SUNSHINE Coast model Monty Thomas, 26, is aiming to grace fashion festival runways as Australia’s first drag supermodel.
Thomas, who goes by the stage name Jess Whoo, said that others have been both drag queens and models before, but he wants to be the first to model as his drag persona.
“It makes a political statement to Australians that individuals can achieve greatness,” he said.
“Having someone who’s diverse model their clothing would show that anyone can wear their products.”
The part-time hairdresser said the modelling industry is “conservative” but he plans to work for his dream to advance diversity and equality.
“I have to put in a lot of effort to prove myself as a model and a diverse character,” he said.
“I’ve also been researching historical moments in the fashion industry, LGBTI rights, the history of drag in the world and in Australia, and diverse characters in Australia who’ve made it into mainstream culture.”
Thomas is working on putting together a portfolio and plans to move to Melbourne to pursue his dream of drag modelling.
“For myself, drag is definitely an art. I can relay my emotions through my appearance, kind of like I’m using my body as a canvas,” he said.
“My style is androgyny, blurring the lines between gender and being a really beautiful creature that is still male.”
Melbourne Fashion Festival CEO Graeme Lewsey believes the fashion industry has room for drag performers.
“We’re really pro-professional models and performers who can work with designers and generate the right outcome for those designers and keeping with the vision that those designers have,” he said.
“And that can include female, male, transgender and drag models.”
Thomas sees his drag modelling career journey as a symbol for all Australians who don’t confirm to gender norms and who might feel like outsiders.
“Being who you are is empowering and important to equality,” he said.