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drag queen – John McRae Photography & Studio

Moulin Scrooge at the Seymour Centre this December

Trevor Ashley is at it again! This Christmas will see Trevor flying high in a raucous parody called “Moulin Scrooge” being performed at the Seymour Centre in December, 2022.

I had the pleasure of working with Trevor again on the photography for the poster work. We hadn’t seen each other for some time so it was great to have him in full make-up and drag, bursting into the studio for the shoot.

We set up a mock trapeze in the centre of the studio as the main prop to recreate the illusion of “Nicole Kidman”. As you can imagine the whole shoot was hilarious. Trevor has a natural capacity to keep you giggling even when you should be concentrating on more serious concerns.

Minnie Cooper “kills it” on Ru Paul’s Drag Race

Costume: House of Priscilla, Wig Styling: @wiggedoutau

Minnie Cooper is one of Sydney’s most eminent drag queens. Her career spans decades and she hails from the flamboyant, golden years of drag in Sydney in Oxford Street. Most recently she has done a sterling job starring in the latest series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under (currently showing on Stan). Minnie made it through to the fourth episode, before she was ceremonially ejected from the line-up by Ru Paul herself. She departed with enviable glamour and style.

Minnie asked me to organise a shoot to document some of the original looks which “she rocked” during the four episodes of Drag Race Down Under. Here are some images from that shoot. Think Lucille Ball, operatic diva, Madame Butterfly, Penelope Pitstop. It is always great to work with Minnie, who is a real pro, an authentic Sydney icon and a generous mentor to upcoming talent. I know that Minnie has further show-stopping looks which deserve to be properly documented, and so I look forward to our next photography session together.

Costume: Dallas Della Force, Wig Styling: @wiggedoutau, Jewellery: House of Priscilla
Costume: Kirsten Damned, Wig Styling: @wiggedoutau, Boots: House of Priscilla
Costume: Kirsten Damned, Wig Styling: @wiggedoutau
Costume: @grantmargetts, Wig Styling: @wiggedoutau
Costume: Kirsten Damned, Wig Styling: @wiggedoutau, Boots: House of Priscilla
Costume: Mitzi MacIntosh
Minnie with Frangipani, dress Kirsten Damned
Costume: Kirsten Damned, Earrings: Miss Madinson 3D

BRENDA CALL ME – Season 2

Courtney Act and Vanity are at it again. Following their very successful first season of the NOVA podcast of Brenda, Call Me, where our two partners in crime would meet each week to “chew the fat” on what had got them all fired-up, Courtney and Vanity will be back on the airwaves from this Thursday, May 19, 2022. 

In mid-April, we shot these promotional images at Sydney Props with the team from NOVA, as well as Stephanie Liebeck (On-site Stylist) and Russall Beatie (Head Stylist), both from Giant Panda King, who were responsible for the concept, set design and additional photo re-touching.

But wait…..there’s a narrative!

According to Courtney’s instagram (@courtneyact), while she was exploring the planet Octopoda, Courtney “has gotten herself into trouble” while on an Intergalactic Lady Grindr date gone wrong. 


“You don’t look anything like your picture! You have 9 arms instead of 8! BRENDA, CALL ME!”
“Don’t worry Brenda, I’m coming to save you.!”

While aboard the USS Brenda, in orbit around the planet Octopoda, Vanity hears a distress call from Courtney, whose intergalactic Grindr date has gone horribly wrong. “Don’t worry Brenda, I’m coming to save you!”

Vanity finds Courtney hand-cuffed to a Chick-Feather-Boa Tree and tells the 9 armed catfish, who looks more like an octopus, to scarper before she zaps him with her stun-ing gun.
Courtney and Vanity beam back up to the “USS Brenda” to relative safety.
Finally, the two friends celebrate in the safety of the mother-ship.

Catch these two characters from this Thursday on a weekly basis at NOVA Podcasts (Brenda Call Me). As Courtney states….”Vanity and I are bringing you more astounding honesty, friendship and some queer history!”

Qween Lear as part of the Sydney Festival – Ruled by drag qweens, fuelled by love.

I was asked to produce imagery for the production of Qween Lear which will be one of the headlining performances in the 2022 Sydney Festival. So along with Dee Dee as a fierce Sydney drag identity, we set up a photo-shoot in the mens toilets of the Cricketers Arms pub in Surry Hills to promote this immersive theatrical performance. As part of the festival programme, Qween Lear will take place in the Hordern Pavilion, itself the site of so many parties in the age of excess and ecstacy.

Part rave, part theatrical extravaganza, Qween Lear explores the demise of Sydney’s party era through the tale of an ageing drag matriarch played by Minnie Cooper (AKA Aaron Farley), abdicating her nocturnal throne. Set over one night around the turn of the millennium and stacked with Australia’s fiercest performers, a dazzling light show and throbbing original score, it’s a joyous love letter to the legends and legendary stories of Sydney’s lost nightlife.   

The story of Sydney’s nightlife is inseparable from its queer history. Sparked by the 1978 Mardi Gras protest, the birth of house music, and a flourishing queer counterculture, our fair and feisty city gained an untouchable reputation for hedonistic nightlife in the eighties and nineties. Hordern Pavilion parties were the red-hot and sweaty epicentre of this fantasy world of love, fetish and house music.  Now it will the home of a queer version of the Shakespearean tragedy King Lear.

Producer, Adam Lowe (ALG – art and culture events management), prompts Dee Dee on set.
Sydney Festival Guide, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November, 2021

Post-show Exhibition:  At the conclusion of the Qween Lear performance in the Hordern Pavilion, ticket holders are invited to a free digital photography exhibition representing some of Sydney’s most iconic parties from the late twentieth century. This project has been proudly supported by the Powerhouse Museum.

Book your tickets here: https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/events/qween-lear

Mardi Gras – Welcome to Sydney

Bigger is better!

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2021 is on the doorstep. Although there won’t be a dance party or street parade this year, there will still be a stadium event (with puppets) at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Best of all, for anybody able to travel, throughout the terminals at Sydney Airport my rainbow portrait of Amelia Airhead (longtime diva and drag royalty) is featured as a colourful reminder that Mardi Gras has arrived.

Come fly with me

Along with my fashion images printed on billboards several years ago in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, these portraits of Amelia in Sydney are now the largest reproductions of any of my images.

A bright, cheerful and queer greeting on arrival…..