Gaining inspiration from areas like New York City’s Brooklyn and Los Angeles’ Silver Lake community, Drag Race Down Under contestant Etcetera Etcetera finds herself constantly inspired by drag that is way outside the mainstream. Her creations and where she gains inspiration from drag that has that always necessary “bite”! I sat down with this Down Under stunner following her elimination this season to chat about her Drag Race run, her drag inspirations, and why she never thinks drag is truly “mainstream”.
Michael Cook: Your entire run on RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under was very unique and seemed very true to who you are. Have you always been that type of a performer?
Etc: Absolutely. I started drag in what we call the area of Sydney that we would consider Brooklyn to be in New York or what Silver Lake would be in Los Angleles, definitely more of an alternative drag scene. I started dressing up in drag as a cockroach, I started drag rolling around covered in all kinds of substances. I really grew up in a kind of freaky and kooky drag scene. What was rewarding in that drag scene was not looking glamorous, but it was coming up with concepts and creating drag that people had not seen; being crazy. I think that still comes through in my drag, even though it is a little bit more polished now.
MC: It absolutely does come through. I mean, who else could make a portrayal of Lindy Chamberlein for Snatch Game actually work?
EE: I mean, no comment on that. I will let everyone else continue that discussion (laughs)!
MC: Have you always been the kind of performer that just finds things outside of the periprhreal and not part of the mainstream, but make them beautiful?
EE: Oh absolutely! If you look at my favorite people and my favorite artist that I look up to, when I was younger I used to religiously watch John Waters films. I think all of the artists that I love that celebrate the ugly, the outsider, and they have celebrated something that is not celebrated as “conventionally beautiful”. To me that is just so much more exciting because it is an untapped and dangerous beauty, a contradictory beauty. I am just always so excited to take something that is a challenge to make gorgeous and glamourous and to do that with it. I relate to that very heavily.
MC: Do you look at artists like Leigh Bowery and Divine and feel it to be absolutely crucial to keep these artists’ names in the stratosphere so they are not forgotten?
EE: Absolutely. I don’t want to rabbit on about this too much because I feel like everyone and their dog goes on about this, but drag has gone really mainstream. It has gone mainstream from being in filthy underground clubs; even now those places still exist, but mainstream drag is what people see. I think it is important to remind people that drag is a little bit dirty, a littlle bit filthy, and has a bit of a bite to it. I think that is really important. We can’t sanitize drag too much or it becomes less special.
MC: When you had the chance to do Drag Race Down Under, was it something where you were immediately ready to take the plunge or were you slightly apprehensive about taking part?
EE: I was actually in two minds about it, I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I didn’t know the scale of it, whether the Australian version would be one like the Canadian version without Ru, and I wasn’t one hundred percent sold when they contacted me. I did the audition process, but I never was the type of person who strove for Drag Race, frankly because I didnt think they’d want me. I went along with it and when they told me I had been cast, I said “well I guess we’re doing this and it begins”! It really was a whirlwind from being contacted to auditioning to be on the show. You get there and its like “I really have made the decision and I’m here, let’s do some drag”!
MC: How do you look at your entire Drag Race Down Under experience?
EE: I don’t think anyone can really prepare you for Drag Race. People will say “Drag Race is this or it’s that” I went into it to showcase the drag that I love to do, the drag that my friends and I love to do in the home bar that I love to work at and the drag that makes me happy and fulfilled. I did that and I am proud that I did that. Even though I did not win the competition, but I was authentically myself every step of the way. I didn’t edit myself for tv, I didn’t create moments that were fake, at the end of the day I was me. I think I am more proud of that than however well I did in the comeptioon. I could look at myself and know that I was authentic.
MC: Areas in the States like Silver Lake, CA and Brooklyn, NY are where so much of your own drag is inspired. Have you gotten to perform in these cities yourself?
EE: I did! I came in 2019 and I got to perform. I went to the Metropolitan and a whole bunch of spaces in Brooklyn. I got to perform at a party called Bears In Space in Silver Lake. It was great to see alternative drag in the States and see that there are a lot of similarities, but there are also a lot of differences. I think that it is fantastic for drag everywhere to be different, localized and representative of the culture that it comes from.
MC: What do you think the biggest difference between Brooklyn drag and underground-style drag Down Under is?
EE: Your women are a lot hairier than ours (laughs). Also, Australian drag queens are mean and ruthless without a doubt. They do have a mate-ship and a sisterhood though. On the show a bunch of us bonded and created great moments together. It is important to remember that even though we are nasty, we do support each other.
MC: Now that the world is slowly opening up, what do you think you want to do next? A return visit to Brooklyn?
Oh absolutely. As soon as the world open ups, I want to come back. I want to do so many things. The main thing that I have been the most inspired about on this journey is being able to inspire young non-binary and trans people and giving them a window into their identities and having conversations with them about those identities. I would love to collaborate with amazing non-binary and trans artists as well. There is an amazing conversation to have in the public forum, and create art about it and have conversation about it. It is my dream to create drag that people have not seen get performed and that they love; that is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
MC: As we emerge into a new world, what have you come out on the other side with as a performer?
EE: I think I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. I think I also have more tools in my toolbox, and now I have a lot more. I think that I just appreciate what I get to do as a job too. I get to dress up every day and feel beautiful and people pay me for it; I’m honored. I think I sat down and realized I appreciate it and my job, and the moment things open up and I can do it live again, I am going to be doing it; it is what fuels me!
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