Page 1

Our Picks for MARDI GRAS 2020

14 February - 1 March Open and enjoy our Mardi Gras highlights and interviews


Intro WhatsOnSydney.com welcomes you to Mardi Gras 2020. This year Pop pioneer Sam Smith will take part in the Mardi Gras parade followed by the Official 2020 Mardi Gras Party on Saturday 29 February. The Official Mardi Gras Party is the biggest and hottest LGBTQI party in the Southern Hemisphere. We hope you all stay safe, sparkle and have fun. For more information on the whole festival, head to their website www.mardigras.org.au.

The History of the First Sydney Mardi Gras The first Mardi Gras was held on Saturday 24 June 1978 A Sydney based Gay Solidarity Group had newly formed and together they decided to develop a day of events which would end in the first 'Mardi Gras' street festival. It marked the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York. The intention was to raise local issues and promote the 4th National Homosexual Conference. At 10 pm several hundred gays, lesbians and supporters gathered at Taylor Square. They followed a truck, with a sound system down Oxford Street to Hyde Park. The police were out in force and when the marching stopped in Hyde Park, they confiscated the truck and arrested the driver, Lance Gowland. Appoximately 1500 angry revellers marched up William St to Darlinghurst Road. When they reached the end the police were waiting for them. They seized the moment and violently arrested 53 men and women. The treatment for many of them was not good, and many were beaten in their cells.

Content Click on the page to skip to that page

Divas Forever ........................ 4 Les Talk ........................ 7 Male Man ........................ 10 Conchita Wurst & Trevor Ashley in Concert ............. 13 Sex (and drugs) lecture ....................... 15 Myra DuBois: Dead Funny ....................... 17 Wonder Mama ....................... 20 The John Rowe Show ....................... 23 Oxtravaganza ....................... 26

Divas Forever Join the queen of the lounge acts, Gayna Tension in her celebration of the world’s most iconic leading ladies - Singing Live all night! In true Gayna style, audiences will be dazzled as she takes on the persona of the greats including Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and Shirley Bassey. As well as Gayna’s show stopping vocal abilities performed live, you can’t help but be starstruck, feeling as though you are truly in the presence of the goddesses themselves.A recent finalist on Australia’s Got Talent and with decades of experience, Gayna Tension is the perfect host for every celebration, especially during Sydney’s Mardi Gras! She astounds audiences with her vivacious vocals and will undoubtedly have the entire bar in laughter through her wit and effervescent personality. Doors open at 6pm with Gayna Tension as the world’s finest dazzling divas from 8pm. Start spreading the news, join Gayna over the rainbow and let’s get the party started! Each night she brings you two of the world’s finest dazzling divas: February 20, 26 – Dame Shirley Bassey and Julie Andrews February 21, 27 – Liza Minnelli and Bette Midler February 22, 28 – Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand Where: Low 302 @ 302 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Click Here for a preview

Divas Forever Interview with Gayna Tension Gayna, you seem to have had an extraordinary 2019. Was the highlight taking part in Australia's got Talent or something else? I have been around for some considerable time and I find that every year brings with it more and more extraordinary experiences. Certainly my semi-final performance on Australia's Got Talent is up there, but my biggest 2019 highlight was trading JUDY GARLAND tips with the fabulous Renée Zellweger at the Sydney Premiere of JUDY. Her performance will certainly bring her the Academy Award and I'm glad that, naturally, I had some big part in that journey.   You impersonate many women, which is or are your favourites and why? Impersonating or, as I describe it, 'becoming' the divas is a wonderous acting journey for me. Research and rehearsal are the two big factors that get me in the mind set of each of thesewomen. I never want the illusion shattered so I work hard at ensuring audiences believe that they are actually in the presence of these DIVAS. I don't really have a favourite diva, each 'gal' brings her own beautiful persona to the stage with her own distinct personality. These small distinct idiosyncrasies are what bring honesty to each performance and so I get something unique from performing as each DIVA. How do you decide what you are going to wear? Once again, it's all research to give my performances the most authentic feel possible. It should all work together – music, performance and costumes! A DIVA like Judy Garland, for example, has a specific look. During her concert years in the 1950s and 60s she would wear capri slacks, Chinese-style quarter sleeve satin jackets, sequins pants suits and BOB MACKIE quarter sleeve evening gowns. Sometimes I want to convey an iconic image so JUDY will wear the Tuxedo Jacket and trilby hat, showing off her beautiful shimmering legs. As Liza Minnelli, it's sequins all the way, darling! From her signature red sequins pants suit to the black sequins dressing gown that will reveal the MEIN HERR CABARET costume with suspended stockings. BARBRA STREISAND is famous for her high busted gowns and her Sailor tops with bobbed hair of the 1960s. I try to make the costumes match the music and performance, specifically for each DIVA and occasion.

