Glittery Madness: Drag Jam
A social initiative on Oxford Street featuring dozens of amateur and professional drag queens and kings will raise awareness of anti-gay violence, homophobia and street safety. Serkan Ozturk takes a look at Drag Jam.
It’s been described as “glittery madness” and after only one year has perhaps become one of this city’s most colourful events to tackle the difficult issues of homophobia, street violence and safety. And come this Saturday night, dozens of drag queens and kings – from amateurs and first-timers to pros – are once again expected to strut their stuff down the bars and venues of Oxford Street for Drag Jam.
Youth worker Will Field tells SX that he has partnered with ACON’s Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project (AVP) to help with the event, following the success of last year when about 100 people turned up at the Taxi Club in drag for the start of the night’s bar hopping.
“Last year we had around 100 people dressed in drag and this year we want to triple this! It will be an explosion of glittery madness!” Field says.
The support of ACON has allowed Field to spread the word even more, with organisers now expecting at least 30 drag kings to take part this weekend, up from only three last April.
“Unlike other GLBTIQ streets around the world our rainbow flags only go up a few times of the year and because of this a lot of wider community folks don’t realise that this is our safe space,” he says.
“I want the people in our community to be able to walk down the street being able to express whoever they are without being bashed or called names and what better way to get the message out than with 300 drag kings and queens.”
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill tells SX that the partnership with Drag Jam was an easy one to get involved in.
“People loved the drag nature of the event itself, but also the purpose and motivation behind it,” he says.
“It struck a chord and created an accessible and fun opportunity for people to get involved in generating change and addressing GLBTIQ community street safety issues.”
Drag Jam this year will once again have a police escort as participants visit various venues to discuss anti-violence strategies, share information and offer advice, while street vox pop-style video snapshots will also be taken on what people think of community safety on and around Oxford Street.
“We plan to start at the Oxford Hotel, then hop to Stonewall, skip to Palms, then waddle down to the Columbian then Crawl to the Midnight Shift and then explode to anywhere our feet will take us,” Field says.
Tia Lee from the Oxford Hotel tells SX that the venue is proud to be involved in such an important initiative.
“It is so refreshing to see anti-violence being addressed in such a colourful way for such a serious message,” Lee says.
“Also that it is being addressed on Oxford Street. It is great to see a community get together and do something instead of run away to the suburbs and hide.”
Ush Ruth-Wick, a 38-year-old information and resources co-ordinator, tells SX that last year’s event was the first time they had been in drag.
“Last time was my first time in drag, and I had some great supportive friends who also came too as well as plenty of encouragement and help,” Ruth-Wick says.
“I'm going this time because I absolutely loved it last year...had a ball!! It was so much better and so much more fun than I imagined.”
Michael Bourke from the Midnight Shift, tells SX that they will be ready for the Drag Jam-mers when they arrive late in the night.
“We’re the biggest employer of drag queens in Australia and we always support drag at a grassroots level which is exactly what this event is,” he says.
“We will be more than happy if 50 or more amateur drag queens and kings come in during the night.”
For those still stuck on an idea for an outfit on the night, Field advises that people get their creative juices flowing.
“No one could say this event is just for the flamboyant types when we had a rugby team in drag last year. This year we will have not only rugby players but water polo players as well,” he says.
“The event is very open and asks for you to be creative. Beards, leather, Disney gear, in barely anything at all, hideous, gorgeous, moustaches, big wigs, small wigs, glittery, pink, dark, sinister and so much more."
[Pictured] Drag Jam organiser Will Field (centre), pictured her at last year's event, is hopeful hundreds will take part in 2012. Photo: Jason Nichol
Drag Jam is on Saturday, February 11, starting at 9pm from The Oxford Hotel, Darlinghurst. For more information, check out the event page on Facebook under ‘Drag Jam’.