With a face beat for the gawds (and a bright fluoro ensemble that any highlighter would be jealous of) Etcetera Etcetera joins MGG to chat about her one-woman show, ‘Big Screen, Small Queen’, nepo babies, and how she fell into drag.
Etcetera Etcetera is the drag superstar that first crawled onto our TV screens as ‘the glamour bug bitch’ on the inaugural season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: Down Under. Famous for popularising the term ‘non-binary finery’ and openly talking about their gender identity, the then-22-year-old was sent packing in 7th place, ending their time on the show.
Though, just like the cockroach they entered the werkroom dressed as, this resilient queen is still alive and kicking, taking to the stage to work through some unresolved artistic conflict from her past. Presented during Sydney WorldPride, Etcetera will open-up about her struggles at film school and breaking into the film industry as a gender rebel and less-than-mainstream artist.
Sharing a little of what’s to come from her show, she talks about her time in film school, stating, “I entered that institution and I thought it was going to be free love, everyone being creative, making stuff, y’know, ideas, sharing all that kind of shit.”
However, what 17-year-old Etcetera would find was a word that’s become trendy lately, “Nepo babies; a very closed off boys club with people that had expensive cameras bought by their families who had connections in the industry.
“And I crumbled a under that pressure.”
Feeling alienated and in a state of crisis, she discovered drag, and soon, Etcetera’s drag persona was born. She says, “it provided me the outlet where I could put my entire heart into it. It gave me that special feeling of artistic potential. I was like, ‘Oh, I could do this. For the rest of my life,’ and I mean, look at me now. I guess it’s what I’m doing.”
Understandably eager, Etcetera ponders out loud, “you know what the most exciting thing about doing one-woman show is? It’s the thought that you can literally hold people captive for an hour and 15 minutes to pay attention to only you, and as a narcissist myself, that’s always been a dream of mine. It’s because it’s the closest thing you can get to kidnapping people without breaking the law.”
Taking centre stage from Saturday 11 February – Thursday 23 February, she talks us through ‘Big Screen, Small Queen’, saying, “the show is a story of how I learned to love myself. That’s what the crux of it is. It’s an exploration of how I went to film school. I thought I was going to love it, I ended up absolutely hating it, and I took everything that I wanted out of my film career and working in the industry and kind of dragged and dropped into drag mostly by accident, and surprisingly it all ended up working out.”
On a deeper level, however, “it’s a story about people not fitting in.”
“It’s a story about self-love. It’s a story about trying out new things and taking risks. The audience plays the role of the people making the film, and they see me on stage shooting a movie about my own life where I play the main character…”
“It’s a play, there’s a script. I’m not just getting up from the microphone and doing a talk spot in a crowded bar. I really spent time thinking about what I wanted to say with this work. It’s a really important time for me to be able to present a work during World Pride. It’s very special.”
‘Big Screen, Small Queen’ is show that’s been through a few iterations. Initially a much simpler concept, the original show would have Etcetera come out on stage in costume, alongside other actors, and literally recreate scenes from classics like Singing In The Rain, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. However, as time passed Etcetera sat there writing and couldn’t help but think, “where’s me in it? What’s new about any of this?”
Explaining that sometimes drag queens fall into a trap where they feel they need to replicate things that already exist (like drag impersonators who want to be exactly like Dolly Parton or Cher), Etcetera clarifies, “I think that’s definitely a very special place in drag, but at the same time, it’s nice to be able to create your own work and do something that you have conceptualised, so I put a lot more of myself into it.”
Etcetera invites you along as she pulls back the curtain to uncover everything she didn’t study at film school in hysterical and eye-opening interpretation of cinematic history. Look on as she portrays some of her favourite characters from the silver screen, and shows off some of the films they made at film school.
Tickets to Etcetera’s one-woman show are available from $35.