes. He taught me all about cars, and I loved it. I ended up working with Holden in Sydney for about seven or eight years.
It was fine working as a female mechanic. It was funny when they found out I was gay. You know what guys are like with lesbians. They were like, Have you got any girlfriends? Bring them over!
After I left Holden I decided to go and do some bar work. One of the places I worked was the Imperial in Erskineville.
About seven years ago, I was at Bingay there. My girlfriend and I played just about every week and I used to think it would be a great job to be Mitzi’s assistant. As it happened, her male helper was leaving and she was looking for a new assistant.
Mitzi said, You can be my first one next week. After my first week she said, Same time next week? I said sure. We’ve been doing it ever since. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
She knew I could sing, so we put in musical elements and it’s just grown into the monster that it is now.
We have done about five Big Bingays now. We have also taken it to Newcastle a couple of times. I want to take it on a national tour, but I don’t know what Mitzi will say about that.
Interview by Ian Gould