Hometown girl Hannah Conda reflects on her drag journey

On Saturday night Hannah Conda will take to the stage at The Riverside Theatre as one of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under. Speaking to OUTinPerth as she returned to her hometown, the drag star shared that she’s surprised how much her career as changed over the last decade.

“It’s been a rollercoaster ride”, Hannah says of her journey as a drag performer that kicked off with her winning Queen of the Court in 2010.

After leaving Perth and relocating Sydney her career continued to grow and this year things went into overdrive when she signed up to be a contestant on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race – Down Under. While she didn’t win the crown, she was a worthy runner-up coming in second.

The performer shares that she did have some hesitation about signing on to the show.

“It’s like throwing a time-bomb into your life, because you never really know how it’s going to pan out, but I’m really grateful because I got to meet some incredible people and we had a wonderful time. I came out feeling like an absolute winner, because I made beautiful friends and have wonderful memories.”

When we catch up via phone Hanna Conda has just touched down in Perth with all of those drag race friends and they’re being bussed from the airport to their accommodation. Our conversation is filled with the cacophony of sounds that only a bus full of drag queens could create.

She shares that the intensive filming the show is naturally a stressful experience.

“It’s natural that it’s stressful because it is a competition, and you’re pressed for time and going through all these challenges, and you’re always trying to put your best foot forward.

“You’re trying to stay on top of it all, but not sleeping well because you’re thinking of the next thing, so it does become quite stressful, but at the same time, I loved it, and I had the best time.” Hannah said.

For the show at the Riverside Theatre Hannah Conda says fans are going to see some of the best drag performances in the business.

“It’s a drag show on a different scale, it’s spectacular and it includes all your favourite performers from Season 1 and 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race – Down Under. Everyone’s worked their absolute bums off to make sure it’s the best drag show you’re going to see, and I’m really proud of it.”

When the television show made its debut in 2021 concerns over issues of racism and cultural misappropriation in Australia’s drag community resurfaced, and most of the attention was on performances that occurred in Perth’s local queer scene.

Hannah Conda addressed her own past performances, offering an apology for instances of cultural misappropriation and vowing to be a better ally to people of colour in the future. It’s something that the performer says will always be an ongoing journey.

“Once you start realising the structures that we’re all facing in race, you’re able to start working towards bringing people together in more positive ways, which is a rewarding experience.”

Hannah said she’d attended workshops on the topic and had taken part in a lot of conversations over the last 18 months about the issue of racism.

“The workshops were just one of the most real experiences, to have all these people from different walks of life come in and talk about race and racism, trying to take the un-comfortability out of it, allowed me to learn how we can all do our part to make sure that we are all thriving in this world.

“In our community we already know there is still so much further we need to go, to make sure people from different walks of life, different minorities, are all having their voices heard and their stories shared in appropriate ways. It is so important.” Hannah said.

“As a leader in our space and our community it was important that I took charge and made sure I did what I could do on my end to start making amends, and that continues to this day. I donate when I can, and I volunteer time, it’s all about empowering Indigenous voices, it’s really important.”

RuPaul’s Drag race Down Under Tour featuring the stars of Season 1 & 2 is at The Riverside Theatre on Saturday 8 October. Last minute tickets are available

Graeme Watson 

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