• (L-R) Zodiac, MadB, Bailey Legal, Shaniqua, Felicia Foxx, Timberlina and Lasey (Joseph Mayers)Source: Joseph Mayers
Who will take Australia's most sought-after drag crown?
By
Sophie Verass

19 Oct 2018 - 11:07 AM  UPDATED 19 Oct 2018 - 5:30 PM

What do you get when you put seven Indigenous drag queens from all across Australia in the same place?

Cue photoshoots, talent shows, lip sync performances and a fashion parade of unique self-made costumes inspired by Country and heritage. Not to mention a lot of laughs, a lot of attitude and plenty of padding.  

The annual Miss First Nation drag pageant is like no other, which is why last year’s inaugural event was documented and made into the award-winning film, Black Divaz, currently screening in North America’s ImagineNATIVE film festival. The event has garnered national and international interest since it first kicked-off in Darwin last year, placing Indigenous people in the spotlight of drag culture.

While most drag entertainers free themselves from the restrictive conventions of ‘where they came from’, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander queens, home and heritage is central. Their stage names, costumes and performances show off the pride they have in their Indigeneity and how they choose to own being a ‘minority within a minority’.

Miss First Nation 2018 is taking place on Gadigal land (Sydney). Last year's winner, Josie Baker must pass her crown to the next reign. But who will take the throne?

Meet 2018’s Miss First Nation finalists.

 

Bailey Legal, NSW
Mob: Barkindji

The burlesque babe with legs for days is a musical theater-loving teenybopper, hailing from red-dirt Bourke. She believes what sets Indigenous sisters apart from the mainstream drag community is their different perspectives on life, each having a different cause and a reason why they're doing drag. For Bailey, drag is an interface for identity, culture and queerness.

'Behind' Bailey is 21-year-old Jay Carroll, a Sydney-based student, studying to be an educator. After graduating, Jay plans to take his qualifications back to rural Australia and help children from small towns overcome barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.   

Bailey Legal Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?

Conchita Wurst, burlesque and Tatianna.

2. Finish this sentence— A drag queen should never leave the house without...

A smile and a pair of heels!

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

My Neck My Back (Lick It) - Khia. Because who wouldn't if this song came on?!

 

Felicia Foxx, NSW
Mob: Kamilaroi & Dhungutti

Labelled 'The Realest Tiddah of Sydney', the very tall, blonde Koori Queen led this year's First Nations float at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. As an Aboriginal, queer, trans, sister, Felicia recognises the multiple barriers facing Indigenous people in the LGBTQI+ community. She believes drag can play an important role in highlighting the beauty and raw talent of sistergirls and LGBTQI+ mob, and wants to promote their acceptance in both wider Australia and the Aboriginal community.    

Hailing from Campbelltown, in Sydney's south-west, Elektra Wright - the woman behind Ms Foxx - is a radio broadcaster on Koori Radio. Elektra is currently transitioning, and Felicia has been with her throughout her journey. She says her transition has changed her drag from bold contour make-up, to a more femme-style, which is "all about realness".    

Felicia Foxx Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?

Femme queen realness, inspired by Gia Gunn and my drag mother Philmah Bocks. 

2. A drag queen should never leave the house without...

Her purse, whether it's Chanel, Balenciaga or Gucci.

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Whitney Houston.

 

Lasey Dunaman, NSW
Mob: Kamilaroi 

Lasey is a real show-girl at heart, with "red hot" enthusiasm who can do wonders with a hot glue gun. She's an industry pro, making 2018 her fourth year in the drag business. Throughout her career, Lasey's primary mission is to send a message of love and support to all.

Lasey first began performing as a duo with her real-life partner, Nova Gina (Miss Congeniality winner at Miss First Nation 2017), in a groundbreaking act, 'The Dream Time Divas'. In the years she's been in the scene, she has seen more First Nations drag acts emerge. She believes visibility is key to letting people open up and be themselves.   

Lasey is the alter-ego of TJay, who is originally from Gunnedah and currently resides on the Northern Rivers in NSW. TJay is passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues affecting LGBTIQ+ people, especially young people.   

Lasey Dunaman Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?

The amazingly fabulous and talented Miss Casey Donovan. I admire her style, grace and genuine personality. Own that body and work that individuality!

2. A drag queen should never leave the house without...

Passion and a roll of duct tape.

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

Born This Way - Lady Gaga.

 

MadB, ACT
Mob: Djabugandji and Kaurareg

 

With a large collection of brightly-coloured wigs and bold accessories, MadB is a zany rainbow child with a big heart and passion for paints (painting is her talent in Heat Three). She actively breaks away from conventions, lives by her own rules and frankly, doesn't give a f***. MadB is this year's only Torres Strait contestant. She's incorporating a giant dhari in her final costume for Heat One.      

