Drag is an art form but, more importantly, it's a political and social movement. It is subversive because it challenges social norms. It shocks because it dares to be different, and to explore alternative ways of being.
Drag Queens bravely led the riots of Stonewall in June of 1969, considered to be one of the most important events leading to the establishment of gay rights. As we celebrate Pride month, we wanted to explore how a Drag personas age. Do they suffer from invisibility? Are they affected by ageism? Are they expected to retire?
To answer these questions, we will interview two of the biggest drag artists in Canada and Australia. We will start with the all Australian, Minnie Cooper.
Photos by @citronal
Minnie was abandoned as a baby and left in the doorway of a nightclub. Thankfully, she was adopted and raised by drag queens who taught her all about miming, glitter lipstick, platform heels and everything in-between… Maybe this is only legend, but those familiar with the Sydney Drag Scene will know the name well. In the entertainment industry where youth tends to prevail, Minnie has risen above the limitations imposed by a number to become a much-loved icon.
Minnie spoke with So50 to give her unique perspective on age and ageing within her sector of the entertainment industry. Age is “not an issue” for Minnie Cooper.
She admits that “people pick on me because of my age, but I’m just grateful that I’ve lived this long and had the experience”. Coming from a background in musical theatre, Aaron Farley – the very talented man behind Minnie – describes her as “a heightened version” of himself. This blurring of the line between the man and the persona allow us to get a very personal viewpoint on Minnie’s experience of ageing, and all the positives that have come from it.
Minnie feels that when we are younger we tend to say “yes” far too often, and that we allow others to take advantage of us. “You’re too scared to speak up”. Minnie reveals to So50 that, with age, she has gained a confidence in knowing her own strengths and weaknesses. “I’m more secure in what I think I have to offer”, and “what my self-worth is”. “I know what I’m good at” and am “confident in knowing that”.
Minnie humbly says “I just see myself as a working person”, although she does admit that she works hard. It is this ethic, her genuine talent, and that undefined quality – that “magic” – that combined with her obvious passion to entertain, is an inspiration to younger drag queens following in her footsteps. It is also perhaps her belief “that you can learn things from young people” that contributes to her longevity within the industry… “Young people can inspire you!” This attitude keeps Minnie relevant and current to all ages, both younger and older. Her consistently busy calendar and perennially popular performances are testament to both her talent and relevance.
A pivotal moment in both Aaron and Minnie’s evolution, was meeting a woman who changed the whole perception of how she approached her work. This woman delivered two particularly important lessons for life… You may “always work for other people, but always do things for you”, and “always ask for what you want, but never have a sense of entitlement”. It was at this time that Minnie began to sing and perform her own cabaret shows. Minnie gave herself the opportunity to grow into her talents and refine her gifts.
Minnie ends the interview saying… “Age is only a number, I really do believe that. And, as long as you’re entertaining, it doesn’t matter how old you are… Entertaining is ageless!”
You can see more of Minnie Cooper at @theminniecooper
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