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Miss Ribena is tough

MONICA TISCHLER
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2013
miss ribena
MONICA TISCHLER
PURPLE PRIDE: Kelston resident Kevin Dunseath, dressed as alter ego The Outrageous Miss Ribena, will march in the Pride Parade as part of the 2013 Auckland Pride Festival.

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Kevin Dunseath wakes up as a gym-loving, strongly built 40-year-old who wouldn't look out of place in a rugby team.

But the singlet and rugby shorts are exchanged with glitter, high heels and luscious eyelashes after a two-hour strenuous makeover.

He's now ready to inspire people as one of Australasia's most recognised drag queens, The Outrageous Miss Ribena.

This weekend his ultra ego will march in the Pride Parade in Ponsonby as part of the 2013 Auckland Pride Festival.

The Pride Parade is the only parade recognising the gay community since the Hero Parade which ended in 2001 and Miss Ribena is proud to represent the West Auckland gay scene.

"I came out when I was 27 and since then I've seen changes in the gay scene.

"Years ago we used to sneak up the back stairwell into the clubs. Now the scene is so huge, particularly out west. There are a lot of fa'afafine out here and I haven't seen homophobic behaviour in years," she says.

The Kelston resident says it's fun and a good opportunity to explore different sides to his personality.

"A lot people think that when I'm Kevin, I'm still over the top and loud.

"When I'm out of drag I'm quiet and like to be at home. When people come to my house and I'm wearing a singlet and rugby shorts, they say ‘wow.' A lot of them are quite shocked," says Mr Dunseath 's ultra ego, Miss Ribena.

Miss Ribena has been ambassador for breast cancer, HIV and more recently Durex.

The Outrageous Miss Ribena was established 12 years ago and she's been a fulltime drag queen for seven years. Growing up in a religious family made it hard for Miss Ribena's parents to accept her decision.

"Mum and Dad find it hard but I respect them and they respect me," she says.

Miss Ribena was born in Whanganui but was adopted as a baby and raised in Hamilton.

Her family didn't know about Miss Ribena until 1998 when her sister saw a photo of her at the Hero Parade in the newspaper, recognising her by the signature mole on her forehead.

She contacted her birth mother once her parents found out and discovered uncanny similarities.

"She's colourful, loud and flamboyant, like me.

"Her favourite colours are lime, orange and purple and she's very trendy," she says.

Miss Ribena is now the resident drag queen at Family Bar and Club and Caluzzi Bar and Cabaret down Karangahape Rd. She also hosts private events like hen's nights and says her aim for every gig is to make people smile.

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"If I can make one person smile in a room and have them go home feeling happy, then that's the main thing.

"You take in a lot of people's energy so it's good to make people laugh and smile and I think positivity leads to success," she says.

Auckland Pride Festival organiser Julian Cook says it's a fantastic opportunity, especially for the younger generation, to celebrate who they are.

"They haven't had a highly visible exercise on who they are for more than 10 years so it could potentially be life changing," he says.

The Auckland Pride Parade will take place down Ponsonby Rd, February 16 at 4pm.

Visit aucklandpride festival.org.nz.

- Western Leader

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