Words: Alastair James; pictures: BBC
RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under's Maxi Shield says she's happy that she got to share her "love of drag" on the show, following her elimination at the end of the sixth episode. The installment saw the queens compete in a makeover challenge, with their subjects being members of the New Zealand Falcons RFC, a gay rugby team.
Say what you will about Drag Race Down Under - it's certainly speeding along! We're already at the top five. Comparatively, at this point, there were still 10 queens left on RuPaul's Drag Race SE13!
Speaking to Attitude following her elimination, Maxi tells us how it's all much harder than it looks, staying in touch with her new drag family member and lip-syncing to Kylie.
What was it like being on the show for you?
To be honest, it was bloody hard. It was really hard. It is early mornings, late nights. We did quarantine then filming was pushed back five days, so 12 days of isolation. And these other girls are bloody amazing, they’re really fantastic. It was all the emotions, everything pressure cooker-ed into one ‘Oh my God!’ Through the whole lot, I was still walking around thinking ‘this is amazing!
Have you been looking forward to a Drag Race Down Under for a long time?
We’ve had rumours, the fans love a rumour. For the last couple of years, they’ve been saying it’s coming. And the fans like to write a list. I’ve never been on the list! I always thought if it comes here, it would be great, it would be fantastic for Australian drag. If I was given the opportunity, then, of course, I’d say yes! I’d be stupid not to! And then when it started happening it felt like wading through marshmallows. Is this happening?! It wasn’t until I got the call I was, like, ‘this is real, this is happening, it’s terrifying!’
What was going through your mind when you got that call?
It was quite funny. I’d been helping a friend of mine who’s a scriptwriter and he was writing a movie that had drag influences through it. I was sitting there, and we were having a chat about the movie, then I got the phone call, and I was, like, ‘I’m so sorry, you’re going to have to be quiet because we have to pretend I’m by myself.' I then started to tear up and he thought someone had died. I told him, and that he couldn’t tell anyone. So, I couldn’t tell anyone, but he was there, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t tell him. And I told my partner who was absolutely beside himself.
And this week was the makeover challenge. How did you find that?
Well, I got eliminated so probably s***! I just wanted to share the love of drag I have with someone who may not have the opportunity to also experience drag. As wobbly as Dan - or Cilla Wet - was on her shoes, I did catch a glance of her beside me and she was absolutely radiating. She was so happy, so fabulous and I delivered what I intended on doing and that was sharing my love.
Have you stayed in touch?
Yes. The rugby players did a viewing at their rugby house. They were packed! I said, ‘you’d better have practiced on those heels!’ and I saw this video of [what looked like] a baby horse walking down! DANIEL!
You were very strategic when you were picking the rugby players each queen would get. Do you still think that was the right thing to do?
I was strategic for myself. You can be the best drag queen in the world, but you can make over someone dreadful. There’s a real talent putting someone else in drag. I thought I’m going to go with someone who's basically my twin. For everyone else, I just did body shape. It was crazy because it turned out we [Dan and I] have the same birthday.
So, it was meant to be!
Sadly, you were in the bottom, but at least you got to lip-sync to Kylie. How was that?
I’ve said to the other girls, ‘I got to lip-sync to Kylie and you didn’t’. I’m one step closer to being Kylie’s best friend so… Haha!
Have you heard from Kylie?
No, but I’ve heard from Dannii though!
And no microphones for your lip-sync this week?
Well, in hindsight I should have pulled out a Madonna mic, shouldn’t I? Scarlet’s an incredible performer, a seasoned burlesque title holder, so I just imagined I was performing at one of the clubs I work at and had fun.
And what is it like lip-syncing for your life? I think people look at it and think they could do that...
There’s a lead-up. You’ve been in drag for hours, it’s freezing cold, your feet are sore. In filming TV there are two days into an hour. So, you say something then you stop, wait for 15 minutes, say something, and stop. So, the process of lip-syncing is you go to a certain spot, then stop, then Sound take your mics off, then you go a million miles an hour, then you stop, and they put the mics back on you. It would be great if it was over in five minutes, but it’s close to an hour, the whole process of doing it.
Is there anything you would have done differently over your time on DRDU?
I do like to prepare. There were a few things that I didn’t know that you’re allowed to do. Art [Simone] and Karen [from Finance] had full pieces of paper with the looks, makeup and jewellery whereas I’d designed the looks and I had a bag of jewellery in the corner. So, maybe prepare a little like that. I enjoyed it myself. My grandmother always taught me to lead with kindness. I tried to be as kind as I could, as well as be myself. So, I’m very happy.
Has it changed how you do your drag at all?
I have thinner eyebrows now. As a boy, I have no eyebrows and in drag, I have thinner eyebrows. I think my drag's changed but like anything you do on an international scale, everything has to be elevated now.
And is there anything you’ve learned about yourself?
I knew I was resilient, but I didn’t know I was that resilient. There are times that you’re talking for a couple of hours and to deliver what I delivered during that stressful time, I learned I’m a lot tougher than I thought I was.
RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under is available on the BBC iPlayer every Sunday.
The Attitude July issue is out now.