While Australia’s COVID-19 crisis is only in its infant stages, LGBTQI performers are continuing to push new boundaries with their unprecedented movement towards the digital sphere.
Sydney drag icon, Penny Tration, is among many who are pushing the performative envelope in self-isolation conditions, through their aptly named live-streaming Facebook page, Tration in Isolation.
When Penny, AKA Daniel Floyd returned to Australia from a holiday in Mexico, he was left jobless and shattered at seeing Sydney’s socially broken LGBTQI community.
However, he vowed not to take the boredom of nation-wide house-arrest lying down. Now in self-isolation for two weeks after returning home, Floyd is performing daily and nightly in his living room with Sydney’s star-DJ, Dan Murphy.
Livestreaming to thousands of followers on Facebook, Floyd and Murphy are proud to be a part of the growing digital performance movement that’s boosting morale, while also serving an absolute lewk.
Speaking to Star Observer, Floyd said that despite initial the shock of an immediate lockdown, he was amazed to see such an eager push towards supporting digital LGBTQI-entertainment, and was proud of his community for its unwavering encouragement.
“I got back into Sydney and It was an absolute culture shock. I lost six jobs in three hours,” he said.
“None of us have got work, none of us have got income. Yet, I’ve been keeping busy and drinking A LOT. But I don’t consider this finished. We’re just on a temporary hiatus.
“But it’s amazing. I’m just really pleased to see the fact that gay Sydney stood up to continue being creative and entertaining.”
Floyd was a full-time flight attendant with Virgin Australia for 12 years but was stood down after the pandemic hit Australia.
Floyd is also the founder and runner of Gender Bender Bingo which employed 12 drag queens across Sydney, and entertained thousands each week.
Unfortunately, Floyd’s business, as well as the drag queens he employed, had to be put on pause too after Australia’s ‘non-essential businesses’ were forced to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Despite these significant setbacks to himself and his employees, Floyd and Murphy remained determined to keep spirits and careers alive during such a troubling climate.
“I’ve done my very best, as well as Dan, to provide support and assistance and encouragement to everyone – it’s a tough time for everyone after all. As much as it is a dog-eat-dog world, we’re very focussed on sharing other drag queens’ shows and other people’s streams.
“Everyone’s in the same boat and people are scared, so we gotta try and support everyone.”
Within six days of being isolated, Floyd and Murphy garnered the attention of 2000 followers and nightly drag performance streams which reached 1000 comments every day.
Murphy, who returned from a holiday from Japan before isolating, affirmed to Star Observer that the outreach is not only healthy for the public, but Floyd and himself too.
“When I first went into quarantine, I wrote a list of projects that I wanted to get done, and I haven’t done any of them. This lunchtime show with Penny has been keeping me sane,” he said
“Everyone’s shows have been a good distraction for everyone to not wallow in the grimness of what’s happening.”
Murphy also noted that while the current “grimness” of the pandemic can be suffocating, this digital push is paving the way for an original outlet of performance that encourages nuance, and fosters creativity.
“We’ll all love when this is over, but for the meantime, it’s good to take a different approach to performance. Anyone whose live streaming a show has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something unseen before,” he said.
“So, it’s nice that all together we get to make something different, and make our own rules for what could be the new wave of performance.”