“Well… simply, we’re unemployed.”
It’s a phrase that echoes down deserted streets and in empty venues throughout the country. This time it’s being uttered by Nathan Powter, aka, Charisma Belle, who runs Sydney Drag Royalty, a booking agency for prestige drag queens.
“Basically in a 24 hr period we kind of lost all of our bookings. I was hoping we’d keep the smaller bookings, the hen’s parties and all that kind of stuff,” says Powter, describing the instant and complete effect of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“We were kind of hoping that at least with small groups that they might just move to a private function…but not even that’s happening.”
In one fell swoop, the livelihoods of nine people were thrown into doubt – but adversity is mere grist for the mill for this tough bunch of dames.
“Something that drag queens have done all throughout history – and I hear a lot of the older drag queens talk about it in terms of the HIV crisis – is that we kind of come to the forefront and do our best not to stop entertaining,” says Powter.
The girls decided to embrace the challenge. Powter invested in some high-grade equipment including two studio lights, an HD camera, and sound gear. On Sunday March 22nd, Charisma Belle (Powter), Carmen Geddit, Coco Jumbo, Pomara Fifth and Sia Tequila went live on Instagram for their first Sunday Night Live!
They broadcast from Powter’s home for roughly an hour and a half, chatting, laughing, singing and reading comments from the many punters who had tuned in.
“Instagram is the easiest format for us to go live instantly. It’s kind of more popular than any of the other social networking sites at the moment,” says Powter, explaining why they chose that platform. They wanted to go live to try and re-create a venue show.
“I don’t think videos have that same kind of closeness and experience. And also with Instagram people can comment at home, so we were able to connect with everyone watching by reading the comments,” says Powter.
There’s no paywall, but they have included a PayPal link for tips.
Powter sees the show evolving and is brainstorming ideas with the other girls.
“Obviously it’s limiting because we can’t go out into the world to create our content, it all has to be within your four walls.”
Every one of the Sydney Drag Royalty girls is keen to be involved, and they’ll do shows on rotation. For the time being, everyone is positive and excited.
“To be honest, I think a lot of us are in a bit of denial. I think it’s gonna take a little bit to really get our heads around how big this is going to be and how long it’s going to take,” says Powter, offering this advice as a final word:
“Try to stay positive, put your work out there and we’ll all be out there watching because…there’s nothing else for us to do.”
Follow Sydney Drag Royalty on Instagram @dragroyaltyau
Get event updates on their Facebook page.