Hannah Conda is at the top of her game right now. If you’ve ever even perused Oxford Street, you’ll have seen a photo of her splashed outside of Arc or Universal, advertising her next show. Although she’s only been in Sydney for six years, she’s a mainstay of the Sydney drag scene, and with drag booming across mainstream audiences, things are only going to get better from here.
This year took part in the My Drag Story event with six other drag performers to unlace their corsets and share a little bit about their own drag journey, community stories, and where the scene will go to from here.
Hannah first donned her lashes and heels in Perth, where she grew up, and moved to Sydney after a few years producing shows as the Head Drag Queen at the Court Hotel. Hannah’s still a Perth girl at heart, considering her home town and Sydney to be the best of what Australian drag has to offer.
“I think Perth has a larger alternative drag scene and there’s a lot more diversity around what drag is. Sydney does have that diversity, but it’s just spread out a lot more so we’re not intertwining all those facets of drag regularly,” she said. “Sydney is really starting to embrace that though, whether that be drag kings or gender illusionists… I have to say, without being biased, but I do think that Sydney and Perth have the most incredible drag talent in all of Australia. There is such a strong base in both, and I think Perth is often underestimated being so far away.”
“I think drag queens have always been the bastard end of the entertainment industry. But we’re some of the most professional and well-rounded entertainers, in that we are skilled in so many different facets of the industry,” Hannah said. “A lot of entertainers and big names come and relax through watching a drag show. The amount of people we see on TV doing whatever form of entertainment, their outlet is coming to us to see a show, and it’s been that way for years. Think about Les Girls, Liza Minelli was there, and it’s incredible to think about how we’ve been the escape for all these people but have never been on the same level.”
With that rise in popularity of the art of drag comes a sense of celebrity for some of the better known queens. Some of the queens on Drag Race, winners or not, have launched music careers, makeup lines, and more. People are more and more interested in what goes on behind the makeup and wigs and that, Hannah says, gives artists a chance to talk a little more about what’s at the heart of their performance.
“It also plays into the idea that gender is on a spectrum, and that ideas of male and female is definitely blurred in our industry… we’re breaking down those barriers that kind of hold us to the binary of society.”