Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right Meet the Sydney stars of 'RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under'
L to R: Etcetera Etcetera, Maxi Shield, Jojo Zaho, Coco Jumbo.
Photograph: Supplied/Stan, design by Sally Parsons

Meet the Sydney stars of 'RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under'

Get to know the local queens who will sissy that walk onto the screen in the Aussie version of the reality tv juggernaut

By Alannah Maher
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Start your engines, cobber! After years of rumours and speculation, RuPaul's Drag Race – the unstoppable and multi Emmy-winning reality TV show that has taken the world by storm – is finally coming Down Under. A gaggle of Sydney's finest queens are joining the cast along with performers from around Australia and New Zealand. 

We're getting revved up for RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under by catching up with the local stars as they give us the goss and spill the tea on where you should be seeing drag around Sydney and who you should have on your radar. 

RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under is streaming on Stan from Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Cheer on our Ru girls at the best places to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under in Sydney.

Etcetera Etcetera for DRDU
Etcetera Etcetera for DRDU
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

Etcetera Etcetera

This self-proclaimed ‘glamour bug’ has been doing drag as a full-time professional for three years, but the first time she put on a set of lashes and heels and went out to a club was five years ago. This queen started drag as a way to make friends and express their gender, and they use to rock up to clubs in a daggy cockroach costume – hence the inspiration for the elevated 'roach eleganza of their entrance look. 

What do you bring to the competition?

The fact that as a trans nonbinary person I am part of this season is important to me, and something that I’m really proud to speak up about. 

Who and what are your drag influences?

I would say the ’40s and ’50s and anywhere in that golden era of Hollywood. I'm also very influenced by a lot of fashion designers like Mugler and Yves Saint Laurent – especially what they were doing in collaboration with Salvador Dali. I mean, I'm a film school graduate, my mind works in ways of wide-sweeping cultural references, not typically popstars. I'm definitely not a “popstar queen”, I'm not inspired by the Beyonces and the Britneys and that kind of thing. For me, it's definitely about history, art and culture and kind of reinterpreting it for myself.

What is the most fierce thing you’ve done in drag?

I rode a camel once out near Uluru in drag, and I’ve eaten a lot of strange things on stage.

What can you tell us about your Drag Race experience?

To be part of an experience where we get to put Australian drag on the world stage was really, really special, and I felt that the whole time. We were kind of setting the precedent for what was going to be what the world saw for their first reference since Priscilla. Other than like Courtney Act, this is the world's first big chunk of what Australian drag culture is really like. 

Who are the local queens you think people should be watching?

Danni Issues and Cherry Kills, also drag king Marlena Dali and draglesque performer Mama Medusa.

Where do you think people should be going to see drag in Sydney?

Definitely my home venue, the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville. It is an iconic space in Sydney, not only for the history and being part of Priscilla, but also because it's the one place where you can see so many different types of drag under one roof. I think Universal on Oxford Street is doing some really cool things. Also community-led parties like Heaps Gay and Canned Fruit – they showcase queer artists in inclusive spaces that feel safe. 

What’s your Insta handle? @etceteraetcetera

Coco Jumbo for DRDU
Coco Jumbo for DRDU
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

Coco Jumbo

This Fijian-Australian goddess originally hailing from Coffs Harbour has been a fixture of Sydney’s drag scene and the pink mile for ten years. But as Coco herself says, she’s “been a crossdresser my entire life”. Coco last made headlines in 2017 when she and her drag sisters foiled a homophobic attack on Oxford Street, telling a pack of abusive men to “pick on someone their own size” and rescuing a young queer person. It wasn’t until she was halfway through the audition process, when she was asked who she would do for Snatch Game, that she even realised that she was actually up for RuPaul's Drag Race

What do you bring to the competition?

Fun energy is what I bring. I’m just a good time girl. I’m a queen for the people, there’s like nothing or no one I wouldn’t interact with.

What is the most fierce thing you’ve done in drag?

Dance with a baby. During Mardi Gras they used to have a thing called ‘drag and drop’. It would be a bunch of drag queens driving around Darling Harbour in little golf buggies doing little numbers. One day this tiny little baby broke out from the crowd and came up and just started dancing with me. We were just partying and having a little dance together in the middle of Darling Harbour, it was so cute. 

