Drag Fest Returns to Manawatū’s Regent on Broadway


Ricky Beirao is gearing up for Saturday's Palmy Drag Fest where he will be in drag as Rhubarb Rouge.

WARWICK SMITH / Stuff

Ricky Beirao is gearing up for Saturday’s Palmy Drag Fest where he will be in drag as Rhubarb Rouge.

The drag performers are back at Regent on Broadway in Palmerston North for a second year after bringing the glamor and spectacle of performance art to audiences in Manawatū.

The drag fest follows a surge in the popularity of drag shows, thanks in part to American reality shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race. Part cabaret, part musical, part pop concert, part acrobatic, this is a show like no other in the city.

The show will be hosted by Ricky Beirão, a New Zealander of Brazilian descent who calls himself Rhubarb Rouge on stage. Alongside Ricky’s alter-ego, 13 other performers will all give their unique touch to flirt.

“When I moved to Palmy, there were absolutely no barriers. It was very sporadic and I needed a place to play. I needed to let my creativity run wild.”

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“So I wanted to create something to give local queens a chance to perform, but also for them to interact with other queens to make the experience bigger and better and learn more.”

Beirão is a drag veteran, having performed since 2008. Fourteen years in the game began completely by chance as a student in Melbourne when a friend asked him to fill in for a show at the last minute.

“I think it was the theatricality that interested me. I was doing theater in college and I wanted to experiment with this idea of ​​building a character. I just didn’t know that the character would be formed and built and used as well. long time.

“Today, for me, it’s the love of creating. So come up with an idea for the outfit, go to Spotlight, get the fabric and after that I’ll edit the song, edit the background projection and get the dancers. It’s love to put it together.

Ricky Beirão is a grag veteran and has been performing since 2008.

WARWICK SMITH / Stuff

Ricky Beirão is a grag veteran and has been performing since 2008.

Beirão saw drag transform from something played late at night in clubs to being played on stage.

While once limited to the LGBTQI+ community, he said this event saw people from across the community get involved.

“There is a married man who does it with the help of his wife and daughters. There is a married woman who is also an actress.

“So she uses that to create a character and see some of her material. It is therefore adopted by everyone.

Despite the popularity of the event, Beirão received a minority of backlash. Some had criticized the pride flags adorning Broadway Ave while others had questioned whether the show was appropriate for children.

“Drag is political and it challenges people. I think RuPaul said it very well when he said we were all born naked and the rest is drag.

“If you think about it, every day you’re in your own drag. There are different groups in society who dress up. So there’s goths, there’s skateboarders, it’s all their different drag tribes.

“They just dress in a way that makes them feel good.”

Beirão described Red Rhubarb as the life of the party.

The host of the evening, she had the fashion sense of Audrey Hepburn, the talent of Madonna and the body shape of Rebel Wilson.

On top of that, he said through his character that his Brazilian heritage shines through.

“I think Brazilians are very outspoken and open. They are party people. And in the evening, I invite Samba a Vento, the local Brazilian percussion group to come and join us. So they do a performance and also join us in the final.

The show will take place at the Regent on Broadway on Saturday evening. Tickets are available but are selling out fast at www.palmydrag.com.

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