Divas Forever Interview with Gayna Tension

What does being part of MARDI GRAS mean to you? I have performed in the Sydney Mardi Gras festival many times over the years. There is nothing like being a part of this amazing event that promotes positivity and inclusivity for the LGBTQIA community. It's a CELEBRATION, and boy - don't we need that today!!! There is something for everyone and I’m so thrilled to be bringing all the Divas to the Mardi Gras celebrations this year through my 3 different shows! What have you planned for the rest of the year? I’ve been invited to many weddings, as guest performer of course, so I’m always looking forward to adding my razzle dazzle to special occasions. There are also a number of fabulous opportunities on the horizon including a musical role, special guest appearances and a new concept television pilot: 'I'M A DIVA, GET ME OUT OF HERE', though I’m discussing the title and hope to change it to 'I'M A DIVA, WHERE'S THE BAR?'.

Divas Forever is playing at Low 302 @ 302 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010 20 February - 28 February For bookings are more information - https://low302.com.au/live-shows/

Les-Talk In association with Sydney’s Mardi Gras 2020 theme on What Matters, Les-Talk Lesbians! See what’s going on in the L of LGBTQ+ as we delve into issues of coming out, dating stereotypes, current issues and career paths. Our panel consists of Arielle Scarcella (U.S), Tania Safi (SYD), Kelsie Adelaide (MELB) and performance by Two x Confused. Submit questions and comments via the sli.do app to join the conversation on the night. See the full list of guests on our website www.lestalk.com.au or Like our Facebook Page ‘Les-Talk’ Tickets are on Sale now at Ticketek. When: Thursday 27 February 7:30 pm

Les-Talk - Interview with Helen Le How and why did you start Les-Talk? Les-Talk started as a project to get to know more of those who identify as Lesbians in the community and discuss issues that are specific to the L of LGBTQ+. While Mardi Gras has plenty for the boys, they don’t have many events specifically for the girls. Although, all boys, girls and anyone of any gender are welcome to the event! The more the merrier and we hope it allows the other letters of the community to understand the L a bit better. The theme for this year is What Matters, what kinds of conversations are you hoping it will invoke? We want to invoke stories of coming out from different perspective, navigating within the community and how each letter in the community actually interacts with each other. Our sexual orientation matters but so does our family, our friends, our career and our journey in life. Les-Talk wants to bring together all these aspects to make coming out and living life just a bit easier for those in difficult situations by sharing stories and giving advice from those who have done it before. 

Les-Talk - Interview with Helen Le Who are the guest speakers this year and can you tell us a bit about them? I am thrilled to be hosting the event to facilitate conversation between our amazing guests. Arielle Scarcella is a prominent youtuber who speaks mainly on Lesbian topics and female sexuality. She has helped so many Lesbians in being comfortable with their sexuality through her Youtube series. Tania Safi is a well-known face from Buzzfeed LGBTQ+ and her youtube video on the hardship of LGBTQ community in Beirut is not to be missed. Kelsie Adelaide is an up and coming actress in Melbourne who plays the role of Dani in the Australian Lesbian teen drama Flunk. Two x Confused will be opening the show with their original tracks from their debut EP, the girls are new comers to the scene and very talented. What event are you looking forward to at Mardi Gras this year? Absolutely looking forward to meeting a lot of amazing people as Mardi Gras has always been a great way to meet others in the LGBTQ community and of course, the parade! We hope to see a good turn out to our event as it is one of the few catering to the L of the community. I mean, where are all the girls at?

