New venue keeping drag culture alive

PEACHY: Amber Dextrous will strut her stuff at the Croatian Wickham Sports Club. Picture: Simone De Peak

PEACHY: Amber Dextrous will strut her stuff at the Croatian Wickham Sports Club. Picture: Simone De Peak

DRAG queen entertainers will launch a new venue this month. Peach Nightspot will open at the Croatian Wickham Sports Club on February 25. 

Organiser and veteran drag performer Lucy Laqua said Peach will be about keeping the “craft” of drag performance alive in Newcastle.

“I wanted to offer something new for the young performers so they can develop their craft,” she said. 

“They need an opportunity to perform and express themselves, and they can’t do that in many venues around Newcastle."

Laqua began her career after winning a talent quest at the Gateway Hotel in 1996 with a performance of  Tina Arena’s I Need Your Body. She was immediately approached by management and offered a show. 

ON SHOW: Amber Dextrous will be one of the performers at Peach. Picture: Simone De Peak

ON SHOW: Amber Dextrous will be one of the performers at Peach. Picture: Simone De Peak

“I was a soccer player at that time,” Laqua said. “All in that week I had came out to my mother ... and then said, ‘Oh and by the way, I’m doing a drag show Friday night’” she said.

Laqua’s mother came to the show.

“She had a hoot,” she said. 

Laqua said she had been mentored by some great Newcastle talent and wanted to offer the same opportunity to younger performers. 

The move to open the venue comes after a January online petition was launched calling for the removal of the Gateway Hotel, Islington, from ACON’s list of safe places, a list which identifies venues which are gay and lesbian “friendly”.

The claims the venue should be removed from the list came after several long-term drag performers were sacked. However, hotel management said the sackings related to “poor quality” performances. 

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the organisation had also met with community leaders behind the petition and said it was working with organisers of Peach. It had also met with hotel management  to ensure The Gateway Hotel continues to be a “welcoming and safe place for LGBTI people”.

There will be two 45-minute drag shows and a DJ.

Tickets to the debut of Peach are $10 at: eventbrite.com.au, or on the door for $15

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