As the exclusive spirits and major partner of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Absolut are partnering with Merivale to celebrate pride and diversity through bringing a diverse range of people from the LGBTQI+ community together to discuss equality and empower Australians to celebrate the differences that make us all so unique.
Question: What can you tell us about this year's Mardi Gras?
Maxi Shield: Like most Mardi Gras', it's a whole lot of fabulousness rolled in glitter and sequins... with the added extras this year of it being the 40th anniversary and marriage equality coming to Australia. Like most professional drag queens we are juggling our normal weekly gigs, with extra Mardi Gras gigs and 'secret' rehearsals (ssshh I can't say anything about the drag show at the after party... not a word).
Question: How will you be empowering Australians to celebrate their differences this Mardi Gras?
Maxi Shield: I feel it's important to do this any time I'm on stage, not just over the Mardi Gras period. I believe 'differences' should be celebrated; it's what makes us special. I'm not tall and thin like most drag queens... but honey, you see me coming from a mile away... BOOM! If everyone was the same, life would be so boring. If you're shy, use Mardi Gras as your opportunity to shine. Once the spotlight is on you, there is no stopping you.
Question: Do you think we're in for an even bigger celebration this year than last?
Maxi Shield: With it being the 40th anniversary and the milestone of marriage equality passing since last Mardi Gras, I would say YES, this year's celebrations are going to be incredible. Everyone is welcome, so come celebrate with us.
Question: How have you been preparing ahead of Mardi Gras?
Maxi Shield: Mardi Gras for pro drag queens requires Olympic type prep; we have ordered new hair from Wigs By Vanity, had dress designs drawn up, been to Cabramatta adventure to get exclusive 'fabulous fabric' and had about 150 fake nails painted. Once it is all systems go, we have a constant rotation of stockings and Spanx through the washing machine, and glittered face and make up residue that is worn through the whole Mardi Gras season.
Question: What drag myths surprise you the most?
Maxi Shield: The biggest is that we are comfortable... drag is hot, sweaty and painful… but damn, beauty is pain, right? All of it is also quickly forgotten as soon as you slip into a fabulous pair of heels, pop on a brand new Wigs by Vanity, and strut into a club.
Question: What are the must-see locations for this year at Mardi Gras?
Maxi Shield: Well of course I must say my brand new show at the Oxford Hotel on Saturday nights You Can't Touch With (first show is 10pm), along with my fabulous Friday nights at the Colombian Hotel called the BEAT. If you are looking for me outside of this, I'm the drag queen with the best bust in Sydney. If there is one daytime thing you really must go to (11:30am so you can sleep in or even go straight there)... Brunch At The Beresford is bloody fabulous, and they serve the Mardi Gras official cocktail, Absolut Sparkle… it's pretty, pink and sparkly and will recharge your batteries for another marathon on any dance floor.
Interview by Brooke Hunter