Out of the underground queer stage Drag Kings in Melbourne erupted Yana Alana, the narcissistic, neo-punk, anti-glamour alter-ego of cabaret anarchist Sarah Ward. Yana’s a bit like a volcano, Sarah tells me. She’ll explode but she brings life.
Lately Sarah hasn’t been Yana as much on stage. Sarah has become healthier, more sure of herself and her place in the world, with less need to speak through her alter-ego.
“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand who I am and part of that process, without me understanding it, was creating an unapologetic woman who wanted to take up space,” says Sarah.
“I don’t want to be famous anymore, I don’t need to tour the world. What I need at the moment as we move forward and possibly look at the extinction of a lot of life on planet earth, is connection and community.
“That is the only thing that’s going to keep me sane.”
I quickly learn that for Sarah, art means everything. Art is community, art is intelligence, art is provocation that can lead to social change.
“I feel like art now has a responsibility to create sustainable work, work that responds to what it is society needs in order to be healthy.”
“The day of sequins is numbered. Sequins stay on the planet for as long as plastic.”
Mardi Gras has always been a celebration of innovation, diversity and speaking out in our city. This year’s theme ‘What Matters’ invites reflection as we look towards a challenging new decade.
Fuck Fabulous, a show curated and presented by Yana Alana, was co-commissioned by Mardi Gras and Art Centre Melbourne. The show came about because Sarah felt that the queer community was not being represented on stage in its fullness.
“We’re seeing a lot of conventionally beautiful femme representations by drag queens, trans women and women within the queer community.
“I’m not seeing a lot of butch, I’m not seeing a lot of gender queer and trans men, I’m not seeing a lot of diversity within femme identity.
“We are a part of this family, we are queer or queer allies and we are strong and connected. We’re also angry.
“I’m in a place of privilege because I am a cis white woman. I’m also a fat queer woman and if that disgusts people, then they’ve got a long way to go because this is the body that I live in and I’m not disgusted by myself. I love myself.”
Fuck Fabulous is a neo-punk protest party and variety show in two parts, featuring circus, drag, dance, comedy, and visual art.
“I want my audience to feel like there’s no such thing as freak. There’s no such thing as a person who can’t find their place.”
Mardi Gras is showcasing work from a range of artists and performers in 2020, and the theme ‘What Matters’ couldn’t be more significant right now, says Sarah.
“There’s Gender Euphoria and the Trans Stories, there’s Hot Brown Honey, it’s not just all drag queens prancing around.
“The day of sequins is numbered. Sequins stay on the planet for as long as plastic. Glitter, glamour, sequins: fuck off! It’s time to have our bare feet on the ground.
“All the clothes in this show will be made from clothes we find at op shops. If we have a drop it’s going to be a drop of leaves, because leaves already exist.
“I’m not saying this to be like ‘we’re so progressive’, it’s not about that. It’s about us going my god, we’re looking at extinction! How important is a show in relation to that?”
“We’re not going to have a set, we’re going to have a projection screen with projections, and no glitter. I’ve already said to everybody no glitter. We’re moving away from all of that because we just need to.”
“It’s not a radical idea to say that we are probably not going to make it as a human species unless we act incredibly quickly on this. I think artists and creative people are the first to identify that this is real because we can see it.”
“I’m hoping that this show will be a little bit of an antidote.”
Fuck Fabulous is presented by Mardi Gras in association with Fat Fruit. It’s a protest against the commodification of queer culture and a collective reimagining of what it means to be queer and fabulous. For more info head to mardigras.org.au.
Wednesday 19th February – Sunday 23rd February
York Theatre, Seymour Centre