Art Simone promises glitz, laughs at PrideFest

Published 10:00am 7 May 2024

Art Simone promises glitz, laughs at PrideFest
Words by Kylie Knight

For Art Simone, drag is art but also a way to express herself and make the queer community more visible and validated.

She will be at her glittering best when she commands the stage at this year’s Moreton Bay PrideFest at Pine Rivers Park on June 8 for the first time.

The Geelong-based performer known for slaying stereotypes, celebrating differences and tirelessly promoting social inclusion, has helped move drag from margin to mainstream.

She starred in the inaugural season of Stan’s RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, and has also appeared on Have You Been Paying Attention, Would I Lie To You and the 7/Netflix reboot of Kath & Kim.

Art Simone, 31, is looking forward to bringing ‘glitz, glam, laughs, everything and anything people come to expect from me’ to PrideFest.

So, what will she be wearing?

“It’s really hard because I want to wear every colour under the rainbow, of course, so I’m not quite sure what I’m going to be wearing. I want to pick my outfits on feelings so when I pack my suitcase, I’ll see what I’m feeling,” Art Simone says.

“It’s going to be ultra colourful, sparkly, glittery and fabulous.”

Whatever she decides to step out in, it will be a far cry from her first foray into drag.

“My first ever drag ensemble I pinched from my older sister. It was her formal dress which she had custom-made. It was hideous, by the way, but she loved it,” Art Simone recalls.

“It was purple and gold satin and there was a big stain on the front, from her formal occasion, but I said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll wear it’.

“At the time, for some reason, I was too afraid to shave my armpits. I think to me that was just the next step and I wasn’t ready to do that.

“I spent the whole time with my arms down by my side, pinched in so no-one could see my hairy armpits. I had this beautiful curly blonde wig that I got from a $2 shop and I thought I had styled it impeccably, but I think I just ended up looking like Hagrid in a dress.”

Journey begins

She started experimenting with drag in her teens because she didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. Discovering the transformative powers of make-up, costumes and wigs to add ‘a touch of escapism’ was life changing.

“It just grew from there because I realised I was decent at it and I loved it. I was passionate about it and it made other people happy. From that point, I just did more shows, gigs and appearances and slowly transformed into the ultra-glamazon I am today,” she says.

“I don’t tend to go towards purple and gold these days. Everything is big art and bolder and more sparkly.

“All of my amazing costumes are perfectly coutured, they’re custom (made), camp as well … one thing I love to do with my outfits is to make them a little bit kitschy for example I’ve dressed as a glamazon koala and a fabulous galah before.

“I really love to involve my favourite Aussie pop culture references and transform them into an outlandish drag costume.

“It kind of is the Priscilla-effect. It came out 30 years ago but it’s still sticking true to the aesthetic.”

Art evolves

Art Simone’s face is her canvas and her craft continues to evolve.

“Drag is an expression of yourself. It’s a hot version of anything you could ever dream of,” she says.

“Your body and your face become the canvas and it’s a perfect way to express yourself whether that is in the way you look, or the way you perform. Drag is really just a mindset that anyone can apply to their everyday life.

“RuPaul famously says, ‘you’re born naked and the rest is drag’. What that means is we’re all born with the same canvas, and the way we dress ourselves, the way we style ourselves, the way we present ourselves is all a form of drag. It’s just a wonderful way to express yourself and deliver your art to the world.”

When Art Simone first experimented with drag, it was a way to express herself and vehicle to say what she wanted to say.

“What I do now, while I do get a lot out of it, the biggest thing that inspires me is motivating and making other people feel special or inspired or valid or seen. Now, my drag is for everyone else,” she explains.

“It’s for the audience, it’s for the people that love me because as drag queens we often walk in a robe and stand on stage and say, ‘look at me’.

“I realised that instead of making myself feel like the biggest person, when I walk into a room, when I’m performing on stage, I like to find the person who may feel the smallest and make them feel like the biggest and most important person in the room.

“Uplifting others is really what drag is to me. That’s the most important part.”

And that’s what she will be doing at Moreton Bay PrideFest.

“PrideFest is going to be a massive celebration of each other, of ourselves and the community. I feel like drag is the perfect vehicle to express that and to motivate everyone one to celebrate individuality,” she says.

To find out more about Moreton Bay PrideFest, head to the website

Art Simone’s book Life is Art is now available via Booktopia

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