A drag queen dressed as a man, women dressed as themselves and a performer who seemed to have forgotten to dress at all were some of the big winners at Monday night’s Drag Industry Variety Awards.

About 800 revellers packed the Star City Showroom for Sydney drag’s 16th annual night of nights.

Winners at the pageant-themed awards included Kitty Glitter, named Sydney’s Favourite Drag Queen in a rare DIVA appearance out of drag.

Hats Off, the annual HIV/AIDS charity gala produced this year by Trevor Ashley and Laurence Stark, took out the DIVA Variety Award, while a shocked Rubella won the prestigious DIVA Rising Star trophy.

In a relative rarity for the DIVA ceremony, women -“ rather than men in dresses -“ took out some of the more coveted honours. Singer Shauna Jensen won Outstanding Achievement by an Individual for her many years performing and raising money for HIV/AIDS charities.

I don’t have any money [to give] but I do have a voice, Jensen told the crowd.

Other female winners included an overwhelmed Carol Langley, who edged out leading showgirls to win the media award for her book Beneath The Sequined Surface: An Insight Into Sydney Drag. Hans Sparrow was named Sydney’s Favourite Drag King while Penny Clifford was inducted into the DIVA Hall of Fame.

Sydney Star Observer columnist Maxi Shield, who has spearheaded a campaign to make Oxford Street safer and more gay, won the ACON Queen of Hearts award for her diverse community contributions.

Let’s push onwards, Shield said in her acceptance speech. Let’s say, -˜Boys should be kissing boys and girls should be kissing girls on Oxford Street.’

The biggest winner was veteran showgirl Amelia Airhead. Despite performing only once a week, Airhead was named both Miss Congeniality and Entertainer of the Year, emulating Minnie Cooper’s double win in 2005.

It’s an amazing gift that we can do this, Airhead said of her 20 years as a drag performer.

Past DIVA winner Dallas Dellaforce captured the crowd’s attention this year by wearing little more than a gold strip to cover her modesty, as she accepted the costume design award.

Dellaforce later joined Cooper, Shield and about 40 backup singers and dancers in a rousing production number for the finale that fused ABBA, Madonna and a representation of the Virgin Mary. Other shows included a performance by pop quartet Young Divas.

Earlier, the DIVA red carpet hosted guests including Big Brother‘s David Graham and the usual array of spectacular drag.

Among the most eye-catching costumes was Shelley Legs Diamond’s floral explosion, for which the showgirl was named DIVA Belle of the Ball.

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For the full DIVA winners list, visit the DIVA website.

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