Melbourne played host to the inaugural Melbourne Drag Awards (MDA) over the weekend, with Art Simone taking home the top prize after being named performer of the year.
Held at Vau d’vile Drag Cabaret Restaurant, the night saw drag queens from across the city take to the red carpet before the winners were announced onstage.
Simone, who won awards for both performer of the year and Miss Congeniality (the latter of which she renounced and passed on to Leasa Mann), said the win didn’t feel real.
“I was so honoured and flattered to be recognised by my peers, but most importantly the community,” she said.
“It’s the best pat on the back you can get, knowing that people do take notice of all the hard work, dedication, and sheer glamour.”
She added that drag to her is the ultimate form of self expression.
“It’s a tool that I get to use every day to not only express what I’m feeling at the time, whether that be creative, inspired, crazy, sad, or passionate, and channel that into a form that I can use to entertain,” she said.
“There’s not many jobs that let you do it – I’m so lucky.”
Other winners on the night included drag icon Polly Filla who won the Hall of Fame award, and Sabrina Baby Slut who was branded best new talent.
Simone believes the future of drag is heading towards being included in the mainstream world.
“In just the past year we’ve seen drag queens become faces of national companies, headline festivals, perform in concerts, feature on TV, and even more,” she said.
“We’re no longer taboo creatures that live in the back of bars with a beer in each hand – we’re now celebrated personalities who are getting the mainstream recognition we deserve.”
She said while she doesn’t use Art to push a particular agenda, she wants to continue doing what she loves most – keeping people happy.
“I’ve always looked [at Art] as a fabulous court jester, who is here to add colour and fun to your life and to distract you from whatever negativity that might be surrounding you,” she said.
See below for a full list of winners from the inaugural MDAs:
Best Show Back-Up Dancer or Team: Michael and Andrew Tangas
Best Show Choreography/Choreographer: Sasha Starr
Support Person of the Year: Malibu Stacey
Best Drag Related Business (non-venue): Wigs By Vanity
Best Drag/Queer Event: Midsumma Festival
Best New Talent: Sabrina Baby Slut
Congeniality Award: Art Simone & Leasa Mann
Bitch of the Year: Missy La Minx
Best Production Show: Sisters Of Sequin
Hall of Fame: Polly Filla
Best Drag Venue: Sircuit/Mollies
Drag Performer of the Year: Art Simone