July 27, 2017
I was 3 or 4 and I don't remember this, but my older sister had a red dress with white polka dots that my aunty made her. She hated it, but apparently I LOVED it. Mum would always say that if she couldn't find me, I would be in the back yard spinning around in that dress so it flared up all around me.
February 23, 2017
There’s something magical about quality drag performance. From the costuming to the makeup to the lipsync - it must be perfect. The crowning glory though for any drag superstar is an amazing wig – the finishing touch that brings one’s inner goddess alive.
For more than 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of Sydney’s magical Oxford Street scene. As one of the original Sydney drag supermodels, my challenge was finding a quality wig that looked amazing both on-stage and (much, much) later on the dancefloor. Back then, all we had were crappy wigs and switches, more suited to some scrubber at her first office Christmas party.
In the very late 90’s though, two baby drags bounced up to me between my shows at the Albury Hotel – all wide-eyed and full of (potential) talent. It wasn't long before these bitches, Vanity and Courtney, were winning awards themselves and stealing hearts. Evidently, one of their many skills was to be enterprising, with them soon designing and manufacturing custom-made wigs for the demanding Sydney queen. It was good-bye helmets and bird nests - hello glorious lace-front fabulousness!
So here we are, whizzing through a new millennium and Wigs by Vanity has taken the world by storm.
I’m so proud of my little grand-daughters, dear friends and now drag superstars in their own right – their amazing uber-rias, weaves and toppers adorning stars across the globe, from Rupaul, Conchita Wurst and Bianca Del Rio to Alaska Thunderfuck and many a Drag Race queen just to name a few. Constantly striving for wig perfection, they have created an all-exclusive range of beautiful wigs and accessories - made by drag queens, for drag queens.
Folks, whoever said “beauty is only skin deep”, was absolutely correct - so get yourself a WBV creation today, glue it to your damn head, and release your gorgeous inner goddess!
Sydney drag legend and Inductee to DIVA Hall of Fame (2016)
January 21, 2017
After being a drag queen for about 8 or 9 years, I grew very tired of putting on make up and working in clubs and bars. As impossible as it sounds, I actually started to see drag like an office job. The monotony of doing the same thing day in day out, even though it was all sex, drugs and rock n roll, just bored me.
I started drinking more and partying more just to feel inspired. But nothing worked. I began to hate drag. Spiralling further and further down, with a real risk of being what I always feared most, I realized that nothing would change if I didn't change. I could either keep doing exactly what I was doing and be miserable or I could get my shit together and change my life.
So I trimmed the fat off my gigs. Let go of the ones I didn't love and only kept the few that I did. I stopped drinking and partying, and cleaned myself up.
I didn't know what was coming next but I was enjoying feeling like a real person again. A normal member of society.
During this time, there was a lot of hype about a stage production of the movie Priscilla, Queen of the desert. It was all very exciting as they were wanting real drag queens to be in the cast, so a lot of people I knew auditioned. Of course they were looking for people with musical theatre skills so I didn't bother. And if you've ever heard me sing then you know why! No, I wanted to be backstage and do wigs and make up.
Months went by and I was back to full strength, feeling great and enjoying life again. And then I get a call from my good friend Trevor Ashley (who got a feature role in the show) to do a couple of drag faces for a photo shoot for Priscilla. And that was it. I went in for the shoot and never left.
I truly felt like the universe had guided me to that point, the planets aligned and I was put on the path that would lead to my future.
I travelled the world with Priscilla, rose through the ranks from a casual makeup artist to deputy to head to associate make up designer and wig supervisor. I worked on Broadway, and I lived in London for 2 years. I met the most wonderful and talented people and l learned a fucking shit load of new skills and life experience. I felt so blessed and I wouldn't be here right now if I hadn't gotten that call that day.
Working in that professional environment with such a high standard refined my skills to a whole new level. I felt like I had learned all the spells and I was creating magic with everything I touched. It was a life changing 5 years of my life. But like all good things, there has to be an end. 5 years was a long time to hear the same songs over and over. I did the show 1000's of times. I set the show up in 6 different countries and I was tired. But the real issue was that the repetition made me creatively barren. There was no new flow of inspiration. I was stagnant and for someone who is an extremely creative person, realizing that your magic has gone is a shocking thing.