'MadB' stands for either 'Mad B****' or 'Mum and Dad, both'. Shona, the individual under the wigs, is a non-binary parent to four children between 12 and 18 years old. The family is always growing, as Shona is constantly taking in many LGBTQI+ youth in need of support or mentoring. Shona actively promotes messages of strength, beauty to groups on the margins who need a bit of colour in their lives. 

MadB Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?
Style inspiration varies a lot from old-school Dame Edna to Lady Gaga, Melanie Martinez and Lily Allen, with a dash of Katy Perry... 

If they don’t give a damn about what people think, then they’ve probably influenced me at some point!

2. A drag queen should never leave the house without...

Their personality, cause y’all know there’s some dry queens out there.

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

Wannabe — Spice Girls

 

Shaniqua TiwiSista, NT
Mob: Tiwi Islander: Marathiel & Arabuna

Shaking things up with fierceness and a bit of familiarity, Shaniqua is this year's wild card contestant, as she took Runner-Up in the 2017 competition. The TiwiSista has been performing for little over a year now and credits her new found confidence to participating in the inaugural Miss First Nation. Her totem is the crocodile, and this week she will be proudly wearing an outfit inspired by the reptile designed by local Daly River artist, Aaron McTaggart.   

Shaniqua has traveled 3200km from the NT to be a part of this year's event. Shaniqua believes more support services and opportunities for sexual and gender diverse Aboriginal Australians in remote and rural communities are greatly needed. She currently lives in Darwin and busies herself with performing and hosting events. She often returns to her home on the Tiwi Islands for relaxation and down-time with family and friends.

Shaniqua Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?

I like to think that I’m unique, totally sexy and fierce. 

2. A drag queen should never leave the house without...

Her phone and a fan.

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

Any R&B song where I can shake my booty.

 

Timberlina, NSW
Mob: Wiradjuri

Roller-skater and glitter-lover Timberlina is an larger-than-life, naughty trickster, who regularly entertains the people of her city, Newcastle. Timberlina has re-imagined her totem, the goanna, into a sparkly and sultry costume she'll be strutting this week. She is known for her humour, quick wit and impressive flexibility.     

Offstage, Timberlina is construction project manager and part-time marriage celebrant, Timothy Jackson. He says that drag and his Aboriginality are equally important to him, as they are both central to who he is. He loves nothing more than getting into character, creating an OTT persona and playing around with glitz and glamour. Timothy believes no one should be ashamed to be their authentic selves, and wants to combat any stigmas that prevent many young LGBTQI people from expressing their gender and sexuality.       

Timberlina Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?

Trixxie Mattel make-up wise, otherwise inspiration is just what’s around me and what I feel is me!  

2. A drag queen should never leave the house without...

Glitter (I love me some glitter!). And a cute frock. 

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

Beyoncé— But once I've had a few, anything with a great beat is good! 

 

Zodiac, VIC
Mob: Anaiwan

Zodiac, this year's only Melbourne contestant, was the recipient of the 2017 Victorian NAIDOC Pride Award, despite only having performed for 12 months. A typical Virgo, she radiates tenderness and purity. Zodiac describes herself as "poxy princess", cute, with a thing for preppy clothes. She loves being in the company of fellow black queens, as there's a shared experience in pride and a sense of humour. While you don't see many drag acts lip-syncing Black Comedy routines, you also don't see many who can play an outstanding rendition of ABBA on the flute— Zodiac is as unique as her smile is wide.

When Zodiac is back on Earth, she is Zac Collins-Widders, a 22-year-old public servant working in Indigenous Affairs and is passionate about education. Originally from Armidale, NSW, Collins-Widders moved to Melbourne to study politics and International Relations at University of Melbourne. 

Zodiac Q&A

1. Who/what is your style inspiration?

My main style inspiration is Marina and the Diamonds, but I'm also inspired by classic 90s/00s movies like Clueless or Mean Girls, and I love icons like Twiggy and Marilyn. 

2. A drag queen should never leave the house without...

Eyelash glue. I've learned that the hard way, there are way too many photos of me with wonky Gia Gunn eyelashes.

3. What song is guaranteed to get your off your butt and onto the dance floor?

Everytime, without fault... Hung Up — Madonna! 

 

All photography by Joseph Mayers ©

Watch the Miss First Nation Grand Final this Saturday, 9pm on NITV Facebook LIVE. Follow the event #MFN18.