Film school with Etcetera Etcetera on Kings and Queens
February 16th 2023
Film school graduate turned world-touring drag queen, Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under alumni and queer activist, the Glamour Bug themselves Etcetera Etcetera came by FBi to speak to Natali Caro for Kings and Queens on Up for It! with Bindi Mutiara last Thursday. They spilled the tea on their upcoming show ‘Big Screen, Small Queen’, a self-effacing one-woman criticism of the Australian film and television industry with a bit of golden-age Hollywood showbiz thrown in for good measure.
Now an icon of the local Eora drag scene (on a Friday or Saturday night you can usually catch them performing at Erskineville’s Imperial Hotel), Etcetera moved to the city back in 2016, when they were only 17. At the time drag was not at all on their mind, with their sights instead set on film school.
“Spoiler alert: I hated it.”
Etcetera entered the film world with the intention of being in front of the camera, but was repeatedly encouraged to seek roles in the crew instead. Jobs in the film industry were mostly occupied by cis males at the time. Etcetera told Bindi that within film school, this became a driver for them to share their story as a queer and non-binary creative.
“…They sometimes teach us that our way of naturally thinking or our diverse viewpoints or our perspectives are not palatable or marketable in the industry. I was just told again and again, ‘It’s just not mainstream enough,’ or, ‘We just don’t think it hits the right target audience.’… I pretty soon learnt that that’s what the industry expects of queer talent moving through, that you assimilate, that you tell stories that aren’t your own.”
Disenchanted, Etcetera sought a new form of creative expression, eventually finding an outlet in Eora’s vibrant drag scene.
“I found a very special little art form that allowed me to create my own universe where I had full control, and that was drag.”
Fast forward seven years, and jump cut through a role on Ru Paul’s Drag Race Down Under, a sold out drag show in New York, and several runway appearances for Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, Etcetera Etcetera finally has everything they need to tell their story.
“I’ve kind of figured it out. That’s what the show is about; that fact I can be the main character in a movie I’m making about my life starring me.”
A meta collection of experiences subtitled ‘Everything I Didn’t Learn at Film School’, the show puts the audience in the position of a student filmmaker, who has come to make a film about a drag queen. Amid singing, dancing, and comedy they watch the film be created in real time, with Etcetera as the main character.
“It’s kind of deconstructed… a piece of theatre… I wanted it to be a comment on creative institutions as a whole… I’ve [also] tried to take those old Hollywood classic moments and rework them into a way where they feel really vibrant and modern.”
“It feels really nice to do, so hopefully it will be really nice to watch.”
A Fruit Box Theatre production, ‘Big Screen, Small Queen’ premiered on Saturday at King’s Cross Theatre in association with Pride Amplified and will run as part of Sydney World Pride until Thursday, Feb 23.
Given they are a former film school student and remain a self-professed film fanatic, Bindi asked Etcetera what their favourite film is. Their answer was Australian classic ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ (1994), which they described as a sapphic-coded (they wrote an essay on it) coming-of-age film with an important message that resonated with them deeply.
“It says something that’s really poignant… if you wanna be who you wanna be, sometimes it takes a lot of self-work and self-love to get there. But you’ll find the right way if you give back the love you receive and the love you deserve.”
Listen back to the full interview with Etcetera Etcetera on Natali Caro’s weekly queer news, events, and music segment Kings and Queens on Up for It! with Bindi Mutiara above. You can catch Big Screen, Small Queen (Everything I Didn’t Learn at Film School) this month! Details here: