The Miss First Nation 2018 pageant, a fabulous showcase for Australia’s foremost Indigenous drag queen talents, kicks off in Sydney at The Imperial Hotel tonight.
Running across the next five nights, seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers will compete for the crown, culminating in the Grand Final on Saturday October 20.
Thursday night marks Miss Talent, with the contestants showcasing a range of talents from stand-up comedy through to burlesque.
On Friday night at 10pm, the queens will take to the stage to crown the Lip Sync Superstar, in which they will pick a song from a hat and have to improvise a performance to test their skills at engaging a crowd.
And on Saturday night, the Grand Final will present their best drag performances to a panel of judges which will include star of The Sapphires and Redfern Now Shari Sebbens as well as Wentworth‘s Danielle Cormack.
Scores from throughout the week will be tabulated and the winner of Miss First Nation 2018 will be crowned by hosts Miss Ellaneous and Marzi Panne.
Co-organiser Daniel Cunningham, who runs Miss First Nation through events and entertainment organisers Party Passport, says the competition will be “fierce”.
“We are astounded that the talent in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Drag scene is so often overlooked,” he said.
“We have contestants coming from Melbourne, Bourke, Lismore, even as far as the Tiwi Islands in the NT, all very talented entertainers.
“This competition is different to any other, we are really looking for the most talented performers in the country.”
This year the competition has partnered with advocacy group Black Rainbow, which works towards suicide prevention in Indigenous queer communities.
“Black Rainbow are super excited to be sponsoring such a wonderful event. An event that not only contributes to the increased visibility of the Indigenous LGBQTI community but also highlights amazing talent our community has,” said spokesperson Paul Calcott.
“We feel very privileged to be in a position to pay forward some of the donations we have received to support our Indigenous LGBQTI sisters and brothers.”
Last year’s winner, Josie Baker said winning the title is “an amazing way for visibility and fabulousness for Queer Indigenous Australians. It’s shown the world that it’s ok to be whoever you are, no shame job here!”
Last year’s inaugural Miss First Nation pageant was a huge success, later becoming the subject of the documentary Black Divaz.
Tickets for this Saturday’s Grand Final are still on sale – to purchase, head to the Party Passport website by clicking here. All other events are free entry at The Imperial.
Learn a little bit more about this year’s contestants below before you head along to watch them strut their stuff this week.
- From: Bourke, NSW
- Mob: Barkindji
- Newcomer 21-year-old Bailey has only been doing drag for just over a year, but was drawn to the competition “knowing that Miss First Nation is a space where I could really shine”
- From: Campbelltown, NSW
- Mob: Kamilaroi & Dhungutti
- Felicia is a local Sydney Queen and hopes to bring the home ground advantage to the competition
- “Miss First Nation is important to highlight and expose our own mob to the beauty and raw talent of our sister girls and LGBTQI mob.”
- From: Lismore, NSW
- Mob: Kamilaroi
- In a 4 year Drag career, Lasey started the Indigenous Drag troupe ‘The Dreamtime Divas’ with partner Nova Gina (last year’s Miss Congeniality).
- “I hope to use Miss First Nation to provide a message of love and support to everyone and hopefully help anyone who may be struggling with gender identity, sexuality, and mental health issues. I want to show no matter what you can be yourself and be happy!”
- From: Canberra, ACT
- Mob: Djabugandji and Kaurareg
- “Being of both Torres Straight Islander and Aboriginal heritage its super important for me to show our country and the world that our Indigenous Australia is made up of two gorgeous races.”
- From: Bathurst Island, NT
- Mob: Tiwi islander, Marathiel and Arabuna
- Shaniqua is travelling over 3200kms to be part of the competition and hopes “to give visibility to the lack of access to services and opportunities in remote and rural communities” by showing it is possible to “be true to yourself and balancing two worlds (gay and Aboriginal) in this society today.”
- From: Newcastle, NSW
- Mob: Wiradjuri
- “Being a drag performer and being Aboriginal are equally important to me. I know my following love me just the way I am.”
- Timberlina is excited to be coming from “up the road” to show “young indigenous kids that they can do anything they put their minds to. I am very excited to share the stage with some fierce competition and most of all make life long friends.”
- From: Melbourne, VIC
- Mob: Anaiwan
- Zodiac is travelling 713kms to join Miss First Nation “according to Google Maps.”
- “I love being an Aboriginal drag performer, I think it separates me from the other queens in a good way,” Zodiac said. She further pointed out that Indigenous Drag Performers are “a minority within a minority within a minority” who don’t have a lot of spaces to come together and be themselves.