WHEN Brendan Barlow performs in drag as Shelita Buffet in his hometown of Broken Hill, it’s normally to a room full of tourists who are gone within hours of his performance.
But this weekend he’ll be performing in front of his friends and family for the first time at the Broken Heel Festival.
“I’m pretty nervous myself, because everyone I know is going to be there. I’m used to performing for crowds who come in on the train and then leave again.
“I only started performing this year… they (his family) haven’t seen me see perform live yet. I wanted to build up my courage and skills before they saw me.”
Shelita will be performing alongside her drag sisters, Christina Kneesup and Melody Monroe at the second annual Broken Heel Festival.
The festival centres around the town Broken Hill made famous by the Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and is a weekend full of all things LGBTI, set in a rural background.
Organisers say the Broken Heel Festival celebrates Priscilla’s themes of diversity, drag, music, friendship, adventure, and the wonders that can be discovered when you get off at the wrong stop.
Festival goers will even have the chance to meet Shirl (actress June Bennett), who, in one of the film’s most memorable moments, dared to take on Bernadette in a drinking competition.
Performers at the festival include Hannah Conda, Vanity Faire, Minnie Cooper, Philmah Bocks, Mojo Juju, Sarah Ward and many more.
Health promotion groups will also be on hand with ACON and partners promoting sexual health and testing, and this year they’re hosting a special photo booth too.
Festival director, Esther La Rovere who comes from a background of organising massive festivals such as, Glastonbury in the UK, said people coming out to the festival had the opportunity to complete an outback road trip to Broken Hill, in the spirit of the movie. A chartered glamour bus will leave from Melbourne with local drag queens hosting the trip.
“I met the writer and director (of Priscilla, Stephan Elliott)… he donated the bus from the million dollar stage tour, which we bring out of storage for the festival,” she said.
“I’m always excited to pull the bus out for the weekend and then just watching people’s minds get blown.
“The idea of the outback road trip is intrinsic to the adventure of the movie, we encourage people to embrace that by coming out here on a road trip adventure.”
Sydney drag queen, Hannah Conda, is performing at the festival for the first time and is excited to be performing at an iconic location like Broken Hill.
“I am very excited to see a whole community come together to celebrate one of the most iconic movies to come out of our country,” she said.
“Priscilla is iconic and to celebrate all that it is about is magic. It was one of the films that inspired me to start doing drag and gave me a real understanding of what it is all about, so how could I not be apart of this epic festival?”
“Myself, Minnie Cooper and Vanity Faire will be bringing a touch of Sydney to Broken Hill with some of our favourite shows we have done together. They are period shows with music you can sing along to and really get into! Plus it’s pretty much a visual spectacular with the costumes.”
Brendan Barlow came back to Broken Hill after living away for several years. He said his hometown is accepting and he loves. Barlow believed people should make the effort to attend the festival.
“I’ll be here, that should be enough of a reason to get you here,” he said.
“You’d be a fool to miss out on it, it’ll be a fabulous weekend, filled with glitter and love.
“And it’s Priscilla’s home, how could you not come?”
The Broken Heel Festival is on September 9-11.