It’s make-or-break time for Mardi Gras, and there is more pressure than ever on this year’s Sleaze to be a success.

There’s no two ways about it: Sleaze needs to turn a profit -“ to ensure not only the survival of New Mardi Gras the organisation, but also to pour enough money into the coffers to make sure next year’s Mardi Gras season goes ahead as planned.

Budgets are tight but expectations of a world-class party high, and a call has gone out to the many party and entertainment professionals within Sydney’s gay and lesbian community to rally to the cause.

It seems many of the community’s top talents have heard and offered their services -“ free of charge -“ to help make this year’s Sleaze a party to remember.

From marketing the event to strategic planning, from design and concepts through to star performers taking to the stage, the experts have been hard at work for weeks in preparation for the party at Fox Studios on Saturday, 1 October.

Brad Wright is the party producer. With money tight and so much riding on this year’s party, he admits he has been heartened to receive offers of support from so many people.

There has been a lot of chatter about -˜If you don’t like it, get involved’ -“ and that is what people have done, Wright says.

So many people have been jack of whatever has happened in the past, so they want to get involved and make a difference. Everyone just wants to get the party right.

This year’s Sleaze will also mark a return to the full-scale production shows of years gone by. Drag diva Portia Turbo has volunteered as casting co-ordinator, and has been busy corralling drag stars and dancers of the past and present to appear at this year’s party.

And when it comes to adding flash without a lot of cash, Turbo says there is no one better to get on board than a drag queen.

Drag is all about zero dollars looking like a million, Turbo says.

So, who are you going to call to do that for a party? We are the experts at glamorising tinsel and tarts. So many people go expressly to the big parties for the shows, and I am sick of people coming away unhappy. I have been a whinger as well, so this time, that’s why I am here.

What is important to me is that the people who come to an event should be entertained. There should be no, -˜Well, it’s Sleaze, we have no money’. Instead, it should be, -˜it’s Sleaze, we have no money, so let’s get creative’.

While Turbo has appeared in a number of past Sleaze and Mardi Gras shows, she says her role this year is strictly behind the scenes. She has not, however, had any problems finding talent to step into the spotlight.

Everyone is doing it for love. Everyone is excited, and no one has ummed or ahhed about doing it. Everyone has said ‘yes’.

Turbo admits one of the reasons she is getting so involved with Sleaze this year is because she has been given an opportunity -“ finally -“ to have an input into the party.

Frankly, Mardi Gras was not interested for a long time -“ they didn’t want to hear what we had to say, Turbo says.

It is nice that now days they are calling for our help. More power to this Mardi Gras crew as they are sticking their necks out.

Working with Turbo as entertainment co-ordinator is NIDA-trained theatrical designer David Twyman, who has been developing the party’s Sinsuality theme.

Twyman admits his agenda for being involved with Sleaze is simple -“ he wants to help an organisation that has improved Sydney’s gay and lesbian life.

Mardi Gras has done so much for our community and for Australia, he says. I am 25 and did not experience what a lot of people have gone through. Mardi Gras paved so much ahead of me.

Twyman also believes volunteering his time and talents for Sleaze has professional pay-offs.

Where else in Australia do you get the chance to work on a party which is a world event? It is such an amazing creative outlet to be able to design something at this level. Seeing your shows up there on stage is quite amazing. Creatively, it is the most satisfying thing I have ever done.

Stephen Craddock is the talent behind the most innovative marketing campaign Sleaze has ever seen. He has volunteered up to 40 hours a week, creating a series of memorable posters and advertisements -“ and says he could not be happier with the finished product.

The idea of the ad campaign was to keep people engaged until the final week of the party, he says.

It was a tall order, but I think the end result is really beautiful and it becomes a collectible.

Originally from the UK, Craddock is the business development manager for Home nightclub. He said he wanted to volunteer for Sleaze because it is one of the world’s greatest gay parties.

It would be devastating if this does not work out as we are all putting our time and energy into it, he says. I feel passionately about Mardi Gras, and I am 100 percent behind the new board.

I was a little worried about coming into an organisation that announced it had such a large loss, but it pushed me harder to make sure we produced a world class event this year.

Sleaze Sinsuality will be held at Fox Studios from 10pm on Saturday 1 October. Tickets are available from Ticketek at outlets, online at the Ticketek website or by calling 9266 4800

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