Drag has always been about beautiful costumes, colour and movement but recently there has been a tremor in the force. Drag is undergoing a revival. I’m amazed, and that’s no easy thing these days, by the number of boys who like to frock up.
If I had been asked in the early ’90s if I thought drag would survive I would have shaken my head and knowingly pontificated that the young -˜Gaylings’ have moved on and drag has had its day, like the rotary dial telephone.
How wrong I’d have been.
Drag came of age in Sydney in the ’60s and flourished through until the early ’90s. Most of the performers, especially in the ’80s were professional full-time live in a frock and grow your hair long
kind of drag queens. When drag moved off the revolving stage and out of the proscenium arch of Cap’s and onto the bar of the Albury I was convinced it was the beginning of the end of the show.
The great production shows of Mitchell and Penfold that had theme and story were now replaced by a succession of spot numbers. Oh, sure, a few of the shows were still held together with a storyline, like The Priscilla Show, but mainly they became a pastiche of star turns.
With the closure of the Albury, Oxford St lost some of its glitter and drag seemed to disappear. It went into a form of stasis, waiting for the next wave of gender-bending, in-your face entertainers. Little did Miss 3D and Cindy Pastel know what they had begun, or perhaps they did.
Drag is back, bigger and better than anything we’ve seen for a long time.
Sequins and glamour are back and it’s wonderful to see. Choreography is queen and high heels are strutting their stuff up and down the tiles of a battered and bruised Oxford St.
Whether it is a career choice or a casual dalliance, drag is wowing them again in the bars of Sydney. Performers like Prada Clutch, Tora Hymen and Trevor Ashley are the Aeysha, Rose and Michael Michelle of the new generation.
Heading this pantheon of impersonators is the wonderful and very talented Courtney Act, a former contestant on Australian Idol, who now also spruiks makeup to a frightened and confused Larry Emdur on breakfast television.
Courtney has made drag fashionable, fantastic and feminine again. Courtney by night and Shane by day is leading a parade of glamazons who are proud to embrace the history of drag and create the myths of tomorrow.
As post-party Sydney drags its aching head reluctantly into recession and winter, isn’t it great to see splashes of rainbow colour reflecting from the sequins and once again lighting up the pavement of Oxford St?
The Golden Mile is getting a little of its glitter back.
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