Yummy Fringe cabaret at De Parel Spiegeltent


Yummy cast: Welsby in white (middle)
Yummy cast: Welsby in white (middle)

JAMES Welsby says the art of drag was stuck in a rut.

Outdated and misogynistic, it needed a way to move forward, according to the Melbourne performer.

“I love shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race – which has brought drag into the mainstream – but it tends to only focus on certain kinds of people doing certain kinds of drag,” said Welsby, aka, Valerie Hex.

“And the reality is, drag is much broader than that, so our conclusion was to be more inclusive and to have a stage show that had equal women in it as men but still called itself a drag show and gave us the flexibility to go anywhere and everywhere.”

Gathering a group of talented friends, Welsby set out several years ago to create a new style of drag show.

“I realised that the biggest gift I could give the world was a really fun, joyous, uplifting and empowering night out that was innately political but not in your face in an aggressive way,” he said.

The Yummy cabaret, featuring drag, dance, circus and live music, took to the Melbourne stage in 2015 and has since garnered a cult following.

“The first Yummy performance was meant to be a one-off. We didn’t put any money into advertising; we just thought it could make a good show, but somehow word got out about it, because of who we were, and it sold out completely,” Welby said.

“I was producing it, and I checked the ticketing report during the day: it was looking fine, nothing crazy, and then I started getting ready and doing my makeup which took a couple of hours and when I walked on stage the curtain opened and I looked out on the room.

“I had to stop myself from bursting out laughing because there were 300 faces staring at us – here I was thinking I just wanted a low-key kind of cabaret experiment.”

Yummy – meaning sexy and delicious – had a season in Berlin and Seychelles and debuts in Perth as part of Fringe World.

The ESSENTIALS

What: Yummy

When: January 27 to February 3

Where: De Parel Spiegeltent at The Pleasure Garden, Northbridge