20 October 2016

A Showgirl Memorial for Taylor Square, Sydney

In February 2014 The City of Sydney Council endorsed Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s proposal to install a permanent artwork at Taylor Square to mark the 40th anniversary of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2018.

This decision came about after the early removal of our loved Rainbow Crossing by the State Government and a well-attended Rainbow Rights Forum held by the City at Paddington Town Hall in July 2013. There were numerous ideas, several of which incorporated a rainbow motif. Ideas included a rainbow suspended over Taylor Square, a rainbow fountain, ideas for sculptures, lighting, and plaques that told our communities stories.

Apart from the range of different ideas, strong views were expressed about the role such a symbol should play. Foremost was the desire that it be permanent and that it capture the character of the Sydney LGBTI community, in both its playful and serious modes. That it should serve as a landmark, a destination and a meeting place. Something people wanted to photograph and share with others.

14 October 2016

Who is Sydney’s Favourite Drag Personality?

The DIVA for Sydney’s Favourite Drag Personality is an award introduced several years after the awards began as a response to the massive change in social drag that began taking off. This year she – your favourite comes of age.

Any award decided by audiences is cherished by the winner, it’s the ultimate response to their work. But it goes further, it acknowledges that very Sydney connection performers have with the fans. Visit any bar or club and you’ll see showgirls taking the time to chat and meet fans after the show and with the explosion of entertainment options without a stage, more so than ever, the performer and the patron are connecting. 

With the drag persona larger than life, it’s no surprise that past winners of this award have been some of our biggest stars. Chelsea Bun was its first and still today when she makes a now rare appearance on the scene fans are lined up for their Bun fix. Minnie Cooper, Tora Hymen, Karen Kardashian and Kitty Glitter all past winners are infamous for a bit of mixing and mingling!

Charisma Belle
Charisma Belle holds the record for this award, she has four of them, and so I checked in with her and asked how important to her this is.  
 “It’s an important award, for me it’s one of the most important. In my mind it means the winner is doing something right. It shows the performer is making a good impression on the audience and hopefully adding something positive to the LGBTI community and beyond.” Charisma said.

Charisma, like many performers, covers all the entertainment options on offer, from the traditional production show, through trivia nights and talent quests as both a host and a judge. So I asked what she tells the new kids about how to look after their fans?

13 October 2016

DIVA 16 - A refresh for the times!

It’s often said that our community organisations must change with the times to remain popular and dare we say relevant. For several years now DIVA has been reflecting the changes we’ve seen in the drag scene and the audience numbers at the annual awards adjusting.

Although the scene is much smaller now the enthusiasm of the audiences is still driving an industry, fuelled somewhat by the RuPaul Drag Race phenomena and the fact our performers are still as good as you’ll see anywhere else.

DIVA have found it difficult over the last few years to establish a judging panel of experts and consequently, who won what and why, was questioned more than ever before. Change was needed.

Kudos to the small team behind Avid Events who have been presenting the awards since 2009. Mostly these days a two hander of Greg Steel and Tim Millgate who have built the event again, year by year, and it was so great to see last year at our 25th anniversary awards how successful they have been.

As soon as those celebrations faded the guys began a process of analysis, what is great about DIVA and what was due for a tweak? Because at the heart, the fact that its main purpose is to recognise the often unsung success of the Sydney drag industry is still as important as it was 26 years ago.