Electric Ladyland: the high-wattage wit of drag queen names

The Stonewall Riots of 1969, widely considered the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement, were no laughing matter … or so I had thought.

As it turns out one of its finest moments, at least by my reckoning, came when demonstrators countered an impenetrable wall of helmeted, club-carrying police with a high-kicking chorus line worthy of The Rockettes. The police, incensed with their machismo-spoofing shenanigans, broke ranks and charged at demonstrators with venomous ferocity and truncheons swinging.  But they’d met their match. Protesting drag queens, towering over the constabulary in their heels, proceeded to belt the crap out of them with their handbags.


And in its own very small way, that devilish sass, hilarity and exuberance is what draws me to the cornucopia of comedy gold that is a drag queen’s ultimate calling card … her name.

From the rich pantheon of nom de plumes comes the most obvious anatomical word play; Dixie Normous, Penny Tration, Wilma Ballsdrop, Tess Tosterone and Ivana Cockatoo.

Particularly popular amongst drag acts are medically-themed monikers; Ginger Vitis, Ella Phantitus, Angie O’Gram, Anne Thrax, Madam Ovary, Dinah Thirst, Sarabelle Palsy and Anna Rexia.

Then there are those utterly devoid of any delusions of grandeur; Robyn Sevenelevens, Mary KMart, Carlotta Tendant, Summer Clearance, Show White Trash and Lois Carmen Denominator.

On the flip side there are the shining literary classics; Hedda Gobbler, Holly Goheavily, Bridgette of Madison County, Agnes of Gosh, Venus de Mile High-Lo and Barbra Seville.

As well as the star-studded; Marianne Unfaithful, Tallulah Bunkbed, Karen Carpenteria, Estee Lauder Harder Faster, Clare Booth Luce Change, Zsa Zsa Lahore and Gina Lola Golden Gate Bridgeda.

Sydney gay culture vulture and former drag queen Simon Lloyd (aka Mandy Vice Rabies) recalls Lady Bump, Cindy Pastel, Portia Turbo and Victoria Bitter sashaying through clubs in the late 80s with equal parts talent and talons.  More recent Australian acts include Minnie Cooper, Maxi Shield, Joyce Mange, Sheila Blige and Dawn Service (who only ever appears on ANZAC Day).

Maxi Shield, Ophelia Shaft and Joyce Maynge.

Maxi Shield, Ophelia Shaft and Joyce Mange

My personal favourite as far as distinctly Australian names go is the indigenous drag queen with the delicious title of Nana Miss Koori.

Nana Miss Koori

Nana Miss Koori at Damien Minton Gallery Nov 2013

And it seems I’m far from alone when it comes to the lure of a seriously good drag queen name if the Facebook group Drag Names!!!!!!!!!!!! (twelve exclamation marks mandatory) is anything to go by.  2,600 members have posted hundreds of suggestions including Beverly Hillbilly, Anna Phylactic, Madonna Kebab, Synthia Sizer, Mena Pause, Uretha Franklin and Vaseline Dion.

Vaseline Dion ... oh hang on ... no, that's just Celine Dion.

Vaseline Dion … oh hang on … no, that’s just Celine Dion.

But don’t despair if your own creative spark isn’t exactly lighting up the room like spotlit sequins under a mirror ball. Let an algorithm do the work for you at Drag Queen Name Generator. And for the littlest diva of them all, there’s The Drag Queen Baby Name book, which is sure to put some bling on that teething ring.

drag queen baby name book

It’s not often that I’m prone to quoting Dolly Parton. But in this case I’ll make an exception because she and I are more in tune than I thought possible.  ‘It’s a good thing I was born a girl. Otherwise I’d be a drag queen’.  Were the latter indeed the case, let the record show that I would have chosen to make my own debut as Pixie Lated.

From tattoo coups to tattoo spews

The inking of flesh has been doing the rounds since the Stone Age across almost every culture on the planet, but never has the pursuit been as all-pervasive than at this point in time.

