I don’t go to clubs and bars much these days. And I like it like that since I save plenty of money and don’t have to put up with attitude-laden door-bitches and violent-minded bouncers. One thing I do miss, though, is seeing a decent drag show. Which is why I’ll always put my hand up to see a drag act or three at Fringe World.
While some drag in the clubs is a little long in the tooth – sticking to the ol’ torch-song classics or relentlessly delivering Kylie numbers – there’s a new breed that is flourishing, and it throws all gender rules out the proverbial window.
So far as drag artist Ginava goes, those rules come crashing down with a delightfully big bang! I call it a kind of ‘acid drag’, as if HR Puff N Stuff and Miley Cyrus got together and wanted to create a fashion/slash/drag show.
But where to begin with the praise for Ginava and her so-called Messy Friends? The song selection is genuinely eclectic; the diversity in gender representation wonderfully broad; the lip-synching second to none; and the movements – OMG, those movements!
There’s not one sly little finger point, not one stunned glare, not one robotic dance gesture out of place or wasted; every move adding to a lyric or sentiment in any given song.
The perfect example of this is when flamboyant Bobby Knox is rocking the world’s best robot moves to Bjork’s Human Behaviour, with no amount of stripping getting in the way of the perfect lip-sync. Knox is so on the ball, she even syncs to the percussive bits on the song!
Or when Danisa Snake is ogling the audience with her shiny cat-eye contacts, giving the best spectacled cobra drag this side of the equator.
Liberty Genre then takes to the stage as a daintily dressed darling who breaks out into a frenzied rendition of Frontier Psychiatrist, her lip-synching to the song’s avalanche of samples (and more thrown in to boot!) a remarkable feat not to be overlooked.
Ginava herself cuts a decent rug, and I believe she is in charge of much of the choreography, especially when it comes to the group performances. In one such number, a trio of dinosaur-looking creatures make their way to the stage and break into some hip moves to Busta Rhymes’ way mental Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.
Shoutouts must also go to Bebe Babow bringing cultural fusion to her drag including elements of her Boorloo and Polynesian heritage; Flynn V’s sexy sacrilegious take on Disclosure’s When A Fire Starts To Burn; and Mary Lamb O God’s beauty queen on a blind date – literally blindfolded and staggering her way up steps to deliver a most innovative striptease.
While some of the aesthetics are messy – smudged lippy here; ripped stockings there – the overall production couldn’t be more polished. In fact, this might well be one of the best shows I’ve seen all Fringe. It’s progressive drag artistry – where gender is neither stagnant nor taken the piss out of. Gender diversity is what’s really celebrated here.
Fun fact: Ginava designs and creates most of the costumes you see on stage, and she even has a few celebrity fans wearing her wares including one very fabulous Roisin Murphy.
In short, this show revived my faith in drag artistry. Heck, I might even make my way out to The Court to check out more of these masters and mistresses of androgyny.
‘Ginava’s Messy Friends’ is on for one more night only at The Hat Trick in the Pleasure Garden, Russell Square, Northbridge until January 30, 2022. Tickets are available from www.fringeworld.com.au.