Meet Mama Arsenic, Brisbane’s Beloved Drag Mother

Photo: Jordan Hirst

Brisbane supermum Marianne Bowler is better known by her name Mama Arsenic.

Mama Arsenic (pictured above, right) runs a local makeup and costume business and has two of her children – local drag stars Aurora Arsenic (pictured left) and Archie Arsenic – to thank for introducing her to the drag world.

The self-taught seamstress says she was thrilled to make their costumes.

“When my son Jake was 17 he said he’d like to do drag as Aurora and I told him, that’s wonderful, I’ll make your outfits!” she said.

“It just snowballed from there. Word got out about my amazing creations and others asked me to make them outfits.”

Twelve months ago, Mama Arsenic decided to put her knowledge into starting her own makeup and costuming business, as a one-stop shop for local drag and stage performers.

“At my shop I sell my custom-made outfits, as well as corsets from the UK, the best makeup brand for drag – Kryolan – and shoes from the US,” she said.

“We help the queens who have a larger foot, I bring the shoes from overseas for them.”

The latest addition to Mama Arsenic’s business is her new “makeup masterclass” for beginners.

Classes she provides cater specifically to transgender men and women, cross-dressers of all ages and drag queens looking to start or learn something new.

“The makeup classes are our newest thing. We want to give transgender people and cross-dressers a place to learn makeup in a supportive environment,” she said.

“We found there wasn’t a lot out there for them. I also take them clothes shopping at Carindale, to stores where I know the people there are accepting.”

Aurora was crowned this year’s Miss Broken Heel and took out first place in the outback drag competition’s So You Think You Can Drag, while Archie won the MELT Festival’s Drag Beauty Pageant last year.

Mama Arsenic said she couldn’t be prouder of her children and she’s a regular at Brisbane venues The Sportsman Hotel and The Beat cheering them on.

“I was at Sporties one night watching the kids and Vollie LaVont and Twitch named me Mama Arsenic, and it stuck,” she said.

“Now that’s what everyone knows me as.

“Whenever I go out people always want a cuddle and I always make sure I’ve got time for a chat with them.

“The young people just need someone they can talk to about things, often it’s about struggles with their parents accepting who they are.

“I get so cranky with some parents, often they’re frightened to talk to their children about their identities.

“In previous generations, it was never talked about. What’s needed is more education to get rid of that fear.”

To find out more about Mama Arsenic’s, contact her on 0431 071 220 or visit

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