Hannah Conda Takes Off

Hannah Conda

Perth’s resident sweetheart and mistress of The Court herself Hannah Conda will be setting her sights in Sydney this May. The local drag sensation spoke to Sophie Joske about her big move and her time in Perth, including the good times, the not-so good times and where it all began.

“I’m making a big break over there, I’m moving over pretty much just to further my drag career and challenge myself. It’s always been one of my goals to be a Sydney showgirl, and hopefully I can make that dream happen.” Hannah shared.

But the Bingay hostess and Drag Factory matriarch hasn’t always been the polished performer she is today. Almost five years ago, Hannah was another hopeful babyqueen at Drag Factory on a Wednesday night, then referred to as Amateur Drag Night. The fresh-faced entertainer was hoping to study musical theatre, and her good friend Ruby Jewelz encouraged her to use her onstage passion to take on a drag number. “I did not want to do it, I was like ‘Nup, not for me’. And then I gave it one shot, I said ‘I’ll do it one night only’, and that is it. Ruby did my makeup, I borrowed my sister’s little lycra Supré dress, and down I went to The Court for amateur drag and I did my first show. I think the song was ‘Where My kiss?’ by The Sugababes. I loved it. I had the best time.”

The budding drag queen was beaten by default for performing only one number instead of two, but the following week, she was back with a vengeance and scored her first drag victory. “From that Wednesday night on I’ve been pretty much in drag every single week since then.” she said.

For those who have seen Hannah perform, it’s no surprise she’s got a musical theatre background. She said the two artforms have a number of shared skills. “You’re singing and you’re dancing and you’re acting and it all just ties in and it just worked and because being a more feminine guy, in musical theatre there are a lot of feminine guys but they can always pull off this masculinity in some weird way and I just couldn’t do it, like it just wasn’t right. All I wanted to do was be the female lead.”

Now Hannah has a repertoire featuring an enviable catalogue of roles. “Drag has become an avenue for me to literally live out my dreams and be all of the characters I wanted to be as a child growing up. I’ve been Disney princesses, I’ve done Snow White, I’ve done The Little Mermaid, I’ve been one of my favourite Disney villains Maleficient. I’ve done her, I’ve done Catwoman, oh, I love doing Catwoman. I get to be all these characters. I adore characters, that’s when I feel like I’s alive, because I get to play something, and it is like theatre, you get to be that role and live that dream.”

While she’s lived out a number of childhood dreams, she’s also had her fair share of nightmares. She shared one especially harrowing tale of a Christmas show that went horribly wrong. “I was doing Bette Midler, ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ it’s a Hawaiian Christmas song. I came out with a grass skirt on and I had a ukulele and I’m pretending to play the ukulele as I’m wandering around the stage and everyone is just loking at me like ‘What the hell is going on?’ So I decided, I thought ‘Wow, let’s make it dramatic, I’m going to smash the ukulele onstage.’ And so I tried to but it’s this plastic Disney princess ukulele and it wouldn’t smash so I’m just having this tantrum trying to break the ukulele. People are watching as I’m having this meltdown because the show was awful. It was one of those things, but looking back I laugh. Once I finished I was like ‘That was awful.’ But I couldn’t help but laugh. You just have to laugh at yourself and realise these things happen, it’s ok, let’s move forward.”

It seems that living that dream is paying off. Hannah’s been attracting acclaim both locally and internationally. Her performance of ‘No Good Deed’ from the musical ‘Wicked’ was featured on ‘Morgan McMichael’s Living for the Lipsync’ and she was voted into the top ten of Dragaholic’s fan poll asking readers who they would like to see on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 8, featuring 200 queens from around the world. Hannah said she was overwhelmed by all the support she’d received in the poll.

“It was really really nice to see all the support behind me and the fact that they got me up to that top ten was just incredible and it was so, so beautiful and I couldn’t thank everybody enough that they did that.” Hannah said that if she was capable of getting a VISA and getting accepted into ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, she’d do it in a heartbeat. “It is one of my dreams to do, and it’s a goal of mine. Like anything, whether or not it happens is another story, but it’s always good to have those goals and it pushes you to go harder. I hope that one day I can get on there and I can showcase to the world the talent that I have, and I can showcase to the world what little Perth can produce. I think Perth produces so many talents. Not only in drag but in all the arts. We have so many talented people in Perth and I’d like to showcase that to the world.”

Look out for Hannh Conda’s big farewell at www.thecourt.com.au

Sophie Joske

Image: Angelo Di-Benedetto

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