I sat down in front of a sewing machine for the first time when I was nine years old. I was the oldest in our family and so it was up to me to do repairs to the other school uniforms. My parents were in the dry-cleaning business and my aunt was a seamstress, so it was just a knack I had and it all made perfect sense to me.
At about the same time, I made my first dress for my sister. I had no idea what a pattern was, but I would throw a piece of fabric out on the floor, cut it out and then pull it all together.
I grew up in the Hunter Valley and I was a big boy for my age. I was a competitive swimmer and diver and also into rugby. At 13, I met my first boyfriend in the main street of the town while we were both shopping for shoes. He was a few years older than me.
My first experience of a drag show was when he brought me down to Sydney and we went to a club called Capriccios. I thought it was just wonderful. I later got chatting with some of the girls and they took me under their wing.
After that, I would catch the mail train on a Friday night to Central, race to Capriccios and then stay with one of the girls for the weekend. No one ever asked me my age, and being in drag, no one ever queried me. I was making frocks at the girls’ places and just took to the drag style easily. I was 14 when I first took to the stage and my first number was Dusty Springfield’s Wishin’ And Hopin’.
When I got home, my parents would ask how the swimming weekend was. I would sometimes make it to the city meets, but I was always out in drag on Saturday and Sunday nights.
I finished school at the end of Year 10 and began working in a bank in Muswellbrook but 12 months later I was transferred to Sydney. Drag did not pay much money, so you had to have a full-time job to pay for it -“ almost all the money I earned was spent on drag, but it never worried me. I loved it.
I was doing drag at the social groups like Boomerangs and Pollys -“ most of the well-known drags queens on Oxford Street originated from those groups.
The thing I like about performing is entertaining people and hearing the applause. The thing I like about drag is that it is a mask. You can be a totally different person in drag. If I am out as a boy, you will usually find me in the corner and being a wallflower. Marc is very quiet, whereas Marcia is completely upfront and is not frightened of anyone.
The more I got into drag, the more I pushed aside any other time to do sport or be active. I never changed my food intake and that is when I began to really put the weight on.
Three years ago, I was on my way to work and the last thing I remembered was standing on St Peters station. The next thing I knew I was in RPA casualty department. I had gone into a diabetic coma and was diagnosed with diabetes. People think diabetes is all about sugar, but it’s not -“ it is all about your eating habits. I drastically had to change my eating habits as I didn’t want to die.
I stopped drinking three litres of soft drink a day and took up lots of water instead. I cut out all red meats and began eating stir-fries instead of baked dinners. I had to do something about exercise, so I walked the 40 minutes to work and home again every day. Within six months I had dropped from 147kg to 96kg -“ 51 kilos!
The only annoying thing about losing the weight was I had to remodel a lot of my dresses and buy a whole new set of clothes. What keeps me in shape is the fear of putting it all back on.
A few years back, I said that when I turn 50 I would stop doing drag -“ and that is now only four years away. That is scary as I really don’t want to stop. I am at a social group in Parramatta every second and fourth Saturday, and I still enjoy doing it. I would still like to do a Mardi Gras show one year -“ and I would be quite happy to make my own costumes.
I work as an accountant for a large company and it is a big, full-time job -“ but I really like it. I guess I am a case of country boy does good in the big city. And these days, I can add, In good shape too!
Interview by John Burfitt