Les-Talk at the Metro Theatre @ 624 George Street, Sydney Thursday 27 February 7:30 pm For bookings and more information - https://premier.ticketek.com.au/

Male Man Alun Rhys Jones’ newest exhibition Male Man investigates and deconstructs the traditional tropes of masculinity today with a series of works which analyse, question, and subvert both masculinity itself and its portrayal in mainstream media. Explored through hyper real drawings, photography and installation, the artist captures a flawed push for perfection at a time in which masculinity itself appears to be crumbling. In the words of the artist: "Masculinity is in flux. The effects of traditional masculinity on the male psyche have revealed the extent to which men are both the jailors and prisoners of their own emotional wellbeing. Gender stereotypes are being questioned and broken down allowing men to open up, to show emotion and be vulnerable."

When: 24 February–8 March 10am– 5pm Daily, Exhibition Launch Wednesday 25 February 6–8pm

Acknowledgement This project was assisted by a grant from Create NSW, an agency of the New South Wales Government and supported by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments. The program is administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).

Male Man Interview with Alun Rhys Jones What gave you this idea for the exhibition? I’ve always been interested in the way masculinity is portrayed and enacted and the mechanisms deployed by mainstream media to commoditise this.Magazines, TV, films and the Internet are full of gender stereotypes. Media often portray the ideal man to be muscular and by implication strong, tough and stoic. However the pressure to obtain and maintain the body beautiful portrayed by these images has led to a huge increase in body dissatisfaction. You received a grant from Create NSW how has this helped? The grant has been fantastic! It's great to be recognised for the work you do by your peers and colleagues. It was also invaluable, financially, to put the exhibition together, so I could bring it to a much wider audience at the iconic Bondi Pavilion Gallery.

Male Man - Interview with Alun Rhys Jones What media do you use in this exhibition? I use a variety of media in this exhibition including photography, sculpture, installation and large-scale charcoal drawings. What part of the exhibition gave you the most enjoyment and why? In this exhibition I’ve tried to create an immersive environment that conveys the feelings around masculinity that I’m exploring. For the installation aspect of this exhibition I have really enjoyed creating a body of work that has a cohesive, united presence.  How long did it take for you to put the exhibition together? It took me a year to put the exhibition together, though the ideas contained within I have been mulling over for a lifetime! What are your plans for Mardi Gras? I’m manning the exhibition whilst it’s on, so I’m looking forward to having a swim everyday at lunchtime!

Male Man Exhibition Bondi Pavilion Gallery @ Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach, 2026 24 February–8 March 10am–5pm Daily, Exhibition Launch Wednesday 25 February 6–8pm For more information - https://www.instagram.com/alunrhysjones/

Conchita Wurst & Trevor Ashley in Concert

For one night only join Austria’s greatest glam pop vocalist along with Australia’s queen of cabaret in an evening to remember. Eurovision legend Conchita Wurst returns to Australia with dear friend Trevor Ashley for an evening of musical magic. Joined by conductor Michael Tyack and a 40-piece symphony orchestra, they will perform their greatest hits, alone and together, in Sydney as part of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras at the State Theatre on Thursday 27 February and in Melbourne at Hamer Hall on Friday 28 February. Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke will also make a special appearance at both concerts.Expect Rise Like A Phoenix and other songs from Conchita’s platinum and gold awarded albums, showstoppers and anthems made famous by great divas, plus a tribute to the music of James Bond, including Writing’s On the Wall, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker and Goldfinger.Alone they are sensational, but together they will cause an international incident! Don’t miss this incredible event.

