Drag queens have long been a part of cross-dressing performance art and have appeared onscreen in classics such as Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, Rent and The Birdcage. Adopting exaggerated feminine gender roles and being involved in drag pageants and discotheques is an integral part of LGBTIQ nightlife culture, particularly on Sydney’s Oxford Street.
Having said this, it’s strange to think that we haven’t given much thought to the kings who are sitting beside our queens, and we’re not talking about Edward VII. What we’re talking about are the LGBTIQ community’s favourite female performance artists who dress in masculine drag and take the stage as larger than life macho males. As this culture continues to grow, Hijacked sat down with the alter ego of Lexi Leigh, Drag King Sexy Galexy, to get the inside scoop.
“We live outside the box and don’t conform to social programming. We aren’t afraid to explore our gender identity,” Leigh of the LGBTIQ community’s cross-dressing performers. “We live in communities that support and encourage this. Self exploration is a very colourful experience.”
Leigh made forayed into the drag scene in Perth in the late ’90s and has since participated in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, contributing to the drag king revolution. “I love the fun, comedy and colour of drag shows,” she says.
This doesn’t mean, however, that Leigh isn’t interested in changing the way people perceive gender and exploring personal feelings. “Last year, I wrote my first woman show, which is part of this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It’s called Sexy Galexy’s Manliness Mission. It’s different from anything I have done before, as it’s a story of my life and my journey to discover my inner man,” she says.
And the physical transformation? It takes Leigh an hour to transform into Sexy Galexy and has lots of experience with rubber latex singlets that are used to hold down her breasts. Naturally, Leigh also has a lot of experience with prosthetic penises. “It’s entertainment, and most shows have a comedy element, so people take away a good experience with them. Laughter is a great way to connect people and to talk about sensitive subjects.”
Now, Leigh’s alter ego Sexy Galexy travels the world performing hyper masculine drag shows. Leigh’s home turf, Sydney, is always on the trail and is a city that is now following in the footsteps of Melbourne where drag king shows are almost as equally common as drag queen shows. And indeed, taking a stroll down Oxford Street nowadays we can note the prominence of this community in Australia’s gay capital.
Last year’s Sydney Mardi Gras festival included a number of drag king performers and was heralded for its diversity of LGBTIQ women performers. Long gone is the belief that drag queens alone run Sydney’s gay nightlife scene. The kings have arrived and Leigh knows it. “It is the fire in my belly, my purpose and I love it.”