Once the domain of rebels, social outcasts and misfits, dolphin and unicorn tattoos and tramp stamps now rub shoulders with fashionistas and mall rats alike.

Love them or loathe them, like pretty much everything else in life, tattoos are in the eye of the beholder; from the extraordinarily artistic and inspired to the god-awful equivalent of Cake Wrecks and Awkward Family Photos.

Tattoo coups

tattoo spews


Noble rot: The Duchess of Alba

When you’re 87, a duchess seven times over and Spain’s richest woman, who’s going to stop you marrying your toy boy civil servant and dancing a barefoot jig at the wedding?

FILE: Duchess of Alba Suffers Broken leg While On Vacation In Rome

Such is María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva’s offbeat appetite for everything from spouses to the surgeon’s scalpel, that her event-filled life has compelled her to pen not one but two autobiographies.

marriage papps

Papped, snapped and clapped at the nuptuals.

Alba marriage 2 freak on

Husband #3

Credited by the Guinness World Records as having more aristocratic titles than anyone else in the world (over 40 noble and 150 hereditary ones), as the head of the House of Alba her portfolio includes castles, palaces, country houses and land across Spain including her birthplace, the Liria Palace in Madrid, along with a priceless collection of 250+ oil paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Goya, Van Dyck and Rubens.

Alba young family

In her youth Picasso asked the Duchess to pose nude for him but she refused on the basis that she found modelling boring.  Instead she spent her formative years rubbing shoulders with the aristocracy’s inner sanctum along with American royalty, namely Jackie Kennedy.


Horsing around with Jackie Kennedy

But after her first marriage to the son of the Duke of Sotomayor in 1947, considered the last feudal wedding in Spain and the world’s most expensive at that time, the Duchess went on to snub her resculpted retrousséd nose at the establishment by making an illegitimate defrocked Jesuit priest and her former confessor, husband number two in 1978.

Alba marriage 1

Wedding #1. Her dress is thought to have inspired Alexander McQueen’s efforts for Kate Middleton.

She was at it again in 2011 when she married her third husband, a man 24 years her junior, causing such a ruckus in the family that she divided her $3 billion fortune between her children and grandchildren just to shut them up. The tactic appeared to work with her saying  “They’re more or less satisfied … at least they can’t put up any more objections.”


Spam sandwiched between husband #3 and Tom Cruise.


Little Photoshop of Horrors

These days the Duchess is better known for her electrocuted shock of fairy floss hair, flamboyant fashion sense, including an extensive array of bikinis she’s taken to sporting on the Riviera and for her relentless pursuit of surgical enhancements.

Bikini show

A one woman Bikini Atoll

While there’s not much to love about a life writ large by a self-indulged, self-absorbed existence of entitlement, there is always something to appreciate about the privileged few who do a fine job of hoisting themselves by their own petard. So the fact that the Duchess of Alba’s remodelled face is now reminiscent of one of Picasso’s later, more contorted masterpieces, seems rather fitting.  Perhaps it should be renamed Albatross.

alba freak on close up at bullfight

The Wild Wild World of fashion’s WILD & LETHAL TRASH

Walter Van Beirendonck, the unlikely 90’s fashion guru who looks like a cross between a Hell’s Angel and the Jolly Green Giant, captured my imagination when at one of his collection’s showings in Paris the front row seats normally reserved for celebrities and editors were occupied by stuffed bears, relegating the fashionistas to the back row behind the toys.


It was Walt’s ‘fuck you’ to the fashion establishment at a time when it was bookended by haute couture’s firmly entrenched elitism and the ‘flavour of the month’ sombre deconstructivism of the Japanese school led by Commes des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo.

Van Beirendonck burst on to the scene with cult clubwear label, Wild & Lethal Trash (W&LT, pronounced Walt); a riotous mashup of sci-fi, neon, ethnic, holographic, hi-tech, in-your-face, fetish, cartoony clothing which at first glance appeared to be no more than a visual cocktail of corrosive fun cooked up by a caustic adolescent mainlining raspberry cordial.



But on closer inspection W&LT’s work reveals deeper layers of meaning on everything from the environment and safe sex to the class system and the media, delivering a hearty meal that includes an amuse bouche of provocation, entree of social commentary and main course which carves up fashion snobbery (in fact Van Beirendonck was the very first designer to stream his shows live for all to see and put his collections online for all to access). That he completes his fashion feast with a dessert hit of psychopathic optimism and unbridled joie de vivre is the icing on the cake indeed.

Van Beirendonck is probably best known for his superhero outfits for U2’s 1997 PopMart tour, but he’s also designed costumes for the Paris Opera Ballet, collaborated with Bang and Olufsen, Coca Cola and, somewhat  ironically, even Commes des Garcons.


But his footprint extends far beyond the Northern Hemisphere, with Australia’s own connection to Van Beirendonck running threefold; a collaboration with Australian industrial designer Marc Newson in 1998, a t-shirt project for electronica outfit The Avalanches in 2002 and until October this year, the staging of ‘Dream the World Awake’ at RMIT University’s Design Hub in Melbourne, the first major retrospective of his work outside Europe.

Perhaps it’s because Australia is still a relatively young, irreverent and essentially optimistic country that we find we have so much in common with Walter and his ethos.

I’m just hoping we can further lure him into our clutches with an Antipodean diffusion label collaboration called W&LTzing Matilda.


The author’s one remaining (and much loved) Van Beirendonck creation, Bought somewhere in the early 90s in Paddington, Sydney.

Guru Adrian – The Cult of No Adult

Dear Anthony Robbins.  I admire you. I really do. You make lots of people feel great about themselves

But there is only one life coach for me, and that is Guru Adrian.

And I ‘m not alone.  The Guru’s disciples are scattered around the globe and for each he means something a little different; in France he’s The Guru You Have When You’re Not Having a Guru, in Japan he’s the Guru of No Wave Consciousness and in Australia he is simply known as The God of Fun.

So who is Guru Adrian?

According to legend, Adrian Speshelperson was born in Beecroft in 1664, discovered the Secret of Eternal Youth with a Junior Science Kit at the age of seven and hasn’t aged a day since.


In the late 1980s, the Guru made regular appearances in Countdown magazine dispensing his sage advice and in the mid 90s was feted by LA studio Hanna-Barbera, hoping to turn Adrian’s transcendental wisdom into an animated series.


But in 1989 things took a sinister turn in the form of Chairman Kevin, a commercially-driven Adrian rip-off conceived by an evil advertising agency of some note, Lowe Howard-Spink to flog a brand of crisps.  As Adrian’s closest confidante David Art Wales said at the time ‘Guru Adrian stands for truth and fun.  Chairman Kevin seems to stand for cheese and onions.’


Fortunately the Guru’s revolutionary philosophy, Adrianetics, remains untainted by MSG and continues to help us all master consciousness and avoid becoming Groan Adults.

The principle of Adrianetics is also not discordant with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s much quoted ‘Life is a journey, not a destination’.

In the Guru’s case though, Adrian prefers to articulate it via the Four Big Questions: Who Am I? Why Am I Here? Where Am I Going? Can I Have a Window Seat?

While some may like to trivialise Guru Adrian as Pee Wee Herman crossed with the Dalai Lama, I have lived every day of my life in accordance with the Guru’s manifesto:

  1. Thou shalt make fun of life
  2. Thou shalt be youknighted
  3. Thou shalt not commit adultie
  4. Thou shalt keep an attitude of gratitude
  5. Thou shalt be for giving
  6. Thou shalt ride the porpoise of life
  7. Thou shalt heed not groan adults
  8. Thou shalt offer no whine list
  9. Thou shalt have No Age consciousness
  10. Thou shalt be afraid not

So is Guru Adrian a cult? I certainly hope so.  I for one enjoy drinking his thoroughly refreshing brand of Cool Aide every single day.



Five reasons why the hipster beard has to go!

You’re putting the arse into gravitas

You think your beard makes you a learned yet edgy steam punk renegade? Note to selfie; you appear to have stopped smiling because all that follicular weight is wearing you and the world down, right?


It’s just an Alpha male love-in

Women have made it quite clear they hate beards. Apart from what amounts to a lip-locking experience that resembles interacting with a sea anemone caught in a brush fence, recent research conducted in both Canada and New Zealand also reveals chicks find beards a complete turn-off because they make you look undesirably aggressive. With that in mind, who exactly are you trying to impress … boys?


Fuzz begets The Fuzz
Statistics show that sporting teams wearing predominantly black uniforms get penalised by referees more than those wearing white. Similarly, the police frown upon beards more than the clean-shaven. Hirsute pursuits are 17% higher than those otherwise known in the trade as a close shave.

Bubble, bubble, toil and stubble

Truth be known, your beard is a bacterial facehugger. Ever heard of a Petri dish? You’re livin’ the dream! While laughter may be infectious, in your case it’s literal. The only good news is that the trip you lost (as opposed to dropped) at Coachella last year is still residing somewhere in your foliage.


‘Yes, we are all chindividuals’

You think you’re intriguing and unique? Alas, you’re a conveyer belt of pelt, one of millions now! So if you won’t cave into a shave then please, get creative and go for a beard that can be singularly revered as opposed to collectively jeered.


Otherwise women across the world will implore you to live and Gilette live.

Help decide which larf comes next

Thank you for visiting The Meaning of Larf.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to help me decide which of the story themes below should become my next TMOL installment.

ps. Apologies for the legibility of the options across this overcooked design.

For the record:

Wild & Lethal Trash: 80s fashion at the height of its madness.

Con Colleano: The Aborginal tightrope walker who wowed Mussolini.

The Absinthe Salon: Sydney’s answer to the Soup Nazi.

The House of Capes: An extension of life!

Melbourne’s time capsule of sartorial abstruseness, The House of Capes, is a thing of rare beauty and an oasis railing against homogenised and franchised fashion strutting its skanky stuff in shopping malls all over this country.

At its height, the cape was celebrated as a distinguished garment favoured by Roman Catholic clergy, high ranking military and ladies in evening dress.  More recently Sherlock Holmes, Superman, James Brown and pimps have gone ape for the cape.

Nowadays though, the cape is only sighted at cosplay conventions and draped across dowager humps at society balls.

And for those too lazy to take a cape out for a twirl, there is now the abomination that is The Snuggie, or as I like to refer to it, the cape under house arrest.

Listen up, dear readers. The House of Capes website speaks the truth … ‘Capes are an extension of life itself!’ (exclamation mark mandatory)


Look closely.  Capes are more versatile than you could ever have imagined.  Opera and Theatre nudge shoulders with the Homeless and Night Clubbing is right at home with Special Needs. Not content with life writ large by virtue of the House of Cape’s diagrammatic wisdom?

Feast your eyes on the fashion shots peppering houseofcapes.com.au.  So good they haven’t been updated for twenty years, but then why would they need to be?  The cape NEVER goes out of fashion.

capes galore

Classic cape


Clearly the world agrees.  As Kitty van Wees-Miller, The House of Capes’  high priestess muses, Bill Clinton wore a cape to his inauguration in 1993 and capes are now ‘happy serving wearers in Paris, Moscow, Jerusalem, Tokyo and even some of the Findhorn community in Scotland’.

And if that weren’t enough, the House of Capes is taking it to the world at various ‘Rainbow Festivals’ and my personal favourite, the ‘Weekly Times Sheep-vention’ in Melbourne.

Unleash your inner superhero at The House of Capes.  As Kitty says, the shop has a magical aura about it.  It must be all those negative ions being generated by their customers’ giddy twirling.