Conchita Wurst & Trevor Ashley in Concert Interview with Trevor Ashley How did you and Conchita meet? In Vienna when I was doing my Liza show! He came to my show and then we would catch up when I visited!  This isn't the first time you have been in concert together, if we were to look in each of your dressing rooms what would we find? In mine you would find a lot more feathers and campery. In Conchita: designer labels!! I mean his wardrobe is ridiculous.  Kate Miller-Heidke is also appearing. Chonchita and Kate have both been part of Eurovision, will you be next? Do you know, I have been thinking about trying for next year. John Foreman and I spoke about a song for me - I thought that would be fun since he wrote Tina Arena's banger, the flame! The three of you have amazing voices but all very different, is it hard to find songs that you can sing together, will you all be singing together? Look it's always hard because we are very different, but I am excited with what we've chosen. Conchita and I sing a lot of Bond Themes so you'll get some of them!  You are turning 40 next month, do you have any special plans? Yes! I'm having a float in the Mardi Gras which is a hoot, and then a big party. I'm very excited.

Conchita Wurst & Trevor Ashley in Concert is playing at the State Theatre@49 Market Street, Sydney 27 February, 8 pm For bookings and more information - www.ticketmaster.com.au

Sex (and Drugs) Lecture Understanding drugs in social and sexual lives. Substance use has long played a role in the social and sexual lives of gay, bisexual and queer men. Dr Max Hopwood and Dr Kerryn Drysdale from the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health will present the fourth annual Sex Lecture, drawing on insights from the Crystal, Pleasures and Sex between Men research project on gay, bisexual and queer men who use crystal methamphetamine for sex. The lecture will be followed by an expert panel who will discuss how we can better encourage practices of safety and care for people who use drugs for sex or socialising in our communities. This is a free public lecture, delivered by the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health. Introduction: Emeritus Professor Gary W. Dowsett Gary Dowsett, PhD, FASSA, is Emeritus Professor at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Event MC: Scientia Professor Carla Treloar Panellists include: Leon Fernandes, Joël Murray and Suzie Hudson.

Leon Fernandes is a harm reduction and adult educator for over 20 years, with intimate knowledge of illicit and injecting drug use and its relationship with sex. Joël Murray is a queer person living with HIV. Their experience is both professional, having worked as a Senior Policy Advisor on the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’, and personal, having the lived experience of substance use and supporting people who use substances in the context of sex. Dr Suzie Hudson is an accredited mental health Social Worker, with over 20 years’ clinical experience, and the Clinical Director at NADA as well as maintaining a private counselling and clinical supervision practice. When: 17 February

Sex (and Drugs) Lecture More ... The Sex (and Drugs) Lecture, presented by Dr Max Hopwood and Dr Kerryn Drysdale from the UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health, will be looking at the role of substance use in the lives of gay, bisexual and queer men. It’ll be presenting key findings from the Centre’s Crystal, Pleasures, and Sex Between Men study, as well as a review of past research on methamphetamine use among gay and bisexual men, and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring community members. The study that the lecture is based on interviewed 88 gay and bisexual men from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to explore their practices of drug-enhanced sex. “While we acknowledge there are significant risks associated with crystal use and sexual practice,” says Dr Hopwood, “we were keen to explore the social, historical, cultural and political aspects of men’s crystal use, and how the study participants managed risk in order to maximise the pleasures of sex on crystal.” The panel that follows the lecture features advocates and educators, some with lived experience of crystal use, discussing how best to encourage safe use and care for people who use drugs for sex or socialising in our communities.

