Dragged into Newcastle
Jayme Zimmermann sits down with the most iconic drag kings and queens of Newcastle to share their stories.
Timberlina: Timothy Jackson
At the start of this interview, I was talking to Tim but by the end, he had begun to transform himself into the incomparable drag queen – Timberlina, a hot mess who is naughty, quick-witted and fantastically fun.
Timothy Jackson is a twenty-seven-year-old cis-male drag queen. Born in Dubbo, he moved to Newcastle when he was twelve-years-old with his family. When asked what his family and friends thought about him doing drag, he stated,
“My family is very supportive of everything I do” and that his friends also support his drag lifestyle.
“My friends. Oh my god, my friends. If I didn’t have my friend circle, I’d be very lost as a drag queen. They’re so supportive. Everyone that I have around me in my life is very supportive.”
Tim’s sister is a key person in his life and visiting her in the US begun Tim’s drag journey. While visiting his sister, they travelled to New Orleans during Mardi Gras Festival.
“We went to a couple of drag shows and I got put on stage as Tim. I jumped into the splits three times and people started to throw money at me. It made me think maybe I could do performing for a living.”
That exciting moment of badass-ery was a catalyst for him deciding to do drag. When back in Australia, Tim contacted a venue and they were very interested in him starting drag bingo.
“Then a month later I had a photo shoot, created a whole show, and then I started Drag Queen Bingo as Timberlina. I had 90 people at my first show.”
Even though Tim has only started drag 18 months ago, he has opened up the drag community in Newcastle and has allowed it to flourish. He recalls how difficult it was starting out due to the lack of drag presence in Newcastle.
“I decided to put on more events because there was nothing when I started. I didn’t have a drag mum and I’m not a drag mum at all. But I want to help build and create a scene here. We’re a city and we don’t really have a big drag culture here and that’s my goal.”
Tim describes his first show as an amazing experience. “I was on such a high. It was so amazing to see so many people out supporting and needing it and wanting it again. I get that high every time I do a show now.”
Tim created the event, Blush as an amazing performative drag event in Newcastle. For his first Blush night, he expected sixty people, but an amazing two-hundred and fifty people came to the event. He has since decided to create Timber Productions, a production company to produce more drag events.
Tim urges individuals of the importance of supporting drag events as it will allow the culture to become big in Newcastle.
“We need people to support drag and queer events in Newcastle otherwise they’ll stop happening, which is the biggest thing. I want to create events and safe spaces around Newcastle.”
Tim states that “drag to me is performance art, it’s expressing myself like I could never do as a male. It’s fun and it’s me.”
Timberlina is amazing everyone with her fantastic events and shows, through her work she has allowed the drag community to blossom and her career is booming.
Timberlina is one of the Stars of Newcastle and the next Blush on the 31st of May will be fundraising for the Cancer Council NSW.
The Haus of Woo: Fatima Bush and Bona Lisa
This dynamic duo is taking the drag community by storm. Fatima Bush is a spooky, badass bio-drag queen and Bona Lisa is a fabulous, hilariously fun clown. Thirty-eight-year-old Jasmin Montgomery and forty-year-old Stephen Montgomery moved to Newcastle in 2009 and have been married for seven years and been together for ten, but have only just started doing drag together. RuPaul’s Drag Race on Stan was a pivotal show that brought drag to their attention.
Jasmin said, “We’ve always enjoyed drag and a couple of years ago we got Stan and we were able to watch ‘drag race’ and just got really into it.”
Jasmin and Stephen attended Blush and that’s when Jasmin contacted Tim about performing.
She states, “I thought I’d give it a go. It seemed like a very inclusive sort of place and I could just get up there and do what I wanted” and that was when Fatima Bush was born in August last year.
Stephen debuted Bona Lisa in December last year. He had reservations about drag as he didn’t like being physically uncomfortable and feared he wasn’t good enough.
“The drag that I saw was very traditional, fishy, female impersonating drag. But luckily thanks to the broadening of tastes through things like Dragula and social media- she (Bona Lisa) doesn’t have to tuck, she has a moustache, she doesn’t shave her legs.”
Jasmin and Stephen have had one Blush performance together and described it as a great bonding experience, that is fantastic to bounce ideas off each other and have a lot of fun. Jasmin expresses her thankfulness to be able to have someone so great to work with.
“I know I can talk to Stephen about it and he’ll genuinely be interested and give me genuine feedback as well.”
Their family and friends are very supportive and come along to shows often – this includes Jasmin’s two adult sons. Due to having children at a young age, Jasmin expressed how it is now through drag she is finding herself.
