Q: Let’s firstly take it back to where it all began. When did you start doing drag and what inspired you to put a wig and make up on for the first time?
A: I started at the Imperial Hotel in The Rocky Horror Drag Show. It was a fabulous experience and I got to learn from and work closely with one of my drag idols, Mitzi MacIntosh. The old drag show at the Imperial many years ago were so amazing to me, I knew instantly that was what I was meant to do.
[showads ad=MREC]Q: How did you come up with your name?
A: Charisma comes from my favourite Buffy actress Charisma Carpenter. And I took my last name from a close friend of mine who had a brother who had run away from home and I become her surrogate brother. So I stole her last name. I was just lucky her last name Belle was so fabulous.
Q: Which drag queens have inspired you?
A: Mitzi MacIntosh, Chelsea Bun, Tess Tickle and Wyness Mongrel Bitch were big influences on me in my early days. And of course now I am inspired by Minnie Cooper’s passion and professionalism. Amelia Airhead and Vanity Faire and Tora Hymen are also amazing and inspire me constantly to do better and to be creative. But my friend Trevor Ashley really did bring me out of my shell more than any other. I could list almost every drag queen here. I just love drag so much, I am constantly inspired almost everyday.
Q: As one of Oxford St’s most celebrated performers, what does it take to become an award-winning performer on the famous strip?
A: I think patience, persistence and professionalism are key to being a great drag queen. Learn the craft, practice and most of all for me it was about being nice to my audience. There are times when I get really cheeky and might pick on people but it is all in fun and I make sure I thank those I pick on after every performance and let them know they are appreciated. Without the fans and lovers of drag we wouldn’t have a job. Be nice and lose the attitude.
A: I have won 13 DIVA awards. Some being for Sydney’s Favourite Drag Performer, Miss Congeniality, Entertainer of the Year and some for shows that I have produced have won Best Produced Show and Sydney’s Favourite Drag Shows.
Q: Just for fun: What is your go-to line to shut down an obnoxious or heckling audience member?
A: That’s a hard one. Usually I take a good look at the person and I am able to pick something about them to make a little fun of. It just comes to me, I don’t have the one line that I use regularly.
Q: If you could turn back time and talk to the baby drag version of yourself starting out, what tips would you give yourself?
A: Practice more and to just be yourself. A lot of baby drags, including the young me, tend to have a lot of attitude. It’s unnecessary. Of course we are creating a character and it’s important to be over-the-top and exaggerated but there is no need to be mean and nasty.
Q: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you performing on stage?
A: Falling over is alway funny. Zippers breaking and wigs coming off, that’s always funny. You name it, it’s happened to me.
Q: Drag queens are known for their slanderous tongues, back-stabbing motives and over-the-top mannerisms on and off the stage. What is some gossip that our readers should know, but probably don’t know about Oxford St?
A: Well, most of us are really nice and even though we pick on each other a lot, for most of us we actually have mutual respect and get along well. There are always exceptions to the rules.
Q: Everyone has an opinion on the success and fail of Oxford St. What is the strip missing? What would make it better?
A: Community spirit is missing. Back in the day we had things like Shop Yourself Stupid, and parties like Hand in Hand, etc, and everyone got involved. There doesn’t seem to be much thought given to the past and the culture that the LGBTI community had developed before us. We are missing the kindness, love and passion of those that came before us.
Q: Finally, where can people watch you perform in Sydney?
A: I’m a busy girl. you can catch me:
Monday nights — Turbo trivia at Stonewall Hotel
Tuesday — Karaoke at Stonewall Hotel
Wednesday — Karaoke at Pymble Hotel and Cash For Queens at The Shift Bar from 10pm
Thursday — Rock hard at ARQ Sydney
Friday — Scruffy Murphy’s in the city
Saturday — Cinematic, Granny G and Her Big Booty Bitches at Stonewall Hotel
Top five things you should never say to a drag queen, according to Charisma Belle:
1. What’s your male name?
2. What’s your day job? (As if drag isn’t a legitimate profession)
3. Will you be my drag mum? (It doesn’t work that way)
4. Can you do my face for free? (I’m an artist I don’t give my work away)
5. You’re a drag queen, you must be a bottom.
**This article was first published in the October edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.