Sex (and drugs) Lecture is at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton St, Darlinghurst 17 February For bookings - https://www.eventbrite.com.au

Myra DuBois: Dead Funny "Hilarious… comic timing that never misses a beat” Edinburgh Festivals Magazine “Incredibly quick witted comedy” The Scotsman “Myra DuBois is a COMIC GENIUS, if you don’t believe me.... ask HER!” Bianca Del Rio Myra is dead; long live Myra! Realising that she stands to miss out on the most attention she’ll ever receive in one sitting, Myra DuBois brings forward her own funeral to make sure people get it right! Myra DuBois presents an irreverently sardonic side-eye at death, dying and the theatrics of grief. With songs by Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer the Opera) all wrapped up in Myra’s trademark acerbic wit, Dead Funny promises to be a show so funny you’ll R.I.Pee your pants. Unpredictable, intelligent character comedy, the self-declared Siren of South Yorkshire works the room, sparing no-one her sharp tongue, and yet somehow keeping everybody affectionately on-side. Having sold out shows at the Edinburgh Festival, Underbelly Southbank Festival and Soho Theatre, and being described as “bust a gut funny” by Graham Norton, don’t miss your chance to catch her Australian debut. The family have requested that a splash of leopard-print is worn in memory of Myra DuBois. This event supports the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Community Fund. Presented by Sydney Opera House When: 18 - 29 February

Interview with Myra DuBois What gave you the idea for Dead Funny? It was a conversation with my spiritual counsellor, Guru Malcolm, actually. After one of my theatrical spectaculars at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival I was telling him how I thought I’d given everything to audiences that I had to give. He looked at me, put down his mug of herbal tea, and really looked at me and said “Myra, then take something back from your audiences” and I thought “THAT’S IT!” – I knew my next show had to be an experience where the audience gave their all to me for a change. But for what occasion? Birthdays are hardly special. Everyone has ‘birthdays’ and we have them annually. Then it hit me! Funerals! So long story short; RIP ME!    Buried or cremated? And why that choice? Neither! It’s out of my hands I’m afraid. Being a celebrity, my corpse is probably going to be pillaged for relics! My air-dried extremities shall be on display in Myra shrines across the United Kingdom and beyond! Imagine popping into a little terracotta chapel in the Yorkshire Dales (my roots!) being surrounded by fresco paintings of my famous face and in the centre of the altarpiece; my disembodied claw reaching towards the heavens; clutching a microphone! What drama. There’s actually a song about this in the show.

Interview with Myra DuBois I assume you will have music at the funeral so can you tell us one of the songs and why that one? There’s a few songs in the show actually. One can’t possess a voice like mine and decline to use it. It’s a healthy mixture of original songs (written by the Olivier Award winning Richard Thomas, of Jerry Springer the Opera fame) and a few covers of songs that hold meaning to my life and the relatives I leave behind. I shan’t give anything more away, but I will say this; the song I dedicate to my sister Rose will be ringing in your ears for days after you’ve heard it. If there is life after death what do you think you will be getting up to? Oh I can’t think of anything worse, can you? I like closure. We have a beginning, a middle and an end! I can think of nothing worse than laying on my death bed, exhaling the last of my life’s breath, and then there’s MORE. Awful. So, if there’s life after death, I shall probably spend it complaining. An eternity of existential dread! What are your show plans for the rest of the year? I’m taking Dead Funny back to the UK where we’ll be giving it a national tour before burying the show for good at the end of October. Then, who knows? The future beyond that is as uncertain as the promise of an afterlife…

Myra DuBois: Dead Funny is at the Sydney Opera House 18 - 29 February For bookings and more information - https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com

Join Wonder Mama for Sydney's Mardi Gras Join Wonder Mama for a cultural walk round Sydney's LGBT Hub Join Wonder Mama - Sydney's Super-Hero Drag Queen - on a fun 2 hour experience in the heart of LGBT Sydney - Oxford Street, Darlinghurst! We will visit a series of fabulous LGBT entertainment venues, shops and landmarks in Sydney's gay hub! Wonder Mama will share her experiences and insights into the district and its happenings! We’ll visit iconic venues such as The Stonewall Hotel, The Oxford, and Darlinghurst Bookshop, House of Priscilla, among others! Learn about the colourful characters that have been icons on the Sydney scene - activists, entrepreneurs and even legendary drag queens! You'll be treated to some store discounts too, just for joining the tour!! Wonder Mama will give you a run down of the world famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade which she has participated in numerous times! The tour will end near Taylor Square at the delightful Sydney Rainbow Crossing where we can stay to take photos and then go for a drink at the Oxford Hotel or a coffee at a local cafe!! All Welcome! Gay, Straight, and everyone in between! Children over 12 are also welcome! Sure to delight visitors from interstate or abroad, and even if you’ve lived in Sydney all you’re life, you will discover things you never knew!! So join me for 2 hours of fun! Hope to see you there!!

