All that glitters …
In 1970, my Muslim parents migrated from a little village in Turkey to start a family in Sydney. I was born in August a year later. I fell into performing by fate when, in the first year of high school, I went to watch an audition for the Rock Eisteddfod.
I was asked to participate or leave the hall. I stayed and landed the lead role, so I took part every year. In Year 11, the teacher who used to put our entries together left and I took that opportunity to produce my first dream come true. I came up with the concept and pitched it to the principal who gave me permission to start working on it. After never even making it to the grand final in previous years, I cried with proud joy when we were named the winner of the grand final at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
During school holidays I did shopping centre shows dressing up as Warner Bros, Disney and Hanna Barbera cartoon characters. I left school and worked as a character performer for five years touring all over Australia.
I knew I was attracted to boys even in primary school. I have always been a tart and, even though I had girlfriends through high school, I often secretly came into Oxford St to live out my true desires.
After years of pressure from my parents to marry, I came out to them when I was 21, assuring them that I was happy. They accepted me and loved me as they always had.
I started working at Ken’s At Kensington and ended up staying seven years. I lived a bacchanalian lifestyle of sex, drugs and dance music, and lots of it.
I would volunteer as a dancer for Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball shows and it was then I noticed drag queens being treated like divas. Knowing how hard it was to get a foot into the drag industry, I entered a talent quest at the Albury Hotel and, taking out first place in the grand final, Kitty Glitter was born.
I received no encouragement from the working showgirls and so started hosting my own night at the Civic Hotel every Saturday night. It was a gay-friendly straight crowd and I often said the only reason I started doing drag was because I’d already fucked all the gay men I wanted to and now it was the straight boys’ turn. The truth is I really started because I was sick of most of the crap drag inflicted on the scene at the time. I don’t know if it was just the amount of drugs I was taking but I became quite bitter and twisted from the lack of encouragement I received.
In 2003, Penny Tration and I were lucky enough to get a six-month contract in Cyprus. This was to be the most important turning point in my life as I stopped using drugs and didn’t start again when I got back to Sydney. The week I returned I was cast in a drag production show and that has snowballed into working four nights a week and winning Sydney’s Favourite Drag Queen at the DIVAs 2006.
Over the last year I have pursued my passion for music further and taught myself how to DJ. I was honoured to win Most Popular DJ at this year’s awards. I also work Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Sydney City Steam and it’s nice to go to a job where I don’t have to apply makeup.
I am nearly 40 years old now and still feel like I haven’t peaked. Although most of my dreams have come true, I am still dreaming of bigger and better things. I have been in some wonderful Mardi Gras and Sleaze Ball shows, but have not yet been given the opportunity to produce my own. I have learnt to be patient and persistent and hopefully my time will come. In the meantime, I am set to start recording a song for Kitty Glitter to release some time in the coming summer. Stay tuned.
I feel so lucky to be an Australian with friends and family who love and support me.
As told to Sunny Burns