Australia’s drag community is fierce and fabulous. One of our most dazzling, Hannah Conda reflects on how the Star Observer helped her find her audience.
Picture this, a budding young drag queen sitting in front of their computer in the early days of Facebook, browsing through troves of photos of drag queens all over Australia.
All this young performer wanted was to learn was all things about the art form of drag and perfect their own art to be the best they could be.
I am that performer. Hannah Conda.
Nine and a bit years ago I began this crazy journey into a world I never even knew existed. My mind was blown away by all the magic of makeup and the ability that each of these performers had to become anyone and anything their hearts desired.
I was entranced by the allure each artist had on stage, I was hooked. I wanted to be a DRAG QUEEN.
All my preconceived notions that I was going to be a teacher had faded away and I craved the spotlight.
Every Wednesday night I would pack up a Country Road canvas bag and zip to the Court Hotel in Perth to start the four hour process of putting on my face and battling it out for a $50 bar card (without sounding too conceited I drank for free for a very long time).
Things progressed quite quickly for me and before I knew it, I was producing weekly shows and booking myself all over Perth.
Fast forward to 2015, I took the biggest leap of faith and decided to move to the big smoke, Sydney!
Since moving here I have been incredibly blessed, building a life that is all my own. Each week I get to experience something new and exciting with some truly incredible people, most of whom you can catch performing all over Sydney.
We are truly lucky to call this incredible city our home. Back when I was looking at all those drag queens from across Australia, I was in awe of how amazing the Sydney girls were and I was convinced that one day I would get here and meet them. It turns out not only did I meet them, I now get to call them my sisters, peers and family.
Although it was tough re-starting my life in a new city, I persevered and worked my bum off to make some magic happen.
I was given a few breaks in the performing circuit by being asked to fill in and cover for some of the girls. Through this, I built friendships and work relationships that have allowed me to get to a place where drag is my full time career and I am working 5-6 nights a week.
I realised that I had started to make my mark here in Sydney when I was going for my check up at the RPA Sexual Health Clinic, I grabbed a copy of the Star Observer from the chair next to me and I started to have a browse while waiting for my appointment.
As I started to get deeper into the magazine I was confronted by four show posters all which included my name and face as apart of these incredible casts! I was over the moon!
I popped the paper in my bag and grabbed a couple of extra copies to send home to mum, dad and my nan. It was such a small thing, but for me, this little feature in the Star Observer helped to validate that I had made the right decision and my perseverance was paying off.
Over the past 40 years, the Star Observer has been a staple for the LGBTQI+ community to find news and stories that specifically relate to our diverse rainbow community.
It has had its ups and downs but it still has a heart that beats stronger than ever.
Having a source of community news that is tangible is so important.
It is where we can share our views and ideas that allow us to know that we are not alone in this crazy world. It provides us with a medium that we can sit down and take five minutes away from the day to day goings on to escape and catch up on all that is happening around us.
It provides us with a guide of all the safe spaces that we can attend.
Having a community newspaper has forever been something that I have loved and has made me feel confident that we are here, queer and not going anywhere.
I love seeing all the photos from all the events, seeing all the new show posters in print, reading all the amazing articles that are provided to us be some incredible humans in our tribe.
It is also a lovely way to show my mum that I am doing ok over here because I am in the paper. That’s a big deal for her.
The team at the Star Observer have always been so kind to me and the rest of the talented performers on Oxford Street and the wider Sydney area. They have always done their best to showcase all facets of our community and in many ways keep us connected in a world that is getting more and more segregated by the rise of social media and the internet.
One thing in life that I have always found comfort in was a sense that I had found my tribe and I fit into a community.
In the early days it was the St John’s Ambulance cadets, in my teens it was my school band and when I became of age it was the LGBTQI+ community and drag.
Publications such as the Star Observer are a driving force in keeping connectivity between us alive. Keeping communication alive and keeping our stories alive. Continue supporting our local print media that supports us.
They help to keep us burning bright.