Growing up in rural Australia, kicking the footy ball high was Daniel Newell’s way of challenging “the protocols of masculinity.” These days Newell does it with their transformative art and drag persona DANDROGYNY. 

“Birds, butterflies, (iconic drag queen) Divine, Equity and Queer Power all inform and resonate with my ongoing performance practise,” Newell tells Star Observer. 

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‘I Paint with Watercolors and Often with my Fingers’

DANDROGYNY allows Newell to playfully draw the attention of the audience to the “performative nature of hyper-masculinity and its toxic implications.” 

“I’ve never felt at ease being a ‘male’ body in this world. DANDROGYNY allows a sense of freedom and the ability to freely emote, express, explore and act as a moniker. To be and feel and lead as an example of what it could be like to abandon the codes aligned with normative masculinity and this toxic patriarchy,” says Newell. 

Visual codes like the neon colours that one usually associates with hypermasculine construction sites transform into DANDROGYNY’s high-vis makeup and costumes. Batting pads, more common to the cricket pitch than on the drag stage, become accessories. 

Of late, according to Newell, the act of becoming DANDROGYNY has taken on ritualistic overtones. “I paint with watercolors and often with my fingers, to allow a strong sense of play, and allow the inner child to always be free and present,” says Newell. 

‘Leaning Into the Unknown’

Image: Evan Fowler Photography

DANDROGYNY took time to evolve into the high-vis Quing (queen/king) they are today. Newell was part of the queer scene in Melbourne, with dreams of being a Broadway star. They climbed the proverbial ladder of success – from a dancer in a Bollywood film to Kylie Minogue’s backup dancer and the Sydney Opera House. 

It was in Sydney that they literally “dipped their toes” in the drag scene, before “leaning into the unknown.” Their first gig was under the name of ‘Demure’ (“I wanted the name to begin with a ‘D’ to riff off the fact that I was in complete adoration of Divine”). It was years later at a Tropical Fruits party that the name DANDROGYNY struck them. 

“DANDROGYNY emerged through trial, triumph, and truth. My drag-tastic expression/isms allowed me to realise my actual ‘everyday’ journey as one of non-binary and gender fluidity,” says Newell. 

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Part of Multiple Shows at Midsumma Festival 2022

At the Midsumma Festival this year, DANDROGYNY is part of multiple shows. With bestie Betty Grumble, they will be presenting their “theatrical and exploratory space for children and their adults” titled Mini Beast Disco at the Abbotsford Convent. This will be followed by A Composting Cabaret — an evening party-landscape for grown-ups. 

DANDROGYNY will also present their work at Wyndham City’s Park Lounge. They will also be seen in Maude Davey’s Performing the Monster at the Hare Hole and in All the Queens Men’s – The Coming Back Out Tea Dance. 

“It’s gonna be an absolute HOOOOT!” promises DANDROGYNY. 

Star Observer’s Midsumma fg (Festival Guide)

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