Wonder Mama Cultural Walk When: Most Saturdays plus Tuesday's 18, 25 February and Thursday 20, 27 February. Visit Wonder Mama's website for more details, bookings and where to meet www.airbnb.com/wondermamatour

Join the Fabulous Wonder Mama for Super-Hero Drag Story Time Sydney’s very own Super-Hero Drag Queen and Glambassador of Love and Equality, The Fabulous Wonder Mama, will be hosting a FREE 'SuperHero Drag Story Time' at the Inner West’s Club Five Dock RSL On Friday February 21, 2020 from 4.00-5.30pm! Wonder Mama is the semi-retired super-hero that has attended many charity fundraisers, comic conventions, and community events and has even traveled to New York for World Pride and Wonder Con in Anaheim California! Join Wonder Mama as she reads some of her favourite super-hero stories plus the kids can come dressed as their favourite super-hero and a chance to home a prize for best super-hero costume! Super-Hero Story Time with Wonder Mama will be followed by Club Five Dock RSL’s Monthly Jitterbugs Kids Disco at 6pm which kids can also attend for just $7 a ticket. Club Five Dock RSL Promotes inclusitivity and acceptance of the LGBTIQ Community hosting a number of events for Sydney Dykes on Bikes and other LGBTIQ functions so come along for a FREE Story Time Family Event open to everyone!

Wonder Mama Drag Story Time is at Club Five Dock RSL 21 February 4 pm

Interview with Wonder Mama You are staging two very different events for Mardi Gras. How did the Story Time come about? Wonder Mama’s Super Hero Story Time came about through the Five Dock Families Group on Facebook. Most of the community know about Wonder Mama and I tried to gauge the interest from Parents who would like to attend a storytime run by Wonder Mama and there was a great response! Little did I know that Club Five Dock RSL frequent that group and the CEO of the Club, David Conway, contacted me and offered me a space to hold the event which was amazing!! Who is your favourite superhero and why? Of course its Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman is a great role model and inspiration for all ages especially kids and I have loved the character in all her incarnations since I was a child! She was the inspiration for me creating and developing Wonder Mama into my own character! Your other event is a walking tour, what is Mama's favourite shop or item she likes to buy? We stop at a number of great stores on my Walking Tour which are some of Oxford Streets most well known businesses in the area but one of the highlights would have to be 'House of Priscilla' which is famous for its amazing showgirl costumes and accessories! Stopping for a cappuccino at Swiss Bakers is also a favourite of mine too! Hope to see you on my tour soon!! 4. What do you enjoy the most when taking people on a tour? There is a lot of history in the district that I don't think alot of people are aware of. They mostly know it as a nightclub district but there is more to it than that! I also discuss the history of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade and some of the iconic floats and entries that have been part of the parade in years past! The best thing, however, is meeting people from all over the world as well the locals from Sydney and the rest of Australia who do the tour and learn things about the area that they were not aware of! That's the most fun! I do my best to show guests a great time as well as learn something valuable they might not have known!

