‘Hire locals’: Outcry over Drag Race stars’ Priscilla shoot


UK and US Drag Race queens recreate Priscilla's 30th birthday
Image: Kane Chenoweth/Tourism NT

A promotional photo shoot starring US and UK RuPaul’s Drag Race stars recreating one of the most iconic Priscilla, Queen of the Desert scenes has been slammed by Aussies.

This year, Stephan Elliot’s eternal Aussie drag classic The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert turns 30 (!).

The Northern Territory’s Kings Canyon famously features in the film’s finale, with the three main characters standing at the top of it in drag.

Earlier this month, the four-day FabALICE festival in Alice Springs saw 20 international and interstate acts visit the NT.

Four of them – US Drag Race queens Utica Queen, Joey Jay and UK competitors Ginny Lemon and Sister Sister – journeyed to the canyon to recreate the Kings Canyon moment for the shoot.

Discovery Parks & Resorts rebranded the landmark “Queens Canyon” to celebrate Priscilla’s birthday.

However the photos copped a very negative response from Aussies on social media. Drag queen Philmah Bocks blasted the campaign in a Facebook comment.

“With all the incredible artists you could have picked from in Australia, you’ve completely disrespected our drag community with this bad choice of talent,” she wrote.

Philmah said the promo shoot had “no diversity” and “no representation of Indigenous culture either”.

“This is their country and the message you’re sending out is far from the home ground of what Priscilla stands for,” she wrote.

“The UK drag scene has nothing to do with a film about Australian drag. They have no place representing.

“Bad move guys. Bad move.”

‘Why aren’t we showcasing local artists?’

In the comments section, many others also criticised the shoot and had a lot of questions.

“We have a million Australian queens and a drag industry here that could have done with the work,” another person wrote.

“You import queens for a Priscilla Queen of the Desert shoot to market to international audiences? What was the logic in this campaign?”

Another agreed, asking, “Why are we using US and UK drag race queens to promote the anniversary of an AUSTRALIAN movie about AUSTRALIAN drag which exists outside of the boxes Drag Race wants queens to fit in?

“Why aren’t we showcasing local artists that reflect the rich culture of Australian drag and particularly our array of First Nations drag artists, given the culturally significant landscape of Uluru?”

Discovery Parks & Resorts responds to backlash

In a comment, Discovery Parks & Resorts responded to the backlash and gave more context about the campaign.

“First and foremost, we apologise for any offence it has caused – this was absolutely not our intention,” the spokesperson said.

“The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is an iconic film with global appeal and recognition. As such, we were excited to have the opportunity to partner with Tourism NT on this campaign, which forms part of their global marketing efforts that specifically target UK and US audiences.

“The Drag Race queens featured in the Kings Canyon shoot were in Australia using their own social channels to promote the fabALICE festival and the Red Centre to their large international followings, rather than Australian audiences.

“We are a proud supporter of the Northern Territory’s drag community through our sponsorship of the recent fabALICE Festival, which featured many incredible Australian drag talents, including local NT First Nations drag queen Miss Ellaneous and NT drag queen Marzi Panne, both of whom hosted this year’s festival.

“We look forward to building on our relationship with drag communities, both locally and internationally, in the future.”

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is streaming in Australia on Prime Video and 9Now.

Later this year, the annual Broken Heel Festival is also celebrating Priscilla’s 30th, taking over the film’s other spiritual home of Broken Hill in outback New South Wales.

More on Priscilla and the NT:

Broken Heel Festival to celebrate Priscilla’s 30th in NSW

Stephan Elliot revisits Priscilla for film’s 30th anniversary

Last hurrah for Darwin gay icon John Spellman at memorial

Gay MP Chansey Paech makes history as NT deputy leader

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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