6 March 2015

The making of the Beyonce G Spot Memorial Float

It takes time, money and resources to make a float for the Mardi Gras Parade. Here, Colleen Windsor takes a look at a group of friends doing it for the love and memory of their late friend.

Zaine ‘Sascha’ Fierce was the guy who gave us the famed Sydney drag queen Beyoncé G-Spot, and Beyoncé was an entrepreneur. At the heart of every entrepreneur is a passion for what they do and a passion for life, and Zaine, Beyoncé, or Mark as I knew him, showed us that in spades when he lived here in Sydney.
Beyoncé G-Spot was created in 2004 and over the next five years was front and centre of the Sydney drag industry. She single-handedly raised thousands of dollars for charity through selling ‘$1 Suckie’ lollipops on many a Sydney dance floor; created the popular TwinkTown club nights; and in 2007 won three DIVA Awards including the DIVA Rising Star. I remember Beyoncé fondly as a queen who was creative, talented and determined to make it. At that time I was on the DIVA Board and had many a moment with Beyoncé, who could also be sometimes difficult and demanding. It’s all this that made her, well, unforgettable.

Zaine and his partner Roland moved to Hamburg, Germany in 2009 where Zaine established a DJ career playing throughout Europe and started his own lace front wig business. In 2013, at only 32 years old, Zaine unexpectedly passed away.
Now, a small group of her friends have been putting together a spectacular tribute Mardi Gras Parade entry – the Beyoncé G-Spot Memorial Float – in celebration of her life.

Float concept design by Troy Murphy

Based on the multi-DIVA award winning drag show ‘The Little Merdrag’, the underwater-themed float will revisit the popular stage production from Stonewall Hotel in 2007, carrying the message, ‘Part of Your World’. Through my connection with Beyoncé all those years ago, I’ve been invited to ride on the float, and I’m delighted to have this experience amid an amazing group of young people. Led by Ripley Waters and David Olsen – close friends of Beyoncé who were the other cast members of that 2007 drag show – a small group are unleashing their passion to honour their friend and bring their passion for our community to the Parade.

When I first pitched the idea of the float I never expected it to grow to such a grand scale and affect so many people,” Ripley said. “As the creative process and workload has snowballed, I wondered at times if we were in over our heads. But, I can rest assured it will all be worth it, and this is exactly how Beyoncé would’ve wanted it.”

The well-known fairy tale of The Little Mermaid, written by Hans Christian Andersen and immortalised in the Disney animated film in 1989, is the perfect material to reference for a glamorous, camp and magical float with a message of acceptance and ‘fitting in’.

Totalling 120 participants, the float is led by Ariel, the heroine mermaid of our story. It’s wonderful that Decoda Secret, aka David Olsen, will take the part for which we fondly remember Beyoncé, ably protected by Ripley Waters. Joining them will be Beyoncé’s partner Roland Dick travelling all the way from Hamburg for the occasion. 

Roland told me recently that he is really looking forward to meeting up with all their old friends in Sydney.

“I am indescribably grateful that the community hasn't forgotten about Mark and are putting together a float in his memory for this year's Mardi Gras. I know Mark will be there with us and flaunt his mermaid tail upon us!”
Attached to this truck will be a trailer carrying Ariel’s six mermaid sisters, who will actually be six of Beyoncé’s drag sisters who shared their love and friendship. Following will be 90 marching ‘mer’ people, all beautifully fish-themed and performing a specially created water ballet choreographed by Decoda.

Finally, a last truck carrying Beyoncé’s friends, lovers and colleagues will follow, featuring King Triton, Ursula The Sea Witch, Flounder, Flotsam and Jetsam, seahorses, crabs and glamorous showgirl jellyfishes (one of which may resemble yours truly). This is all set to an uplifting soundtrack created by Ripley Waters and referencing back to their original drag show.  

Decoda Secret and Ripley Waters with float participants Steven Capp and Caleb Kleinig.
 Photos: Mark Dickson/Deepfield Photography
Through my involvement with this group and my foray into the Parade, I’m struck by two things in particular.  One is that here, on the brink of the 37th Mardi Gras Parade, the sense of community and team spirit to pull this off and to make this float fabulous is as fresh and exciting through my young friends’ eyes as it ever was.

But secondly, just how darned expensive it has all become. I’ve been critical, like many, of the standard in past parades, but can see how tight it can be. The organising team of this float held a fundraiser at Stonewall last September and raised nearly $3,000. They’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign and all the participants on the float have contributed considerably to the production and covered their own costumes. Whilst the team were unsuccessful in gaining a Mardi Gras float grant, we couldn’t make this happen without support from our community friends: Stonewall Hotel, SX, Apollo and Brightwell Transport, amongst others, and everyone is hands-on at our working bee days. 

What I’m seeing, feeling and loving is the passion these young friends are bringing to this celebration and tribute to their lost friend, who in turn gave a lot of fun, glamour and creative excellence through her entrepreneurial passion. All this fits very nicely with the 2015 theme really.

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