• Tonga’s ‘Leitis In Waiting’, a group of indigenous transgender women. (SBS)Source: SBS
Keep the Mardi Gras party going with these shows from the USA, Australia and Tonga.
SBS Guide

18 Feb 2019 - 1:27 PM  UPDATED 18 Feb 2019 - 1:27 PM

To celebrate Mardi Gras, NITV hosts this season of documentaries, series and films to keep the party pumping. We meet wannabe drag stars and members of the Kiki community in New York City, transgender cabaret performers in San Francisco, and closer to home, the indigenous transgender women of Tonga and the Aboriginal drag queens vying for the crown of Miss First Nation. We also meet Chance, Steven Oliver’s gorgeous new creation in A Chance Affair. 

Shade: Queens of NYC

We kick off NITV's Mardi Gras season with the high-energy drag scene of New York City. This 11-part half-hour series follows eight up-and-coming drag stars as they try and make it big. Beyond the glitz, glamour and glitter of performing, they have to find a way to balance the everyday challenges of life and community, love and heartbreak, family and faith.  

The first 10 episodes of Shade: Queens of NYC air each night from Sunday 24 to Thursday 28 February, then from Sunday 3 to Thursday 7 March at 7:30 pm on NITV. The final episode airs on Saturday, 9 March at 7:35 pm.

Catch all episodes at SBS On Demand after broadcast.


In San Francisco, we dive into the lives of five talented young cabaret performers. By the creators of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce and RuPaul’s Drag Race, Transcendent follows the friends, all trans women, as they navigate their personal, professional and romantic lives, and celebrate being who they are.     

Season 1 of Transcendent airs each night from Sunday 24 to Thursday 28 February at 8:05 pm on NITV. Season 2 airs from Sunday 3 to Thursday 7 March, then concludes on Saturday, 9 March at 8:05 pm on NITV.

Catch all episodes at SBS On Demand after broadcast.

Black Divaz

From director Adrian Russell Wills, Black Divaz takes us behind the scenes of Australia’s inaugural Miss First Nation pageant. The contestants are sassy and fierce Aboriginal drag queens from around the country, and they’re more than happy to share the stories behind their outrageous drag personas. The documentary follows the contestants’ battle for the crown over five fun and fabulous days.

Black Divaz airs on Friday, 1 March at 9:00 pm on NITV, or at SBS On Demand after broadcast.

A Chance Affair

A Chance Affair is a romantic ‘dramedy’ about Chance (played with effervescence by creator, Steven Oliver), a gay Aboriginal office worker and diehard musical theatre wannabe. The 5-part series takes us on the ups and downs of Chance’s dreams, both romantic and musical. When his heart is broken, he turns to music to help him heal. Will he find his place among the performers at cabaret bar, Belters? Will he rebuild and find love again?

A Chance Affair airs on Sundays from 3 March at 8:35 pm on NITV. Catch all 5 episodes at SBS On Demand after broadcast.


This Sundance-selected documentary takes us into the lives of seven LGBTIQ+ youths in New York City. In an atmosphere of rejection and threats of violence by family and the wider community, they come together to form a community of their own. One based on safety, openness, dance and celebration of the freedom to be who they are: Kiki.

Kiki airs on Sunday, 3 March at 9:25 pm on NITV, or at SBS On Demand after broadcast.

Leitis In Waiting

This fascinating feature documentary from Tonga delivers a portrait of Joey Mataele, the leader of an intrepid group of leitis, or indigenous transgender women, fighting religious fundamentalism and intolerance on the rise in the South Pacific kingdom. We hear from Tonga’s royals and religious leaders and embrace the unexpected humour while on this raw, emotional journey. Leitis In Waiting explores what it means to be different in a society ruled by tradition.  

Leitis In Waiting airs on Monday, 4 March at 8:35 pm on NITV, or at SBS On Demand after broadcast.

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