Carterton Events Centre, Wairarapa

13/10/2017 - 13/10/2017

Kokomai 2017

Production Details

Bring all your friends for a fun night out to our special Kokomai fundraiser!  

Meet Aotearoan drag legends Bertha the Beast, Buckwheat and Tess Tickle. These three larger than life characters give you a rare look at their story of Auckland drag as they know it.

Dragulicious and dragulous in every way possible, these divas will be dishing the dirt dragumentry style. Individually they have made their mark on the New Zealand drag scene and collectively they are a driving force. How did they get started? What was their inspiration? What hurdles did they face? How did their families react? What is their regimen to prepare for a show? How long can one do drag for? What goes on in a dressing room before the show goes on? All this and much, much more!

Carterton Events Centre
Fri 13 Oct, 9pm 
Adult $60 / Adult Friend $54


Theatre ,

1 hr 55 mins

Fabulous introduction to a different slice of life

Review by Janet Davies 14th Oct 2017

It’s Friday night. The who’s who of the Wairarapa have turned up for this fundraiser show for the Kokomai Festival. I warn the bloke at the end of the aisle that he might be targeted. He smiles and shrugs but it turns out I’m quite the prophet.

I’m watching three men put on makeup better than I ever could. There’s contouring, fake lashes and glitter lips. Behind them is a stage with racks full of glamorous outfits all sparkly and feathery, which hints at things to come. Sitting in front of me are Tess Tickle, Bertha the Beast and Buckwheat, Aotearoa Drag Queens, all chatting and gossiping with the audience as they prepare for the show.

There is another, Chanel Divinci, but for some reason she is not with these ladies. They sit staring into their ‘mirrors’, so we can see them apply their trade. The fourth wall is broken on purpose to give us a glimpse into a world not many are familiar with.

Buckwheat gets the ball rolling by welcoming us all and introducing the cast. From there we are taken on a documentary style journey through being a drag queen. For them it’s all about joy, being yourself and having fun.

Bertha, who admits to be doing this the longest, talks of the Auckland drag scene and how everything has changed over the last thirty years or so from not telling people about her night time adventures, to the law reform and acceptance in the wider communities. We all applaud that (or give them the clap, as she puts it) since the Wairarapa, though essentially an agricultural community, elected Georgina Beyer as the first Trans member of parliament. We are cutting edge citizens. They are preaching to the converted.

They speak of family and religion, their inspirations for their characters and how their names came about. It is very much fly on the wall type of stuff, watching long-time friends having a yak about the good old days. The banter is stereotypical of the drag scene, full of innuendos and well-timed jokes.

This first act, while interesting and at times funny and poignant, feels a little under rehearsed, like they have been asked to do the segment five minutes before curtain. It feels longer than it needs to be. Perhaps if the audience were encouraged to ask questions as well, this might help with the spontaneity. I am hoping for more anecdotes and backstage gossip around things that had happened to them or to others they knew.

Towards the end of the first act, we find ourselves looking at drag queens, transformed by makeup, girdles, discreet padding and glittery costumes – and what appears to be Chewbacca in drag, but turns out to be fabulous Bertha the Beast in her first costume of the night. Chanel joins the group for a quick song, adding to the growing excitement. And then the show really begins.

The full make up with enormous wigs, glittering costumes and subtle actions let you know you are at a drag show. It’s all about the exaggeration, the over-the-top don’t take yourself too seriously and enjoy your few hours away from the daily grind. One song has costumes with light bulbs, another looks like they’ve come straight from Bali. The wigs on Bertha alone are outrageous.

A crowd favourite is Tess Tickles performing a country song featuring apples, Jack, banjos and the (in)appropriate hand gestures that go with the words. She is outstanding, entering the crowd, playing with the song and the audience, keeping us laughing and shouting throughout the number.

Then ‘Tina Turner’ appears. You can’t have a drag show without Tina, and her rendition of Proud Mary keeps us entertained. She moves about the audience with ease, shaking her hips and giving us the trademark head flick.

Buckwheat does the talking section of the night, where a queen will come and talk to members of the audience. (I did warn the man at the end of our row). The finale of One Night Only, with their colourful Las Vegas style costumes complete with feathered headdresses, is the pinnacle of the show.

My only complaint is that this part of the show isn’t long enough. I would love to have seen more numbers as I am just getting used to each queen character, their quirks and humour in their performances. That being said, if you have never been to a drag show, this is a good ‘beginners guide to’, giving enough fabulosity to feel like you’ve seen a different slice of life.

A great way to start the festival. 


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