So Priscilla wound down and I took about 6 months off working to go back to drag full time. I needed to let my juices flow and find my magic again. It worked!
Me and Kylie from when she visited the London production.
July 09, 2016
I want to share with you my early years as an apprentice hairdresser, and how I came to be working with wigs.
I grew up on the Central Coast of NSW, which is about a 90 minute drive north of Sydney. It is a beautiful place full of beaches and lakes... and ignorant bogans (which is kind of like an Australian redneck). Even though I wasn't technically "out" I was born out so those people hated me. I dropped out of school before I turned 16 because I couldn't stand the bullying anymore. But then I fell into hairdressing; a job that was specifically looking for 16 year olds with zero experience in the real world, and I instantly knew that this is where I belonged.
Suddenly I was celebrated for being fabulous, and after years of being miserable at school with dickheads all around me, I had found my tribe and I was happy. I was naturally gifted at hair. I just "got it" and everyone around me knew I had something special. I only had to be shown something once and I could do it on a level that surprised even the most experienced teachers.
An apprenticeship in Australia consists of 4 years of work with one day a week at TAFE (Technical And Further Education; it's like college). I was very fortunate to have a wonderful teacher at TAFE; an amazing hairdresser who had studied in the 1960's and who saw the talent in me and nurtured it. In a time when everything was blow dried, no one in my class was interested "old fashioned" techniques like setting and pin curling, and teasing and barrel curling, but that was ALL I was interested in. My teacher took me aside and showed me so much more than the other students. This was my earliest beginnings of big fabulous hair!
My first teacher was a barber which taught me solid basic mens cutting, but it was soooo boring! It was so basic that we didn't even have a basin! But doing nothing but men's hair meant that I was cutting like a 4th year before my 1st year was even up.I felt I had learnt everything I wanted to learn for the barbers, and doing ladies hairdressing at TAFE that one day a week made me realise that I needed to get myself into a ladies salon.
So, I applied for a job in a small suburban salon an hour closer to Sydney, and I got it! My new boss was the most fabulous woman - also named Ben. My god she was cool, and fuck, did she work hard. She had been hairdressing through the 60's, 70's, 80's, and at that time - the 90's. She had all the techniques that I loved, and I basically learnt most of what I know from watching her. I'm still great friends with her and her daughter Roxy. This is a photo I found of us from when I was 17 at our work Christmas party.
I trudged along in my apprenticeship, earning pitiful money but loving the education I was getting. I loved doing little old lady sets, perming, and styling hair but I knew even then that I wanted more than just salon work. I wanted to work in the theatre and do all of those wonderful things that you just cant do in the monotony of client based salon work.
So 4 years went by, I finished my apprenticeship, and I finally became a qualified hairdresser! I worked for another 9 months in a salon, but by then I had realised I wasn't happy there. I felt trapped by the appointments, and I felt like I couldn't call in sick because I didn't want to let my clients down. Also, by this time, I had started doing drag - but that's a story for another blog!
Looking for a new life of flexibility that would also allow me to travel the country performing as a woMAN, I quit my job in the salon, and I started working at the House of Priscilla, a fabulous drag shop on Oxford St owned by my good friend Chelsea Bun. Even though I only worked there for about 3 months (and was the worst shop boy you had ever seen!) people started asking me to style their wigs for them. I had only styled my own wigs before, but I dove right in and I didn't look back.
A job opportunity at The Individual Wig, a high end wig shop across the road, opened up and I took it. There I learned everything there was to know about good quality synthetic wigs. It was before the time of mass produced lace fronts so everything was hard fronted, though I knew about lace fronts and I desperately wanted one. My wig collection was growing, and I was obsessed with owning all the best wigs! One day my boss found a contact in China who made "made to measure" human hair lace front wigs... and that was the beginning of what would define the next 15 years of my life.