How Melbourne’s local drag scene is struggling – and how you can help

Moxie Delite in performance. Picture by: 3 Fates Media
Lockdowns have caused big problems for Melbourne’s drag queens and drag artists. Grace Thornton reports

“I can’t count on my hands how many opportunities have fallen through in the past few days, which is upsetting.”

Drag artist Moxie Delite, portrayed by Eden Luis, knows all too well the struggles of trying to organise performances during the uncertainty of lockdowns.

Moxie Delite produces their own show, Cirque de Moxie, which was cancelled due to the lockdown, and another show with the City of Casey was postponed too.

“Once it got to lockdown six, everyone’s motivation shrunk, no one did anything, everyone was really tired, no one wants to do any digital gigs because everyone’s tired, everyone’s exhausted,” they said.

The unpredictability of lockdowns in Victoria has become exhausting for many drag artists in Melbourne, but it will not stop them from doing what they love.

“I’m practising in my room and I kind of think to myself, ‘will this even happen?’,” says Moxie.

Moxie Delite almost cancelled their most recent performance, soon after lockdown six began, but after speaking to a friend, they decided to transform the show to suit an online audience.

“It got to about last week, and everyone was like ‘alright we are going to do things now’, and then there was a bunch of digital gigs just jumping up everywhere and its really lovely, so it’s coming back around,” they said.

How Melbourne’s local drag scene is struggling – and how you can help
Moxie Delite (Eden Luis) on Zoom. Picture by Grace Thornton

Other artists, such as Anne Job and Alexander McKween, were among the performers in an Instagram live which raised a total of $2350 towards the artists.

“I felt rewarded and felt so much love as we are in such as loving and supporting community,” says Anne Job.

While there is a COVID-19 Crisis Relief Grant through Support Act for those who rely on performing as their primary income, artists whose main income is not performing are still struggling mentally from cancelled gigs.

According to 2020 Mission Australia Youth Survey of young people aged 15–19, 17 per cent were most concerned about mental health during the pandemic.

The unemployment rate in youth (ages 15-24) rose by 4 per cent from 2019 to 2020, and for performers the losses cannot even be counted.

Moxie says: “I am pretty lucky to live at home and be an essential worker, but I know friends of mine who actually say that they don’t know how they are going to make it to the next day.”

What you can you do to help

The best way to support drag artists during this time is directly through them.

Look to your local artist’s social media pages a – go to their online events, purchase their merchandise.

Look out for future performances at Cirque de Moxie or any of the online performances that have been showcasing drag artists in the local area.

For Moxie’s most recent performance, they “grabbed the artists from the Rainbow House Club edition, and I have grabbed artists from Melbourne Fringe”.

It is a community that is built on love and caring for one another.