“I’ve never felt like I found myself and now that my kids are adults, I’m starting to work through that.”
The pair had similar experiences when they first performed, Jasmin described how she was free to be parts of herself that she can’t be in her everyday life.
“I’m usually quite introverted and it was scary getting up there and doing it, but I had agreed to do it. It was really fun getting up there and everyone there was very supportive. It was a real rush and a high. It’s an excuse to be someone you wish you were in your normal life.”
Stephen highlighted that it was an amazing experience and was glad to see his drag style be celebrated.
“It very much connected the attention seeker in me, it was a way to manifest my feminist and my queerness on my own terms. It was a way to self-define. It’s an opportunity to manifest the parts of yourself that aren’t normally possible. This person is much braver, funnier, more interesting.”
The drag scene is growing in Newcastle, but the couple believes there is a long way to go and the drag community will grow much bigger in the upcoming years. Stephen states, “from what I’ve seen it’s small and young. Drag is so fucking punk rock”.
The drag community has embraced the Haus of Woo with open arms. Jasmin expressed, “as a female doing drag, I’ve never had any problems with anyone.”
Stephen lovingly states, “I feel like I found my people. I’m one of the oldest to perform and I’ve never been made to feel different or less than. It’s an absolute blessing. I wish I had done this 20 years ago.”
Drag means different things to different people. Jasmin highlighted that “It’s an expression of what I’m feeling about the world around me. A lot of my songs are more aggressive and angrier. I prefer songs that are sung by males. I like that I’m a woman dressing up as a drag queen performing to a male song, being aggressive and trying to make people see that women aren’t all pretty- women are fucking angry just as much as men can be. Women aren’t just one thing, we’re all the things just like men are.”
Stephen backed up this statement and stated “I’m basically doing the same thing but from the other end. I’m looking at the parts of maleness or masculinity or male-presenting people who might not be interested in the butch parts.”
The Haus of Woo is a phenomenal force with more genital jokes then we know what to do with. Their bond with each other shines through on stage and their artistry is taking leaps and bounds with each performance. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this stunning queer couple.
Belial B’zarr: Lucian
Belial B’zarr is a Newcastle drag king who is paving the way and creating safe spaces for king performers and non-binary drag performers. They describe their aesthetic as “demon daddy, genderfucked, a tragic clown who probably got in a three-way with a craft store, Pennywise and a ghoul of some- kind” realness.
Lucian is a twenty-one-year-old UON student who moved here from Wollongong four years ago. They expressed their dislike for the place they grew up in.
“Wollongong is shit. I didn’t want anything to do with there anymore. The educational opportunities were pretty poor for my profession, which is physiotherapy. There’s no culture, no queer culture”. Lucian also went into detail about how their parents didn’t accept them, they stated, “my parents are not very onboard with queer stuff. We haven’t spoken in 2 years now. Since moving to Newcastle and ceasing contact a lot of my family have been built around the queer community and people who I’ve chosen to keep around me. Such as my primary partner, a lot of my friends that I’ve come across, people I network with, (they are all my) secondary family who I’ve become more in touch with who are super chill.”
Lucian’s drag birthday is May 4th when they attended a Gender Bender party at International House at UON. Lucian’s first drag performance was at Blush.
“I sent Timberlina a message. There was a little bit of fear surrounding that. I knew I was a competent performer, but I never performed that type of thing”.
They stated that their first Blush performance was nothing they’ve ever experienced before: “It was so fucking euphoric. Being a non-binary person, you have a different relationship with your body. I do experience a degree of gender dysphoria. Literally, for my first Blush performance, I just fucking stripped and I had my tape on, I was packing, I was presenting really masculine. And people started screaming. It was the biggest dick energy I’ve ever felt.”
The drag scene is very different for individuals who are not drag queens. Lucian said that they feel very accepted in the drag community.
“Honestly found people to be really chill. I haven’t met a lot of other Drag Kings until recently. Those in-jokes between Kings and Queens, it’s nice having other people doing the same thing as me nowadays”.
Drag kings are gaining popularity now in Newcastle and Lucian is leading the way.
“It’s very liberating honestly. The kind of songs I’ve been getting into lately ties into so much social commentary.”
Lucian is also working with the Queer Collective as the events officer at UON and is working hard to open safe spaces around the University.
This ‘genderfucked’ king is flaming the way for drag kings in Newcastle. Their work is different, creative and fucking awesome to watch.
Feature image Jayme Zimmerman, no changes made.