The John Rowe Show A SYDNEY GAY & LESBIAN MARDI GRAS 2020 PREMIER EVENT Join John and his live band in this kitschy kool lounge room party chat show. With his favourite vintage tea set, his mum’s best doilies and a plate of iced donuts, John pulls out all the stops to entertain his visitors with a fabulously fun mix of groovy music, daggy dancing, silly segments and internet frivolity. Throw in a surprise visit from a bona fide celebrity guest and you’ve got yourself a night of unforgettable fun. Following a sensational season at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, John brings his lounge room back home to Sydney. So come on... come out! Join us at the John Rowe Show for a Mardi Gras even your mum would love! When: Feb 26 & 27 - 7pm bar opens for 8pm show.

Watch the show preview, click here

The John Rowe Show Interview with John Rowe Your show looks like great fun, have you made any changes since the Edinburgh Festival? The show is, as my grandmother would have said… a hoot! The response in Edinburgh was so enthusiastic I really want to make sure the essence of the show stays the same. The biggest difference is that Edinburgh Fringe shows run for 1 hour, but here I am making it a complete night out with pre-show drinks, lucky door prizes and 2 halves full of silliness and great music. Plus there’s fresh new celebrity guests of course! Oh, and just between you and me, I’m trialing some brand new show undies… it could be the thing that really gives me the edge. Do have have a donut preference? If a donut doesn’t have icing it’s just a wasted opportunity in my book… and for me it’s the classic pink iced donut all the way. But I’ll have a plateful of other varieties - gotta keep my visitors happy! What music is in the show? I have a live band on stage, and we do some very groovy stripped back versions of feel good pop from the 70’s to now. You’ll find some Bill Withers, Elton John and Lionel Ritchie mixed in with a bit of Donna Summer and Whitney Houston: anything you’ve ever sung along to on the radio or danced to in your lounge room. I’m throwing in some Shawn Mendes this time around, you know to keep in good with the kids.

The John Rowe Show Interview with John Rowe There’s even some rap, but a grey haired man with a teacup in hand is never going to pull that off, so I might get the audience to do it instead. What part of the show do you enjoy the most? Ooh that’s hard! There’s a lot going on in the show, and some of my favourite bits are the ones that are completely unplanned. The disco dance lesson I do with the audience always goes down a treat. But, being a Mardi Gras show, the “I’m Coming Out” section will probably be a crowd favourite… I’m expecting some funny stories.

The John Rowe Show is at Ginger's, The Oxford Hotel @ 134 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst 26 & 27 Feburary - 7pm bar opens for 8pm show For bookings and more information - https://www.ticketebo.com.au

Oxtravaganza Fun! Frivolity! Fabulousness! Oxford Street’s annual celebration ‘Oxtravaganza’ is back for its 4th year, with a full calendar of events, from day to night-time. Oxtravaganza is when Darlinghurst celebrates Mardi Gras as only Darlinghurst can, as only around Oxford St in “Darlo” can you expect bands, burlesque and (naked) barbers! On Saturday 22nd February this celebration of Oxford Street and the Pink Mile will see 100+ local businesses coming together to offer special retail promotions, live music, exclusive performances, outdoor music, art, plus food and drink deals. And this year, sees the addition of Cabaret shows to Oxtravaganza, with an all-star line-up. Curated by John Allen, Failing in Love Again and Cabaret Oxtravaganza will prove to be crowd pleasers with riotous, entertaining and subversive performances guaranteed. Why not shop for your Mardi Gras outfit at one of the many vintage and speciality stores on Oxford Street? and afterwards have a beer at one of the half dozen venues serving $5 beers for our charity fundraiser. Proceeds raised on the day go to ACON, NSW’s leading HIV and sexuality and gender diverse health organisation. Other highlights on the day will include glitter bombing at hair + makeup salons, bike pimping, cabaret acts, book signings, an art walk and two-for-one cocktails and meal deals. An initiative of the Darlinghurst Business Partnership (DBP) Oxtravaganza, is an official event of the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, and DBP Chairman Stephan Gyory says the area has always had a history of being a place to come to, have a good time, and feel welcome.