Who and what are your drag influences?

Toot and Foxy Love from the tv show Drawn Together, Brenda from Scary Movie, Lizzo, Oprah… and local drag queens like Carmen Geddit, Charisma Belle, Minnie Cooper and Vanity Faire just to name a few.

Who are the local queens you think people should be watching?

Aside from the queens I just mentioned, I would say my drag sisters: Ivy League, Vybe and Rumour Has It. 

Where do you think people should be going to see drag in Sydney?

Gingers, upstairs at the Oxford Hotel, on a Saturday night to see me and my sisters Maxi Shield and Carmen Geddit do Three in the Pink.

What’s your Insta handle? @_cocojumbo 

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Maxi Shield for DRDU
Maxi Shield for DRDU
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

Maxi Shield

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

Jojo Zaho for RPDRDU
Jojo Zaho for RPDRDU
Photograph: Supplied/Stan

Jojo Zaho

While technically a Newcastle girl, this proud First Nations queen can be seen popping up around Sydney at venues like the Imperial, serving fierce performances every bit as slick as her colleagues in the city. Jojo has been doing drag for five years, and the first time she dragged up it was as a political response in 2015, when a local council member in her hometown, Dubbo, stated that homosexuality isn’t part of Indigenous culture. In response, she marched down the main street in a costume made from the pride flag and the Indigenous flag.

Who and what are your drag influences?

I’m inspired by Nova Gina, she’s an Indigenous drag queen who used to be part of a duet called Dreamtime Divas. And my drag mother, Philma Box. 

What do you bring to the competition?

Not only do I get to bring my culture, but I also get to bring the perspective of growing up as Indigenous and then finding my sexuality along the way. I think I bring a unique story that is relatable to a lot of queer Indigenous youth out there, that will hopefully help shed some light on their future, and let them know that they can be whatever the hell they want to be and it’s perfectly okay.

What would you like to see from having queer Indigenous representation on this kind of scale?

A lot's still unknown in terms of Indigenous history, let alone queer Indigenous history, so I just hope that I get to be the catalyst to start conversations. We do have quite a large community. I've done plenty of gigs in Sydney, and they are constantly booked out because the queer Indigenous scene is just so connected with each other. I think it'll also make Indigenous culture a talking point with some of the topics that I get to talk about on the show as well. But I can't go into that too much – spoilers!

What is the most fierce thing you’ve done in drag?

I got to host the VIP party for Cher’s concert in Newcastle in 2018. We were sitting pretty close to the stage in full drag with my partner watching Cher perform, which is something I never thought I'd ever get to see.

Who are the local queens you think people should be watching?

My Koori sisters. There’s Felicia Foxx, she’s a talent and such a strong political advocate, and Sarah Moany, she’s amazing and used to be a dancer for Bangarra, and Tyra Bankstown – you will be hard-pressed to find a queen as beautiful as her. There’s also to put it nicely, our more ‘senior’ queens like Nova Gina, Nana Miss Koori, and Miss Ellaneous, they're just such strong role models for us younger queens. 

What can audiences expect from Drag Race Down Under?

Brace yourself, because it's gonna be one hell of a show.

What’s your Insta handle? @jojo_zaho 

But wait, there's more

Karen from Finance and Art Simone
Photograph: Supplied/Stan, design by Sally Parsons

Meet Melbourne's Ru girls

Art

Interstate sisters Art Simone and Karen from Finance are also joining the race, find out more about them.

Learn from the pros

Drag queens Coco Jumbo and Carmen Geddit host GenderBender Bingo.
Photograph: Cassandra Hanagan | Coco Jumbo and Carmen Geddit

A beginner's guide to throwing shade, according to Sydney's drag stars

Gay and lesbian

There’s more to being good at drag than wearing a big wig and big wigging yourself. The most successful drag queens, drag kings and otherwise fabulously androgynous drag entertainers are also experts in the art of 'throwing shade'. When the library opens for some of Sydney’s drag elite, you’re going to need some ice for that burn.

 

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