Ms Shield is nothing short of a local legend. She has been doing drag full-time for 23 years and “playing dress-ups” all her life. The oldest member of the cast, she was approached to do her first proper drag gig in 1997, on the back of a truck on Oxford Street for an event called Shop Yourself Stupid (the current equivalent is Oxtravaganza), where bars would have shows outside on the footpaths.
Tell us about that first gig?
I'd only been out once before in drag, and I thought, you know what, I'm going to give this a go. So I turned up and it wasn't a truck, it was a ute. And it wasn't a sound system, it was a portable CD player, so every time I jumped the music skipped. But as soon as I got on, I'm going to call it a stage, it sort of just felt right.
Who and what are your drag influences?
I do like the old-school drag. I think I'm a blend. I'm from Generation X, so we got the tail end of the old and the start of the new. I draw on strong women, especially strong women in my family. As well as the curvy girls. I'm never going to be a skinny girl, so I own my curves.
I guess you've seen many evolutions of the Sydney drag scene since the late ’90s?
I was lucky enough to get to the tail end [of the golden era]. I watched Priscilla at the cinema a thousand times and then actually experienced the old sort of Priscilla-style drag shows of Sydney in the day at the Albury Hotel, the Exchange Hotel, DCM – some pretty incredible nightclubs.
What is the most fierce thing you’ve done in drag?
Going on tour with Madonna was pretty incredible. I was the hostess for the VIP party. And at her last concert, getting on stage and performing with her, that was pretty incredible.
Who are the local queens you think people should be watching?
My mates Tora Hymen and Vanity Faire, Carmen Geddit, Verushka Darling, and Monique Kelly, she’s an original Les Girl who I worked with at a straight Irish bar for many, many years.
Where do you think people should be going to see drag in Sydney?
The Beresford has been doing these amazing cabaret shows with Minnie Cooper, Jacqui St Hyde and Mynx Moscato.
How would you describe your Drag Race experience?
You know when you make a cheese and tomato toasted jaffle sandwich, and it smells delicious? And you bite into it, but it burns your mouth, but you keep eating it. It's a bit like that. It was just so amazing, but bloody hell, it was hard. And when they say it's the drag Olympics, oh shit, they’re not lying.
What’s your Insta handle? @maxishield