Oxtravaganza Sydney’s Oxford Street has historically been a stomping ground for oddballs, queers, bohemians, and artists, whose influences delightfully combine to form a unique cultural hub. Oxford Street is an unconventional and nonjudgmental space where anything goes and everyone is welcome. Our event, Oxtravaganza celebrates the rich and diverse community of the Pink Mile. “Our offering this year is as eclectic as you would expect from this vibrant, creative precinct of Sydney.” According to Oxtravaganza producer Lorraine Lock, there is always something to be surprised and entertained by in Darlinghurst and the weekend of Oxtravaganza, which falls in the middle of the Mardi Gras program, ups the ante again. “Everyone is in the mood for a celebration, tourists are in town and the pink mile comes into its own.” When: Saturday 22 February from 12pm - 4 am 23 February

Interview with Lorraine Lock, Project Manager How and why did Oxtravaganza start? Oxtravaganza started as an event for the retailers of Oxford St, a kind of "shop till you drop" and a way for them to celebrate Mardi Gras in the neighbourhood where it all began! Lots of Mardi Gras events happen elsewhere now as it has grown so big and we wanted to bring the celebrations back to the historical heart of Sydney's LGBT scene.  What started as a small scale event has, in just three short years turned into a mini festival for the area. What are some of the highlights of Oxtravaganza this year? I'm excited about the new Cabaret element with two cabaret shows and a burlesque revue doing a very limited run for Oxtravaganza. Also Doggies at the Darlo Bar is a fun event for charity that you can bring your pooch along to (or turn up to cuddle someone else's pooch!). We have 7 venues doing Young Henry Karma kegs - a beer is only $5 and all the funds go to ACON. Plus The Naked Barber at SAX Fetish is always great (yes, he really is naked, cutting hair) It looks like it is fairly adult orientated, are there events for children? We go from day to night and there is something for everyone. It is Darlinghurst and there are many nightclubs and bars in the area, so we do cater very well  to the afterdark scene, but there's a lot happening here for retail and eating too.. On Saturday 22nd there will be a street sausage sizzle at Stonewall and a cake stall at Ariel Books (both fundraisers for ACON and Wayside Chapel). PLus we are planning a fun drag queen storytelling event. And Lekker Bikes on BOurke St has a "pimp my ride" where kids can come along and get their bike beautified with streamers and sparkly things. Christophers Cakes nearby has a rainbow cake and drink.

Interview with Lorraine Lock, Project Manager What's your ideal Oxtravaganza day? Well if you're coming from the City you can trace our Golden Mile Gallery which is an exhibition on the LGBT history on Oxford St, with amazing posters and photos from the 70's and 80's and a little bit of background of those pioneering days. You could drop into Priscilla's and check out the amazing costumes, pick up some rainbow roses from Pearsons Flowers, listen to Drag Queen story time at Oxford Sq and grab a sausage at Stonewall. There's going to be some street activity around Sax Festish Ariel and Cork&Canvas. Sit in the sun and Kinselas, have lunch at Lumiere Cafe (rainbow slushies) or rainbow cake at Christophers and if your riding your bike on the Bourke St cycleway don't forget to "pimp your ride" at Lekker. Darlinghurst is made for walking, so go off the beaten track and check out the photography at ACP or the fashion at Footage. Lots of places have discounts when you mention Oxtravaganza. If you come later in the day have dinner, drinks then catch a few shows. Oxtravaganza goes till the wee hours if you're so inclined!

Oxtravaganza - Oxford Street When: Saturday 22 February from 12pm - 4 am 23 February For more details - https://www.oxtravaganza.com

Have a great Mardi Gras! For all the best events in Sydney head to www.whatsonsydney.com

Profile for whatsonsydney

2020 Sydney Mardi Gras  

Enjoy a look at a few 2020 Mardi Gras events. Read exclusive interviews for a deeper understanding of what makes Mardi Gras so special.

2020 Sydney Mardi Gras  

Enjoy a look at a few 2020 Mardi Gras events. Read exclusive interviews for a deeper understanding of what makes Mardi Gras so special.