Well hello there Minnie Cooper! I’m super excited to be talking to someone in the future since its already tomorrow there in Australia! How are you doing today my dear?
I’m very well thank you. I have new show opening so that always brings a little bit of sparkle into my life!
Well since you brought it up, let’s jump right into talking about your one woman show, From Chorus Boy To Leading Lady. How did this show come about?
It was a while in the making. My other job, apart from drag, is teaching dance and musical theatre. Four years ago I had the opportunity to attend a master class of Tony award winner Faith Prince where I teach. It amazing how one person can change the way you do things and have an impact. Before I did drag, I worked as chorus boy in musicals but then when I was thirty one, I was “in between jobs” and was asked would I be interested in doing drag. I was like “Yeah, why not?”. Twelve years had passed and I had stopped singing over that time. After meeting, she inspired me to go back to musical theatre background and over the past four years, I started singing again and combined my drag with my theatre skills and A Chorus Boy To Leading Lady was born.
Here in New York, there are a plethora of queens who live sing and obviously many of us here in the States are familiar with Courtney Act but how common is it for queens to sing in the Australian drag scene?
Not very. We have the very talented Trevor Ashley. After I do my one woman show at the Fringe, I’ll be working on a show with Tora Hymen. Tora is very much like me. We have both have singing voices but have not sung as much. Drag in Australia has been very much a lip syncing culture.
Let’s hop in the Delorean and head back in time a bit shall we? I know you told us a little bit about how you got started in drag but where does your origin story begin?
I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney in Granville. When I was about three, there was a huge train disaster. I always say there was the Granville Train disaster and then there was me! I was the gayest child, always dressing up in my sister ballroom dress, playing with Barbie and putting on shows. Considering I had very hetero family, my mother was always kind and let me do the things I loved, even though my father hated it. Considering the time I grew up in, I think I come out the other end pretty okay.
What was it like starting drag at thirty one? Kids today are starting so young these day. Did it give you an unique insight into the art form heading into it?
I used to choreograph the shows for the drags, so I had developed a relationship with them. Let’s face it, I always loved dress up in woman’s clothes. Coming from a theatre/dance background was advantage but drag is whole different beast. You have to make sure everything that happens in your performance is done by you. The one thing I also learned doing drag, it’s about your visual, then performance and the dancing ……..enter the death drop! Laughs
If I tried to death drop, they’d need to scrap me up off the floor so I’ll leave that to the younger queens! For those people who haven’t seen you live, how would you describe your performance style?
I like to call the death drop an act of desperation laughs There is that saying just because you can doesn’t mean you should! I’m like a Broadway belter, think Ethel Merman meets Judy Garland. I look like a glamorous film star but I talk like your plumber! Laughs
Thanks to the miracle of modern technology I was able to see a special preview of your fabulous new show and it certainly seems like you’re bringing a lot of that aesthetic to the stage. How did you decide what you wanted this show to be?
When actually got the opportunity to do the show. I had been thinking about it for a while and I had a few ideas for songs. I think with any good cabaret show, if the song choices don’t have some connection to artist, it is basically karaoke. I had the title of the show first. I thought I would just be do leading ladies songs. One of the first songs I had chosen was “How Lovely To Be a Woman” from Bye Bye Birdie because I had done that show in high school. Then thought it would be my life story through Broadway songs, what it was like for growing up in the west of Sydney dressing up in girls clothes, singing, dancing and loving Barbie. What I have really enjoyed about doing this show is when its fun and joyful and I get the audience laughing but then hit them with a bit of vulnerability. A friend of mine who is the director helped me. I do as my coming out to my parents via the song “There are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease. With just a slight change of the words, a song you have heard a thousand times suddenly has new meaning. I have to say when I rehearsed it for the first time, I got a little teary.
You’re bringing the show to the Sydney Fringe Festival in September. How do you feel From Chorus Boy To Leading Lady will fit in at the Festival?
That’s what great about the Fringe Festival, anything goes really. You have an idea that you want to share with people and you go for it. I’m also one of the Ambassadors so I have been a major part of their branding. There are flags of me hanging on on poles at the Opera house and my picture on the side of buses. The Sydney Fringe has been very good to me!
Did you ever imagine there would be Minnie Cooper flags hanging when you began your drag journey?
I never had dreams of being on a pole. A dream did come true in March when I performed “Singing in the Rain” with my Tiny Teeny Tappers at the Sydney Opera House for Trevor Ashley’s Mardi Gala. I have to say it’s one moment in all my years of performing I will always treasure. It really was drag magic.
So as long as we’re talking about it, we should probably let the people know where they can get tickets for From Chorus Boy To Leading Lady!
You can get tickets here: http://minniecoopersydneydrag.com/services/
So now that everyone has gotten their tickets, its time for you to face……THE LIGHTNING ROUND! Are you ready?
Must have makeup item?
Cherry red Mac lipstick!
4 AM post show food craving?
The best part of drag?
There is no greater feeling then feeling glamorous!
The worst part of drag?
They way some clubs take advantage of girls and don’t pay them what they are worth. I say some not all.
Most surprising thing about you that people might not know?
I’m a man! Laughs
Queen you would pay the most to see?
Neil Patrick Harris! Laughs No, seriously Bianca Del Rio.
Celine Dion doing “Memory” from Cats in a cat costume.
Last movie to make you cry?
Death Row last meal?
A good Ragu.
Netflix Binge recommendation?
The Loudest Voice.
Disney character you relate to the most?
Tough one! Elsa, Little Mermaid close second. Or maybe Cruella de Vil? Laughs
In the movie of your life, who plays you?
Debbie Reynolds! Chins up, boobs out!
Final question, most embarrassing song on your phone?
Almost all of them!
Well it looks like you survived the Lightning Round my dear! Congratulations!
Phew! I didn’t think I was going to make it!
So the news just broke that RuPaul’s Drag Race will be having a Australia version set to hit the airwaves in 2020! What are you thoughts about this surprising development?
Let’s face it! Every queen here is flipping their wig! Who will be the host? Who will be the queens that will make it into the work room? It will be very interesting to see who makes it onto the Aussie version. Personally I think there will be such diversity, as we have so many talented queens Down Under. The wonderful thing about it coming to Australia, it gives our community a chance to shine. May the best woman win!
So for those people who can’t make it down to Sydney, where can they keep tabs on your glamorous life?
Here is the link to my website. Everything you need is there!
Well Minnie, we have just about reached the end of our time together but it was lovely talking with you and I wish you the best of luck with your show! Do you have an final words of wisdom to leave the WERRRK.com universe with?
Keep spreading the love of drag! I appreciate you taking the time for a little old Aussie girl on the other side of the world!